So you think that you have weathered the first wave of Gold Medal Models goodies for the Trumpeter 1:350 scale USS Hornet CV-8. Perhaps you have convinced your Significant Other, who is the Chancellor of the Exchequer/Secretary of the Treasury, that your Hornet desperately needs a refit of GMM equipment just to keep abreast of Joe’s Fleet down the block. Well matey, batten down the hatches and sound general quarters, the Gold Medal Models second wave has streaked over the horizon and sure to score hits on many wallets. Wiley Admiral Perry has timed his second strike to arrive just when you thought it was safe to get your Hornet back into the water.

The Hornet Ship Fret, which was reviewed on February 3 (Click for a Review of the GMM USS Hornet Ship Photo-Etched Fret, Set #350-21) was designed to supplement the Trumpeter kit. Although, that fret did contain some parts designed to replace plastic parts and assemblies on the Trumpeter kit, the bulk of the fret was designed to provide additional fine detail not found in the stock plastic kit, details that can not be adequately modeled in plastic. The Gold Medal Models Gold Plus Extra Details Set, Set #350-21A is as the instructions state, "…designed for expert modelers only, as well as serious builders entering their models into competition. It is also intended to complement GMM Product No. 350-21 – the 1/350 Hornet Fittings shipset."

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Although there are parts provided on the fret that add details not found on the Trumpeter kit, the focus of the set is to provide brass high quality and detail replacement parts to be used in lieu of plastic parts found in the kit. The fret is of a thicker gage brass than the standard fret. Set 350-21 used .005 Inch brass sheet for the fret but set 350-21A Gold Plus Extra Details Set uses a .008 Inch sheet. The thicker brass was used because of the nature of the parts to be replaced.

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Sixty to seventy percent of Set 350-21A provides gun galleries and catwalks that run along the upper sides of the hull. The numerous 20mm Oerlikon positions arranged along the sides of Hornet have a solid deck base but the catwalks joining the positions are an open grid mesh. The plastic parts to be replaced are completely solid plastic and do not show the intricate open grid-work of the prototype. Plastic as a medium cannot duplicate the open mesh of these catwalks. Only photo-etch can duplicate this feature and that is exactly what GMM brings to the table with the Gold Plus Extra Details Set.

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Seventeen of the plastic galleries are replaced with the brass pieces. Each brass gallery on the fret has the identical alphanumeric designation as the plastic part to be replaced. If you look at your Trumpeter instructions, you will see that the following plastic pieces are replaced with the fidelity of the GMM brass parts. Parts A2, A9, A17, B2, B8, B9, B10, B11, B20, D3, D4, D20, D21, D22, D23, E16, and E29 are replaced. Additionally the open mesh funnel catwalks are provided by GMM. Each gallery run already has the side railing attached, so all you have to do is bend the railing up to right angles. Solid splinter shielding around the guns is not provided. GMM recommends removing the plastic shielding from the Trumpeter parts, sand for fit and attach to the brass bases. Each brass gallery has the same dimensions and plan of the plastic part that it replaces, so the shielding should match perfectly. By following this procedure it will be easier for most modelers than hand-forming shields from brass and will yield a more uniform result. Also, the plastic shields can be sanded down to reduce thickness before or after they've been installed. Expert modelers may of course make new shields from thin styrene sheet or brass if they prefer. The finishing touch to these galleries will be the attachment of brass supports to the underside. Another replacement is for the mesh bottoms of the plastic carley floats. GMM provides open mesh replacements. The solid plastic bottoms are removed with a hobby knife and the mesh bottoms attached.

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Although the bulk of the fret consists of replacement galleries, there are also significant additional brass parts included in this fret. The LSO platforms and safety nets at bow and stern are intricate and beautiful additions to the Hornet. The aft LSO platform comes with a relief etched windscreen. You can even see the tie-downs attaching the canvas screen to the metal frame. Other large items consist of forward & aft flight deck windbreaks with braces and specially designed accommodation ladders. Intricate boat supports are provided. Each support consists of a lengthwise support, multiple cross braces and multiple outrigger boat braces/chocks. Each boat brace assembly has 11 or 12 component parts, depending upon the length of the specific ship’s boat. The smallest additional parts are a complete set of arresting gear sheaves and direction finding antennas.

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As was the case with GMM Hornet Set 350-21, the instructions for GMM Gold Plus Hornet Set 350-21A are presented in modular format. You can add the details that you want without the necessity of adding everything on the fret. The instruction modules consist of text and drawings for assemblies of life raft bottoms, direction finder antennas, boat supports, LSO platforms, accommodation ladders (down & stowed), flight deck windbreaks, arresting gear sheaves & barrier wires, and catwalks. There is also a plan of the flight deck that shows all of the arresting gear and barrier locations. All text and drawings are clear and concise.

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Note on Photographs- They are of the Prototype Set/Test Shot, Not the Production Set: The photographs of 350-21A are of a sample of the very first test piece so it has several flaws. They are: Some of the fold lines on the railings aren't etched all the way clear, which makes the rails harder to fold upright on their catwalks; the fold attachments on the LSO platforms are detached in some areas and completely closed in others; some of the attachment tabs holding small parts to the main sheet are weak and allow parts to sometimes come loose such as those holding the tiny triangular catwalk braces seen on the right side of the sheet. All of these problems have already been corrected and the revised software is on its way back to the etchers now. The instructions are at the printers so you see a photocopy of the original printout of the artwork. This set is scheduled for release in mid-February.

The Gold Medal Models Gold Plus Set 350-21A is designed to allow the modeler to explore the outer limits of detail for the Trumpeter 1:350 scale USS Hornet. It is not designed to be the base set of photo-etch detail for the kit. That is provided by set 350-21. Rather, this set allows the modeler to push the envelope of model building. Is this set for you? Are you up to the challenge of providing exacting detail and fidelity for your Hornet? Before you answer that question, go back and re-examine the photographs comparing the stock plastic galleries with the GMM replacement mesh galleries. Your answer can be found there. Call the Chancellor of the Exchequer/Secretary of the Treasury, it is time for supplemental appropriations for the defense bill.