The Knox class frigate was designed as low-cost escort ships that could be mass produced. Originally designated as a destroyer escort, the Knox class was the follow-up to the 5-inch/38 gun Garcia and the Tartar missile
Brooke class ships. They were the largest and the last of the US Navy’s second-generation ASW escorts. They were also the most numerous with a total of 46 ships built. In 1975 the Knox class designation was
changed from destroyer escort to frigate.

The original
Knox design was to be equipped with Tartar missiles, but the prohibitive cost of this system and the prospect of it soon becoming obsolete lead to the decision to go with a gun design. A single rapid-fire 5-
inch/54 was chosen and a Mk. 16 ASROC launcher was fitted just aft of the gun. Ships were fitted with either a Mk. 29 NATO Sea Sparrow Improved Point Defense Missile System (IPDMS) or Mk. 25 Sea Sparrow Basic
Point Defense Missile System (BPDMS) placed aft below the helicopter flight deck. These were eventually replaced in most ships with the Phalanx Mk 16 close-in weapons system (CIWS). Their ASW capabilities were
enhanced with the LAMPS Mk I SH-2D Seasprite helicopter and towed-sonar array.

In appearance, the
Knox class was conspicuous for their tall, circular cross-section “macks.” They were wet forward, prompting modification with bow bulwarks and spray strakes on some ships. Knox class frigates
served throughout the world for over 20 years before they were decommissioned and put into reserve during the late 80s and early 1990s. Eventually, 31 were transferred to foreign navies, nine were scrapped and six were
sunk as targets.
USS Robert E. Peary (FF-1033) was launched on December 20, 1971 at the Lockheed Ship Building and Drydock Co. of Seattle and commissioned on September 23, 1972. The Peary joined the Pacific Fleet and was
stationed at Long Beach, California, and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. She would remain part of that fleet for her entire career, frequently deploying to the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf. The
Peary did not see
action in the Vietnam War but in May 1979, she rescued a group of Vietnamese refugees whose boat was sinking in the South China Sea. A few years later she again rescued several Vietnamese refugees who were fleeing
their county by boat. The
Peary received two Humanitarian Service Medals for these rescues.

In late 1991, the
Peary was deployed to the Persian Gulf in the aftermath of Operation Desert Storm. She helped enforce the United Nations embargo against Iraq by stopping and turning back ships carrying prohibited
cargo. For this deployment, the
Peary’s crew received the Southwest Asia Service Medal and the Kuwait Liberation Medal. The Peary was decommissioned on August 7, 1992 and struck from the Naval Vessel Register on
January 11, 1995. She was transferred to the Republic of China a short time later and continues to serve as the
Chi Yang in the Taiwanese Navy.
The Orange Hobby 1/350 scale kit of the Peary is a multimedia kit comprising of resin, photo-etch brass and turned brass parts. This is their first full-hull offering, but with a two-piece hull so a waterline model can be
constructed. Orange Hobby has built a reputation of producing detailed, well cast kits for a reasonable price and this kit certainly and this kit is no exception. The level of detail is astounding and I am fairly certain that the
master was created using CAD and probably rapid-prototyping technology. The kit represents the
Peary in her final fit with the bow bulwarks, spray strakes and CWIS. If you wish to build this kit as one of the other
ships in this class some research is required to see if this configuration is correct for the particular ship in question.

The upper hull is a hollow casting with most of the superstructure already cast into it. Lots of details are also cast into this part like the bridge windows (complete with the rain wipers), some water-tight doors,
missile-loading hatches, towed sonar doors on the stern and numerous bulkhead details like vents, pipes and conduits. The locations of the majority of water-tight doors are open recesses which give you the option of
attaching the photo-etch versions in either an open or closed position. The few water-tight doors that are already cast into the superstructure appear a little over scale so if you prefer you can remove them and replace
them with photo-etch versions from another source.

