The USS Essex belonged to a powerful class of 27,100 ton aircraft carriers built during the Second World War. Originally commissioned on the final day of 1942, it sailed to the Pacific to take part in combat there. After involvement in various campaigns in the Pacific it was damaged by a Japanese Kamikaze attack on 25 November, 1944 off the Philippines. The carrier was able to carry on in combat, and went on to support the vital American landings on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Its final decommissioning occurred in 1969.
But that's enough about the prototype, let's talk about the model!
|For years the only Essex class carriers in 1/700 were the Hasegawa kit and the Revell 1/720 kit. Both were nice 30 years ago, but fall short of today's standards. This new carrier from Dragon Models of Hong Kong, China also known as DML for Dragon Models Limited, has raised the bar for the 1/700 world. Designed using CAD (Computer Aided Design), the parts of this model could be test fitted and checked before tooling was produced. One the design was finalized the mold was cut using the latest cutting tool technology to produce some extremely fine parts for an injected mold. The end result is a state of the art carrier.|
Dragon kit depicts the USS Essex during the 1943-44 time frame.
|The hull is one piece with a separate hanger deck and lower hull. The many openings to the hanger deck are all left open with separate roll up doors that can be shown open or closed. The hull included some really nice porthole detail with eyebrows (rain gutters) above them. There is all kinds of piping, vent, and other detail that will really jump out at you. Especially if you add a light wash after painting to highlight the details.||Click
These sprues include many of the gun platforms and bridge platforms. Notice that in most cases the underside bracing is present. There are also several mysterious platforms that are not used on this kit. Stay tuned for details on future releases. Dragon has more in store for us in the future. Also notice the open grills in the top of the funnel cap, nice!
This is the weapons spure and there are two of them in the kit. It includes the many anti-aircraft guns and various fittings used on the ship. Various radar's and other detail items are also included.
A base is included to display your ship on should you chose to build it full hull. A nameplate is also included with a peel and stick label that fits within the border.
|A photoetch fret is included that will allow you to replace some of the molded on details. The lower frame of the deck edge elevator and open radio antenna. You also get radar's and other platforms. There is also a variety of deck personnel in various poses that will lend action to your deck.|
|The decals by Cartograf include the aircraft insignia
that were used during the war and include the red outlined insignia used
briefly by some squadrons. The deck striping and lines are well done. They
are all nicely registered and much improved from the typical kit supplied
|The aircraft in this kit are simply the best available
in this scale. They are molded in clear plastic so you can mask off the
canopies and when you paint them. When the paint dries you peel off the
masking and are presented with a nice clear canopy. These aircraft also
benefit from the CAD technology
SBD Dauntless Dive Bomber (six included).
TBF Avenger Torpedo Bomber (six included).
F6F Hellcat Fighter (six included).
|The instructions are a 6 page booklet showing the assembly
in a step by step process that is easy to follow. Very thorough and well
illustrated. Camouflage is shown for the carrier in both MS-21, and MS-36-6-10D.
|There were two main variations of the Essex Class
distinguished by the the length of the flight deck and bow. These are grouped
into the short hull and long hull versions. The latter long hull
ships are often referred to as the Ticonderoga class. The Dragon
kit is a short hull Essex and can be used to build the following
|This kit is extremely well designed and packed with options. The modeler has many choices when building this kit. Full hull or waterline, Open hanger doors or closed, clear deck or opaque, and many more. Dragon USA lists this kit with an MSRP of $34.95 US. More than a fair price when you consider the extras. Right now this kit gets my vote for the best 1/700 scale injection molded kit on the market today. Bravo Zulu Dragon.|