What is it? Is it a submarine? Is it a steam ram? Is it a French predreadnought? If you have seen the Sean Connery movie “League of Distinguished
Gentleman”, it looks like Captain Nemo’s futuristic Nautilus. It is the
USS Zumwalt DDG-1000 and is the most radically futuristic warship design so far.
This ship is not some mad constructor’s wild dream, it is a ship undergoing trials right now. The
Zumwalt is the lead ship of new 16,000-ton destroyers
that has developed stealth technology to its highest degree.

The
USS Zumwalt was named after Admiral Elmo Zumwalt who was Chief of Naval Operations in the Carter Administration. It is entirely appropriate
that this new class of destroyers was named after Admiral Zumwalt, who was a destroyer man from his commissioning on June 19, 1942. His first ship
was the Fletcher class
USS Phelps DD-360. In January 1944 he was assigned to another Fletcher class destroyer, USS Robinson DD-562. The
Robinson was in the thick of the fighting in 1944 and was providing gunfire support for the Leyte landings. On October 24, 1944 Robinson joined a
screen for the left flank cruisers guarding the Surigao Strait. In company with other destroyers of the screen, she launched torpedoes at the Japanese
force steaming north up the strait. Zumwalt was the Evaluator in the
Robinson’s CIC during this action and received the Bronze Star with V for Valor
device for his performance. After the war his first ship to be assigned as Executive Officer was
USS Saufley DD-465, another Fletcher. His first
command was
USS Tills DE-748 a Cannon class destroyer escort. Yes, he did serve on heavier ships but he kept coming back to destroyers.
The gestation for the Zumwalt started in the DD-21 to design a destroyer for the 21st century. This program ran afoul of budgetary cuts in 2001 and
metamorphosed into the DDG(X) program. The initial funding for the
USS Zumwalt came with National Defense Authorization Act of 2007. On
February 14, 2008 General Dynamics was given a Valentine Day’s gift in the form of a 1.4 Billion Dollar contract for the
Zumwalt (now at 3.5 Billion).
Bath Iron Works in Maine received the order for
Zumwalt DDG-1000, which being followed by USS Michael Monsoor DDG-1001 and USS Lyndon
B. Johnson
DDG-1002. For a beautiful photographic panorama of the Zumwalt and Monsoor, please go to the June 11, 2014 article by Christopher P.
Cavas at (
http://intercepts.defensenews.com/2014/06/zumwalt-ddg-1000).  
The design has a steep tumblehome and angular design to deflect radar beams and give the ship the radar cross signature of a small fishing boat
instead of a 600-foot warship. The superstructure resembles a huge submarine sail with radar wave absorbing tiling. The gun turrets are contained
inside angular houses and do not reveal the turrets of barrels until they are deployed for firing. The cutwater resembles a sharply projecting ram bow
from a late 19th century French battleship design, further accented by the forefoot sonar housing. The ship displaces 14, 564-tons (16,000 full load)
and measures 600-feet (182.9m) long, 80.7-feet (24.6m) in beam, and 27.6-feet (8.4m) in draught. She is powered by two Rolls Royce Marine
Trent 30 gas turbines and two Rolls Royce RR4500 generators with a maximum speed of 30.3-knots. With high automation, the crew is only 142.
Armament consists of twenty Mk 57 VLS module, each of which has four cells capable of housing one or more missiles. Initial missile
complement/mix will be Rim66 Standard, Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM), BGM 9 Tomahawk, and RUM 139 vertically launched anti-
submarine rocket. Two 155mm automated guns and two Mk 46 30mm guns (GDLS). Aviation assets are two SH-60 LAMPS or one MH-60R
helicopters and three MQ-8 Fire Scout VTUAV.

