by Len Roberto
The lead ship of the most important US warship class of WWII, USS Essex, had quite a long career. Commissioned on the last day of 1942, Essex and her sister ships would go on to crush Japan in the most powerful display of sea power in history. Essex was damaged by a Kamikaze attack on November 25, 1944, served to the end of the war and was decommissioned on January 9, 1947. She was pulled out of retirement and modernized from 1948-1951 and soldiered on until finally being scrapped in 1975.
Hasegawa’s kit is well done. Moldings are clean and the kit goes together very well. Instructions are typical 1/700 Hasegawa but the painting instructions are woeful. The modeler has to decide what Essex-class ship to build and then research what camo Measure she wore at that time. The instructions provide no help in this at all. Flight deck numbers are provided as decals along with tiny insignia for the air-wing. The deck numbers are in white, which are only used for later camo versions. I decided to model the lead ship Essex in 1943 at which time she was painted in Measure 21 which is the overall Navy Blue system.
Rummaging through my pile of photo etched brass frets; I noticed a Gold Medal Models WWII US Aircraft Carrier set with most of the good stuff still present. I salvaged a few pieces to replace the plastic kit parts: deck edge elevator safety netting, flight deck overhang walkways, 4 deck edge radio antennas, SC radar, and some walkway railings.
|.The kit went together very well. The only area needing
filling and sanding was the bow section hull joint. Hasegawa molds
the bow hull section separately and this join needed smoothing out.
Since the ship was overall Navy Blue, I could basically construct the entire
model (except the airwing) and paint in one session, touching up later
Take care with the numerous anti-aircraft guns- they are small and easy to lose. My trusty beagle helped find quite a few after launching them onto my floor. The brass parts are very delicate but add to the detail of the model especially the deck edge radio masts. I carefully folded them using a straightedge and affixed them using CA glue. The same process was used for the railings and the walkways that are attached under the flight deck at the bow and stern. Once the island and all fiddly parts were secured- it was on to the paint garage.
|Painting and Markings:
Currently, there are no paint matches out there for Navy Blue 5-B. I would have to mix the color. Also, flight decks were stained Deck Blue 20-B but these colors are a close match especially after deck weathering was applied. I turned to my fellow club ship modelers and they suggested that I use the same color overall and then weather the deck to simulate the stain. The Navy Blue was mixed with Tamiya paints. I used the mix ratio from their 1/350 Missouri instructions. It is an equal mixture of Tamiya paints: Royal Blue, Medium Blue, and Flat base. I mixed in a touch of white to lighten it up. It was airbrushed in one sitting.
|For the airwing, I used Sea Blue for the Hellcats and Light Grey, Light
Blue, and Dark Blue for the Avengers. Tiny insignia were applied
to the wings.
The deck decals supplied were white but for Measure 21, the deck numbers were in black. I found to black “9” decals in my spares. While not a perfect match (too thick), they were good enough for me.
This was a good kit of a great subject. The Hasegawa series of 1/700 waterline ships are a great place to start ship modeling. With space at a premium, these kits offer a great selection and low prices. The Essex fit well and the few brass details spruced it up nicely.
|Editors note: Len writes the Naval Corner column over on Modeling Madness, a great general modeling site that is definitely worth a look. We look forward to seeing more of his work in the future.|