A landing helicopter assault (LHA) ship is a type that possesses a well deck for landing craft/hovercraft and a flat-top flight deck for helicopters and V/STOL aircraft. One such LHA is the Tarawa class of the US Navy (USN). Five vessels were constructed between 1971 and 1980, though all are now retired. The class displaces around 40,000 tonnes and they measure 254m long. This was of sufficient size to accommodate either 19 CH-53 Sea Stallion or 26 CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters, or a mix of the two. Six AV-8B Harrier II jets could be carried as well. USS Tarawa (LHA-1) was the lead ship of the class, and USS Saipan (LHA-2) was the second to be commissioned, both named after bitter WWII battles in the Pacific campaign.
Dragon is releasing a small assortment of 1/700 scale plastic models that incorporates both these USN ships. These two models havenâ€™t been available in miniature for quite a while, so itâ€™s a timely release for fans of amphibious assault ships. In their day these were impressive ships, and these models are equally impressive in their level of detail and accuracy.