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USS Essex 1:350 Trumpeter Build

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  • 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?

  • Member since
    May, 2008
  • From: Wyoming Michigan
Posted by ejhammer on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 8:04 AM
Actually, ESSEX CV-9, was commissioned with no catapults at all. The athwartship cat at the hangar deck level was never installed. The track for the starboard flight deck cat was installed, but there were no cats available. The catapult itself was installed 6 May 1943 and was a spare H II cat, designed for the Yorktown class. There were 2 H IV cats at Puget Sound designated for ESSEX in late 1944, when she still carried the single H II. EJ

Completed - 1/525 Round Two Lindberg repop of T2A tanker done as USS MATTAPONI, USS ESSEX 1/700 Hasegawa Dec 1942, USS Yorktown 1/700 Trumpeter 1943. In The Yards - USS ESSEX 1/700 Hasegawa 1945, USS ESSEX 1/700 Dragon 1944, USS ESSEX 1/700 Trumpeter 1945, USS ESSEX 1/540 Revell (vintage) 1962, USS ESSEX 1/350 Trumpeter 1942, USS ESSEX LHD-2 as commissioned, converted from USS Wasp kit Gallery Models. Plus 35 other plastic and wood ship kits.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 6:07 PM

Thanks! That's really good to know.

Today was part success and part struggle. I decided that before I attached anything that goings to stick out I better do all the flight deck treatments so I don't break anything. I did install two 40mm sets in the starboard aft tubs which is when I came to the conclusion that any more guns would be zapped, so I stopped.

I wet-sanded the FD to expose the wood tones below and this effect looked pretty good.

After sanding I tried (for the first time) to use Vallejo dark gray wash. I works, but it did darken the entire deck, not just in the crevices which is what I really wanted to do. So the flightdeck looks like it was painted with standard deck blue instead of the lighter deck blue flight deck stain. I'm sure those wooden flight decks took a tremendous beating and had all sorts of colors working between wear and tear, tire marks, fuel and oil spills, sea water, rain and sun exposure.

I then sprayed some Tamiya gloss clear to get ready for decaling. My first indication when I was putting on the first #9 on the fore flight deck was when the decal started falling apart. I hate when this happens. It was an old kit (copyright 2002) and the decal showed it. I pieced together the broken bits as best I could and then got the MicroScale Decal Film solution to create an new film on top of the old decal. The second #9 performed better, but it was touch and go.

To lay down the single center line dotted line decal I laid down some Tamiya tape to establish a datum and then laid the decals near it. The stripe decals came in many segments. I found a couple of them broke, but it was minor and didn't cause a problem. I then noticed that the 9s go on top of the stripe so I had to piece the stripe to get the same effect. 

Then came the white stripe decals that surround the mid-deck elevator openings. These turned out to be a total nightmare. I should have put on another coat of decal film since one coat worked momentarily and then they started falling apart.

For the broken parts of the fore #9, I hand touched it up with flat black and it will look okay after dull-coating, but these elevator stripes will not work with my hand painting. So I'm going to make the corrections in the computer and then make some white decal striping and see if it works. I really can't blame Trumpeter, although I'm generally not impressed with their decals. The best advice I can give is don't panic. Take as much care as you can, and if you suspect the decals are old, overcoat them immediately. And use two coats.

So here's what it looks like so far. I then have to dull-coat the decals after the fix and start doing some tire marks/rubber scuffing stuff.

I'm pleased with how the strip down the middle came out, and bummed by the elevator decals... so I'm batting 500. I took a top-down picture of the striping and measured the particulars with the caliper so I have what I need to make the correction decals. 

I also touch-up painted both sides with the detail airbrush. I like that tool even though it's definitely not up to Badger quality, but the price was ridiculously low. It's great for small delicate jobs.


  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Friday, May 25, 2018 5:36 PM

Today's post is a two-fer since I didn't post yesterday, but did some work. First thing I did was test out an idea: a way to simulate polished brass (bronze) without spending $$$ on real brass and not being satisfied with any brass-colored paint since they're particle based and do not reflect light as a polished metal surface would. I first coated a piece of plastic with my Molotow Chrome Pen which does lay down a really reflective surface. When it was dry I brush-painted Tamiya Clear Yellow in two coats. The result, while be a bit rough due to my not-so-careful use of the chrome pen, was encouraging.

