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Michael Smith
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USS Essex (CVS-9) – Revell 1/530 Resurrection Build

It took three days short of a year, but I am finally calling my of a 1980 -clas angled deck carrier done. (Build log at )

The model started out as a Bon Homme Richard (CV-31) that I built in 1980, the last of nine models of this kit. Five were given to me already built in 1975 or so (the photo shows me with the first CV-12 in 1975) and the other four I built from 1977 to 1980 (the photo shows four of the original five, plus the first that I built). On the last day of 1981 all nine went into two boxes and spent the next fifteen years in my mother's attic while I was at college. I retrieved them in 1994, and took them to my first house on South Washington, and ten years later to the model workshop at our current home on Harris Lake Road.

I took BHR out June 30 of last year and decided to try to accurize it using the aftermarket parts that are now available - but mostly to correct the starboard side by lining the kit hangar deck up with the hull. That would mean adding four scale feet of hull outboard, but I figured hey, how hard could that be?

A year later, the answer is - very hard. I worked on the model continuously till November, then didn't touch it until we started sheltering at home in March, and have been working on it continuously ever since.

I was able to get 1996 plans for the lead ship of the class, USS Essex (CV-9) from The Floating Drydock, and decided to model Essex near the end of her career in October 1968 when she recovered the first Apollo mission, Apollo 7. The photoetch is by GMM, the decals and resin hangar are by Starfighter, the island by Model Monkey, and anchors, guns, boats, aircraft and deck equipment by various other vendors on Shapeways. Model Monkey and other vendors were very accommodating resizing their 1/350 scale products to 1/530 for use with the Revell kit. The Apollo capsule is scratchbuilt.

I usually build ship models waterline, but made an exception here since this was a build of a sentimental favorite. But near the end I saw another modeler built a seascape on one side of a full-hull build and decided to try to replicate it using a removable "wrap" for more of a diorama effect. A side benefit was that the uneven gloss finish reflected light back up on the hull, approximating real water.

27 additional images. Click to enlarge.

21 responses

  1. You're pictures havent been attached, but interesting story nonetheless!

  2. That’s really nice! I wish somebody would do a VN era Essex class ship on 1/700.

  3. I love it! Great job, looks like a ton of work!

  4. Nice model! These Revell Essex class carriers provided the bulk of my own carrier task force that I played with as a kid.

  5. Really nice job. I like the above and under water display.

    • The modeler I saw do it did it as a permanent attachment to one side, and I really liked the idea. I didn't get the waterline quite right, but it still looks really good from the side.

  6. Beautiful! Go Navy!

  7. Quite a resurrection. Looks good!

  8. This is great! I did the Bonnie Dick and Renwal's Lex as a youth. I also built the Lake Champlain using Lindberg's Yorktown and sacrificing the Lex's island as a SCB-27A, straight deck, open bow. We really need a angle deck Essex class 1/700.

  9. That's one impressive resurrection project Michael. Well done.

  10. Impressive work, Michael!
    I particularly like the idea of breathing new life at models finished sometime in the past.

    • The reason I could do it was that I remembered I was using this brush-on glue at the time, and the joints were so weak I could easily pull everything apart. But now I'm looking at rebuilding some 1/72 aircraft - or at least "refinishing" them with better paint and decals, and maybe some improved undercarriage.

  11. Great story: Who hasn't built one of those iterations of that kit. Your photo's from your youth, the collection and your rebuild of the model tell a great story and dedication to the model and the ship. Thanks for sharing this, you did an outstanding on an old kit, which goes to show that these old Revell kits shouldn't be discounted as a basis for a great model.

    • The more work I did the more I realized how good the original really was. I'm kicking around the idea of doing a very limited kitbash of a new model to finish the kit as the 1957 USS Bennington (CV-20) it was modeled after. Blister only the starboard side (so the hangar wall can be moved outboard to correct the overdone recess), eliminate the top 1/4" of the hull outboard of the hangar which represents the "railing" on both sides, shave 3/8" off the height of the island at the right point to correct both the height and the bridge levels, and cut off the external keel. Then finish with the Starfighter Bennington decals - the ones with the yellow striping and bow and stern flight deck numbers. Would be a striking model, but I'm just not sure I want to devote all that space to a full-hull 1/530 ship. I usually do 1/700 waterline.

  12. Wow!

    What a fantastic job. i think i can speak for many by saying that a lot of us built the old Revell kit at one time in our past; it might have been my first aircraft carrier model. The basic kit needs a ton of work but you did a brilliant job of bringing it up to contemporary standards!

  13. Your dedication is admirable. I love working on the old Revell and Monogram kits, but I pretty much build them straight from the box. Your attention to detail is certainly a labor of love. Great job.

  14. What a fantastic model. Very inspirational. Thank you for sharing.

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