Blue Ridge USS Halibut SSGN/SSN-587
The Blue Ridge Halibut model itself is cast in a hard gray resin, with parts and photoetch carefully packed in a custom foam cushioned case. Very little cleanup of parts will be necessary, with just some quick work primarily along the keel where there are
a few casting residues. Small parts are in their own plastic bags. It was interesting to see how Blue Ridge tackled having a single hull with the major modifications that occurred over Halibut’s 16-year life span. The hull comes with the two prominent sets of thrusters at the bow and stern, which were installed in the third overhaul, for precise seabottom maneuvering. The kit uses two photoetch “blanking plates” to cover these areas for the earlier missile version. I think the builder might have to use a small amount of putty to blend these seamlessly into the hull. Also included is a very nice set of internal hanger photo etch parts if you wish to have the missile hanger open in the Regulus version, making for some interesting details. You are also provided with two sails: the shorter“as built” sail and the taller sail that replaced it (probably at the time of the first overhaul). Of course you get a set of Regulus I missiles, along with photoetch wings and rudders for the missiles. For the third "Special Operations" iteration of Halibut, you get a very nice rendition of the saturation diving chamber (complete with the fake “DSRV Simulator” decals that were on the side of the real chamber) that sat on the stern. There is a combination resin and photoetch cradle set for the chamber to sit on the stern. A complete set of masts is provided, along with resin propeller supports and a set of very accurate hard resin propellers. These are some of the best propeller renditions at this scale I have seen. The builder will supply a short piece of thin brass rod for the propeller drive shafts. The resin saturation chamber is cast separately in two pieces; the diving chamber and the hull connector, both on the same sprue.
There are few downsides to the kit. The most significant ones are two: unlike all previous Blue Ridge submarine models, ballast tank flood openings are not represented on this kit; an omission I find puzzling. With a solid resin hull, it is virtually impossible for the builder to add these oblong openings in a neat fashion along the keel. The location and arrangement ballast tank openings are available, based on the Jim Christley drawings, and were present on the much older OOP PitRoad Halibut kit of the 1990's . The other issue was I made a series of measurements, and the Blue Ridge kit scales out to about 361 feet in length, versus the actual 350 feet of the Halibut. A 1/350 scale kit of a 350-foot long submarine should be exactly one-foot in length.
However, overall this is a superb kit of a very unusual one of a kind submarine that had a one of a kind varied operational history.