I then coated the propellors while on the sprue (for convenience) with the chrome pen and let it dry overnight. I made the mistake on my test piece to touch the chrome thinking it dries really fast and messing it up. It does dry fast, but I was laying it on pretty thick.

It's a very convincing metallic surface, unlike any model paint I've ever seen. 

Today I airbrushed two-coats of the same Tamiya Clear Yellow and am letting it dry overnight also. If I need to shoot it again, I'll do it the next session.

It's pretty convincing and I would consider the experiment a success. Next to buying G-force props, this would be a good way to go.

I spent a lot of time hand-painting the touch up of the broken elevator edge decals. I was trying to make my own white striping decals on CorelDraw, but it crashed my Windows environment on my apple and it was taking a long time to reboot so I chose to attempt the hand painting approach. I started weathering the flight deck. I did so with black weathering powder put on with a short bristled brush in directions that tire wear and skid marks would go. The white striping isn't great, but it will work.

I finished the powder weathering and had the screwy idea of putting some fuel/oil stains. I overdid it, and realized that oil on the deck would be cleaned up very quickly to prevent slips and falls. My reason for doing this was the light spot on the after deck that I wanted to hide somehow. 

I showed my wife this picture and she agreed that the spills were overdone. The oil stains were done with Tamiya Clear Smoke and is alcohol soluble, so I used a clean brush with isopropyl 91% and blended the stains back into the general grime of the flight deck. The flight deck grime now extends over the elevator lines further making them less pristine and noticeable to the viewer.

After this work I want to install the arresting wires. The ends are very small, folded PE to simulate the above-deck pulley system. The wires themselves are E-Z Line heavy gauge Lycra elastomer. Since these lines are actual a series of very fine fibers and as such, instantly absorb CA, and because of it's huge surface area, sets it immediately (whether it's thin or thick CA). I wrapped the line around the far brass cap before folding it down, added thin CA to secure the line and then folded the cap down onto the still-totally-unset CA. After all were installed I hand-painted them deck blue. When Essex was first launched it had arresting wires on both ends and GMM includes enough PE to do this, but  later in the war, they realized that landing from the bow was a bad idea and all those systems were removed. The units with the double lines are the pop-up barriers that were there to catch planes that missed the wire. They didn't have a bolter capacity since it was a straight deck carrier and the bow was not often clear for the plane to go through. It was why the angle deck was developed by the British to enable capturing AND launching at the same time and giving the aircraft a clear go-around path.

I think the wear and tear on the FD is okay, but I'm not weathering the rest of the ship. I'm wondering how soon after shopping would the flight deck show this amount of use without the rest of the ship following suit.

Next up was the Long Range Radio towers. The initial scheme I came up with was too fill the tower base with Milliput, 2-part epoxy putty. I filled the bottoms yesterday and let it cure overnight.

Today, I drilled the putty for a 0.032" brass pin and drilled the catwalk for same. Unfortunately, two bad things happened. First, the putty did not cure as hard as I would have hoped. The brass pin didn't secure well in it with CA. Second, when attempting to push the tower-with-pin into the hole in the catwalk I had grabbed it too firmly and deformed the heck out of the very fragile PE tower. After much messing with it, I got it reasonably symetrical, then proceeded to crush it at least three more times messing with that pin. I finally succumbed and put the pin in the catwalk, not the tower.

The brass pin did one more thing, it kept pushing the putty further up in the tower, negating it's value. I then did what I should have done in the first place; use Bondic UV curing filler to make the bottom plug. I did this and created a much stronger, harder base to drill for the pin. Armed with this knowledge I got the other three towers into place. They're not glued in yet, but I did paint them in place using a piece of cardboard to shield the rest of the deck from the Navy Blue airbrush.

