|USS Yorktown CV-10 by Rick Cotton|
|AddOns:||Tom's Modelworks PE + Crew|
If there was one weapon that doomed the Japanese Empire in World War Two, it was the Essex-class carriers. Big, fast, tough, hard-hitting, and numerous, they carried the US Navy from the savage combat of 1943 to the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay.
Ship modelers the world over have long hoped for a 1/350th scale injected kit of one of these vessels, and Trumpeter of China has finally answered that call.
Having completed a Trumpeter 1/350th Hornet recently, I was thrilled to get my hands on one of these kits. Having read the reviews on the web, I was ready to go and bury myself in styrene and photoetched brass, and this kit doesn’t disappoint. Great detail, hundreds of parts, a correctly shaped hull, and super looking aircraft, this is a fantastic ship model. It depicts an early series Essex-class ship (but not Essex, as she never carried only one catapult).
Later ships in the series got additions of a second catapult, and 40mm gun mounts to the starboard side at the hangar deck level and other locations. Of course, the early ships also got those modifications during refits, so check your references carefully.
Most of the early “short hull” ships can be built from this kit. I chose to model CV-10 Yorktown, a veteran of most of the war from 1943 on, as she would have appeared in the summer of 1944, before her major September refit. Yorktown was, of course, named for the sunken CV-5 Yorktown at Midway.
I had no idea at the time that Trumpeter’s next issue of this kit would be as Yorktown, CV-10. Oh,well.
Fit of the hangar deck to the hull was not quite as tight as the Hornet had been…I used a bit of putty to get the seams closed. The island parts also need a bit of putty to close some small gaps here and there. Fit overall was pretty good, but seemed just a hair less tight than Hornet. Take care and sand and test-fit on this baby.
The biggest complaint I had with Hornet…the lack of interior hangar detail… is almost totally rectified in this kit. Unfortunately there are also a lot of ejector pin marks on the inside surfaces of the bulkheads. I sheeted these over with thin styrene sheet, cut to fit. I also added Plastuct I-beam detail to the underside of the flight deck. Most of the hangar doors were cut open, to show the hangar deck details. I built up and added some of the air group to the hangar deck at this point, along with some mechanics and other crewmen from the Tom’s Modelworks photoetch crew set. The idea was to create a busy-looking, working ship.
I had to build and paint in layers, working from the waterline up, due to the complexity of installing the photoetch and masking for the camouflage scheme. I left the gun tubs and platforms off, and the flight deck unglued until the completion of the “dazzle” paint scheme, in order to be able to mask off the hangar openings and easily remove the masks when painting was complete.
The Tom’s Modelworks set for this ship, although expensive (around $45 US), is very extensive and complete, providing both ship and aircraft details. Along with the usual railings and other items, there are stairs with tiny little steps and railings, armor for the gun mounts, and the late-war radar assemblies are flat out incredible. They are also extremely intricate and delicate, especially the large round units. Take your time and work calmly on these, they really are buildable, and the results will cause groans of envy from your competitors at the next contest. Unfortunately, Yorktown didn’t have these units in mid-summer 1944, so I used the earlier SK units instead. Also, there is nothing on the tripod mast in the kit’s superstructure for the signal flags to fly from (Navy vets out there, what is this thing called?). I scratchbuilt mine from brass and wire, with 1-pound fly fishing thread for the lines.
Many well-known color photos of CV-10 show her with a prominent black stripe running down the center of her blue-stained, but well-worn flight deck. This is correct for her shakedown and 1943 cruises, but photos of her in summer ’44 show her flight deck with the later white dashes on, again, a worn, blue stained deck. Thus, the dashed line decals that come with the kit are appropriate for a centerline from ‘44, but I had to create decals for the outer dashed lines in white.
The big “10”’s were made from the kit’s ”9”’s, trimmed and converted using black decal sheet. A little gray drybrushing weathers these numbers to match the deck.
The aircraft are as good or better than the Hornet kit’s planes (the SBD’s are identical), but, although they are in the color prints included in the instructions, there are no Helldivers included with the kit. You’ll need to purchase the extra sets if you want “Beasts” on your flattop. Check your references. Many of the Essexes didn’t embark Helldivers until late in the war.
Yorktown’s first skipper, Capt. J.J ”Jocko” Clark hated them so much he ordered them offloaded and replaced with SBD’s at the end of Yorktown’s shakedown cruise. Clark even recommended the entire SB2C program be cancelled! They came back on in 1944, albeit in a much improved model.
Trumpeter’s Helldivers are indeed a later 4-blade prop version, although exactly which mark I don’t know. The Tom’s Modelworks set does include parts for four Helldivers, especially the prominent landing gear doors. I have to wonder if the new “Yorktown” release of this kit announced on the Squadron website has the SB2C’s and the extra late-war 40mm gun mounts and sponsons? I sacrificed my SBD’s to beef up Hornet’s air group, and bought some extra SB2C’s, TBF’s and F6F’s for my Yorktown. Also, take great care removing the Avenger and Hellcat props from the sprue. They are quite fragile, and I had to use a sharp single-edged razor to do it. If do you break them, there are brass ones in the Tom’s photoetch set.
I posed my ship in the midst of spotting her second strike of the day somewhere in the middle of the Pacific. There are 20 planes in her hangar, along with the group being readied for launch on deck. The rest are somewhere else, making life miserable for the Imperial Japanese Navy. The “water” is acrylic silicone caulk spread over a deep blue-painted base, with a final coat of Future on top. I don’t know how many of those teeny little *&^%$#@ Tom’s Modelworks sailors I ended up using, probably 400or so, but I’m cross-eyed now, and sick of painting them for a while.
In short, this kit raises the bar again for boat freaks like me. The biggest drawbacks were the ejector pin marks and the few aircraft in the kit, but both are easily (if not cheaply) remedied. Fit is pretty good, not great, detail is outstanding, and subject matter is a must-have. Well done, Trumpeter. Now, launch that Lexington! With what Trumpeter seems to have learned on Hornet and Essex, CV-2 should be incredible! Who knows what lies down the road….Akagi? Taiho? Independence? Zuikaku? I sure do hope so.
Photos and text © 2005 by Rick Cotton