Nautilus Models 1/350 U.S.S. Yorktown/Enterprise Conversion Set
Reviewed by Martin J Quinn
It's a good time to be a ship modeler.  Within the last year or so, Trumpeter has released four United States Navy fleet carriers from World War 2.  Three of those kits were different versions of short-hulled Essex-class carriers.  Trumpeter started this new 1/350th craze by releasing a model of the USS Hornet (CV-8) , which won immortality by carrying Jimmy Doolittle's B-25's on their one-way mission to bomb Japan in April, 1942.

Previously, the only large scale kit of the Hornet - or any Yorktown-class kit - had been the Blue Water Navy kits of the Yorktown, Enterprise (in late-war fit) and Hornet.  These were good models, but at $800 and up, they were not for the average Joe.   If your budget couldn't afford Blue Water Navy, you were limited to the very old Revell "Battle of Midway" carriers (Nautilus also makes an upgrade set for these) or the flawed Tamiya 1/700 Hornet or Enterprise.   So along came Trumpeter, making many a ship modeler happy (and broke).

But what about those of us who wanted to build an Yorktown or early war Enterprise instead of - or in addition to - CV-8?  The Hornet had significant differences from her half-sisters, especially in the configuration of the bridge.  Last year, Nautilus Models - in conjunction with Iron Shipwright - solved that problem, by releasing a resin conversion set that would transform  your Hornet into a Yorktown or Enterprise as either of those ships appeared in June, 1942 at the Battle of Midway.

Growing up I was an avid reader, and one of the battles that first interested me was the Battle of Midway.   Everyone knows how aircraft from the outnumbered American fleet - primarily bombers from the Enterprise and Yorktown - sank four Japanese fleet carriers on the "glorious 4th of June" that summer day in 1942, changing the course of the war.   The cost to the United States Navy was the gallant Yorktown.    As a result of my interest in Midway, I've always been a big fan of the Yorktown-class ships.  My favorite two ships have been Yorktown and Enterprise.   A few years back, I took the plunge at the IPMS National convention and bought myself a Blue Water Navy Yorktown when I found one for 50% off.   Still - I wanted to add a Hornet and Enterprise to my collection.  With the release of the Trumpeter kit and now this conversion set, I'll be able to do just that.

I called the folks at AAA Hobbies - home of Nautilus Models - and ordered my conversion set over the phone.  Several days later, a small white cardboard box arrived at my door.  Upon opening up the box, I found three plastic bags chock full of parts and a single piece of paper that has directions on both sides.  The instructions look pretty good.  There are plenty of diagrams and step by step directions on what to do.

The conversion is basically a new 1942-era Yorktown/Enterprise specific island, 1.1 inch anti-aircraft guns, and replacement 5 inch guns.  One of the things I noticed is that the main Island parts are pretty big pieces of resin.  Then I noticed that the 1.1 inch guns had been bagged with the largest piece of resin.  The result?  Out of eight 1.1 inch AA guns, five had either some or all of the barrels broken off.   (Note:  I called AAA hobbies and within two days, replacement 1.1 guns arrived).
The larger parts of well cast and pretty much flash free.  There is some over pour that will have to be sanded off.  The smaller parts have a lot of flash on them.  My 5 inch gun directors (CV-5 and CV-6 carried earlier versions of the 5 inch gun director than the Hornet) were poorly cast.  One has a hole in it, the other two don't exactly look like the pictures on Nautilus' web site or like the gun directors in the instructions.   I only need one, so hopefully I'll be able to salvage on the of three that come in this kit.
The resin poles for the tripod mast and fighting top are all warped, I'll probably just replace them with brass rod.   The 1.1 gun tubs have holes where the bottoms of the tubs meet the splinter shields, but it's nothing that can't be fixed.   The catwalks are warped - but I expected that from long thin pieces of resin.  Once they are affixed to the Island they should be fine.  No photo-etch comes with the conversion set, but the instructions reference parts from the Gold Medal Models set for the Hornet.

One difference in the ships is supposed to be the shape of the forward flight deck, and this conversion set doesn't cover that.  However, outside of the hard-core ship modelers and historians, most people aren't going to notice it.  If it's that important to you to change that, then you'll have do some work on your own.  Considering that I'm going to leave the incorrect bow as it is, I'm not worried about the shape of the flight deck.

I've always thought that resin manufacturers have "missed the boat", if you will, when it comes to conversion sets.  Outside of a relative few - Tom's Model Works and Nautilus - no one really does conversion sets, only full blown resin kits.  For $75.00, this conversion set gives you the new Island, new gun directors, 1.1 anti-aircraft guns and replacement 5 inch guns.   Since Blue Water Navy is no longer in business, their Yorktown is no longer available, and only the late war Enterprise is available from BWN's successor, Yankee Model Works.  That leaves this set as your option.

This set isn't perfect.   While the bigger parts are cast well, the small parts are not.  There is a lot of clean up work to be done, but the instructions are well done.   While I'm disappointed with the casting of the smaller parts, I do recommend this conversion set.  With a little bit of work, you should have yourself a nice 1942 Yorktown or Enterprise in 1/350 scale to add to your collection.

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