Reviewed by Timothy Dike
Originally laid down as cruisers, nine Independence Class vessels were converted into light carriers as an emergency wartime measure. These aircraft carriers of the U.S. Navy filled in at a time when there was a shortage of larger carriers. Because they were not designed from the outset for this role, they were cramped and had limited maintenance and storage facilities for the maximum number of 45 aircraft that could be carried on board. Their appearance was distinctive with four funnels and a rather small bridge island. However, they were relatively fast with a maximum speed of 32 knots.

This kit was originally produced by Skywave. Dragon bought the molds and rather than just offer the kit in their name, they added a lower hull and display stand and released the kit as the  USS Princeton. This kit has always been a favorite of modelers. I have seen the old ones selling on E-bay for very high prices. For quite some time modelers have been asking for a re-release of this kit. But is didn't quite measure up to the level of detail that Dragon is becoming known for, so they brought it back as a Premium Edition kit, with all new options.

The hull is unchanged from it's original tooling. It is split from the waterline to the bow and stern diagonally. The diagonal slit make for a joint that is easier to hide than an abrupt straight one. The detail is very good, and the hull shape appears to match the layout of the Independence class carrier.
So how do you show off a hanger deck on a carrier with few deck openings. How about a clear flight deck? That way you can look right into the hanger. If you don't want a clear deck, simply paint it. For best effect, I would suggest masking a section off in the middle of the deck and painting the rest of the parts. You can even leave the walls of the hanger deck transparent if you like. Detail on these parts is also quite good.
This sprue includes the lower hull, propellers, and a mounting base and nameplate.
SPRUE B (x 2)
Two of the old E-6 weapons sprues are included to supply some of the weapons and fittings. Most of these parts will not be needed and you can save them for your spare parts box.
You also get one of Dragons new weapons sprues. Included are the many anti-aircraft guns and various fittings used on the ship. Various radar's and other detail items are also included. The 40 mm guns are not bad but the gun barrels are a little thick. The 20 mm are also a little thick, but I really like the way they are molded. The front shield is offset from the pedestal and the separate gun can be mounted at any angle just like the real ones. 
 You also get Mk-51 directors, searchlights and even some pelorus mounts. All are as fine as injections molding permits in this scale. Not to be overlooked are the nice life rafts that have some nice netting molded on. 
The original kit included one TBD Devastator and one F6F Panther, two aircraft that probably never operated on an Independence class carrier. So to remedy that shortcoming, Dragon included some of their highly detailed aircraft from their new Essex class carriers. The aircraft are molded in clear plastic so you can don't have to settle for simulated clear canopies.

TBF Avenger Torpedo Bomber (six included).
These torpedo bombers have recessed panel lines and folding wings. Separate gear and propellers are included.

F6F Hellcat Fighter (six included).
Also molded with folding wings and separate landing gear and props.
A photo etch fret is included with a hanger deck insert. The deck is relief etched in a tiled pattern with tie downs etched on the surface. The real plus, in my opinion, is the replacement mast structure, boat crane, and radar. These are parts that can not be molded well in plastic and are most commonly replaced by more advanced modelers. 
The decals are pretty good, with deck markings and and plenty of markings for the aircraft. Deck stripe markings are provided as white dashed lines. The elevator markings are done in black and the elevator opening stripes are done in white. The aircraft not only have two different types of insignia, but they also have squadron markings. A checkerboard pattern to be applied to the tail and ailerons of the aircraft. These decals are sharply rendered and you wont want to replace these with other aftermarket ones.
A 10 page instruction booklet is included to guide you through a step by step assembly process. The parts are all called out and placement is well illustrated throughout. Photo etch parts are shown if you chose not to use the plastic ones. Three different camo design sheets are included. One for the Independence, and one for the Monterey, and San Jacinto
This kit is was a good kit when it was first released. Dragon made it even better. Photo etch, clear deck and aircraft, new weapons, sharper decals, and even new dramatic box art, make this a definite must have for your Pacific War fleet. It looks like Dragon is paying attention to what ship modelers are asking for and giving them more.