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Trumpeter Hornet vs. Blue Water Navy Yorktown & Hornet

Side by side compare and contrast by Michael Vorrasi and Jeff Herne

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Does everyone remember the TV from the late 70s called 'In Search Of' with Leonard Nemoy? The introduction of that show had a nice little disclaimer, which I am going to use... "The program you are about to see is about the unexplained. The creators of the show have not set to prove nor disprove the unexplained, but to offer other possible explanations to the mysteries presented."

There's been a lot of speculation as to the origins of Trumpeter's 1/350 Hornet. Most folks agree that the new kit is based off the Blue Water Navy resin kits from previous years. Having access to both kits, and with Michael Vorrasi joining me as co-author (who provided research assistance to Trumpeter via Tom Harrison of Tom’s Modelworks), we've decided to do a side by side to see if this really was the case.

Michael had posted a rather critical review of his BWN Hornet kit back in 2001 on Hyperscale. From the detail in the review, he was contacted by Tom Harrison (of Tom's Modelworks) and asked if would be interested in sharing his research with Trumpeter.  Tom advised Michael that Trumpeter was about to begin cutting molds based on the BWN model as a master, and after reading the review, which confirmed what he had previously heard, asked if Mike could assist.

Michael provided a large number of photos, research sources for plans and a corrected copy of Tom Walkowiak’s CV8 plan. The Walkowiak plan, published by the Floating Drydock, shows the ship in her late 1941 rig. Michael updated the plan for the ship’s 2/42 through 7/42 rig and sent them on. A small copy of this plan appears on the instructions for Tom’s brass set.  Michael also gave Tom Harrison a list of plans that Trumpeter should order from the Floating Drydock, all either in 1/192 or 1/96 scale, of CV5 and CV8. It is the Tom Walkowiak plan, corrected for 2/42 rig by Michael Vorrasi, that forms the main basis for the Trumpeter kit.  It had been Michael’s suggestion that Trumpeter study the shape of the Revell 1/480 scale hull as being far superior to the BWN hull. Unfortunately, they did not do this.  Trumpeter relied on Tom’s plan with Mike’s corrections for everything they could, except they relied on the BWN hull when they could not figure out the shapes based on the plan.  To the extent that they relied on the plans, an accurate feature resulted.  To the extent that they leaned on the BWN for inspiration, error resulted.   On whole though, the Trumpeter kit winds up as a far more accurate model than BWN.

Yorktown has some differences from Hornet, but the vast majority of the ship is very similar, if not identical. The hulls are identical on all three Yorktown class ships.  Michael has in his possession, the 1/192 scale Tom Walkowiak CV8 plan, the Floating Drydock CV5 builders plans, which are copies of the US Navy official plans and include all decks, internal compartments and hull shapes, the Webb Warship CV5 set, which is a retrace of the original USN plans but made specifically for modelers, and much easier to read, and the Floating Drydock 1/96 CV5 hull plan with sheer plan and molded offsets. The later actually is the CV8 hull plan, compete with all the official markings identifying it as the having the status of the contract plan for CV8. It is for the hull only, but when compared the the Yorktown set, it is clear that there is no difference in the hulls between CV5 and CV8, except for CV8 having been built with far fewer portholes.  Michael’s comparison of all these plans show all of these plans follow the same lines in profile and plan view, indicating their common USN source.

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 From Left to Right: Trumpeter Hornet and BWN Yorktown, Trumpeter Hornet, BWN Yorktown, BWN Hornet

The bow areas of both kits are actually different. The BWN Yorktown & Hornet bows are slightly more tapered in plan view than the Trumpeter Hornet kit.  The Trumpeter bow lines at the forecastle deck level exactly match the Yorktown class builder’s plan when the hull is held at the perspective that lines the two up.  Similarly, the plan view of the stern of the Trumpeter hull matches the builder’s plan. There is no point in the stern at deck level. A point forms as the hull falls away towards the waterline and beyond, and Trumpeter captured this.

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 From Left to Right: Trumpeter Hornet and BWN Yorktown, Trumpeter Hornet, BWN Yorktown, BWN Hornet

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The BWN Hornet hull does have the same details as the BWN Yorktown hull in photos.  I can surmise that the BWN used the same hull for CV5, therefore she is of the same dimensions as her resin CV8 sister.  Michael, who has the BWN Hornet kit, confirms they are the same.  When looking at the overall detail of the hulls, the BWN kits are superior in detail than the Trumpeter kit. The deck panel lines are sharper, the bow area and steering gear are better detailed.

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                        Parts is parts...another commercial from the 80s...and again, the differences in the parts of the kits are dramatic.

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In the first two images, you see the resin island of the USS Yorktown, and half of the plastic island of the Trumpeter kit. The first thing the eye notices in comparing these two parts is the rake of the funnel. While Trumpeter's funnel measures out to be approximately 22.5 degrees, the BWN Yorktown is only about 15 degrees. Hmm..someone got something wrong again you say?? Well, I hate to say it... measured against the angles of the rake of the funnel against the USN and Tom Walkowiak drawings, and against A.D. Baker's Yorktown 1940 drawings, Trumpeter got the angle right, and BWN didn't. You decide...

