Enter keywords or a search phrase below:

USS Essex 1:350 Trumpeter Build

110 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Wednesday, April 04, 2018 6:52 PM

I guess I'll just wing it regarding the baskets. It won't be the first thing about this build is a little 'off'. Re: the SBDs, I'm not using them at all since I've ordered some 1:350 Trumpeter Helldivers from Free Time Hobbies (they had then in stock). They'll arrive before we get back from the trip so I'll build one or two for the hangar deck and the rest for topside.

My last work session finished up the coloring and decals for the air wing and I got the good bow rails in.

The Trumpeter small aircraft decals were thick and relatively unbending so I needed to use a lot of Solvaset and Micro Sol go get them to settle down. I also had much more trouble putting ID data on them since the decal film extended fairly far from the lettering so one letter kept pushing the other out of the way. And, since i'm going all sea blue, the black lettering didn't work at all. The TBFs had white or black lettering so I used the white, but the Hellcats' lettering was only black. Black on dark see blue is invisible. The decal registration wasn't so good with some white showing around the edges. I might go back and just do a tiny bit of touchup with some sea blue... or not. The stars are all the same size, whereas I believe on some of the planes like the Avenger, the wing stars were smaller than the fuze sides and I imagine Hellcat stars would be smaller than Avenger wing stars. I may be wrong, but I just built the TBM and the stars were different sizes.

Painted the cockpit area Chromate Green in preparation for fitting the transparent parts. I thought I would get done enough with the planes today to get them in the hangar and install the flight deck before the trip, but an errand took some time so it will have to wait. I probably would have rushed it and screwed something up. The props all have some little nubs that need to be taken off, but the blades are very small and I don't want to break any. I'll practice on the SBD props that I did save.

The GMM bow rails are nice and have cuttouts for the chocks. However, I think I mounted the port side reversed. Loren Perry said that there are too many chocks on the Trumpeter model so some would be next to unbroken rail anyway. 

I use the method to hold the rails in place for CA'ing by applying some Tamiya narrow masking tape at strategic locations that holds the rail close to the edge while I'm able to apply thin CA and hold the bottom rail down to the deck with only two hands. This method works pretty well with long rails.

Notice that yesterday's galleries are gone. I bumped the Starboard side and it's CA let go so I removed them both and will reinstall when the flight deck is in place. I can see there is much, much more gluing surface on the top brass than on the rail that I used to hold them to the FD support beams. 

So that's it until Friday, April 13.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Friday, April 13, 2018 7:43 PM

Well gang, it's Friday the 13th, we're back from our New Mexico trip, which BTW was wonderful in many, many ways.

While we were gone, my order of Trumpeter 1:350 Helldivers arrived and I started building them today. I also did some work on the Ford Fairlane GTA which I'm posting on another thread in this forum. 

Again, I used the assembly line method to speed up the process while, simultaneously giving the glue some time to set properly.

Curtiss Helldivers were the replacements for the SBD Dauntless with significantly more power (the same R-2600 Twin Wasp as in the Avenger) and greater capacity, but they were a difficult design for Curtiss to master and didn't get into the War until 1944. They had teething pains and were hard to handle due to the their stubby aspect ratio. They finally were debugged and were effective, but it broke Curtiss' back. The appearance was due to the length limitations of carrier elevators in that era.

I got all the major parts on and they're ready for some sea blue. Their insignia is white star, blue circle as before, but now there are bars added which Trumpeter chose to make as separate tiny decals that need to be positioned. UGH! But at least they made the decal film coincide with the edges of the graphic so they'll nest together adequately.

I folded the wings on two of them, one for the hangar and one on the FD. On Monday, I'll give them the paint job. I'm waiting for the order of Corsairs and Hellcats to arrive, but I think they're all going on the FD and are not a bottleneck in the critical path.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Monday, April 16, 2018 5:42 PM
Short session… I produced a set of decals for the tail diamonds that represent the Essex air wing. I measured the tails with the digital caliper, transferred this to a hand sketch and then drew them full-size in CorelDraw. I set up guidelines for the extremis of each dimension set for the three types of tails (Avenger, Hellcat and Helldiver) with the Helldiver being the largest and Hellcat the smallest. I'm waiting for the Corsair models to arrive and that will be a fourth tail decal to create. I am not looking at putting on the Hellcat decals being that they are about half the size of the Helldiver's.
I made more than I need, which I'm glad I did since they're tiny and fragile.
I printed them out on plain paper to check them out and then printed them out on white inkjet decal film. I put them in the gray squares since I didn't want to print the outlines since they're thick even at hairline considering the size of the decal, and white on white is invisible.
After coating with two coats of Microscale decal film coating, I was ready to apply them to the planes. The trick was to cut them out with a #11 blade and then, using a fine-pointed tweezer, to get them onto the model in the correct orientation. Notice that there are right and left hand sets. I had to refer to the prototype picture to get their correct contour. I used a mixture of Microsol and Microset to set them down on the exaggerated seam lines on the models.
While the coating was drying I painted the Helldivers Dark Sea Blue. Again I used the new fine line detail airbrush and hand held the models instead of attempting to secure them to masking tape. As it was, I still broke off at least 4 main gears and three tail wheels of which I lost some and had to substitute brass wire. I almost seems like the black plastic Trumpeter uses for the gear is not melted sufficiently solvent cement. When I reconnect the gear leg I use thin CA. I did fill those unsightly gaps where the two fuze halves join. And, as usual, in the process of final shaping, more landing gear fell off. Seriously… they just fall off.
And here's the first plane completed. 
While holding the airplane to apply the port side set, I broke the wing/fuze joint. In the process of re-gluing this joint, my fingers touched the non-dry port side decals removing them. They were damaged beyond redemption so I replaced them. I also had to replace one half of the starboard side decals when it folded over on itself. That's why I'm glad that I made so many duplicates. I'm sure I will use them all. There are also diamond patterns on the right wings of the Essex planes, but I've already applied the stars on last week's production. I may leave them off. Each time I handle the planes, more stuff breaks.
  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 6:50 PM

