USS Hornet CV-8
1/350th scale model by Trumpeter
photos and review by Steve Jantscher
If you're into 1/350th scale model ships, these past few years have been great. First Tamiya returned to 1/350th scale ships after a couple of decade absence with their excellent USS Fletcher destroyer. Then ICM comes out with two injection molded World War One battleships (the Koenig and the Grosser Kurfurst) offering acceptable detail at very affordable levels (especially compared to resin ships in this scale) and promises an H.M.S. Hood to come. Recently Trumpeter offered a lackluster USS Arizona. Now they come out with their first boffo 1/350th scale ship model in the form of CV-8, the USS Hornet, with promises of a series of Essex class ships to follow soon. Be still my heart. If you're at all familiar with Trumpeter's recent aircraft releases, you know that each new release is better molded and engineered than the previous one. This company is riding a steep learning curve, and we modelers are benefitting from this experience.
This kit represents exceptional value when compared to what preceded it on the marketplace of 1/350th scale capital ship models. Before these recent offerings, and not counting Tamiya's old stalwarts (their battleships and the modern USS Enterprise, CVN-65) the field of 1/350th scale kits were the sole providence of resin casters, with their limited availability and high cost (albeit with exceptional detail). With ICM, and now Trumpeter the modeler is finally starting to see lower cost alternatives to the high price resin ships previously available.
If you like the scale, and aircraft carriers appeal to you, the purchase of this kit is a "no brainer". Go out and get it! If you're on the fence, then I'm here to help you. I've spent a lot of time looking this kit over, and talking with an expert on most things concerning WWII combat ships, and I'll pass on our combined observations.
First, what do you get in the box. This is a big kit, as you'd expect. The hull is in two pieces, divided along the waterline, allowing the easy display either as a waterline presentation or as a full hull version. The hull is reinforced against warping, and I test fit the lower hull to the top, and found a perfect fit. Both the full lower hull and the thin "waterline version" of the lower hull are cast in red plastic. I suspect that most modelers will repaint this feature.
About the only criticism of the kit I've heard on the net, and from my friend concerns the shape of the bow along the waterline. Some feel, after examining photographs of the real ship, that the bow area should be a bit more streamlined. To tell you the truth, it looks just fine from the side according to the line drawings found in the book U.S. Aircraft Carriers : An illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman. My friend pointed out that Trumpeter's hull lines follow closely those of the Blue Water Navy USS Enterprise kit. This is really the only criticism of the kit from a technical point of view, and is quite minor.
The hanger deck level is represented by three pieces, as is the flight deck. The mid deck elevator can be displayed either up or down, but all the hanger bay side doors are depicted in the closed position. This isn't really so bad as it offers the modeler who doesn't want to super detail the hanger deck an acceptable model right out of the box. Those who want more are provided the basics in the form of a hanger deck and thin roll up doors that can be cut and replaced with after market detail sets or scratch built detail.
The island structure and vertical sides are nicely detailed with sharply cast portholes and delicately represented hatches and other wall items. These are rapidly approaching the quality of cast resin models. Kudos to Trumpeter!
No aircraft carrier is complete without a compliment of aircraft, and it is here that Trumpeter has let the buyer down somewhat. Only eight aircraft are provided, two each of the following, B-25, F4F Wildcat, SBD Dauntless and TBD Devastator. Of course, Trumpeter knew that half the modelers would want a complement of 16 B-25s to model the Hornet as she appeared during the Doolittle mission, while others would want a more conventional load out as she fought during the battles of Midway and Santa Cruz. What's a model company to do? They have announced that they will be offering additional aircraft as after market accessories. Not the best solution, but better than nothing. The aircraft are very nice, with petite propellers and exceptional detail. The recessed panel lines might just be a bit much given the scale, but they really aren't that bad.
Most ship models can be improved with some photo etch. With carriers, there is less use for railings, as most US carriers used solid waist high walls and not railings as most other classes of ships did. Some railing were used on the island. Photo etch will however better represent the delicate radar antennas and stairways etc. that are found on carriers. It was perhaps for this reason that Trumpeter included no photo etch (as they have done in some previous ship models). To fill this void, many after market suppliers will be producing sets for this excellent kit (Toms Modelworks already has a set available as TMW 3532).
The Hornet had a special paint scheme (measure 12 modified) that is quite striking. What could be better than to paint an interesting scheme on a fine model, and then place 16 green Army bombers on the deck! No ship decals are provided, and I couldn't find any evidence that the Hornet ever had a deck number "8" showing. I believe the white deck lines depicted in the painting guide may be special B-25 take-off lines, but I'm not sure. An invaluable photo guide to the Yorktown class of ships is Warship Pictorial #9 Yorktown Class Carriers (also available from Roll Model as CWP2987). Finally, the instructions are great too. This kit will make an impressive addition to any modeler's collection.
Please see our recent preview of the Gold Medal Models PE set.
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