Converting the Trumpeter USS Wisconsin to a 1980’s Battlecarrier,

“In late 1961 it was proposed to convert these ships by removing the aft 16-inch turret and adding a hanger for 30 helicopters (20 in the hanger and 10 on deck), 14 LCM-6 landing craft and accommodations for 1,800 marines. A study was conducted and it was determined to be a feasible conversion but the expense involved ended this proposal.

“In 1979 the Navy proposed reactivating the Iowa Class under a two-phase program. Under Phase I the battleships would be brought back into service quickly with a minimum of new modifications. This was done, and all four ships rejoined the fleet. The initial plan also envisioned a Phase II, under which the aft turret was to be deleted and a hanger and flight deck added in its place. The hanger would accommodate 12 AV-8B Harrier STOVL jump-jets. The Martin Marietta version for Phase II had a V-shaped flight deck with two ski jumps on the forward edges, on either side of the main superstructure. The flight decks would measure 330 feet by 150 feet. However, by 1984 the plans for these "Battlecarriers" had been dropped.” 

Nichimo kit for “Faces II” (Japanese mis-translation of “Phase II”). Words fail describing everything wrong with this kit. As “700” scale, the length is close to a South Dakota class ship, but the beam matches an Iowa Class ship. It is very simplistic and does not even make a good model to use as a pattern.
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Shot of the Nichimo kit deck next to the Trumpeter deck. Bit of difference there… BB66_02
Nichimo deck compared to Trumpeter South Dakota hull.  Too short for that too. BB66_03
I scanned the flight deck and “stretched” it to fit a true 1/700 Iowa class. The deck was cute from sheet plastic to match the concept as shown by the Nichimo kit. Here is the Nichimo flight deck, the print out of the scan, and the new deck. VLS and elevator locations are marked on the deck. BB66_04
The aft deck of the Trumpeter kit needs to be replaced so I cut another deck out of sheet plastic. The kit part could be used, but will require trimming deck detail to allow for the hangar deck construction. I found it easier to just cut a new piece. BB66_05
The new deck fits, leaving the aft 40mm gun tubs in place. BB66_06
Sides for the new hangar deck were built up, leaving openings for the hangar doors.  Those were backed with Evergreen “siding” with 1/32nd stripes. The VLS “field” is Evergreen sheet with 3/32nd squares. That worked out to the correct number of length x width tubes for standard USN VLS.launchers. BB66_07
Test fit of the flight deck before attaching BB66_08
Built up jump deck on the Trumpeter kit. Curved forward and aft bits were cut from Evergreen tubing. It is probably too steep, but I used the height from the Nichimo kit. BB66_09
Similar view of the Nichimo kit showing. Note the open hangar doors below the flight deck. BB66_10
Built up jump deck on the Trumpeter kit. Sub assemblies are sitting around waiting for test fitting. The gun directors with extended bases are visible below the ship. Forward turrets are finished and base painting is done. BB66_11
Same view, but with pieces in place. BB66_12
Test fit including Tomahawk launchers and aft gun director. The Tomahawk launchers show the problems with the design. I wanted to be sure they would clear the jump deck before I continued (and they do – barely!). Some drawings replace the gun director with a crane for reloading the VLS. That seemed like another flight obstacle to me. BB66_13
These are still test fittings, but things are moving along.  The super structure parts have been sanded and painted and railings added around the stacks. 5” guns are test fitted (some versions kept the standard twin turrets, but the version replacing those with the automatic single mounts was more fun). The first bit of railings are on the deck level above the guns. BB66_14
Here, sub-assemblies are actually getting attached. Most obvious is the rear stack, which is now painted. Some of the forward bridge work, more of the railings and most of the aft detail pieces are now attached. BB66_15
Pretty advanced now with the forward superstructure and stack done. Railings on the upper levels are finished. 5” guns are still test fitted. AV-8B coming off the ramp is in a “test” position. The red covers on the chaff tubes and Harpoon launchers plus the dashed red and white flight deck edges add a touch of color. BB66_16
Here are the aircraft in a test “spot”. The elevator was added as a ten thousands sheet painted to a contrasting gray. Stripes and elevator markings are excess from another carrier plus plain white strips for the center lines and CH-46 launching/landing spots. The aircraft aft of the elevator is a Rockwell FV-12. That is scratched from an F-4 and some thin stock.  BB66_17
Finished model, almost.  I still need to add the main deck railings, replenishment boom, flight deck safety nets and a final dull coat. The 16” turrets and barrels are from the kit. I drilled the barrels slightly to give some depth. ‘B’ turret has a bottom added from thin stock so there is no gaping opening underneath. BB66_18
Final flight deck spot with CH-46, AH-1, UH-60, FV-12 and AV-8. It is obviously way too crowded to be useful in real life. My spotting line for the aft CH-46 is too far forward, but it makes no difference. There simply is not enough area to handle launching the different aircraft, much less simultaneous recovery. The AV-8B coming off the end of the ramp adds a bit of action to the scene. BB66_19
Another front quarter view. I moved the SH-60 to the rear quarter on the final model. I realized flying in front of the guns and launching aircraft was not a good idea. BB66_20
Rear quarter view showing the overly crowded flight deck. It looks neat but would I doubt it could be worked in the real world.  Add the occasional salvo from the VLS to normal flight ops and it would have been crazy (not to mention dangerous). The flight deck is just too small to conduct active operations.  With only a single elevator and no parking space, how do you launch and recover at the same time? I had the temptation to start correcting the obvious design flaws as I was working on it, but I stayed focused on building the ship as originally laid out. BB66_21
Final comment: Why BB-66 Kentucky?
Kentucky languished unfinished after the war, but there were several plans to turn the ship into a guided missile battleship in the same way as USS Chicago and USS Albany. In whatever alternate universe the ship was completed in that fashion, she would have been a “single end” missile conversion. That would have done most of the heavy work one the aft end of the ship – no barbette or turret to mess with.

By the 1970’s, her Tartar and Terrier missiles would need to be replaced and that coincides with the plans to create the “battlecarriers”. With the rear turret already deleted, Kentucky becomes an ideal candidate for the prototype conversion. 

In the real world, Kentucky served as repair parts for the other Iowa class ships, eventually losing her bow to Wisconsin. By the late 1950’s, she was scrapped completely.

More of Don Joy 's work.
Updated 2/9/2015