Once again, input from my readers solves a couple more challenges. I could have continued hand cutting all those little triangular decals to make the tail diamonds, but the suggestion I got from a reader to color the background to match the plane color so I could have a decal that covered the entire tail might work well.

Sure did! First I had to match the color. I went on CorelDraw and chose a dark blue, then several other blues near to it. I printed out four colored rectangles (the larger ones in this image), but they were too blue. I was working up in the office and had the window shades open so I was getting good north light to match colors against one of the little planes. I noticed that the Vallejo Dark Sea Blue had some green in it, so I made four smaller rectangles and printed four more shades, this time moved slightly into the blue/green part of the color scale and found one that was a pretty good match. It is the block on the lower right.

I put this swatch next to the page with the decal drawing and then used the eye-dropper tool to match the color of the swatch. I printed them using photo settings at high res to get good color saturation. The end result was a good match as you can see with the airplance almost disappearing on the decal sheet. After the ink was dry I brushed two coats of Microscale Decal Film Coating. Inkjet ink is water soluble and will be destroyed when you soak the decals if they're not coated.

It was much easier to cut out this decal since the tiny point intersection now stays intact as the entire design is in one piece. I applied one to a finished Helldiver with nice results. 

The other things you'll notice about this plane. First is the propellor is on and the prop hub is nicely reflective using the Molotow Chrome Pen. The other is the canopy is on AND  the frame lines are drawn using a brand new fine line Sharpie. This was another idea from a reader. I wasn't sure it would get thin enough, but it did. It's black and not sea blue, but it's so darn small, it just give the effect of a frame. I glued on the canopy using Forumla 560 canopy cement which is formulated from gluing on RC plan canopy. It's a PVA cement and dries clear and doesn't craze the styrene. Still need to add the yellow prop tips.

I'm still waiting for the additional Corsairs and Hellcats, so after the decaling, props and canopies for the remaining craft that I will put those in the hangar and get back to boat building.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 6:05 PM

Today, I finished all the planes that I currently have (still waitingo on additional Hellcats and Corsairs) by adding and lining the canopies, adding the props and painting yellow tips, and preparing some for mounting on the hangar deck.

I shot the following in four takes so I could get good detail of the planes. I hand brushed a layer of Tamiya Flat Clear to blend the decals into the surface. All the planes shown here  are not going on the hangar deck as you'll see shortly.



More Helldivers

And Avengers

I was ready to place planes permanently onto the hangar deck in preparation for attaching the flight deck, but was dubious about the ability of those spindly and fragile landing gear to hold them to the deck. Once the FD was in place, if any broke loose, I would not be able to reattach them. So I drilled each plane with a 0.032" drill on the correct angle that they sit and CA'd a piece of brass wire of the same size into the hole.

I drilled out the same sized hole in the hangar deck and implanted the planes were I wanted them. I had to be very careful when pushing the rod into the deck holding it with a tweezers carefully positioned around the landing gear. I didn't want to put too much pressure since if anything moved suddenly the planes could be destroyed. As it worked out, I only had to reglue one folded wing. Lucky!

There aren't many planes on the hangar deck, but they're in strategic locations so you'll see some planes through the door openings, especially with the lights on.

I didn't use any glue on the pins into the deck since they were a tight fit. But nothing moves when you turn it all upside down. I'm now ready to attach the hangar deck and get on with all the flight deck edge details.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Thursday, April 19, 2018 4:18 PM

Short, but important session. Got the flight deck and the hull merged.

First I scraped all the white paint off any gluing areas. Next, I put a piece of Masonite on one of my work surfaces (an old drawing board...remember what they were...bolted to an Ikea bar stool), laid the flight deck down bottom facing up, then the hull, and then wood blocks and finally quick clamps.

I liberally applied solvent cement around the perimeter and used a syringe to get it into blind spaces behind the FD gun tubs that line its edges. After giving it some curing time I took all the clamps off and found that it was a terrible job. There are many ribs on the FD bottom that are supposed to lie behind the hangar exterior walls and they are not easy to align. And they weren't!! 

There were humps all over the flight deck where these ribs were pushing up the FD where they should have been lying flush with the FD. As it was, so little of the joint was actually made, it took very little effort to rip it apart and do it again.

