Reviewed October 2017
by Timothy Dike
Mike Ashey is back with another comprehensive manual to guide you through the process of building a more accurate 1/350 scale Trumpeter Essex Class carrier. This manual focuses on the USS Franklin CV-13, but the techniques can be applied to most any ship. The Gold Medal Models photo etch set is used along with resin upgrades from Voyager Models and L’Arsenal Models. Pit-Road pre-painted aircraft are used and Mike shows how to obtain perfect wing positioning using constructing jigs for attaching the separate outer wings. In addition to the upgrades there are many tips showing how to get some of the kits ill fitting parts to mate up better. There is a step by step painting guide for achieving a perfect dazzle pattern for the USS Franklin. All of this is covered in over 400 images within the 72 pages. 

This manual is not a bunch of random techniques. It is a step by step illustrated set of instructions to guide you through the process. Each page is printed on heavy stock glossy paper and designed to be stored in a 3-ring "D" binder (not included). Each manual is 3-ring punched and also comes with a front and back cardstock cover to protect the manual and  front, back  and side cardstock inserts for your binder.  The side insert has 3 different cutout sizes for 1-1/2", 2" and 3" "D" ring binders. One advantage to this format is the ability to pull a section out of the book and lay it out flat on your workbench to guide you along. 

Click images
to enlarge

The scale modeling books that are available today all have a traditional glued or stitched binder edge.  Scale modelers who purchase these books use them frequently and need to lay them flat on their work bench’s so that they can be referenced frequently.  Glue bound books tend to have pages come loose after continued use and while stitched books solve this problem neither book can be updated or changed once published. Mike has taken a very different approach to the publication of his new line of  “Scale Modeling Technical Manuals" and individual scale modeling projects which he calls  “Comprehensive Series Scale Modeling Manuals” both of which introduce a new, innovative approach to publishing.

In the mid 1980’s Mike purchased a 1976 Toyota Land Cruiser Jeep that he rebuilt.  He also purchased  the  Toyota repair manuals and when they arrived he was very surprised that  the manuals were filled with step by step black and white pictures of every maintenance and repair procedure.  As they say “a Picture” is worth a thousand words” and using the manuals to rebuild the jeep was a great success. Mike attributed his successful rebuild project to the Toyota manuals and their step by step pictures.

What does rebuilding a  Jeep have to do with scale modeling? Well everything actually!!

As Mike honed his scale modeling skills throughout the 1980’s he purchased all of the “how to” scale modeling books that were available. As he tried to duplicate the techniques presented in these  books  that were published in the late 1970’s through the late 1980’s, he concluded that the authors who wrote the books documented their techniques after the fact, if at all,  which explains why Mike could not duplicate the author’s techniques or their finished scale models.

Successfully rebuilding that Jeep by using the Toyota manuals, gave Mike the idea to apply the manuals formatting to scale modeling books. By documenting the steps involved in a scale modeling project  in sequenced pictures, scale modelers could easily follow and duplicate Mike’s techniques.  He also wanted to take a different approach to book formatting.

 By 1991 Mike had completed his first scale modeling aircraft book which had almost a 1,000 photos. His very different book formatting approach was based upon the military technical and reference manuals that Mike was exposed to while working for the US Navy and the US Marine Corps as a Senior  Engineer.  These technical manuals were published and stored in 3 ring “D” type binders so that they could be opened up and layed flat on a work surface and when updates were published instead of issuing a new manual, just the updated pages or chapters were provided and the user simply added the new pages or chapter in the appropriate sections of the manual and removed outdated pages and sections.

Mike wanted to use this same concept for his aircraft scale modeling book.  The advantages of using a customer supplied 3 ring “D” binder are:

      Huge amounts of information and sequenced pictures can be incorporated into a manual or book

     Easy updating of pages or Chapters

      Adding new Chapters to the existing book without having to purchase a whole new book

  No limitation on the total number of pages for the book

        The scale modeler could also add their own additional pages and notes 

       Reduced production costs which means less expensive books and reduced shipping costs 

Unfortunately back in 1991, the internet was in its infancy, there were no websites for advertising,  no digital cameras, and computers and desk top publishing still had a long way to go so Mike decided to work with a publishing company and starting in 1992, authored 5 scale modeling books and 1 “O” gauge railroading book.

Today, all the necessary ingredients that were  needed back in 1991 are now available and 24 years later Mike still believes that his original concept for a different and innovative approach to publishing scale modeling manuals still has merit. 

If you have always wanted to build more than an out-of-the-box kit, this is the way to go. Step by step with plenty of photos, you will definitely end up with a more accurate and detailed kit. When your picking out the accessories for your kit, don't forget to add this ultimate manual.. 

This is Mike Ashey Publishing's "Comprehensive Series Scale Model Ship Manual Number 2 Building and Detailing the Trumpeter 1/350 Scale USS Franklin, CV-13 for $13.75. Purchases can be made using personal checks, United States Postal Service or Western Union  money orders and PayPal. . 

This is an in-box review showing the kit contents. We welcome your input and comments in the review section of the forum especially if you can share details about fit, ease of assembly and accuracy. Click the logo on the right to join in the discussion.