Trumpeter 1/350 CVE-26 USS Sangamon escort carrier
Mostly In-box Review

Trumpeter Box Top

Reviewed April 2022
by Tracy White

Short History

The four carriers of the Sangamon class were converted from oilers built as part of the National Tanker program of the late 1930s, where the US Maritime commission partnered with private companies to build what was essentially an "Active Reserve" fleet of tankers that could be used in time of war. Four of the original 12 oilers were pulled following the outbreak of war and converted into escort carriers. While this was considered a more successful conversion than the earlier escort carriers, the need for tankers and lower-than-desired numbers limited the conversions to just these four and these sisters were unique in their capabilities.

All four ships were converted in the summer of 1942 and took part in Operation Torch in various capacities. Three of the four including Sangamon headed west for the Pacific theater following their return, while Santee stayed in the Atlantic in 1943 before joining them in early 1944. The remainder of the war was busy and the four sisters racked up a total of 41 battle stars between themselves before the cessation of hostilities in August of 1945. Following the war, Sangamon was converted back to a conventional oiler configuration and sold to civilian lines where she served until the early 1960s. Her sisters were held in the reserve fleet before being sold for scrap in 1959 and 60.

Background and Methodology:

This kit is fit to represent Sangamon from Operation Torch in November of 1942 into the summer of 1943 during the South Pacific island-hopping campaign. While it would also serve as a good baseline for her sister ships during Operation Torch, upgrades started immediately following that create more work if one wants to build Chenango and Santee following this.

References used were a post-1943 copy of the Booklet of General plans loaned by Sean Hert and various photos scanned by myself and Sean Hert from the National Archives branches at College Park, San Bruno, and Seattle. Weapons information is as per the Gun Mount and Turret Catalog available on

In the case of surface imperfections/ depressions I wanted to highlight, Mr Finishing Surfacer Black 1500 was applied and sanded to provide better contrast than lighter colors of Mr. Surfacer and is not meant to make things "look more ugly."

General impressions

This is a classic Trumpeter kit, in that the engineering and buildability far outstrips the effort put into an accurate portrayal of the subject. It certainly will look like a Sangamon upon first glance, but serious fans of the ships will notice a lot of issues of variable difficulty or cost to overcome. My biggest complaint is that it feels like there was no one on the design team to quality-control the CAD and look for erroneous or missing details. Some of these are detailed in the conclusions section at the bottom.

In the plus column, the kit is packaged in a traditional sturdy Trumpeter box, with good separation and packing of parts (nearly 400). The heavier hull halves rest on their own separate cardboard base and foam strips are wrapped around some trees. No broken pieces were found in my example. There are some multi-part (i.e. slide molded) parts that should cut down on assembly work, and fit appears generally good. Mold quality is generally high, with no flash and only a few cases of mold seams that look like there will be more than light clean up (look for the island and mast top photos below). Attachment nubs look to be well placed, in many cases being placed on joining surfaces so that while there may be extra work in cleanup to avoid fit problems, there is far less work and concern with destruction of nearby details such as doors, hoses, etc..


Hull Sprue Hull Interior Bilge Keels & Boot topping Roller Doors midships sink marks

The hull is split in to two pieces, port and starboard, and lacks any sort of guide for separating the underwater hull for a waterline model. This was a two-piece mold, meaning the bilge keels were molded more or less horizontal instead of the 45-degree angle they were in real life. There were a couple of small depressions amidships where interior structure caused shrinkage when removed from the mold. There was no visible flash on my kit nor warping. There is no hull plating however there are raised lines to mark the boot topping. The roller doors to the hangar deck level are all molded closed, although they are recessed on both exterior and interior, so there will be less to cut through for those who wish to open their hangar bay. Chocks are molded in to some of the deck edges and are small and finely done, but feel flat and underwhelming.

