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  1. #1
    Senior Contributor Builder 2010's Avatar
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    23 May 11
    Louisville, KY, USA

    Trumpeter 1:350 USS Essex Late WW2 Trim

    I'm multi-tasking. I rarely have more than one modeling project running at one time. Right now I have two (or more). One is the 1966 Ford Fairlane GTA that I'm posting on another forum here. This one is a Trumpeter 1:350 CV-9 Essex.

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    This kit was given to me 6 years ago as a gift when I ran a modeling clinic for Middle Schoolers. It's been on the shelf waiting for this moment. I also had another Trumpeter kit in this series; the USS Hornet which my older grandson has almost finished except for painting. He's now 16, getting his driver's license and is now getting harder to get into the shop to finish it. I suspect he'll request that I do it.

    As many of you followed years ago, I built a super-detailed Tamiya Missouri and it set the bar for my ship modeling projects. That one had bells, whistles and bells on its whistles. That means this one's got to have the same thing if I'm going to display them in the same place. I collected lots of imagery on this ship and others in its very large class, and bought a book published by University of Michigan with all the plans of the USS Intrepid in its WW2 (late) configuration which is very close to the Essex's. The book's only problem is its small format where I need my Optivisor to see easily.

    While I have a load of PE left over from the Missouri project, I still need more Essex specific PE to account for all the catwalks, antenna and other carrier-based details. In looking around at what's available, I'm zeroing in on Gold Metal Models (GMM) Essex primary and auxiliary sets. It's a bit pricy at $50 per set. There's another one available for almost $200 from Korea that includes tuned brass gun barrels for everything down to the microscopic 20mm Oerlikons. I'm not going to go that far. $100 for PE is rich enough for me.

    Trumpeter models, especially the older ones (this one is 2002), have lots of parts and details, but aren't so hot regarding fits. If Tamiya or Hasegawa built this model it would go together like a watch. While this too falls under the "Can't spray solvent-based paints in the basement" rule. For the Missouri I used Life Color's Navy set. I liked those paints. they covered well, had no odor, and dried quickly. Vallejo has the first two points, but I find the drying time is long and I'm basically impatient. Patience is not my strong suit. Persistance is my strength. People often misunderstand the difference based on the level of modeling that I do. I've also located Modelflex (by Badger) which has the proper deck blue and navy blue. Modelflex is excellent, no-odor, paint with one nice advantage: their bottles screw directly onto my Badger adaptor cap and they're thin enough to spray directly from the bottle. While there are elaborate dazzle camouflage patterns on Essex Class ships, I don't see myself doing it or enjoying it. The other pattern is all Navy Blue. I like the measure 22 of my Missouri which is navy blue below the sheer line and haze gray for everything about including the superstructure. I'm not sure what an all navy blue ship is going to look like. Darker colors show details and contours better so we'll see.

    I started this elaborate build following the instructions, but I will have to deviate when the PE arrives (haven't ordered it yet). Trumpeter separates the hull into an upper part above the water line and two lower parts cast in sort-of hull red, one as a water line plate and the other a full below-the-water-line hull. The upper part needed some cleaning up on the parting line on the bow and the stern. The lower part (I'm doing a full-hull model) needed clean up on various parting lines and two lumps which were the sprue connection. On the Missouri I replaced the prop shafts with steel rod and then painted them with the "white lead" that real prop shafts are painted to prevent corrosion and fouling. I will probably use a similar deal here.

    It was researching what color were these shafts that led me to post an the entire build thread here. The man that posted his picture standing on the Missouri's prop strut was "Rusty Battleship" aka Dick Landgraff. Those familiar with this site know him well. He passed recently and will be sorely missed.

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    After the clean up, I installed the 3-part hanger deck, the little bits and pieces that go on it, and started installing the various bulkheads that line the hanger deck perimeter. In reading the GMM literature it said that Trumpeter's chocks were too tall to line up with their PE railings, I sliced off a little bit of each one with the fine razor saw before I fully separated them from the sprue. We'll see if they fit correctly when the rails go in.

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    In true Trumpeter fashion, a lot of other bits were separate pieces like many of the rectangular objects on the deck. There were about 15 of these pieces.

    Next came the exterior walls of the hanger deck. Some of these pieces needed trimming becuase their length was too long to fit properly. I used Tamiya solvent cement and an occassional dab of thin CA. Several of these joints will require some additional filing and filling to get a good fit.

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    Unlike the Yorktown kit which had no hanger deck interior detail, the Essex kit does have quite a bit of interior details with walls that have shapes representing the trunks, ducting and spaces making up the walls of the hanger.