The second attempt was a bit different, but eventually used those same big clamps. This time, I spent a lot of time aligning all the joints holding the whole deal in my lap and using the small Quick Clamps to hold each section as I got it engaged properly. This took about 20 minutes. I had to trim some of the thin plywood holding all the LEDs since it impinged on the flight deck, and then secured each section with sovent cement and in some cases, medium CA.

I am SO glad that I pinned those planes onto the hangar deck since I was seriously manhandling it during this time and I assure you, if I had just glued them, they would have all broken away making a bigger mess. Furthermore, The pins are firmly embedded into the planes' fuselages and aren't dependent on those ridiculous landing gear.

Once I got it all glued correctly, I re-laid it back onto the table with the blocks and big clamps to hold it till it completely dries tomorrow. AND I did get the wires routed from the hangar deck to below decks before gluing this all together.

I'll have to go back and do some Navy Blue touch up air brushing to fix all the marks I made on the hull due to all this handling. The Trumpeter instructions have you putting on the flight deck in three pieces. Frankly, I can't imagine that being any easier since getting the sections joined evenly was not so easy either.

After dinner went down to the shop and pulled off all the clamps. This time, I have a good joint all the way around. The deck is solid and flat. I'm closing up the deck elevators so the misalignment below on the front one will not be evident.

This is a loooonnnng model. While the newer carriers are even longer, they don't appear quite so since they're much wider in the mid-section due to larger sponsons and the very prominent angle decks. Even the later mods to the Essex class (angle decks, modified islands and funnels, and hurricane flat fronts on the bow) reduce their long, lean look as they had in WW2

Here's an example of some of the clean up work that needs to be done. This joint should be continuous with the island above and the hangar deck walls below. I'll have to finish it up a bit and do the repainting.

I need to attach the 39 ohm current limiting resistors to each green wire and then test the LEDs. If they don't work, there's not a darn thing I can do about it. They worked before, but I did have to put some strain on the green wires when pulling them all the way through the brass sleeve and this could have broken conductors within. I can then get ready to put on the lower hull. If I chose to paint the lower hull before gluing, I am sure that I would need a lot of touchup at the glue joint. I'm going to have to mask anyway since the boot topping needs to be painting. I'm quickly reaching the point where I need the base plank so I can drill the plank and hull together so the holes line up. I will mount it to the base before doing the rest of the detailing as I did with the Missouri so everything will be nice and stable and enable me to move the model without touching anything.

Tomorrrow I have some errands to run... Corsairs/Hellcats arrived at hobby shop... so I may or may not get a lot done. I'll keep y'all posted.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Friday, April 20, 2018 8:46 PM

I wired up the lights below the hangar deck by first tying on individual 39 ohm resistors to each negative lead and then combining all four together and adding a single negative lead that goes to the connector. I stripped and tinned the positive lead and then test everything. One light did not work as I suspected due to my excessive tugging on the negative leads getting them all down that brass tube, but 3 out of four makes a lot of light and I'm not too unhappy.

I then started preparing the bottom hull. Essex carriers have two struts connecting the shaft and bearings to the hull at each position, but Trumpeter only has a single vertical strut. This picture shows the Intrepid in dry dock undergoing repairs from an airial torpedo hit.

Using some 0.040" X 0.080" styrene stock I shaped it to an aerfoil shape approximating the molded vertical struts on kit parts. I needed to ensure a good joint so I pinned the upper junction with 0.021" brass wire.

I shaped the upper end of the new strut to conform better to the prop bearing housing, and then shaped the lower end so it would mate with the hull underside. I glue the new strut in place with solvent cement at first, but then resorted entirely to medium CA. 

The two inner shafts had long struts, but the outers had only one that needed doubling up. The forward strut was so short that making an angular one didn't seem to be very doable. I will clean up all the glue marks before painting which should occur next week.

With the shafts now "properly" supported I can rest easier when I assemble the bottom of the hull. Which reminds me... and I could have really screwed this up, but writing all this stuff down helps you think... I have to install the mounting hardware for the base pedestals. I really can't close up the hull yet... and I'm going to glue the lower hull on and clean up the joint before doing the hull red and boot topping painting.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Monday, April 23, 2018 6:35 PM

It was time to paint the flight deck, but before I could do that I had to install the mid-deck elevators. They're held in place by simulated hydraulic pistons. You can't really glue the elevators directly into the deck since there is a gap all the way around and no lip so gluing would be a real problem. I hadn't fit these parts before the flight deck was glued in place. Had I done so, I could have glued in a lip around the bottom of the opening to provide a level gluing surface. When I glued in the pistons and tried the elevators in their spaces they were not flush. The elevators were below the FD surface by varying amounts. After measuring with the depth gauge on the digital caliper I found the mid-ship elevator about 0.050" low on one side and 0.020" low on the other. I shimmed the bottoms of the pistons to raise the elevator the correct amount.

I painted the footings with deck blue and the piston rod with the Molotow Chrome Pen, and the elevator bottom, white, to match the rest of the hangar ceiling.

The whole assembly was glued in place by medium CA on the piston feet and the result was a nice flush fit elevator. 

The forward elevator had similar alignment problems with the high size reversed in position from the mid-ship elevator. It was also less severe being level on one side and 0.020" on the other.