These are also the first pieces where we start to see problems and wonder how much time we want to put into fixing them. There are two curves to a deck - lateral (side to side) is known as camber and fore and aft is known as sheer. It is not abnormal for a kit to not represent camber in this scale as it is a subtle detail, but the Cimmeron-class oilers that the Sangamon-class carriers were modified from had a serious amount of sheer to their decks whereas the kit only has visible sheer in the stern. This means that all of the openings on the side of the hull as well as the forecastle deck are completely level when they should have an increasing slope as they near the ends of the hull. In the case of the midships opening to the weather deck this is miniscule, but as it moves forward the problem is more apparent when compared to photographs.

Much has been said about Trumpeter's CV-8 Hornet kit and its "tanker hull." The Sangamon started out as a tanker and its hull shape is still not quite correct. The bow should have a finer edge and provide more flare from the waterline up to the forecastle deck, but the sides are flatter and a more constant curve. The instruction isometric drawings show the waterline boot topping - superimposed below this picture on Sangamon's Navsource page we can see that the boot topping has a different contour that is more of an "S" curve as it moves back from the bow:

It's a more subtle error than some of their kits and many won't notice, but it is worth pointing out for those that feel something feels "not quite right" with the shape.


Sprue B
B Tree Forecastle Deck Aft Deck

There is one sprue tree and two separate deck pieces labeled "B." Sprue B is the forecastle and stern deck pieces. Anchor chain is not molded on to the deck, but none is provided in any other form. The hawse pipe holes are simplified and squared off instead of rounded, however this area is largely covered by a 20 mm anti-aircraft gun gallery so while a fairly easy fix with the right-sized file some may feel fine leaving it as-is. Note that the stern piece is missing locating holes for the 5"/51 guns that were mounted outboard on the aft sponsons - that is because none are actually included in the kit! There are three bitts in this area; one centerline and two port and Starboard. The later two have the base piece molding on but the vertical posts are missing - there are after market sets that can be used if desired to fix this or some simple styrene rod could as has been done with many a resin kit that suffered from malformed or broken bitts. The missing bitt posts are a somewhat regular occurrence in this kit, as the weather deck under the hangar deck has six such incomplete bitts.


Main Deck aka "Hangar Deck B3"

The main deck is next up. This area was completely exposed as a tanker but covered by the hangar deck during conversion and was referred to as either the main deck or weather deck in plans. As the Navy wished to keep some of the oiler capacities the deck was largely left intact and not completely plated in to save weight and allow refueling operations. The deck is busy with detail that largely will not be seen once the model is complete, however it is mostly vertically oriented (i.e. designed to be viewed from above) with regards to the pipes and I wish they had thought about views from the side and provided some separate pieces of pipe instead of solid raised lines. The plans I have access to do not include any elevation for the piping but under the original configuration there were multiple levels of piping and I suspect we are missing out on some busy detail. As this was exposed weather deck, camouflage rules would apply and the camouflage gray and 5-N deck blue would be called for, leaving this area fairly dark and the point largely moot. The area of the forward superstructure bulkheads with portholes and watertight doorways is represented by a piece of photo-etch, which is odd considering other bulkheads in this area were molded in plastic. This area is hidden enough that those wishing to minimize working with photo-etch could leave it off and likely no one would be the wiser.


Hangar Deck aka "Hangar Deck B4"

There is not much to say about the hangar deck in this kit. The actual deck piece is smooth and devoid of detail. There are raised lines to help locate three bulkhead structures that surrounded the flight deck elevators to the hangar deck but there is absolutely no surface detail anywhere other than some knocking pin marks that may need dealing with for those who wish to add interior detail. Detailers should be able to add some simple detail fairly easily as the shapes were fairly basic, however there isn't a lot of comprehensive photography giving a clear view of these areas so it may be more than many wish to take on.