I accept all feedback and criticism, but I frankly think that the grime over the white elevator striping seems to make it much more real. If you agree or disagree please let me know.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Wednesday, May 30, 2018 5:49 PM

For some reason, FSM's website was unreachable yesterday, while all the other Kalmbach sites were active so I suppose they were doing some maintenance. So today's post is a 2-fer. 

Loren Perry at Gold Medal Models has come through again and is sending me replacement PE for the price of postage. I'm replacing all of the Long Range Radio antenna towers and the framing under the exterior elevator. He also said I'm going to get a lot more. I could also use the cage that surrounds the down leads on two of the LRR antennas. Hopefully that will be in this bunch. The under framing on the elevator is just a mess and really needs to be ripped out and replaced. With scratch-building you have the control to remake a poor job, but with commercial parts when you screw up, you've screwed up.
While I'm waiting for the PE to arrive (Left West Coast yesterday), I decided to add some railings that aren't in the kit instructions or GMM's. I've seen evidence of railings around the circular platforms for the elevated 5" twin mounts, along the flight deck outside of this gun area, AND a catwalk that runs parallel to the outside of the island's starboard side. There is no provision for this catwalk either in the kit or GMM's set. This was on a drawing of the Essex on NavSource and found clearly in this picture and it's a mounting place for nine floater net baskets. 
For the guns I formed some railing and wrestled it into place. The first one went very smoothly and lulled me into a slightly euphoric state that was quickly dispelled when I did the second. This one did not go nearly as easily and with persistence got it done.
There is also a railing along the flight deck that runs around the circular platform up to the elevated mount. While this looked daunting, it really wasn't so bad. There's another small snippet of a rail between the elevated mount and the 40mm elevated mount and then you come up to the area of the catwalk. In the below I've put the last Mark 57 director tower in place with a PE access ladder. All today's work needs painting/re-painting. This foredeck area will also get the railing that will go around the circular platform, but it's a bit shorter (i.e. easier).
To fabricate new island catwalk, I cut off a piece of PE fret which is same width as the kit's catwalks (lucky!) and soldered some straight rail onto it. I'm also going to add some brass attachment pins on the bottom so it will be easier and more secure to mount. BTW: PE fret brass is very convenient for scratch-building all kinds of small parts that you wish to solder together.
The last thing done yesterday was repositioning the companion ladder. It probably needs some rigging on the outboard end that will "support" it. You can see the damage from removal that will be touch-up painted. There's a small added 90 degree rail at the top of the ladder that was needed since it was open to the sea. Now this is really funny... I found that broadside of the Essex (above) AFTER I changed the ladder's positoin from lying flat against the hull to a more stair-like position. But guess what... if you look closely you can see this ladder flat against the hull as I had it glued in the first place. I now have it in the deployed position. But this means I'll need to rig it so it has some form of suspension since it's now hanging out in space. GMM's instructions simply said glue in front of or behind a specific place on the hull, but didn't really define its orientation.
With the new PE coming I won't have to settle on some very sub-par work that would have detracted from the overall beauty of a model of this caliber. As the late great Gary Kohs (founder of Fine Art Models) said, "A fine scale model has detail that draws you into it where you discover ever more complex things to see." My Missouri model is like that where you get an overall view of its complexity, but as you look closer you see things like the foot rest under the flag bags, a detail that's almost invisible unless you really drill down with you focus. This ship, I hope, will have the same result.
Now onto today's efforts. I finished adding the front railing around the foreward gun mounts. I then soldered (using TIX lo-temp solder) some Phosphor-bronze 0.020" wire pins to secure the fabricated catwalk to securely to the hull. I used the resistance soldering tweezers to solder the pins so they would be held in place while the solder cooled. The lo-temp solder melts before the normal solder holding the railing would so everything was in control. Before putting it on the ship, I painted it with a coat of Tamiya gray primer. I located the three mounting pins on the side of the flight deck edge very close to the top so the mounted catwalk would be level with the flight deck and drilled the three holes with an 0.021" carbide mini-drill. I added thin CA AFTER putting the catwalk in place to make it permanent. 
I hand painted all the newly added railings and gun director tower since I didn't want to have to mask the whole flight deck area. I also touched up the marred area on the hull from the ladder removal. 
It was time to put the props on...
Hard to tell they're not really brass...
I started adding all the remaining guns and whatever directors were still needed to be added. Two more Twin 40s, and the four single 5" mounts go onto the port side.
Lastly, I started adding the remaining 40, 20mm gun mounts. I don't have enough of these (DOH!) and ordered one more set of 24 from Freetime Hobbies. These Blue Ridge 3D produced tiny models are exceptionally fine and look very, very good. Plus you don't have glue microscopic PE shields, shoulder supports or handwheels onto very small plastic things.
Before gluing them in place I needed to paint them. On the island I painted everything with an air brush, but now all the gun tubs are already painted. So I air brushed the entire rack of guns before removing them from their mounting block. This included picking out the barrels with Tamiya gunmental.
I got five guns in place before quitting for the day. They look really spiffy! (IMHO).
Tomorrow, I add as many guns as I have and then start working on island rigging. Getting close folks. I'm expecting the plexiglass to be ready any day now and I have to put that together. I also need to have a brass plaque engraved (like I did for the Missouri) to tell something about the model with as much of a quality look as the base, case and model demand.
  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Thursday, May 31, 2018 8:56 PM