The
Zumwalt is built in modular format. Full production began February 11, 2009 on modular components but first hull section was not laid until
November 17, 2011. USS Zumwalt was launched October 28, 2013 and christened April 12, 2014.
Zumwalt is now under builder’s trials to be
followed this year by USN acceptance and USN trials. She should be commissioned in 2015 and operational in 2016. Originally the
Zumwalt class
was to be of 32 units but currently there are no plans beyond the three units currently under construction. The stealthy design and long range
surface to surface capability (63-miles) are optimized for advanced force work to support littoral warfare in support of amphibious forces.
The Dragon USS Zumwalt – Beam me up Scotty! With this futuristic design, you don’t know if you are in Star Trek or on the high seas. As usual,
Dragon is on the cutting edge when it comes to modern naval designs and nothing is more modern than the USS Zumwalt. As stealth technology
minimizes external fittings and equipment that would create a radar return, the
USS Zumwalt kit from Dragon in 1:700 scale minimizes the parts
count. There are five sprues, excluding the base and pedestals, a small photo-etch fret and a decal sheet. With the low parts count, the Dragon kit
will be a fast build. Don’t confuse a fast build with lack of detail, as
Dragon does provide detail on the Zumwalt parts. The kit can be built waterline
or full hull, as a separate lower hull is provided by
Dragon.
Sprue A has only four parts but these parts are major parts of the kit. Provided are the starboard hull side, port hull side, forecastle and flight deck. In
keeping with the minimalist, angular stealth approach the hull side are smooth three recessed openings at the bow and two at the stern. However, the
superstructure part of the hull is extremely detail with a radar defeating tile pattern. In comparing photographs of the actual
USS Zumwalt with the
Dragon kit, the tile pattern may provide greater contrast but it is a logical design decision on a 1:700 scale kit, otherwise this unique detail would
probably be lost in 1:700 scale. The detail on port and starboard sides differ from each other. Some openings are for air intake for the power plant as
well as exhaust vents. The ship doesn’t have a stack, mack or funnel. Both forecastle and flight deck are free of external equipment. The detail
comes in the form of missile VLS module positions lining the sides of both decks.  

Sprue B centers on the lower hull and additional superstructure parts. I like the way the lower hull has incised lines to fit separate bilge keels, as this
approach allows for more prototypical thin bilge keels, compared to making the bilge keels integral to the lower hull. The sonar dome has two parts
that are separate from the main lower hull. Superstructure parts are the bridge face, superstructure deck and rear face. Both front and aft face parts
have the same tile detail as the superstructure sides. Other parts on this sprue are the rudders, detailed hangar door and detailed transom stern with
access door.
Sprue C has smaller parts. There are two duplicate C Sprues. Each sprue has one bilge keel, two propellers, one drive shaft and support strut, and
multiple parts for one forward gun position and one aft gun position. The modeler has the option to build the kit with the gun positions deployed for
action or buttoned up minimizing radar cross section. Building the kit in the waterline format with the guns buttoned up with barrels hidden and
doors closed would provide for a very fast build, as the parts count would be at its lowest.

Sprue D is a weapons sprue but very few parts on this sprue are used. Those parts are for one MH-60S helicopter and one MQ-8 drone. The
helicopter as all plastic parts with two fuselage sides, main rotor, tail rotor, tail stabilizer, two forward wheel and one tail wheel. The MQ-8 drone
has a plastic fuselage but the finer parts are on the small brass photo-etch fret included in the kit. This fret has only parts for the drone and include
rotor, skids and tail rotor blades. The helicopter is well detailed with doors, windows and panel lines. Also included in the kit is the standard
Dragon plastic base with two mounting pedestals for those wishing to build the full hull version.

A small but comprehensive decal sheet is included just with the markings for
Zumwalt. As usual these are produced by the Italian company of
Cartograf and are well done. The decals will give life to the otherwise flat and featureless decks. The largest decal is the flight deck markings,
which covers the aft 1/3 of the ship’s deck space. Other deck markings include the warning arcs around the forward gun positions, forecastle
centerline stripe, and aft weapon’s deck rectangle. Hull sides get large forward and small aft gray shaded hull numbers, draught markings (forward
and aft) and ship’s crests. The helicopter markings round out the sheet. With very few parts, the instructions are short, consisting of four pages.
Page one is the parts laydown with parts not used in the build shaded in blue. Page two has three assembly modules, one for main gun housings,
one for the hull/superstructure/decks and one for the lower hull. Page three has four modules: one for the forecastle fittings (gun positions), one aft
weapon’s positions, one for the helicopters and the last one for final assembly of the full version build. The final page is a paint and decal guide
with profile, plan, forward view, aft view, helicopter and drone.
Cruise the seas in confidence with the Dragon 1:700 scale USS Zumwalt. With its ultra-futuristic stealth design, nobody will get a radar return off
your ship.
Dragon has again remained on the cutting edge in model warship production with the latest warship designs in the world’s navies.
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