Flight Deck

The flight deck is a single piece, including some of the underside girders and side detail (compared to the Hornet, Lexington, and Essex class kits where the deck was split in to multiple pieces and sides of the flight deck lacked any and all detail). Initial fears that the thick supports underneath would create depressions due to post-molding shrinkage were unfounded, or at least subtle enough to not be visible among the recessed planking lines. The aft section has six lightening holes on the sides that are not molded all of the way through. Plans show eight - two between each transverse girder. While it should be fairly easy to drill the six out with an appropriate drill, they are not positioned correctly and one of the holes actually intersects one of the underside transverse girders completely and another one barely. Deck planking detail is fine and well executed but there is no arresting gear cabling molded in and the pulleys are missing. Some of the smaller details such as the cable lifter bars are missing and the arresting gear pulley plates are reversed and the set that went across the aft elevator opening is one segment too far aft. Normally this might seem as a trifle, but those wishing to drop the aft elevator will need to consider how to represent the cable, which was stretched forward and fastened to a tie-down strip.

For the catwalk details, again the detail is fine but there are things that are incorrect or missing. THe first issue that stood out to me is that many of the water-tight doors should be simple open-air archways that essentially look like the opening in the bulkhead without the door itself. There are photo-etch brass door sets that provide a framework that could be much easier and quicker than drilling and filing these out. The refueling stations are missing but should be fairly easy to add with small plastic rod.

The Sangamon's flight deck is a huge step up from the CV-8 Hornet kit, a decent step up from the Essex class carrier kits, but not a perfect one.


Sprue D

"D" tree contains internal bulkheads to stiffen the hull structure as well as one name plate and the shaft fairings and propellers. With this kit especially, I feel that these internal bulkheads are a waste. With any of the decks attached the hull is generally stiff enough that any force that these would help offset against is going to destroy all of the small detail pieces anyway. Only one name plate is provided and builders who want a display stand with one on either side may wish to pick up one or two of the nameplates available through ModelMonkey. The propellers are molded well but as far as I can tell are incorrectly shaped - they at least do not match sister-ship Neosho's shown in this picture on her Navsource page.


Sprue E

"E" Tree demonstrates a trait of Trumpeter that I wish more companies copied. Several of the trees in this kit and others have sections wrapped in thin foam strips as an extra layer of protection for fragile parts. There were no broken pieces in my kit at all due to how Trumpeter packaged the pieces. Once unwrapped, this tree is mostly bulkheads for the hangar deck level by space. Detail on these pieces is consistent with the rest of the hangar bay (i.e. none). Also included are the top of the mast assembly, island support girders, and some miscellaneous detail pieces such as winches and hose reels. Detail on these isn't exceptionable but is passable. The island mast top has a noticeable centerline seam but it appears to have no step so there is less of a chance if breaking the thinly-molded poles off during clean up. One issue on this tree is that the under-island supports are represented as square when they should be round and the cross members that connect these posts actually ran between the posts and the side of the hull and not in between the posts themselves.


Sprue F

This tree contained the forward flight deck catwalks and slide-molded island and aft deck structure. The starboard catwalk piece had very slight sink marks on the upper surfaces due to thicker catwalk supports underneath and post-molding shrinkage but were easy to clean up with a quick test of Mr Finishing Surfacer Black 1500. There was a splinter/wind shield for a single sky lookout station on each forward corner that is missing; these should be easy to fabricate with sheet styrene but no sky lookout station chairs are provided in the kit. The island itself looks nice on initial inspection but the focus was on side detail so the front surface is flat and missing the two portholes to the pilothouse. Three more are missing on the port side but this location is largely covered by the flying bridge platform. Again, this will probably be fine for most but some may want to create this detail with a small drill.