I put the remaining 20mms that I had in their various tubs and need 16 more which have been ordered from Free-Time Hobbies. I then finally bit the bullet and started rigging the island. When I did the island mods, the inner width got a bit narrower and was not slipping over the boss on the flight deck. I really couldn't force it for obvious easons, so I carefully scraped a chamfer on the inner edge to make it a bit wider and able to fit better when it will be glued. That will happen after rigging.

I cleared the workbench for action and held the island in a hemostat which in turn is held in a drill press vise. I started on the port side for no reason other than it was the one that was facing me. The first lines (E-Z Line fine-gauge black) are three radio antennas that belay onto the side of the fore island. I did the same thing here as in the Missouri; inserting some piano wire pins into drilled holes to wrap the E-Z Line around. When I say pins I mean pieces of high-E guitar string which is 0.010" in diameter. The drill is ridiculously small and fragile. I constantly break them just by laying down on the workbench improperly. This image is hugely enlarged since those pins look like big steel rods. Actually the pieces are so small that they almost invisible on the workbench. BTW: Don't cut this stuff with normal Xuron cutters. What you end up with is a half-moon shaped groove on the cutting edge and the pliers are effectively ruined. The piano wire is harder than the cutter's steel. You need to buy Xuron hard-wire cutters or use a nice pair of ChannelLock cutters which seem a harder cutting edges.

I don't think I'm belaying these lines correctly, but I'm not going to fret it. Because of the dark paint, you can barely make them out let alone determine if they're correctly located.

Then it was time to rig the signal halyards. Unlike the Missouri which had many long-range radio antennas strung between the fore mast and main mast and then belayed to a series of tall, insulated standoffs in the bowels of the mid-ships space, the Essex has most of the main radio antennas strung between the five lattice towers that aren't yet installed and are being remade with the new GMM parts. (phew! That was a long sentence). So there's not as much actual rigging needed on the island.

GMM is nice enough to etch some very, very small simulated pulleys on the PE yardarm lamination. I soldered this piece to the scratch-built solid brass replacement. The holes are just fractionally larger than the E-Z Line, and when conceptualizing this build I really wasn't planning on attempting to use them. But today, I thought about at least trying. It was where my "persistence" really came to fore.

E-Z Line is wonderful for this use, but it is very floppy, having almost no innate stiffness and this made threading the free end through this tiny eye very challenging. Add to that my innate shaky hands AND not being able to really rest my hands on the island or I'd break something else. So I braced my tweezers hand with the other hand that was supported by the vise under the island.

What kept happening is the weight of the string would pull the line out of the eye as soon as I released the tweezers to reach around the other side to pull it through. After about 10 tries I got the first line through. After that, I started controlling the back end of the line better so it's weight wouldn't be a factor, and I got better at letting go of the line without bumping anything since that little vibration was also causing the line to fall back out of the eye. Eventually, I got all the lines done on the Port side. Tomorrow I'll do the starboard side.