Many similar parts share nothing in common, including the underside of the forward flight deck. In looking at the BWN resin part, it is not unlike other injection parts I've seen in the past, so I have real hard time in saying that it was because of engineering that Trumpeter did theirs the way they did...

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 The hanger deck details share a lot of similarities, however, I don't see any details that weren't altered. Portholes, although very close, don't match exact postions when comparing like parts, door details are different, part lengths are different, and even the depth of the overhangs are varied. While one could argue that resin shrinkage could be the culprit, I see more evidence that points to the fact that these are not copied parts. Again, you decide...


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 Flight deck parts are different, and without getting into too much detail, they correspond to the differences in the actual flight decks of the actual ships. The BWN Hornet kit failed to capture the correct forward flight deck shape, copying the CV5 & 6 shape instead. For the Yorktown, BWN’s flight deck is correct, but the same parts were incorrectly used in the BWN CV8 kit without change.

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The bow of the Trumpeter model has been a subject of debate. Many folks simply said that the BWN kit was wrong, therefore, the Trumpeter kit is wrong...what I find hard to fathom, is why no one mentioned the BWN bow being wrong before.  (A possible theory is that the BWN kit earned its laurels based on the 1944 Enterprise kit, which has the post 10/43 blistered hull form, and not the original sleek Yorktown hull form.)    Several photos, taken at different angles, clearly illustrate the dissimilarities between the two. BWN got theirs better than Trumpeter, but neither is right.  A comparison with the large scale hull plans and sheer lines show both kits failed rather badly in the bow department. BWN did a vestigial bulbous forefoot, Trumpeter (probably due to injection molding limitations), ignored it all together.  Both hulls lack the sharply tapered coke bottle shaped bow lines of the Yorktown class. Those with Steve Wiper’s book should compare the photo on page 42 with the models. Others who have the Floating Drydock’s Battle Damage 1, USS Hornet CV8, see the photo on page 2 showing Hornet’s hull bottom on the ways to see just how badly the hull lines were flubbed on both kits.  A look at the body plan from the 1/192 scale CV5 plan set reveals the extent of the problem.  It also reveals just how accurate the old Revell hull is.

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The old Revell box scale kit, despite being atrocious in the detail department, has the correct hull shape nailed.  The Revell kit is actually 1/487 scale, not 1/480 scale as reported.  This is probably due to the overall length error mentioned above.  Whoever measured it to get the 1/480 figure used 809 feet as the overall, rather than hull, length. Despite the crudeness of the detail parts, the Revell hull and flight deck are outstandingly correct.  With some scratch building and extra effort, Revell’s kit can be made into something really special.

The Revell hull form shows the true shape of the Yorktown class hull. Note the highly tapered bow, rounded bottom forward of the bilge keel strakes, the sharp prow and the bulged forefoot.  Also note the considerable sheer above the waterline in these areas. A small side note, the hangar deck catapult sponsons on the Revell kit are also correctly shaped.   These were removed from Hornet and Enterprise after Midway, along with the unsatisfactory athwartships catapult.  (If Revell was smart, the would keep the hull and flight deck and design a whole new set of smaller parts for this kit that are up to today’s standards. The hull and flight deck are very well done; the rest of it is too crude, but an upgrade by Revell would really be a winner.)

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The Trumpeter bow shows that it lacks sufficient taper towards the bow from the bilge keel area forward, as well as lacking the bulged forefoot.   The BWN hull bottom I similar except for the forefoot area. This hull shape is the one area that Trumpeter relied on BWN rather than go with plans.  It is the main reason that has caused many to say it is a copy of the BWN.  However, we have seen that it differs significantly from BWN in other areas. A conclusion might be made that Trumpeter relied on the BWN kit for some shapes where they did not have or use plans, such as the molded offset and body plan lines. 

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 One last point of debate...the location of the skeg and machinery openings on the hull. Obviously in the photos, the placements are very different. I researched their location, even posting on the forum, to see if, in fact, Yorktown's engineering spaces differed from her sisters, especially Hornet. After concluding that they didn't (which actually contributed to the loss of Hornet), I determined that ONE of these two is wrong...but which one is it? Both hulls are waterlined at the same point on sides of the hull, and the bilge keels line up, leaving a large discrepancy in the locations of the prop shaft openings and skeg.

Comparision to the Floating Drydock 1/192 scale drawings show that Trumpeter has the stern profile and skeg placement correct. BWN has the skeg too far forward, and the profile of the stern itself does not line up with the builder’s plans. The BWN shaft entrances are also slightly too far forward, by a small amount. The Trumpeter kit has strut locations correct. The Trumpeter shaft entrances are too far aft, due probably to a slight error in the hull shape here.   The Revell hull, and the 1/192 body plan show the hull to be somewhat Vee shaped in the stern through the prop shaft area.  Compared to the Revell hull shape, the BWN hull goes too flat and shallow here, causing the shafts to enter too far forward. The Trumpeter hull goes a bit too round and deep where the shaft entrances should be, causing them to enter the hull further back.  The props and main struts are correctly located, so the shafts themselves will be a bit shorter than they should

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In conclusion...  Trumpeter did not use the Blue Water Navy kit as a direct pattern, but merely as a research assistant. There are too many differences in the kits, including the stern, bow, location of the screws and skeg, rake of the funnel, overall length of the hull, and molded on details. To the extent that they used plans, they bettered the BWN kit. To the extent that they chose to rely on the BWN kit for a particular shape or feature, they diminished their result.  The defense rests its case... :-)

In a nutshell here's what I found:

BWN hull is shorter then Trumpeter overall, Trumpeter being correct.

