Oliver Hazard Perry Frigate

Building the U.S.S. McInerney

Sometimes you get involved in a modeling project by accident. That's what happened here. When I was telling a friend I had gotten back into model building, she mentioned that there was actually a frigate that shared her last name, and her brother had toured it at one time, which created a lot of excitement on board because the crew had never had anyone who might be related to the namesake actually come aboard!USS McInerney, FFG 8, under way at high speed.

Thus I became involved in building a replica of the USS McInerney, FFG 8, which is now the oldest-serving frigate of the Oliver Hazard Perry class. Since it was a current class of ship, I hadn't anticipated any difficulty in finding a model of it, but wow ... it turned into a global search before I finally ran down a 1/700 scale 1996-vintage Dragon kit from an independent dealer in California. We had agreed on that size for two reasons, 1) Space, since it would only be about 7 inches long, and 2) Cost, because a 1/350 scale Perry frigate would have cost several hundred dollars.

Some decisions had to be made early on. Like most US Navy ships, the McInerney had been tinkered with and modified throughout her life, with the most prominent change being a lengthened stern installed when she was the testbed ship for the new SH-60 Seahawk helicopters, which were larger than the Seasprite helicopters then in use. There were also steady deletions in armament, the major one being the inactivation of the SM-1 missile launcher on the foredeck. Boxtop scan of the Dragon Oliver Hazard Perry frigate kit.

Since my friend didn't know much about ships, I decided against building the McInerney has she appears now - I mean, the missile launcher is just too cool-looking to not include. My version of the McInerney depicts her after the stern  was lengthened for the Seahawk helicopters (mainly because that was the kind included in the kit) and before the missile launcher was removed and a lot of extra radar antennas and sensors were added. So deciding, I embarked on my quest for as many photographs as I could find. Fortunately the McInerney, being an older ship, has had a lot of pictures taken and posted on the World Wide Web over the years. 

Gold Medal Models came through with another excellent photoetch fret. As soon as I opened it I realized I was going to be taking my meager modeling skills to a much higher level. The various radar antennas, lattice masts and curved railings were a lot more complex than the simple runs of straight railings for the two Victory ships I had under my belt. Plus, I was going to have to remove parts of the model's moldings to install the photoetch masts, which meant another trip to the hobby shop, this time for some saw tooth X-acto blades. This was another case where comparing the photoetched parts to the plastic ones demonstrated the superiority of photoetched parts to make a model look like a model instead of a pool toy.

Overall view of the finished model, with the ship's crest on the left and squadron patch on the right. A small kit that still shows off all the aftermarket details to good advantage. Stern shot of the finished model, showing the neat looking effect of the mirrored base when looking at the underside of the ship.
Overall view of the finished model, with the ship's crest on the left and Destroyer Squadron 14 patch on the right. A small kit that still shows off all the aftermarket details to good advantage. Stern shot of the finished model, showing the neat looking effect of the mirrored base when looking at the underside of the ship.
These two shots show the overall ship. The darker gray of the decks contrasts nicely with the light gray of the hull and all vertical surfaces. All of the antennas were made with stretched gray sprue from the kit and left unpainted. The red below the waterline is too bright, but I could not find a spray can of any shade except that one. And I did not paint the black boot topping stripe at the waterline because, frankly, I didn't think I had enough skill to do so without making a total mess of it.
These two shots show the overall ship. The darker gray of the decks contrasts nicely with the light gray of the hull and all vertical surfaces. All of the antennas were made with stretched gray sprue from the kit and left unpainted. The red below the waterline is too bright, but I could not find a spray can of any shade except that one. And I did not paint the black boot topping stripe at the waterline because, frankly, I didn't think I had enough skill to do so without making a total mess of it.
The SM-1 missile launcher shows up good in this view. The white radar domes and life raft canisters give some color to an otherwise drab color scheme. Close-up of the port side, showing the photoetched life rings and fire hose racks, and the whale boat. I was not able to find an aftermarket 1/700-scale rigid hull inflatable boat, so had to use what was in the kit.
The SM-1 missile launcher shows up good in this view. The white radar domes and life raft canisters give some color to an otherwise drab color scheme. Close-up of the port side, showing the photoetched life rings and fire hose racks, and the whale boat. I was not able to find an aftermarket 1/700-scale rigid hull inflatable boat, so had to use what was in the kit.
The lattice main mast and SPS-49 radar antenna and its mast were both a challenge, with lots of bends that had to all be done perfectly for the end products to look squared-up and correct. It took me one full day of fiddling around, lots of coffee and some swearing to get the SPS-49 parts properly curved, crisply folded and assembled correctly. Close-up of the SH-60 anti-submarine helicopter on the stern. The photoetched rotor blades are much more realistic than the thick, rounded plastic ones in the kit. I had to use my No. 15/0 brush to paint the windows and exhaust exits black, and the exhaust inlets red to simulate the covers placed over them. Little details, sure, but they all add up for a nice effect.
The lattice main mast and SPS-49 radar antenna and its mast were both a challenge, with lots of bends that had to all be done perfectly for the end products to look squared-up and correct. It took me one full day of fiddling around, lots of coffee and some swearing to get the SPS-49 parts properly curved, crisply folded and assembled correctly. Close-up of the SH-60 anti-submarine helicopter on the stern. The photoetched rotor blades are much more realistic than the thick, rounded plastic ones in the kit. I had to use my No. 15/0 brush to paint the windows and exhaust exits black, and the exhaust inlets red to simulate the covers placed over them. Little details, sure, but they all add up for a nice effect.
The starboard bow shows the sleek, almost knife-like appearance of the Perry-class frigates. Stern shot showing the addition of the opening for the towed-array sonar on the left and the two Nixie torpedo decoys on the right, and the stepped-down effect of the lengthened stern.
The starboard bow shows the sleek, almost knife-like appearance of the Perry-class frigates. It's really a shame they are phasing this class out. Stern shot showing the addition of the opening for the towed-array sonar on the left and the two Nixie torpedo decoys on the right, and the stepped-down effect of the lengthened stern. I tried to detail the area around the flight station on the aft bulkhead, but at this scale, it's almost too small even for a 15-0 brush! In retrospect, it would have looked a lot cooler if I had opened up one of the hangar doors and added more detail and another helicopter in there. 

Here is a breakdown of all the little things I did to bring this kit up to snuff:

Dragon/Pit Road (Kit No. 7015)

Gold Medal Models (all from No. 700-10 except as noted)

Tomís Model Works (all from No. 708)

Testorís

Micro-Mark

Hobby Town USA

Evergreen Scale Models

Note: this model was sold to a private party.


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This page was last updated Sept. 3, 2006.