With the elevators in place, I masked the deck edges with narrow Tamiya tape and then with fat 3M blue tape. The Life Color Flight Deck Blue Stain is a much lighter color than the standard deck blue. I didn't want this paint on the hull or inside the hangar deck.

Before shooting the FD Blue, I wanted to lay down some wood tan. My plan is to lightly sand off the deck blue in the wear areas to expose the wood decking below. I used the cheap fine-line airbrush for this color.

Being Tamiya paint, it dried quickly. I first used my new cheap med-line airbrush for the FD Blue, but wasn't happy with how it was working. I mixed the paint about 40% Testor's Acrylic Thinner to paint. After painting for a while and cleaning the gun twice, I switched to my very old Badger 150 and finished the job without difficulty. I'm going to have to figure out what's going on with the new air brush. Just because it was new and cheap doesn't make it effective.

After the FD Blue set up I removed the tape and went around the model to do touch up painting. I added another 40mm gun director tub and platform on the forward port side. This little platform seems like it going to need a PE railing. In fact, there are tons of PE railings that connect the catwalks to each of the 20mm gun galleries. I didn't want to sand any paint until it was fully set up. Even though it no longer looked wet (I used the heat gun to force dry it), I can still smell resin and will sand it tomorrow or Wednesday when it's fully cured. I'm actually being patient here...!

While this was drying I started fine sanding the Ford GTA. I was working on the body and the window pillar on the driver's side separated at the base of the windshield. This was the area where I opened the body to make the driver's door operative.

So I went back to work on the Essex by starting to build the new airplanes that arrived. This time I decided to get rid of the overly dramatic panel lines by filling them all with Tamiya putty as I go along. It's nice that gull wing roots are molded in one piece so I didn't have to worry about getting that right.

Incidentally, this particular aircraft didn't come into the fleet until late in the War so Trumpeter has made the decal sheet for the Essex and has the diamond tail pattern, so I don't have to create another custom set. I was surprised and happy to see this little help. Or as Mark Knopfler sang, "You get lucky sometimes."

I have a couple more build days and then we're off on another trip. This time it will be our Springtime trip back East to reconnect with family and friends.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Tuesday, April 24, 2018 5:57 PM

Continued building the Corsairs today with the filling and attaching the wings and the horizonatal stab.

Just started to put on the landing gear, got looking for my thick CA, and got sidetracked. In looking through my messy shop for a small tube of Henkel thick CA, I was looking at the "B" sprue and noticed three parts that weren't on the ship, but seemed like they should be. One part, a partition, I found noted on the instructions which I had missed. It sits on the port side aft just behind the 40mm gun tub that sits in the front of the space. The other parts were two similar 20mm tubs that should be hanging off the flight deck, but there was no mention of them in the instructions and I reviewed them over and over. There were two notches in the after end of the starboard flight deck that fit these parts perfectly, so I glued them in. Instructions showed the gaps in several images. Without these being there, there was no purpose for the galleries on either side. They had to be there. Trumpeter made a mistake.

One of them had provision for lift rafts. These needed painting: white on the bottom, navy blue on the sides of the splinter shields and deck blue for the horizontal services, but was not an airbrush candidate so it was all brush painted. Deck blue wasn't completely dry in this picture.

Last thing I did was more touch up painting and I decided that the lift rafts needed to be a different color so I painted them haze gray. I was unhappy that the edges were navy blue and the undersides were white. Now they're differentiated. I would imagine that life rafts would not be painted when the ship was. I'm noticing the un-filed sprue tabs on some of them... I'm slipping.

I may or may not get back in the shop tomorrow since we're heading East on Thursday for our Spring trip. If I don't, I be back reporting on this build during the week of May 7.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Wednesday, April 25, 2018 5:57 PM

Did get some work in starting at 3:30 and finishing at 4:45. Got the Corsairs ready for paint and started on the last 6 Hellcats. In order to glue those pesky Trumpeter tiny landing gear into the wings I needed something different. At THD I found Loctite "Plastic Bonder". It's CA plus an "activator". The activator smelled suspiciously like CA accelerator, but it works. I believe the landing gear is Delrin or some other tough, flexible plastic, that's hard to glue with solvent cement. Loctite is owned by the company paying my retirement, Henkel of Duesseldorf, Germany, the best company I ever worked for. 

There's not much CA in the glue tube. I was mostly air.


You apply the activator which is a felt-tipped applicator and then give it about a minute. Then you apply the seems-like medium CA to one part and put them together. It seems to work. The gear are secure and none fell apart. Furthermore, I actually got all three kit gear on every plane without losing or breaking any. Whoopee!

So here are six, gull-winged beauties that will have to wait until we return from our trip.

I then got to work on the last Hellcats. Again, I'm filling all the visible seams except for flight surface joint (flaps, ailerons, elevator and rudder). I smeared the filler on the wing top surfaces, but not the bottom since it won't be seen. All of this will have over a week to dry since that's when it will be sanded off.

I also found a way to remove the props from the frets without a) leaving a nub which is next to impossible to trim, and b) not breaking any. I used a very sharp, new #11 blade to carefully trim them off, instead of using my flush cutters since on parts this small tend to have a little sprue left over.

Just for fun I decided to place all the air wing so far onto the flight deck. I will have a total of 19 aircraft when they're all done.