The lower hull is also a hollow-casting but with a framework for strength. The bottom has openings to attach the bow sonar dome, stabilizer fins, rudder and propeller shaft. The bilge keels are cast into the part and there
are slight depressions for the propeller shaft V-struts. The location of the opening for the rudder is in the centerline which technically is incorrect. The rudder on this class of ship was slightly off-set, about 3 feet or so,
to the starboard due to the single-screw configuration. To correct this you will need to move the rudder maybe about 1/10 inch to starboard if you plan to build this kit full-hull. This may be splitting hairs but it is what it
is. Both hull parts are cleanly cast but have rather prominent casting runners. However, these are slightly inboard from the edges of the parts so when you remove them with a razor saw and sand down any remnants this
will help prevent marring the edges of the hull sections.
The next largest parts are the aft superstructure (which housed the hangar and torpedo room), the mack and two versions of the hangar. The mack and aft superstructure are also nicely detailed and cast but require
carefully removing the casting runners. The kit gives you the option of modeling the telescoping hangar in either an extended or retracted position but the interior is bare so if you want to display an open bay you will
have to do some scratch building. One thing that you will notice about the smaller resin parts is that they come on sprues that make them look like they are from an injection-molded kit. There is a reason for this as the
sprues act as a buffer to protect the resin parts.

For full-hull builders, let’s take a look at the smaller parts for the lower hull. One sprue provides the sonar dome, rudder and propeller and another stabilizer fins, propeller shaft and v-struts. Again these appear cleanly
cast but the propeller is the incorrect type. The
Knox class ships had a right-hand propeller but the kit propeller is a left-hand style. The kit’s armament is also well done. The 5-inch/54 turret looks good as does the
Mk. 16 ASROC launcher. The CWIS is a detailed, multi-part affair, which can be assembled in any position. The Seasprite helicopter is a little kit in itself. It is very detailed and the cockpit has a bit of an interior which
gives you the option to build it with the photo-etch doors open. The small resin parts provide numerous fittings such as boats, vents, flag lockers, chocks, directors, chaff launchers, life raft canisters, yardarms and
assorted other bits. These too are well cast but require more clean-up to remove some casting film.
The kit comes with a total of eight photo-etch frets, each sandwiched between a protective plastic cover which is easily removed. Frets A and B have railings and flight deck safety netting. Fret C contains some ladders,
yardarm details and numerous platforms and structural elements. Fret D1 has more ladders, the upper platform around the mack and other structural details. Fret D2 has the whip antennas and water-tight doors, which
can be placed in either an open or closed position. Since the kit comes with some turned brass parts I am surprised that the antennas were not provided in this medium. The photo-etch versions are flat and 2-dimensional
and a bit disappointing. Fret E has the ship’s anchor chains and other structural parts. The last two frets have the parts for the AN/SPS-40 and SPS-10 radars and the detail parts for the Seasprite. The photo-etch is quite
extensive and provides a lot of detail. The complexity of some of the assemblies will test the skills and perhaps patience of some modelers and experience working with photo-etch is required. The kit comes with some
turned brass parts: the 5”/54 gun barrel, a short mast, torpedoes for the Seasprite and individual mooring bitts. There is a set of four small brass parts that quite frankly I am not sure what they are and I didn’t see them
referenced in the instructions.

A well-done decal sheet in provided which provides markings only for the
Peary and no other ships in the class. Both hi- and lo-viz hull numbers are included as well as deck warning circles, flight deck and refueling
station markings, flags and markings for the helicopter,. As complete as this decal sheet is it would have been nice if draft markings were included. There are eight pages of well-illustrated assembly instructions, which
also cover the numerous sub-assemblies in good detail. There are a bit busy at spots and will require careful study before plowing ahead but overall they appear to deliver. The last page has the decal placement and
painting guide. The color references are basic and they omit the colors for the deck and helicopter. The former is not a problem because most modelers will probably use the modern USN colors from
White Ensign
Models Colourcoats
or suitable colors from their favorite paint brands. To paint the Seasprite you will need to look at photographs for guidance.
This is really nice kit and will build in to a super-detailed model of a Knox class ship. This is most certainly not a kit for a novice builder due to complexity of the photo-etch. Because of this, I highly recommend this kit
to more advanced builders. If you think that you don’t have the experience or skillset quite yet, for the price you should still pick one up and save it for when you feel you can build it. My thanks to
Freetime Hobbies for
providing the review sample.
Felix Bustelo
Rajah of Roosevelt Island