In 1943, the battle of the Solomon Islands raged in full fury. As Japanese naval forces worked doggedly to reinforce and resupply land forces on Guadalcanal, the US Navy moved to intercept and stop them. Inevitably, bloody night clashes with running gunfire, torpedo wakes, and starshells splitting the night became the norm. As the US Navy was still in the process of building its strength, the bulk of the fighting fell to a few cruisers and a handful of tin cans that could be spared.
One of these tin cans, was the USS Chevalier (DD-451). She and her crew fought valiantly throughout the Solomons campaign. When her sister ship, the USS Strong (DD-467) was mortally wounded by a Japanese torpedo, Chevalier rammed her in order to take her crew off the rapidly sinking ship. She later fought and turned back several reinforcement ships bound for Guadalcanal. Her final action came on the night of October 6th, 1943, when in company with the USS O'Bannon (DD-450) and USS Selfridge (DD-357), she attacked nine Japanese destroyers and destroyer transports. Just after 10pm, she was struck on the port bow by a Japanese torpedo, ripping off her bow from the bridge forward. The O'Bannon, unable to avoid her hulk, rammed her, causing further damage and flooding. Just before midnight, the order was given to abandon ship and she was later sunk by torpedoes from US destroyers. In service to her country, she lost 54 sailors with another 36 wounded.
This is my rendition of the USS Chevalier as she appeared before operational duty in October of 1942 and is built on Revell's 1/144 USS Fletcher kit. I picked up the "platinum edition" of the kit in December of 2017 and have been working on it ever since. The platinum edition comes with 3 large sheets of photo etch parts and an accompanying color add-on instruction guide for them. Sadly, the factory PE set does not include railings, so I added the Eduard railing set and was very happy with it.
To say this was a challenging build project would be a bit of an understatement. Virtually every part of the ship has some PE add-on that required plastic details to be removed and photo etch to be folded and attached. As soldering is not a strength of mine, this kit has been built entirely with super glue. In the end I'm very happy I went with the platinum edition kit as I found many of the plastic moldings to be soft on detail and fairly unimpressive. The PE set really added a lot to the final product. She was rigged using EZ-Line.
This is my first attempt at any ship, so, while not perfect, I'm very happy with how it turned out. I learned quite a bit on this build that I will be able to apply to subsequent ships, but I'm not sure if I'll tackle a ship this large again. At 1/144 scale, she works out to be just over 2.5' long and maneuvering her on the bench and in the photo booth was a serious challenge.
Despite a few flaws, I feel this is a reasonable tribute to the memory of those who served aboard her in those dark days in the South Pacific in 1943.
|Timeline:||Started on December 25, 2017, Finished on June 9, 2018|