This view really shows just how small those eyes are. I could have just wrapped the line around the eye, but I'm glad I tried the hard way.

I finished up this side, by adding a blob of Bondic adhesive to the tops of the antenna wires to simulate insulators, and painted the pulleys white and the manrope hanging below the yard some Tamiya deck tan. Pardon the poor focus on this one.

When the starboard side is done, the island's going onto the ship. So what's left... 16-20mm guns, and a whole passel of floater baskets. I need to get a brass plaque made with some ship particulars and credits, and then build the case. Oh... and I almost forgot. I do have to rebuild the external elevator and build and rig the radio towers. This time will be successful.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Friday, June 01, 2018 7:57 PM

Today was one of those milestone days... the island is now part of the ship and it really looks like an American aircraft carrier. Before placing it I finished the starboard side rigging and as predicted, it took 1/2 the time that the first side took and came out better. Wish I had another side to do. Unfortunately, I can't redo the port side because I CA'd the pulleys and would destroy that delicate yardarm if I tried to remove it. Again, only I know the difference. To the uninitiated, they won't see anything but lots of complexity.

To make a more secure surface to adhere the signal halyards I CA'd a couple of pieces of thin PE brass to the backs of the flag bags. This gave me a vertical (non-prototypical) surface to adhere the E-Z Line. If I was a better planner, I would have prepared those flag bags for receiving the halyards BEFORE that part was glued to the island. So if I ever build this again...

On the Missouri, the flag bags were arranged athwartships so it was easier to drill some holes to insert the halyards and give them a better finished look.

I further prepared the inside chamfer to ensure that the island would indeed attach properly to flight deck. It did, so it was time to glue it down. I used tube cement to give some more working time while I applied the glue on the insides of the island's lower lip and the placed it down and worked it so it was flush, all the while making sure that I was not applying undo pressure OR pressing on anything that will get destroyed in the process. The results were, needless to say, very gratifying.

I needed to build and apply the LSO's platform that sits at the port aft of the flight deck. I had some parts from the last replacement set that GMM sent me and used those. It's made up of four parts and went together very well. 

It still needs paint...

Just about this time, the mail came and GMM's replacement fret was waiting for me. Oh joy, oh rapture! to quote the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. Here's what arrived.

As you can see it's almost a complete fret minus that part that's cut out. It's terrific. It has more ladders, more flight deck ladders (and I need those since a couple have come off), all the radar suite and, of course, the elevator framing and the radio towers.

So I immediately set about building the new elevator. What destroyed the last one was when I attempted to fit the elevator into a space that was marginally smaller than the elevator (with its attached brass) and the side pressure deformed all of the brass, popped CA joints and broke some solder joints. The more I tried to straighten it, the worse it got.

This time I pre-fit the elevator without brass to the narrower elevator guide frame. Most likely when I glued on the frame I moved towards each other a bit more than I should have, not knowing what the absolute spacing was. With the elevator relieved to make it a slip fit, I soldered the frame together and gave the same relief on the inside corners, so the frame wouldn't be stressed when assembled.

As I did before (only even better), I pre-tinned all the mating points of the bottom frame and the trusses using the Weller iron. I then used the RSU to heat and attach individual points on the frames starting in the middle and working outwards. Even with utmost care it was still touch and go. This is caused by the RSU heating the brass so fast that it takes it above annealing temperature and the brass becomes really soft and gets out of shape even easier.

You can use CA all you want, but on assemblies like this solder is so much stronger. To attach the frame to the plastic elevator I used CA. I primed the assembly with Tamiya primer, and it was ready to trial fit again.

And it fit very nicely without deforming anything. It's really a benefit to have a second shot at this. Every set of PE should include doubles of everything. I'd pay a few $$$ more if they would standardize on that. Unless you're really good, you're gonna screw up some PE, especially on a job as complex as this one. It still has to be airbrushed Navy Blue before I glue it in place permanently.

