Providing a Road Map for 1/700 Essex Class Modernization – 1/700 USS Hornet (CV/CVS-12) Double Build
On a recent visit to the USS Hornet in Alameda, California, I was struck by how little the ship's hangar deck exterior had changed since World War II. Unlike the other museum ships, Hornet still has most of her roller doors in place. I had been thinking about another angled deck conversion using one of the more modern kits to represent one of the more numerous SCB-27A ships, which saw extended service in an antisubmarine and space recovery role in the late 1960s, and decided the Hornet would be a good model. Not only is her condition in 1969 well-documented, but she remains in existence and open, and I was able to photograph her extensively.
Since any kit would be extensively revised to represent her in her final condition, I chose a less-expensive Trumpeter kit, which also has the benefit of having separate hangar sides. While this is a decided negative when modeling the ship during World War II since it leave noticeable seams, it is not a problem where the hull is going to be widened up to that level anyway.
Combined with that, I was intrigued by the idea of modeling Hornet as she appeared after a year of active service in 1945, heavily weathered and one of the last dazzle-camouflaged ships. I was unable to locate one of Dragon's Hornet kits, but the Essex (CV-9) is actually a better starting point since it only has one flight deck catapult, as well as the other indicia of an early-war Essex, which is what Hornet remained until damaged in a typhoon in the spring of 1945.
Comparing the Kits
As noted above, the hangar walls are the biggest difference in the two kits (aside from the fact that the Trumpeter is underscale and the Dragon overscale). As the above photo shows, the Dragon kit contains a forward elevator shaft, and all of the port and most of the starboard side hangar deck walls are modeled into the hull. Again, for the World War II appearance this is a definite benefit. But for an extensively modernized postwar Essex, the Trumpeter approach with separate pieces works better.
On the CV-31 build, since all that was left of the Hasegawa kit was the outer shell of the lower hull, I needed a tool to accurately transfer locations from the 1/192 Floating Drydock plans of CVA-31. I marked the frame locations on a sheet of graph paper under the ship and created a jig to mark locations both longitudinally and transversely.
With the Trumpeter kit providing a hangar deck and walls, the need for locating structures would be less - especially transversely, but I also wanted something more accurate and flexible.
I'll be posting updates on the build in the WIP Naval Ships & Boats group.