So until we return, have a nice Spring.

  • Member since
    July, 2013
Posted by steve5 on Wednesday, April 25, 2018 7:38 PM

really enjoying this build builder 2010 . see you when you get back

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Tuesday, May 08, 2018 5:29 PM

Well Steve... I'm back. Had a very nice trip back East. The first weekend was so cold in State College (Penn State) that we had winter coats, hats and gloves. By the end of the week the temp was in the low 90s. Ah... Spring. Yesterday and today the Louisville weather was absolutely perfect and I got another color coat on the Ford Fairlane model and then got back to work on the Essex. 

I ordered the threaded tubes, nuts and bolts from Grand Brass Lamp Parts on the web. While I didn't buy the pedestals from them (bought them from, they had the same turned brass parts for less money AND they had many more different turned objectst that would make very nice ship pedestals. These are a 28 thread pipe thread that's specific to lamp construction. It's a straight thread unlike pipe threads which are tapered, but you won't find 1/2-28 threaded nuts at Lowe's. You'll need to get them at a lamp supplier. But the tube is designed to fit the pedestal perfectly. 

These parts are not particularly expensive.

Then I got back to work on the Hellcats. I sanded off all the excess filler that was not totally cured after sitting for 13 days, and assembled the parts. Got almost finished putting on the landing gear and got drawn away to go with our oldest grandson to get fitted for his Jr. Prom tux. His mom was out of town, so I'll finish the Hellcats tomorrow and paint both them and the Cosairs. By the end of the week the air wing will be complete and I'll be back to work on the ship itself. I should be getting the finished plank any day now and prepare the lower hull for mounting. I think I want to put all the gallery guns and railing AFTER the ship is mounted to the plank since it makes it very stable. That's how I did it with the Missouri and it worked pretty well. Once I get the plank and get the final dimension on the perimeter rabbet cut that will support the clear case, I'll send those measures off to the plastics shop and have them cut to size.

Notice, I did not fill the seams on the horizontal stabilizers. Enough was enough!

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Thursday, May 10, 2018 5:26 PM

Yesterday, I finished gluing all the Hellcats together. Only lost 2 tail wheels...

And then today I air brushed the Vallejo Dark Sea Blue. Took several light coats. Mixed the paint with about 30% (guesstimate) of Testor's Universal Acrylic Solvent.

Tomorrow I'm tied up and will not get much (if any) shop time, so the next work session I do have I will add the interior green, and flat black detail painting and start decaling. That should take a couple of days and then it's back to the rest of the ship. The plank is on its way and I may have to wait a bit longer to get the lower hull finished. I have other projects to work on during the wait. Can't order the plexiglass until I have the plank to take as-built measurements.

BTW: I ordered and received Bondic UV-cured adhesive from Amazon. I wanted to see it if would work for the landing gear gluing. I arrived when we were away so I was able to try it out yesterday. It does work, but it needs a roughened surface or it doesn't hold so well. It does cure quickly and stays gel-like until you shine the light on it... which is convenient. I wonder how well it will work in holding on PE railings? Only restriction is the light must be able to get to the gel. In a totally closed joint it will not work.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Monday, May 14, 2018 5:53 PM

The day started by painting the details on the 12 new airplanes (black tires and engines, plus interior green cockpit area). I then started the decaling process by putting on my custom tail design on the Hellcats and began the stars and bars decaling. I got one plane complete and started one more, and then broke for lunch. The Trumpeter Hellcat and Corsair decal set has the stars and bars as separate decals. I know why they did this, but it wasn't nice. The earlier planes just had stars and then later added bars so having them separate let you choose. BUT... it makes putting on the decals soooooo much more annoying. I found you have to trim the circle very tightly on the the sides and do the same for the bars mating sides so they'll nestle in correctly. I used MicroSol to get everything settled down.

This close up shows the large clear area surrounding the printed area and this makes getting them close impossible. If you put on the star first, let it totally dry and then added the bars so the clear part overlaps the star, it could work, but it would also be a pain. Trimming close works better.

Then, during lunch, the mailman delivered my oak plank from my close friend in Albuquerque. It was packed within an inch of its life and came through unscathed. 

I masking-taped the top and bottom areas where the drilling would take place to prevent break out when the drill comes through. I located the center and drew a center line down the back side. My mount holes are to be 7 inches apart and I laid those out also. But they needed to match the ships layout and I couldn't drill them at the same time (safely) so I drilled a 1/16" holes in the hull at the proper locations and used a transfer punch of the same size to locate the two hole locations on the plank's bottom.

The bottom needs to be counter-bored so there's room for the threaded pipe and brass nuts and this is done with a forstner bit. It has a pip in the middle which then serves as the starting point for the brad point bit to make the clearance hole. I put it all together to test the fit and it lined up nicely.

The upper and lower hulls are NOT glued in this pic, nor are the fasteners epoxied inside the lower hull. I was able to take final measurements for the plexiglass and I'll order that tomorrow. The I noticed how close the side elevator is to the rabbet edge that holds the plexiglass. I put a piece of flat stock in that location and found that there was about 1/16" clearance. Whew! Then... while driving my grandson home from his piano lesson and describing this new addtion to him while he looked at the pics, I remembered that there are PE simulated safety nets that go on the elevator's outer perimeter and they will exceed that 1/16". 