    That piece in the above picture didn't settle correctly to the deck and the outer wall was not flush with the hull below it. I didn't realize how annoying this was until I glued in the next piece (these are below the island). This next piece glued in flush and not there's a distinct discontinuity between the two, AND the first piece is glued in very soundly and would take some destruction to remove.

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    This really affects my sensibilities, but I don't know what to do about it. I may still try and pull the piece apart and realign the outer portion.

    Last edited by Builder 2010; 13 Jan 18, at 21:42.

  2. #2
    Senior Contributor Builder 2010's Avatar
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    23 May 11
    Louisville, KY, USA

    Essex: Basic Hull Building Part B

    Continuing on for this going to be a very, very long build. The Missouri took 13 months and it was the only project, but I was doing consulting work at the time so it wasn't the kind of effort that I can now provide. Regardless, these a huge amount of PE that's going into this build and there's no way you can rush that. You can glue all the plastic pieces together in a week, but not the way this is going to go together.

    Since there is a hanger deck it deserves to be seen somewhat. I started opening some of the roller doors to expose the insides. For the square-edged doors I used my fine razor saw and cut along the seam lines. For the ones that had a radiused corner I pre-drilled and drilled 1/16th away with an 1/8" drill to form the radius and then cut up to that. Clean up was done with files and sanding sticks. I used this technique for the starboard side doors. For the port side I used a 1/16" carbide router in the Dremel flexi-shaft and machined away the plastic just up to the radius. I liked this method better.

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    The thin separators were deep enough that they held up to cuting, filing and handling.I continued aft and cut more doors open. I didn't open them all or roll the doors all the way up to add some interest. I used some filler to close up some tiny cuts from an errant razor saw. Pictures of these ships show that many of the roller doors were opened to various heights so I did this to add some more interest.

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    Incidentally, the saw I'm using is available from MicroMark. It's only 0.005" wide and cuts as fine as an Xacto blade. It has one drawback. The blade is so hard...and brittle... that if it drops on the concrete floor it shatters. I've lost many more blades through dropping than by wearing them out. I tape a large chunk of styrene rod to the handle so it stops rolling off the work bench.

    In the book I mentioned in part 1 of this post, there are detailed prints of the construction of the USS Intrepid, and I'll be using it for the super-detailing information along with the pile of pics that I've downloaded. One of the details I'm adding is the changes to the port side sponson that was the terminus for a cross hangar deck catapult. In 1944, this catapult was removed and two, quad 40mm bofors guns were installed. The sponson already exists so what has to be added is the shaped bulwarks that surrounds the decking plus some curved bulges below the curves. I'm going to cannibalize the extra 40mm quads off my old Tamiya Missouri (built in 1985) which is being used for scrap. Here's the sponsor in a fuzzy enlargement of the port side of the Essex showing the guns.

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    Notice the open WT doors and the roller doors at various heights. I was worried that I had to make the sponson too which fits the contours of the curved hull, but that's already in teh model. Making the bulwarks will not be too difficult our of 0.010" styrene sheet.
    Here's a blowup of the plans from the Interpid book showing this detail.

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    Notice too that there are no circular tubs that need to be made. Again... easy peasy.
    Last edited by Builder 2010; 13 Jan 18, at 21:43.

  3. #3
    Resident Curmudgeon Military Professional Gun Grape's Avatar
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    12 Mar 05
    Panama City Fl
    i am definitely following this thread.

    You cannot go wrong with Gold Metal Models PE sets. They are my favorite. Much easier to use than Eduard. If you need generic sets (Ladders/Railing/ 20mm/40mm shields/Radars) you might want to try Toms Model Works. I used them on my first Fletcher and they were not bad. Also they are fairly inexpensive. The only thing I didn't like (won't apply to the Essex) was that the netting was separate from the railing. By the time you got it glued on a lot of detail was lost. I'm with you on the Pontos sets. Way overpriced and most builds that I've followed on other forums only use about half of whats in them.
    Its called Tourist Season. So why can't we shoot them?

  4. #4
    Resident Curmudgeon Military Professional Gun Grape's Avatar
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    12 Mar 05
    Panama City Fl
    Just in case you change your mind. This is the only cammo scheme that Essex wore besides MS-21. MS 32 6-10D Black and 5L Grey. Horizontal surfaces Deck Blue 20D and flight deck stain 21

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    Last edited by Gun Grape; 13 Jan 18, at 23:39.
    Its called Tourist Season. So why can't we shoot them?

  5. #5
    Senior Contributor Builder 2010's Avatar
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    23 May 11
    Louisville, KY, USA

    Essex: Basic Hull Building Part C

    Yesterday got some more work done. I decided to break that badly installed piece out and re-set it correctly. I was successful. I used clamps to hold it at the proper spot and added a piece of 0.010" sytrene to fill the gap between the two walls.

