If your name is Richard Kimball or Jean Valjean, you may not be aware of the December 2002 release of the USS Hornet CV-8 in 1:350 scale from Trumpeter. It is hard to keep up with new releases when you are on the run. Without a doubt the Trumpeter Hornet has made the biggest splash of the year for injected molded warship kits. For the handful of modelers who have not seen this kit, this review provides comprehensive photographic coverage of all of the components of the kit.
How many times have you seen a kit in a big box. When you get it home and open it, you then discover that the box contains mostly air. The box for the Hornet measures 32-inches x 9 ¾-inches x 3-inches (82cm x 25cm x .77cm). The Hornet box isn’t full of air, it is crammed full of components. The hull can be built in waterline or full hull versions. Trumpeter provides the lower hull for full hull construction and a base plate for waterline construction. The upper hull is one piece with the starboard and port sides being connected by seven integral spacers. This is a very thoughtful design choice as it insures the rigidity and stability of the lower hull. As most have heard, the bow is too thick. The Hornet had a sharp cutwater but the model has a more rounded blunt appearance. There may be some fixes for this but most modelers will find this discrepancy that worrisome. My inclination would to build it as is without modification, other than some sanding. The lower hull is also too thick at the bow and also lacks the bulbous forefoot of the original. The hull exhibits some nice detail. Portholes and bilge outlets are deeply drilled. Very noticeable is the inclusion of "eyebrows" above the portholes.
Trumpeter includes hanger deck as well as the flight deck. With this inclusion you can display some of the aircraft inside the hanger as well as on the flight deck. You will have to cut open the hanger openings as the shutters are molded closed. Other than the hanger deck itself, there is no other bulkhead detail inside the hanger, so that can be a source of scratch-built super detailing. Each deck is in three pieces so care should be used in joining them to get a smooth finish, especially the flight deck. The flight deck has a great amount of detail. In fact it has some of the best deck detail that I have seen in any kit, plastic or resin.
"A" Sprue – With this sprue you start to see how much detail Trumpeter has lavished on this kit. It includes the starboard side galleries/hanger bulkheads. Hanger openings are molded with their sliding shutters closed. It will take a little work and some care to open them up to display the interior of the hanger. The molded on doors display hinges and latches. One bulkhead (A-12) has what appears to be three molded on vertical ladders. These appear to be too wide and might be better replicated with photo-etch. Three 20mm catwalks/galleries is also included.
"B" Sprue – This sprue concentrates on the port gallery/hanger bulkheads. As with the starboard side galleries, all openings are molded with closed shutters. However, there are even more openings on the port side. As with the parts on the previous fret the galleries have a lot of fine detail. Shutter, doors, piping and bulkhead fittings are found in abundance and are well executed. It also contains a couple of 20mm catwalks/galleries.
"C" Sprue – The majority of this sprue is for the bow and stern transverse and side bulkheads. There is less detail on these parts but that is more a function of following the prototype rather than Trumpeter missing detail. Appropriate doors and portholes with eyebrows are still present. The five-inch gun platforms. The base rings of the mounts are very well detailed.
"D" Sprue – An assortment of different pieces are found on this sprue. Two of the nicer parts are the underside bow and stern flight deck supports. The bottom of each has a grid-work of support bracing. There is a deckhouse on the quarterdeck that is included on this fret. Trumpeter has chosen an unusual design for this piece, as well as flight deck clipping houses and some island details. There is one part for the basic three-dimensional with separate bulkheads for each side. The bulkhead details contain all detail of the larger gallery pieces. My conclusion is that it was easier for Trumpeter to provide the excellent detail on the flat panels, rather than on the three dimensional shape of the structure. The forward elevator is a separate piece, so the modeler has the option to build the Hornet with this elevator down. Photo-etched radars from GMM, Toms or WEM would be a much better solution than the solid radars on this sprue.
"E" Sprue – This is the island. The island sides are very well done with attention being devoted as before, to doors, portholes with eyebrows and piping. There are also molded on vertical ladders but these are properly sized. There is little to be gained worth the effort of replacing them with brass ladders. The bridge/pilothouse also has separate panels to be attached to the three dimensional basic shape. The stack cap is a solid piece and is rather good. However, you may consider replacing this with photo-etched brass parts that will give you more detailed grillwork, rather than the solid grillwork of the plastic part. The plastic yardarms are very nicely detailed but are a trifle on the thick side because of medium of plastic.
"F" Sprue – There are actually two "F" sprues. These contain all of the smaller ship’s fittings. The 20mm Oerlikons are oversized and lack the gun shields. Photo-etch is really essential here. If you use the plastic 20mm, rather than replacing them, at the very least add brass gun shields. The five-inch guns are so-so in that they could use more detail. The 1.1-inch guns "Chicago Pianos" are disappointing. They just don’t look right. The best detail on these frets are found in the Carley rafts and ship’s boats. The rafts have the characteristic criss-crossed bottoms, which are solid, rather than an open grid.
"G" Sprue – Two frets are included, each with one North American B-25 Mitchell medium bomber. If your modeling the Doolittle raid, you’ll want to get 14 more of these, which are available separately in packs of ten. Each B-25 consists of 18 pieces. The sprues are very well designed with gray, black and clear parts all included on the same sprue. These are really nice little models. With the early war markings on the olive drab aircraft, the Hornet will really pop. The decal sheet with the kit includes serial numbers for two different aircraft.
"H" Sprue – The only disadvantage of building the Trumpeter Hornet with her deck full of B-25s is that you can’t fill her flight deck with the naval aircraft that Trumpeter has produced for this kit. There are two "H" sprues each with one F4F Grumman Wildcat. These are nice little fighters, each of 14 parts. Trumpeter made great decision when it designed these aircraft to be built with optional wing placement. The Wildcats can be built with there wings folded or deployed. It will be hard to resist a deck full of blue Wildcats.
"I" Sprue – As with the other aircraft, two sprues with one aircraft each. This time it is the turn for the sad, slow TBD Douglas Devastators of Torpedo Eight. Most modelers know of the doomed but heroic torpedo squadron of Hornet. At the Battle of Midway all craft of Torpedo Eight were lost assaulting the Japanese carriers. Among squadron flight personnel there was only one survivor, Ensign George Gay. As with the Wildcats, Devastators consist of 14 pieces and can be built with wings folded or down.
"J" Sprue – The heroes of Midway were the SBD Douglas Dauntless dive-bombers. With the Trumpeter Hornet, you get two of these as well. Each Dauntless has 11 pieces. The only question that needs to be answered is the quantity of the extra aircraft sets that you’ll want to get. These is easy to answer if you do the B-25 laden Hornet of the Doolittle raid but what if you want to build the Hornet as she appeared at Midway or another time. Your flight deck composition is entirely up to you. Trumpeter has provided the resources to do as much or as little as you want.
Instructions – Trumpeter has clearly spent time designing and publishing quality, well laid out instructions. Four pages show the parts and sprues. The next eleven pages utilize excellent isometric drawings, text (English & Chinese), and alphanumeric parts designations. Everything seems to be logically presented with no pit-falls observed. The last four pages are for aircraft, one aircraft type per page. On the page for each aircraft, a painting guide for that aircraft is also included.
Color Plate – As an extra bonus, Trumpeter includes a one page color plate of the Hornet as she appeared for the Doolittle Raid and for the Battle of Midway. However, the Hornet’s Measure 12 modified camouflage scheme does not appear to have changed between the two events.
The Trumpeter USS Hornet is now available from Naval Base Hobbies. To see the Hornet and many more interesting naval subjects and resources, just click on the link below to give Shaya a visit.