The last thing I did today was place two tiny TBS antennas onto tiny stalks on the yardarm. These pieces had fallen off the original fret, but there was a set on the first set of replacements. I wasn't going to put them on because they had a tiny hole that fit over a tiny pin and I didn't want the aggravation. I also was convinced that due to their frail nature, they would surely be wrecked in handling the island. But with the confidence boost from threading all those tiny eyes with the flag halyards, and with the island being now part of the ship and no longer being handled, I decided to give it a go.

The first one went on very easily so I thought it was a piece of cake. But of course, the second didn't go on and the CA dried making the pin too fat to get into the hole. So I had to carefully pop the cured CA off the pin by using a tweezer and pulling straight up and it came off without deforming the pin. I was then able to get the antenna onto the pin and they were both done. The arrows point out these antennas.

These two also need some paint. Would anyone miss them if they weren't there. Nope! Do they add to the already wonderfully complex appearance of a WW2 capital ship. Definitely yes! There's actually two more antenna that go onto the yardarm which look like little steering wheels. I may or may not put them on. They're really small.

Here's an overhead shot showing the ship with the island in place. Look'n like an aircraft carrier. Next work day... paint and install elevator, build the new radio towers, install the remaining 20s when they come from Free-Time Hobbies, and add a zillion floater net baskets which I even have more of with this nice shipment from GMM.

I still haven't decided how I'm going to fasten the air wing to the flight deck so they won't come loose when they're not supposed to. If I really wanted to be goofy, I could use E-Z Line and actually tie them down to the deck. It would look great and drive me to an institution in the process. I could use some ideas from the gang on this.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Monday, June 04, 2018 6:29 PM

Happy Monday! Unlike most mortals, I like Mondays since it when I can get back in the shpp and build models. As a retiree, I made a deal with my wife that I would not work on models during the weekend, and I keep my deals. So... my fun begins on the weekdays. When working, of course, it was just the opposite.

I added to the newly re-built elevator the safety screens AND the ridiculously finicky horizontal braces. There are miniscule PE pieces that get glued between the upper edge of the elevator to the leading edge of the canted screens. I used Bondic for this since it sets solid in a couple of seconds by UV light and not CA accelerator, meaning... once you have it positioned you don't have to physically get near it to set the cement. It worked pretty well.

It looks pretty ragged in this ultra closeup, but it views better from normal distances. I stuck the upper side to some masking tape and primered and then airbrushed it navy blue. Then I dropped it on the concrete when separating it from the masking. The drop didn't do terminal damage, but it did disturb some of the lattice work and broke loose some of these finicky cross braces. I got it back in shape (mostly) and sprayed the upper side with flight deck blue and weathered it lightly with Vallejo dark gray wash. I put it on the hull with gel CA.

With the elevator finally on the ship, I did some other stuff. I got the anchors mounted. I drilled the hawse holes first so the anchor's shank would nest up inside. The way the anchor glued on without drilling really wouldn't have worked. I will paint and weather (rust) soon.

Finally, I built all five long-range radio towers. This time, I pre-tinned the mating edges to facilitate soldering them together and then also soldered the vertical ladder to the tower. I did not, however, solder the tiny antenna spreaders. In this case I used a combination of gel CA and Bondic UV. I wish I could solder them, but they're just a little to small and difficult to contain to make soldering a useful approach. I don't trust the glue since E-Z Line does exert some tension which could break them loose.

The last thing I did, which I learned in the first, aborted set, was to fill the bottom with Bondic (not epoxy putty) to prepare for the drilling and subsequent mounting on the ship. I just filled the bottom with the Bondic and shot it with the UV light and Poof!, solid plastic bottom. You can barely see it in the pic since it's very transparent. I also folded the protective screens that surround the towers with the radio leads heading downward. These parts were wrecked on the first sprue because they had disconnected before I was ready to use them.

The Bondic is terrific stuff and I'm glad I finally discovered it.