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    After shaving off the sytrene I used Tamiya filler to clean up the remaining gap. I'm not sure if there were visible seams between these external bulkheads. It's too late to worry about it since the seams are all filled.

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    I got to work on the port side, again cutting open various roller doors, gluing them in so they're flush with the hull and adding styrene where necessary to close larger gaps.

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  6. #6
    Senior Contributor Builder 2010's Avatar
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    Louisville, KY, USA

    Essex: Basic Hull Building Part D

    In my excess PE cache I had a lot of watertight doors left over. On the Eduard sets, there are also open door sets. I decided to put one here. I opened the hull with a small carbide router, but made the hole a tad oversize and had to back fill after gluing on the door. When painted it will look okay. Research says almost all the doors were open unless they were in action and then the ship is buttoned up. I'll be more careful next time. You can also just paint the open space flat black and not cut any plastic.

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    On the Missouri I replaced all kit plastic masts with hand-made brass ones. I knew that plastic masts don't hold up, can warp and just don't make for a museum level model. It tested my patience and skill. I invented techniques holding the parts in pin vises and did all the soldering with a conventional Weller iron, not the American Beauty Resistance Soldering Unit (RSU) that I now own. The results exceeded my expectations. I'm thinking of going the same route for the Essex since it has some much masting overhead holding a lot of antennas. With brass you can also solder the PE to the mast, and not just rely on CA to do the trick.

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    I have to make a decision quickly about buying the after-market stuff or else I'll have two models in progress taking up space in the basement. Depending on the lead time, I may have to find things to do on the train layout. I have some minor landscaping chores that would take a couple of days. After that, I have to hope for warmer weather to spray paint outside so I do the Ford. I don't want to mask the car too early since the masking tape can do bad things if left on too long.

  7. #7
    Senior Contributor Builder 2010's Avatar
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    Louisville, KY, USA

    Essex: Color Schemes

    Gun, I was writing when you added your post. That's not a bad scheme. Fine Arts Models did a 1:192 Essex in all Navy and it looks pretty good. Their models, if you have never seen them, are museum-level, breathtaking works of art. Gary Kohs, the founder, just died suddenly at 73. He was lamenting that there are no more artisans that he could find to do the work necessary to create these pieces. There's always you and me.

    Here are 5 shots of FAM's Essex. It's a late model since it also has three 40mm emplacements flanking lying under the island. I'm also noting that there are no seams in panels on those walls so filling the gaps on the Trumpeter is the way to go.

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    I'll add another post for more of them.

    Next to Gibbs & Cox ships, FAM's are just about as good as it can get. A model like that is over $10,000.
    Last edited by Builder 2010; 14 Jan 18, at 01:04.

  8. #8
    Senior Contributor Builder 2010's Avatar
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    Louisville, KY, USA

    Essex: Fine Arts Models Essex Cont.

    Here are five more images. I would only hope that this could be the one I produce. Being double the size really increase what can be done. When Gary wanted to get into producing world-class ship models he found and bought a Latvian ship model company that used to build naval models for the then defunct Soviet Union. He kept all the artisans and re-tooled with precision machines, laser cutters and laser welders. The hulls are fiberglass, but there is no styrene parts at all.

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    The island is really something to look at. FAM also a Missouri in two runs. I had my name on a list to receive one until my wife found out about it. It was $8,500 and was not a rational decision on my part. I went to FAM's office in Birmingham MI and saw a first run Missouri. Once i saw it, I simply had to have it, or so I thought. So I built my own instead. After looking at pictures of my 1:350 Missouri, Gary said it was about as good as it gets in that scale. That was a nice compliment.

    When I was offered to have the Missouri in the real ship, I had to get it there on my own. I called Gary and asked him how they ship their models all over the world without having them wrecked. He offered two things. One, you pack it in a crate so large that it can only be moved by a fork lift thereby precluding anyone picking it up and throwing it somewhere. Two, never ship it by common carrier. They're always shipped on charters or other small parcel specialists, like the ones that move priceless artworks.

    The images are great sources for the fine details which Trumpeter's instructions don't show. For example: on Tamiya's Missouri, the floater net baskets are included. While crude in plastic, they gave the locations for the PE ones. Trumpeter doesn't include them or give mention to them, but the PE set has them. These pics show where some go. The pictures also give excellent views of the flag bags and signal halyards as well as the myriad of masting and communications/radar suites. Between these images, the photos I have and the Intrepid book, I'll be able to re-create

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