What to do? The pedestals are wider than the holes with enought material that I probably can elongate the holes in the hull enough to push it slightly off-center and give myself enough clearance to add the elevator nets. When I initially meausred for the plank, I guesstimated where that elevator was going to fall and thought I gave enough addtional clearance. It will work, but not without a little anxiety thrown in.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 7:12 PM

(Pictures weren't loading today... Don't know why... Post-Image downloaded pics, but didn't display them. When it starts working again, I'll edit this post to show them.)

First thing I did today was elongate the holes in the hull to move the hull to starboard with enough clearance so the elevator safety nets will fit under the plexiglass cover. I held the pedestals over the holes and traced the perimeter so I'd know how much stock I could remove without exposing the hole. It gave me a good 3/16" which was all I needed. I then scribed the amount to remove and used a carbide router to clear it out. After again checking the clearance, I epoxied the brass thumb nuts into the hull. Again, I traced their outlines so I could correctly position them while curing. A little got into the threads on one of the nuts, but I got it out before it was fully cured. The nuts have a knurled edge with made it perfect for epoxying and will not spin or break loose. The thing in the middle is the connector for the 5VDC power source for the lighting.
Then it was back to the little airplanes. I got the insignia on all the Hellcats and then did the Corsairs. As noted the stars and bars are separate decals and need to nestle together to look right. I began to cut them en masse so I could work a bit faster. I also was getting hang of handling little decals with a tweezers. I never thought you could handle little decals with tweezers. You can see how close I had to trim the star and one edge of the bars so they'll nest together. BTW: the tail decals on the Corsairs are Trumpeter decals and went on well. Saved me design and printing time! The toothpick gives evidence of scale.
I always was under the impression that you had to "slide the decals off the backing paper onto the model" and with small decals that gets to be a miserable challenge. I saw a video where the guy was manipulating the small decals with tweezers. He'd pluck them off the backing and transfer them to the model. I tried it with these mini-decals and it worked very well indeed.
So I finished all the decals for all the new planes.
All that's left is canopies and props. They're not troubling and will be done tomorrow. The epoxy will be cured and I'm going to paint the lower hull with Tamiya hull red and then solder the lighting leads and attach the lower hull to the upper.
  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • From: USA
Posted by keavdog on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 11:06 PM

This is progressing nicely!  I've never done a carrier.  Seems like you're build 1 big model and 50 little ones.  Looking good.



  • Member since
    December, 2003
  • From: 37deg 40.13' N 95deg 29.10'W
Posted by scottrc on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 11:10 AM

This is coming along well, you have progressed a lot since I was last here.  

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Friday, May 18, 2018 7:18 PM

Thanks Guys! Didn't get much done this week due to family errands and buying a new refrigerator. The freezer was turing ice cream into...well...just cream. Small lead of Freon and it's a 12 year-old unit so it was replacement time. 

As promised here are the missing pictures from the last post. Post-Image started working correctly again.

This shows the little pieces of decals for the three-part stars and bars.

The epoxied knurled nuts for the pedestal hardware connection.

Today, I painted the hull Tamiya Dull Red... I wonder if that was a mistake since I'm sure that it should be "Hull Red", but the label read "Dull Red". I sprayed it in the garage with the door open since it started to rain. I actually got a couple of water drops on it and took it downstairs and force dried the first coat with the heat gun, and then sprayed another coat under cover. Wife had the Buick out of errands so there was plenty of room.

Paint was glossy as it was still wet.

Got back to finishing up the air wing. Found that Bondic was great for gluing on canopies. It's the UV-curing adhesive/filler that's sold in places like Amazon. It's not cheap (about $20 for a kit with two tubes of adhesive and the UV-LED light source), but it worked great. Since it doesn't cure until you hit it with UV, you don't have to rush in getting things positioned or getting glue on unwanted places since it just wipes off. A small amount under the canopy, position the canopy and then shine the light on it for about 5 seconds and it's solid. Since the canopies are transparent, the UV penetrates to the entire bit of adhesive and cures it all completely. I lost two canopies, one to the Rift out of a holding device and another got crushed. I was holding it in my small Xuron tweezer pliers a bit too hard to file the back edge of the canopy. Due to molding draft (the angle on molded parts that enables the part to be pulled from the mold), the canopies especially on the Hellcats was not nestling into the back of the opening. Well... I didn't know my own strength and the part simply exploded. 

So I was able to re-create the semblance of a canopy by using multiple layers of Bondic to build up the contour. I put on a layer, light it up, and then add another layer. It worked very well and after using the Sharpie to line it you can hardly tell which has a molded canopy and Bondic one.

Then a near catastrophe happened. I didn't realize how precariously the hull was situatued sitting on my O'gauge railroad tracked shelf. I was trying to neatly position the entire air wing and the entire ship and all the planes headed for the concrete. I was able to break the fall of the hull so it landed with no damage (miracle) except for the elevator being bent upward in its mounting... very correctable. And of all the planes hitting the ground, four were damaged: one landing gear - reglued, one prop - reattached, and one prop lost to the Rift - modified. The only plane that is being scrapped is a Corsair that lost a tail and can't be replaced. That tail was poorly mounted in the first place. 