BWN stern is pointed in plan view.  Trumpeter is not, matching the USN Builders Plans.

Neither kit has the correct bow shape, BWN having a slight advantage below the waterline. Both lack sufficient hull sheer and coke bottle shape. Trumpeter lacks the bulbous forefoot. Trumpeter’s bow forecastle plan view matches the Builders Plans. Both lack a sharp enough prow.

BWN rake of funnel is incorrect, Trumpeter is correct.

BWN position of skeg and shaft openings is incorrect, being too far forward. Trumpeter positions the skeg correctly, but the shaft entrances are too far aft..


Michael’s personal notes on the BWN Hornet CV8 kit:

 This kit is just wrong, period. What appears in the box, accuracy and shape issues aside, does not build a model of CV8.  Instead, it actually is a model of Enterprise CV6 as she appeared in late 1942 from the flight deck down, and from the flight deck up, the island included is really a 1944 Enterprise island with a few disguised items to try to make it look like Hornet. The BWN Enterprise kit, done in 1944 rig is a much better model.  It also captures the post 10/43 refit hull where CV6 received faired in hull blisters that made her a lot tubbier. It is the wide exposure that this kit received that caused opinions of the BWN kit to be held in high regard. It was difficult to see the bow errors due to the use of the blistered hull form.  When BWN released the Hornet and Yorktown kits, the original and graceful Yorktown class hull had to be shown.  Here it is clearly seen that this hull falls flat on its face.

Michael’s personal notes on the Trumpeter Hornet CV8 kit:

Man, do I wish they had studied the Revell hull shape as I urged them to!  Substitute a 1/350 scale version of the Revell hull into this kit and Yorktown class fans would be delirious. Hull problems aside, the rest of the kit comes very close to being as accurate a representation of CV8 (specifically) as we are likely to see in mass-market plastic. I think the most noticeable hull problem, the bow, is fixable, and if sharpened up, I think it will look very good. The island is very good.  I caught and corrected some errors on it when Tom Harrison sent me the interim CAD/CAM schematics.  The final set they sent showed they corrected virtually all the problems I was able to spot from them. The little angled tuck back on the port side of the flag bridge is an example of one of them.  It doesn’t appear in any plan, as it was a 2/42 modification, along with the angled pri-fly. Both were parallel to the ship’s centerline as built.  I sent them photos of the flag bridge and they fixed it. I still think they have pri-fly too far forward. The aft end of it should be under the searchlight on the signal bridge deck.

Some items, I couldn’t get Trumpeter to understand. As an example, I couldn’t convey to them that there was a slight difference in the 1.1’ quad mounts forward of the island between CV8 and the CV5/6 location that BWN used. It is a minor tweak I plan to make on mine.  Basically, Hornet was the only ship of the class to have powered director controlled 1.1” quads.  As a result, the clipping room that the #2 mount rests on was longer than CV5 or 6. The tubs themselves were spaced a little farther forward, and there should not be the large gap between the forward tub, the number one director tub in the catwalk, and another gap between the director tub and the 20mm gallery beyond.  The #1 director tub should look like the sixth tub (albeit slightly higher) in the five-tub 20MM gallery between the island and the 5-inch platform, and the number two director tub should appear behind the #2 tub at about 7 o’clock, and slightly to the starboard side of the island’s centerline. The Tom Walkowiak plan shows the area correctly. Also, see the color photo on the back of Steve Wiper’s book for the correct flight deck shape under the #1 tub.  That hard corner under the first 1.1” tub is a pure CV5/6 shape. Hornet had an angled cut over to the flight deck’s main edge from the island’s deck extension area.

Another slight error was the failure to offset the pilot house to the port side of the island centerline.  A subtlety I could not convey to Trumpeter was the fact that (on all 3 Yorktowns, regardless of pilot house style) the pilot house is wider than the main island structure itself, with all of the extra width being offset to the port side of the island centerline.  Tom Walkowiak’s original plan got a bit confused here, but my corrected version fixed it up, the photos show it, and the CV5 builder’s plans also do.  As a result the pilot house is a little too narrow. It needs to be widened and all the additional width hangs over to port. Revell, interestingly, got this right.

As a model of USS Hornet, Trumpeter’s kit is superior to the BWN, even given the few advantages the BWN kit might have. I think I could have had a bigger impact on the kit had I not been working long distance and indirectly, with a Chinese company.  Tom relayed to me that there were some language barriers. A little elbow grease, the application of some Basic Modeling Skills to the bow, and Tom Harrison’s brass set will really make this kit ultimately shine.  


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