The distinctive USS Lexington and her sister ship Saratoga were products of the 1921 Washington Naval Treaty that mandated a reduction in capital ship tonnage. Rather than scrap the incomplete Lexington and Saratoga, the US took advantage of a provision allowing conversion of these ships to aircraft carriers. For similar reasons Japan converted its battlecruisers Kaga and Akagi to carriers.
The huge USS Lexington was the result. 888 feet long and displacing 36,000 tons, the Lexington was impressive. The enormous slab-sided funnel (actually an enclosure for 4 separate stacks) gave her an unmistakeable profile, and her armament was that of a heavy cruiser, eight 8" guns in four twin mounts and twelve 5" guns in single mounts. Her normal air complement was 80 aircraft and she was capable of carrying 120 total. During the 30's Lexington and Saratoga were the world's largest carriers. More importantly they gave the US Navy crucial experience in handling carrier aircraft.
At the Battle of Coral Sea in May 1942, Japanese planes launched 11 torpedoes at Lexington, 2 of which struck home. Dive bombers then scored two more hits on the big carrier. The damage did not appear to be fatal and Lexington continued landing her planes. But fires broke out which spread explosively, and the crew was ordered to abandon ship. The burning carrier was slow to sink and five additional torpedoes were needed to hasten her demise.
Even by Neptun's high standards the 1/1250 scale Lexington is stunning. The funnel detail and tripod-mounted navigation bridge are breathtaking. Note the individual boats, the numerous hull indentations, bridge levels, flight deck crane (for lifting aboard seaplanes) etc. I have to keep reminding myself that Lex is a 1250 scale replica. The model depicts Lexington in her pre-war 1939-40 fit. She still had her 8" gun armament (they were landed shortly before she was sunk at Coral Sea) and colorful deck markings. For maximum visual effect consider crowding her flight deck with brightly painted aircraft in distinctive pre-war markings. The more I look at this beauty, the more impressed I am. It is worth every cent of the $125 asking price (at Pacific Front). 1250 scale collectors have been waiting a long while for Neptun to issue Lexington and Saratoga. The wait is over and the result speaks for itself.
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