For the missing prop, I took it as an opportunity to attempt to make a spinning prop simulation. The prop radius meausred to 0.215". So I made a disc out of 0.010" clear styrene and glued a broken prop hub into it after drilling a 0.038". I then mounted this tiny hub into the Dremel and spun it slowly and painted the yellow rim. I then hand painted the prop sweeps using flat black. It's not great, but it was worth the try. So the air wing is now complete. On this batch, I even went so far as to paint the oleo struts with the Molotow Chrome Pen. AMS rears its ugly head again!

Next session I will solder the lighting leads to the connector and then glue the lower hull to the upper and mount it to the base. Then it will be time to finish up detailing the catwalks and galleries, and mount many, many guns. I still have to rig the island before attaching it. It will be attached after I decal and weather the flight deck.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Sunday, May 20, 2018 8:45 PM

A rare weekend session and some progress to report. It was time to connect the hull to the bottom. I found that the width of the upper hull was wide than the lower hull and I was well beyond the stage where I could do filling. What needed to be done was remove the hull structural supports that Trumpeter molds in to strengthen the hull structure. When I cut, relieved and removed them I was able to pull the hulls sides in to match the lower hull's shape. 

I had to keep reminding myself to hook up the wires to the hangar deck lighting. Simple solder job. The center lead is the hot lead and even thought the connector in most electronics has three leads, only one outside lead is negative, the other is not connected. You have to do a continuity test to find out which one is real.

I was then ready to glue the two together. I used an old, short-bristle brush to smear on Testor's tube cement. I didn't want the glue to dry to quickly and any solvent cement would. I then fit the hull in place and used Tamiya masking tape to hold together any stubborn areas.

It was time to mask and paint the boot topping. I don't know the exact measurement and, unlike Tamiya, Trumpeter doesn't etch the positions of the waterline and boot topping, and I wasn't able to run a surface gauge around to scribe an even line. So I did the next best thing and used Tamiya narrow masking tape as a guage strategically place pieces around the hull touching the existing waterline. I then used the same tape to create the line. This was all done after I masked the lower part of the line with thin tape and then thicker tape and finally newsprint with 3M blue tape. For the tight curves  around the stern, I used a new product, Tamiya curve tape which is flexible and bends nicely around turns without buckling.

Boot topping was painted flat black. Once dry I permanently mounted the ship to the plank and then protected the exposed wood for the rest of the build with bubble wrap. I found some damage to the elevator due to the ship's fall to the concrete last week. I will repair the elevator as best I can... the PE looks pretty pathetic...and I'm going to install it in the lowest position which I couldn't do before. Making lemonade.

With the model mounted and base protected, I turned the whole deal upside down and rested it on the flight deck and finished installing the hanging catwalks under the bow. There are four of them. Two which I has installed before and that fell off, and two more just under the flight deck's forward edge.

I turned it back rightside up and started installing the catwalk railings. GMM includes a lot of standard railings to be glued to the plastic catwalks on the model. On the upgrade set, GMM has a catwalk that has 3 folds, a under-bracing, the perforated catwalk and the railing. You're supposed to cut all the kit catwalks off (which I hadn't done) and then edge glue the folded assembly to the existing spot. I was not happy about that so I chose to glue the perforated assembly directly onto the plastic catwalk. It's the best of both worlds since you can see the perforations when you look down on them, but they're much more secure.

Then I noticed something on the floor. It was one of the twin 20 mm gun tubs AND it was flattened by my desk chair wheel. It wasn't a lost cause, just a hospital case. I removed the crushed plastic splinter shields and the under-bracing and sanded the surfaces smooth. I then fabricated new shields and bracing using the same Evergreen strip that I used for the scratch-built railing on the island.

The end result was glued back in its place. No harm, no foul. The thinner shields look better, but it does make the tub a tad wider since I'm gluing the shields onto the perimeter edge and the kit's come straight up from the end.

The reason I was able to work on a Sunday was my number 2 grandson had another school project. He's in 8th grade and finals are next week. This time was project was creating a mouseleum and crypt to be used in a Romeo and Juliette discussion. He did most of the work and when I wasn't helping him I was building an aircraft carrier.

This was my first Trumpeter big ship kit and, while I understand the reason for the two-part hulls, I find the results to be sub-par. It's a very long glue joint that is very easy to have mis-fits. I can imagine that it does make building a waterline model easier, but it makes doing a standard build harder than it needs to be.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Monday, May 21, 2018 7:52 PM

First, I thought I took a picture yesterday of the Tamiya curvy tape, and I had, but it was in my deleted photos on the iPhone, so I retrieved it and here it is. You can see how nicely it conforms to the curve.

Today, I turned the ship around and put in the catwalk rails. There were some wrinkles to this side since the rails go up and down around the places where the long range radio antenna go. You can just do a straight bend on these rails since it will impinge on the parts that bend at a different location, so some of the smaller bends were done the old-school way, pliers. There are simulated steps included in this piece of brass that gets folded at an angle to conform to the plastic and the railing.

Before the brass can go in place, I had to mill off plastic bumps that were used to locate the kit's antenna bases. It looks like heck, but it gets covered by the brass and touch-up painted. This is creative destruction. When modifying models you always go through this "demo" stage before it gets better.