Sprue G

Parts on this sprue include the two aft catwalk pieces, Flying Bridge Level, and a few miscellaneous detail pieces such as the boom crane and yardarms. These catwalks also have sink marks on the top surface and more of them, and more pronounced; however a single application of Mr Finishing Surfacer Black 1500 was enough to fill them and sanding was a breeze due to the overall design of the platforms. The airplane boom crane is molded at a 45 degree angle but in service it was generally lowered to the catwalk. The Flying Bridge Level is not as busy as the real thing but it should be fairly easy for those wanting extra detail to busy it up without much effort. Both the forward and aft catwalks are missing some structures underneath and inboard of the catwalks as well as the intake trunks located just forward of the exhausts. Somewhat humorously, or hopefully prophetically, the back of the tab that labels this as G is labelled "1/700 CVE-26" (as are a couple of others).


Sprue H (two included)

These sprues includes parts there are multiples of, including the 20MM and 40MM anti-aircraft guns, anchors, flight deck elevators, exhaust stacks, and winches, to list a few. Detail on the 20mm is fine - these are not your fathers 8-foot tall blocks of kits past! Detail on the twin 40MMs is basic and since they shorted the kit by two (the stern guns provided are 20MMs when they should be twin 40MMs) it feels to me to be an easy decision to upgrade to four 3D printed or resin replacements.


Photo-etch Brass

A roughly 7.5" x 3" (19 x 8 CM) sheet of relief-etched brass photo-etch details is provided. Most of it is deck railings and the only area where I see missed railing sections is the forecastle deck. That said, pieces are included (PE-15 and PE-38) for the island mast platforms that did not exist and these pieces may be enough to fill this gap. A SC radar and YE-1 homing beacon are included, however the SG radar is entirely missing in plastic or photo-etch. There are some bulkhead pieces that are represented in brass and the forecastle deck 20MM gun band stand supports and island mast are only provided in photo-etch, so those who want to avoid it entirely have a bit of a choice to make. I would not be surprised if we see someone try and release some of these two structures in 3D-printed resin, and there is definitely room for additional details or higher-quality etch sets.



Pretty much the same basic stand that doesn't take account of the hull shape that Trumpeter has been using forever. The less said, the better.



A total of Sixteen aircraft is provided; eight F4F Wildcats and four each of SBD Dauntlesses and TBF Avengers. This is roughly half of Sangamon's air group at the time of Operation Torch but won't leave the deck feeling empty. These are new-tool aircraft and not the same multi-color sets used in previous releases. All parts are in grey, including the canopies. We might as well get the elephant in the room right away and state that they gave the one airplane that doesn't have folding wings (the SBD Dauntless) integral folded wings while leaving the more difficult Wildcat and Avenger folded wing pieces as separate. :: throws notes into the air in frustration and resignation ::

Canopy frames are molded as recessed lines, meaning builders should be able to paint them using a wash over their choice of color representing the glass portions. The radial engine area is slide molded, giving good depth behind the propeller. Separate pieces are given for either folded or extended wings, leaving the builder with some extra pieces to use on this or other carrier builds if they wish to mount some in the hangar bays as spares as was the practice in service.



A fairly comprehensive sheet of flight deck numbers, deck markings, and air group markings is provided. However, for the time period (late 1942 / early 1943) the kit represents the patterns and colors are incorrect. Regulations at the time called for stripes to be painted in Formula 251-N, which was to match 5-O Ocean Gray. The decal stripes are in white and the patterns don't match what are visible in photos. The elevators are provided with outlines that were not present but the cross "X" is missing for both. Flight deck numbers were not in use at the time of Operation Torch and should not be used if building the kit in that time frame. The jack and flags appear to have the proper 48 stars and two versions are provided for each - straight and "rippling." The blue fields don't quite match up with the red and white stripes, leaving a brilliant white area underneath the field of blue. The air group decals are basic cocards, but not the ones with the yellow ring that aircraft taking part in Operation Torch wore, so there is opportunity here for a decal manufacturer to release at least a set of air group markings.


