USS Franklin D. Roosevelt
Review by Felix Bustelo
The Franklin D. Roosevelt was the second ship in the Midway class of CVBs ("Battle" aircraft carriers). The Midways could be considered the first generation of the super carrier, being larger than the previous Essex class and designed to carry about 100 propeller aircraft. With the advent of jet fighters, the Midways were able to accommodate the next generation of carrier based aircraft and with an angled-deck conversion in the mid-1950's, they were able to meet the demands of even newer jets.
The FDR, which was originally to be named the Coral Sea but was changed to honor the just deceased President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was commissioned in October of 1945. She did not see action in World War II, but she did served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. She received an SCB 110 modification in 1954, when among other changes, she was converted to an angled-deck carrier. After over 30 years in the service of the United States Navy, she was decommissioned and scrapped in 1977.
This Revell kit was released under the Selected Subjects Program (SSP), where the firm reissued many of their classic kits in reproductions of the vintage boxes. The FDR first came out in 1954 and because of this, it has a lot of the annoying traits that very early Revell kits had, but there are some pluses as well. The kit represents the FDR (or any Midway class ship) in her original straight-deck post WW2 and I think that this is how she appeared, more or less, in the Korean War.
This is a fairly large kit, with the hull measuring 21 3/8 inches overall and the flight deck measuring in at 20.5 inches. The hull comes in one piece but it is a dreaded flat bottom hull. Despite of this last characteristic, the kit comes with the twin rudders, so this is a clear indication that the hull is not flattened at the waterline. After reviewing some photos, you will have to remove about a 1/4 inch more of the hull to make it a true waterline kit.
The kit's 94 parts are molded in an overall light gray plastic and considering the age of the molds (perhaps they cleaned them up) there is very little flash but some shallow dimples here and there. One must bear in mind that this kit was meant to be a toy, so the details in most cases are sparse and in others thick and chunky. The one-piece flight deck has rather nice details, with the outlines of the elevators, arresting wires and catapult channels etched into the plastic. Rectangular outlines are present all over the deck to show where the markings are to be painted and this may drive some of you a little crazy. Also etched into the flight deck, immediately in front of there the island will go, are the symbols © R, but these can be easily sanded down.
Present in various parts are molded lumps to represent 20mm Oerlikons that must be removed and replaced with photo etch versions. Also present in various parts are the infamous molded in railings and ladders that also must be removed in order to substitute photo etch versions. The island comes into two halves with even the Mk. 37 Fire Control Director at the front becoming one when glued together. The bridge has some decent detail and I like the bridge windows. The 5 inch gun turrets are rather nice but the 3 inch AA gun mounts are really poor.
The kit comes with 26 aircraft and comprises of (according to the instructions) 16 F8F Cougar jets (11 with folded wings), 6 F4U Corsairs, 2 Skyraiders and 2 dual rotor helicopters. The aircraft are fair in the sense that they capture the shape of the aircraft that they are supposed to be, but have pegs for landing gear.
The instructions appear to be an exact reproduction of the sheet that appear in the original kit. The fold-out sheet has a blow-up diagram of the kit and is accompanied in the right column with step-by-step assembly instructions. A painting guide appears in a box in the lower left side of the sheet and should be ignored. References are made to a flag sheet, but my kit was missing them. The decal sheet looks good but provides only a pair of yellow 42s for the flight deck, a pair of white 42s for the island and the ship name for the stern that appears to be some what oversized. Missing from the decal sheet are markings for the aircraft. The reverse side of the instruction sheet has an ad for a Revell catalog and it shows some of the kits available for sale in 1954. This should bring a smile to some of the older modelers out there who probably one of these kits as a Christmas or birthday present or with their hard earned allowance.
Folks who know me know that I have a greater tolerance for "classic" kits than most. With this in mind, it is hard to love this kit with all of its problems. However, it is a larger scale kit of a Midway carrier and it is salvageable, granted with more work than is usually the case with kits like this. Frankly, I would have never purchased this kit if it wasn't for the fact that Gold Medal Models has an excellent photo etch set that contains numerous fittings for this kit as well as other Revell carrier kits. Also, Nautilus Models is planning a resin upgrade set for accrurately representing this kit as a late WW2 Midway (she was the only ship in the class participate in the war) and is designed to work with the GMM set. So if you are up to it, buy the GMM set, buy the Nautilus upgrade (if you wish), buy this kit and roll up your sleeves - you may be surprised with what may result.