Reviewed by Timothy Dike

Langley was the first Aircraft Carrier to enter service in the US Navy. Originally built as the Collier Jupiter (AC-3), she was converted in 1920 and recommissioned as CV-1 on March 20th, 1922. That year she launched her first aircraft and ushered in a new era for the US Navy. 

Langley was used to demonstrate the benefits of carrier based airpower. She was used in numerous aviation tests, and trained many pilots. The lessons learned from her were applied to newer and larger carriers. As those carriers came on line, she was no longer needed as a fleet carrier. In 1937 Langley emerged as a Sea Plane Tender reclassified AV-3. The most noticeable change in her conversion was the removal of the forward half of her flight deck. She operated in the Pacific for most of her life. She was anchored off Cavite in the Philippines when war broke out and on December 8th she sailed for Darwin, Australia via Balikpapan, and Borneo arriving there January 1, 1942. 

Her first wartime assignment was ASW duties with the RAAF. Later that month  she operated with the ABDA forces (American, British, Dutch, and Australian) Forces then gathering to oppose Japanese landings in Indonesia. She was ferrying a load of 32 P-40's to Tjilatjap, Java when Japanese aircraft found her. She managed to escape damage in the first two attacks but the third caught her in the narrow confines of the harbor and scored five hits. Her load of aircraft were set afire and steering was damaged. Flooding left her listing and dead in the water and she was ordered abandoned. Her destroyer escorts fired shells and torpedoes into her to make sure she didn't fall into the hands of the Japanese. She went down with the loss of 16 lives about 75 miles south of Tjilatjap.

Loose Cannon has produced not one, but two different models of this important first carrier and later seaplane tender. The first version USS Langley CV-1 can be used to model her from 1922 to 1936, the second kit is of her in her AV-3 configuration and can be used for a 1937 to the time of her loss. These kits share many common parts with different airwings and some instructions. 

The hull is cast waterline style with much of the superstructure in one piece. You can still see the merchant ship heritage in this casting. Detail is pretty good overall with plenty of surface detail.  Click images
to enlarge
The flight deck is a laser cut wood deck produced for Loose Cannon by Nautilus Models. The planking and all surface detail is etched into the surface and looks pretty good. A separate elevator is included just in case. 
You will need to cut the forward portion of the flight deck off to for the this version of the ship.
The other superstructure parts are cast on a thin resin wafer. Detail is pretty good overall and these parts are pretty well cast.
The guns are cast on resin sprues along with searchlights and other parts. There is a little flash to cleanup, but a sharp X-acto knife will make short work of it. 
Three types of ships boats are included Casting is pretty clean on these parts. 
Probably the most impressive part of this kit is the extensive girder work that supported the flight deck. This is provided by some impressive relief etch brass. The brass is thick and the etching is deep giving the parts a 3D appearance. This will be the highlight of the ship when finished. 
Included aircraft in this version of the kit are P-40's. These are pretty well cast with just some light flash to remove. 
The instructions are pretty extensive and show the ship in several subassemblies. The photo etch girder work will be time consuming and I would advice serious study and test fitting before you apply the glue. My  instructions seem to be only for the CV version as they only show the full lenght flight deck and do not show where to cut or where the girder work ends. I will post an update when I get the correct ones.

A really cool kit with many possibilities this kit makes a nice staring point for your early US Navy carrier force. The extensive photo etch will be a challenge to the novice modeler, but in the right hands an eye catcher. This is Kit #74 - USS Langley AV-3 - for  $140.00. A fair price for a unique kit like this with so much photo etch. 
Pacific Front Hobbies & Free Time hobbies have this kit in stock, or it can be purchased direct from LCP West. Check the Loose Cannon page for details on this and other kits.