Color Guide

My general recommendation for any Trumpeter ship color guide is to bin it as soon as one opens the box but Trumpeter is potentially fairly correct here. Paint colors are listed for Gunze Sangyo Acrysion, Humbrol, ModelMaster, Mr Hobby, Tamiya, and Vallejo. The ship camouflage database lists Sangamon as Measure 14 for 1942, but her paint on shakedown looks too light in tone fairly consistently and my opinion (not based on any documentation) is that she was probably in Measure 13; 5-H Haze gray on vertical surfaces. Directives at the time called for flight deck stain mixed to match 20-B Deck Blue and lines in a stain mixed to match 5-O Ocean Gray, not white. There are photos of Sangamon following Torch that look consistent with Measure 14, so one can't go wrong, but some may find the lighter Haze Gray more appealing. As usual, the color for the propellers are stated to be gold when they should be bronze.



A 20-page instruction booklet is provided - those who have built a Trumpeter ship kit in the past will recognize the format. Build order is fairly logical and a quick survey did not reveal any mislabeled parts.



This is a model that can turn out a good looking rendition of an escort carrier with basic work, and will serve as a good foundation for those who want to put some extra detail work in. Builders who want a fairly simple and painless aircraft carrier build and don't sweat the details should be more than satisfied with this kit. Those who want an accurate representation of the subject will be frustrated by the omissions and errors.

I honestly was not all that surprised with the lack of sheer - Trumpeter has a long history of simplifying hull shapes and getting them wrong and this was just another example of them not bothering to pay attention to details in this regard. What did surprise me is the constant theme of lack of attention to detail that is evident in this kit. The 5"/51 guns on the stern are missing even though the sponsons are there. The ship's boats hanging just forward of the stacks are missing even though the platforms for working them are there - they obviously paid some attention to this area but missed the boat literally on this detail. The stern guns are 20MMs instead of the twin 40mm… it feels like there was no quality control on this kit at all.

The missing details are annoying but in our current age of 3D-printed after market they're not as annoying as they could have been; they will just add an extra cost (roughly $75 from Black Cat Models if one goes that route) to the kit in what the builder will need to pay should they want to include the missing details. Short a lot of cutting and patching and a few new deck pieces, I don't think the lack of sheer is going to be an easy fix, but it is not impossible to move openings around and create new decks and bulkheads.

Recommended upgrades for missing details:

Black Cat Models:

  • 5"/51 gun AC350019 (two)
  • 40mm twin mounts AC350005 (two for missing stern mounts, four total if you want them to match)
  • Sky lookout Chairs AC350024 (at least six on the catwalks)
  • 25-man oval balsa rafts AC350027a (approximately / at least 20)
  • 26-foot motor whaleboat AC350028a (two)
  • 30-foot motor launch AC350094a (optional? Sangamon had a total of four boats but the forward two locations would need to be scratch built)
  • 24 inch Searchlight AC350021 (aft flight deck - requires scratch-building the missing platform as well)
  • SG Radar AC350091d

    Optional Upgrades for extra details by site sponsors:

    Black Cat Models

  • SC Radar AC350091b
  • Pelorus and Binnacle AC350025a for island flying bridge.
  • 20mm guns Mk 4 AC350001a
  • Twin bitts AC350057a (8 total for bitts with missing posts on the kit)
  • L'Arsenal

  • Hinged chocks x36 3D printing
  • Twin bitts, open, close, hinged chocks resin
  • Micromaster Premium Collection 20mm guns

  • 20mm guns Mk 4 0º elevation with square shield
  • 20mm guns Mk 4 45º elevation with square shield
  • 20mm guns Mk 4 87º (maximum) elevation (not in use) with Square Shield
  • ModelMonkey Nameplates

  • CVE-26 Nameplate

    This model was purchased by me from Skyway Model Shop. Special thanks to Sean Hert for loaning me a copy of his BOGP and scanning in the instructions sheet after I lost mine.

    This is an in-box review showing the kit contents. We welcome your input and comments in the review section of the forum especially if you can share details about fit, ease of assembly and accuracy. Click the logo on the right to join in the discussion.