Next session: These antenna towers will get painted and installed and then I'll be ready to rig them. Although there are tiny eyes in the spreader bars, I'm not going to attempt to thread them, but will attach the E-Z Line around them. I think I got glue in some of the and it would be very hard to successfully remove. The extra 20mm guns arrived today so they'll also be installed. That leaves floater net baskets and some minor weathering, and the ship will be done. In this new set of PE from GMM I have another full load of floater net baskets so I'll be able to do the whole enchilada.

  • Member since
    March, 2012
  • From: Louisville, KY
Posted by Builder 2010 on Tuesday, June 05, 2018 5:52 PM

Got the Radio Towers installed today without mishap. Sometimes it's really good to get a do-over. This was one of those instances. The previous PE got so screwed up, that it reached the point that none coulld be effectively used. One got totally lost, 3 were distorted and the Farraday Cages (I think that's what they are) screens were ragged or completely destroyed. This time, I was able to carefully build them, keep the fret from getting damaged, paint and install them so nothing got damaged.

I drilled the hardened Bondic plug with the carbide 0.032" bit, but realized that the 0.032" brass rod that was already glued into the catwalk was not a slip fit. It was pushing the last batch over that pin...forcing I should say... that caused all the distortion. So I went back and re-drilled with a bit that was a few thousandths oversize. I used gel CA which filled the space and gave full support. I pocked some round toothpicks into the holes and painted all these parts, first with primer and then a couple coats of force-dried navy blue.

I was concerned about slipping the Farraday Cages over the towers since they could damage those delicate antenna spreaders, but there was sufficient clearance to carefully maneuver the cage around the installed tower and glue it down. I thought about putting the cages down first, but was concerned about getting the glue onto the pin or damaging the cage.

Here's the front view showing an array of towers. The ship's too long to get full views without losing a lot of detail.

 While most of the Essex class lost some or most of those antenna towers, the Essex herself, kept all of them for the duration of the War. I thought I could get away with installing less thinking that the Essex didn't have them all, but that was not the case. The ship was not cooperating. I had screwed up so many that I was hoping that I could authentically leave some off. Now, with the new batch, I finished the ship as she should be.

You'll notice in the above pics that all the slots are filled with 20mm guns. I also primed and painted them today and installed all the rest. The ship now has it's full compliment of armament. I painted the anchors and will do some minor weathering tomorrow. I got all the frets of floater net baskets (from now on FSB) painted and will be ready to fold and install them next time also. I have to put small end railings at the ends of all the open catwlaks and I keep forgetting to add a tiny railing leading to the boat deck on the port side.

Then I'll rig the long-range radio antennas and putting on the air wing. Saving that for last because it will be in the way and surely get whacked. And she's done.

  • Member since
    May, 2008
  • From: Wyoming Michigan
Posted by ejhammer on Wednesday, June 06, 2018 6:30 PM


It looks pretty ragged in this ultra closeup, but it views better from normal distances.Then I dropped it on the concrete when separating it from the masking. The drop didn't do terminal damage, but it did disturb some of the lattice work and broke loose some of these finicky cross braces. I got it back in shape (mostly) and sprayed the upper side with flight deck blue and weathered it lightly with Vallejo dark gray wash. I put it on the hull with gel CA




The elevator safety nets abord ESSEX when I was aboard (and most carriers I ever saw) were always bent up a bit. Ladder rails, railings, just about anything that could be bent, was bent a bit. To my eye, if you are going to go for a weathered look, a few dings and bends look realistic. I wish someone would do a kit hull with the plating "oil canned" a bit, as most ships look that way too.

Your build is looking great.



Completed - 1/525 Round Two Lindberg repop of T2A tanker done as USS MATTAPONI, USS ESSEX 1/700 Hasegawa Dec 1942, USS Yorktown 1/700 Trumpeter 1943. In The Yards - USS ESSEX 1/700 Hasegawa 1945, USS ESSEX 1/700 Dragon 1944, USS ESSEX 1/700 Trumpeter 1945, USS ESSEX 1/540 Revell (vintage) 1962, USS ESSEX 1/350 Trumpeter 1942, USS ESSEX LHD-2 as commissioned, converted from USS Wasp kit Gallery Models. Plus 35 other plastic and wood ship kits.


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