In this pic there are two brass folded parts; one on the upper and one on the lower levels. The stair component is part of the upper brass piece. Really spiffs up the edges of the flight deck.

There are a passel of small ladders that go from the flight deck down to the catwalks. These are part of the basic GMM set. GMM doesn't specifiy where they're supposed to go and says, "check you reference material". I don't think they going into the gun tubs since there's no room. Besides, the model doesn't include ready-ammo lockers that would be near the 20mms I presume.

The above shows the catwalks after the first round of touch up painting. After I put these small ladders in place, I'll go back and do it again. I definitely can appreciate the delicacy of removing the plastic catwalks before attaching the brass ones, but I assure you, they would have been very, very fragile and prone for detachment if you happen to hold the model the wrong way.

I also added the stern catwalk that sits between the aft 20mm gun tubs. There was a diagonal brace that was supposed to be added to this facing rearward, but after fussing with it and not being very happy, I scrapped it. And after looking at this picture I noticed that crushed railing which I'll have to straighten. It's exactly what I noted above about PE railings being prone to getting zapped. The catwalk needs touch up painting that will happen tomorrow. I like how busy that fantail is looking.

I have some more railings to go on the hangar deck level, the ships cranes and the radio masts. Since the radio masts are not going onto brass, not plastic, I'm thinking that I may attempt to solder them with TIX solder which melts below 300 degrees. Otherwise, It will have to be epoxy. I may also try soldering a flat piece to the bottom of the antenna tower with a drilled hole and soldered pin, and drill the catwalk and pin it. I'll noodle in my brain awhile and see which method wins. I test fit the island and it needs some relieving to fit nicely over raised deck lugs. I don't want to force it and develop any undue stresses in this very complicated assembly.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Tuesday, May 22, 2018 8:30 PM

Installed all the railings bordering the hangar deck today plus got some more stuff in place including the rest of the those finicky little flight deck/catwalk steps. You can't imagine how much trouble some of the smallest details can cause you...

I should have put the cranes in BEFORE the railings since I almost thought I couldn't get them in without doing damage. As it was, with some delicate coaxing, I was able to get their pins into the holes and installed. The railings spaces were measured using a paint of dividers and I took some liberties, especially on the port side, where I ran the rails across some bulkheads instead of individually cutting and gluing. I did this mainly because the sizes were not neat multiples of rail stanchions and would have had a lot of little tiny railing ends causing me problems.

After installing the lower rails on the starboard side, I used the fine-line airbrush to retouch all the Navy and Deck Blue and get the brass blended with the rest of the model.

This is the aft crane.

And here is the fore crane.

There was a cross hangar deck catapult on the as-built Essex. It was removed when they added (as I did) the two additional 40mm mounts. I'm not sure if the starboard catapult was still in place. I have that part, which is stowed vertically, to put on if it is correct to do so.

The port side has all those rails that cross between roller doors. I know what I did is not ptototypical, but it was expedient.

The foremost roller doors don't get railings since the sponson now has a splinter shield surrounding it. It did get just one little rail on it aft-most door. And then I added a railing around the gun director platform next to it. Incidentally, there are rails around the five inch mounts, but a) they weren't called out in GMM's instructions, and more importantly, b) I would have soldered them to the circular platform since CA'ing it seems like a exercise in futility. So I probably won't attempt to add them.

Here are the other areas that got these railings. Note, the port side has NOT been touch-up painted. That will come tomorrow, and I've already masked parts of the flight deck so the overspray doesn't ruin that lighter blue flight deck.

Notice the nice shiny new inclined ladder. There were two put on this side. Speaking of vertical ladders... I almost lost an entire fret of them. I had purchased an extra set of inclined ladders since I had ruined a lot of those included in the GMM set. This next bit is going to be a bit hard to visualize, but bear with me. My workbench is heavy plywood covered with Homosote (a press paper-board building panel). I used Homosote since it accepts T-pins very well and makes a great building surface for things that need to be pinned... flying RC models for example. There's a 3/4" ply wall at the work bench end and there's a tiny gap between the Homosote and the ply. This fret slipped down about a 1/4" and it was so firmly fixed in that groove that I literally had to take cutters and cut the fret away (after destroying half of the inclined ladders attached to it). The lower part is still in that groove. All I can imagine is somehow CA got in there and glued it in. I put a huge amount of effort in attempting to pull it out and it didn't budge. So I was able to salvage enough ladders to put the two on this ship. There's probably a few more that will work on a future project, but the rest are ruined. Murphy strikes again!

The companion ladder is stowed where it is supposed to go. And I see another spot that needs a railing... leading to that boat deck.

Tomorrow, I'll start putting in some guns (I think). I need to paint the prop shafts (anti-fouling white), and prepare the plastic props. I was thinking about buying G-Force brass props like I did for the Missouri. They look pretty good. I may still do that for this ship.

I will get the anchors in place, start preparing the flight deck for decals and weathering, and then start rigging the island. There are tons of antenna and flag halyards hanging on that part. I also have to install and rig those long-range radio antenna. What's the best way to fasten the aircraft to the flight deck?


Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.