America photo.jpg (31119 bytes)
USS America
CVA 66

1:720 Scale

In-the-Box Review

Les Dorr

USS America (CV-66) was one of the U.S. Navy’s last two non-nuclear fleet aircraft carriers (the other being USS John F. Kennedy, CV-67). During active service from 1965 to 1996, America and its crew sailed mostly in the Mediterranean and North Atlantic, but also flew combat missions during Vietnam, the Gulf War and in Bosnia. America was 1,047 feet long and weighed in at 80,800 tons displacement.

Until the Italeri kit came out a few years ago, there was no accurate model of USS America. The kit represents CV-66 after a mid-80s refit that added new radars, Phalanx CIWS guns and F/A-18 operational capability. The America can be built full hull or waterline. The hull is split into port and starboard halves. Separate the lower hull from the upper along the scribed demarcation and you'll have yourself a waterline model. The first issue of the kit had erroneous box art depicting a hybrid of U.S. carrier features. I believe a later issue shows the correct configuration.

That's the Italian carrier Garibaldi (click here for kit review) on joint maneuvers with USS America in 1996.  Note the difference in size - and consider the diorama possibilities suggested by this photo. America is twice the length of the Italian carrier, which displaces 13,400 tons compared to the America's 80,800 tons.

Garibaldi USS America.jpg (17336 bytes)
Click to enlarge

Based on the excellent photos in USS America Detail and Scale, the kit looks about 95 percent accurate! Although details are simplified in 1:720, the basic shapes of the island, sponsons, props and shafts look very much like the real thing. The radars, Phalanx units, Sea Sparrow missile launchers and their directors are OK for the scale. The air wing includes F-14s, A-6s, F/A-18s and E-2Cs, of the usual Italeri quality.

Problems are minor. The flight deck has Italeri’s typical deep troughs for catapult tracks. Fill them in with paint or your filler of choice. The stack is too tall; it should be about level with the adjacent superstructure. The problem can be fixed by chopping out a section. The flight deck number "66" is printed in solid white, markings that best match America in the late 80s, when the ship still carried A-7 Corsair II strike aircraft. In fact, the photo on the front of the D&S book is almost exactly what you get in the kit. Scrounge the A-7s from one of the Italeri Nimitz-class carriers and save the F/A-18s for another project. 

Italeri’s America could be a real jewel with photoetched rails and details. Gold Medal Models’ latest supercarrier set has parts specifically designed for this model. Even out of the box, the Italeri kits is a valuable—and very accurate—addition to the 1:700-1:720 fleet. And at a price of US $16.50 it represents excellent value.

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Forward flight deck
america3.jpg (15767 bytes)
Aft flight deck
america5.jpg (29286 bytes)
Upper hull aft
america6.jpg (14671 bytes)
Upper hull forward
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Clockwise from upper left: F/A 18, E-2C, F-14, A-6
america8.jpg (20474 bytes)
Misc parts
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Island halves
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Misc parts
america4.jpg (40803 bytes)

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