Trumpeter USS Essex (CV-9)

1:350th Scale injected Plastic Kit
Reviewed by: John Sheridan


Essex Class CV:

The Essex Class of Aircraft Carriers was the follow-on to the successful Yorktown Class Carriers built in the mid 1930's. This new design was in response to the Navy's request for a Carrier that could handle more and heavier types of aircraft that were on the drawing boards. This class was divided into the two types: Long Hull and Short Hull variations. The Short Hulled ships were numbers CV9-CV13, CV16-18, CV21, and CV31. The Long Hull Ships were CV14-CV15, CV19-CV20, and CV32-CV47.

Most of the Long hulled ships improvements were internal to the ship such as redesigned Gasoline tanks and relocating the CIC under the Armored Deck. The most visible feature of the long hulled ships was that they had a slightly shorter flight deck and a clipper-like bow. This allow the ship to carry 2 40mm mounts on the bow then a single mount for increased AA protection. 26 Ships of this class were ordered by the Navy between 1940 and 1943 with 24 completed and commissioned (CV35 and CV46 cancelled).

The Essex class ships served during WWII in the Pacific Theater of Operations. After the war, most of the early hulls were placed into mothballs and carefully preserved. All of the ships were re-activated for service during the Korean War with the exception of USS Franklin (CV13) and USS Bunker Hill (CV17). Various ships were modified under various programs to extend their service lives and to accommodate new technologies such as Jet Aircraft. A few ships in the class did not undergo modifications and ended up being converted to ASW or Assault Ships in the late 1950s. The Last Essex Class Carrier to see service was the USS Lexington ( CV16) which was retired in 1991.

A comprehensive listing of the WWII Essex Class Aircraft Carriers can be found right here on this website.

Recomended Reading


Which Essex class CV can be built with this kit ?

The Trumpeter kit represents the Carrier CV-10 USS Yorktown as she appeared after her mid 1944 refit. The major changes were the addition of a 2nd forward catapult on the port side of the flight deck, deletion of 1 quad 40mm mount on the island superstructure, movement of the radars to better locations on the island, and most importantly: considerable upgrade to the AA fit which would help the ships battle the dreaded kamikaze attacks in 1944 / 1945. With the modifications included as add-ons to the kit, it is easy to convert the Trumpeter Yorktown kit to represent almost any of the short-hulled Essex Carriers from mid 1944 to 1947.

Short-Hulled Essex Ships that can be built right out of the box with the Trumpeter Yorktown kit

CV10 USS Yorktown  
CV11 USS Intrepid CV16 USS Lexington
CV12 USS Hornet CV17 USS Bunker Hill
CV13 USS Franklin CV18 USS Wasp

Short-Hulled Essex Ships that can be built with small modifications using the Trumpeter Yorktown kit

CV-9 USS Essex Use Single 40mm Gun stern mount from USS Trumpeter USS Essex kit. USS Essex was the only ship that did not receive the upgrade to 2 40mm stern mounts during WWII.
 
CV-20 USS Bennington
CV-31 USS Bon Homme Richard
Scratch build 2 quad 40mm bow mounts instead of using the single 40mm bow mount from the kit. USS Bennington and USS Bon Homme Richard were the only 2 short hulled Essex Class CV to be commissioned with 2 Bow 40mm mounts instead of 1 40mm mount. The twin  bow 40mm mounts were common to the long hulled Essex class CVs.

On to the kit......

( Note: Chris Decker of Trident Hobbies has generously provided our review sample. )

The kit comes packaged in a sturdy Cardboard Box. Inside the box, you will find the ship placed in 3 compartments: 1 for the hull, 1 for the Superstructure parts, and 1 for the aircraft. Heavy cardboard walls divide the compartments and ensure the kit will not be damaged. For those of you who own a Trumpeter USS Essex kit, you will find yourself in familiar territory.


A Tree

B Tree

C Tree

D Tree

E Tree

F Tree
 
G Tree (2ea)
 

There are 6 trees (Labeled A through F) for the Superstructure, Island, and and various Bulkheads, Catwalks, and Platforms. There are 2 sets of "G" trees that contain the Guns., Rafts, Cranes, and various small detail parts Trees A-D, and Tree G are the same trees used in the Trumpeter USS Essex kit. Tree E & F have new and/or modified parts that distinguish this kit from the Essex kit.

All of these parts are molded in gray plastic. The molding for this kit is very crisp with no flash, sinkholes, warpage, or defects to be found. For a kit of this size, you would almost expect a defect-or-two, especially with such large pieces but the only problem I could see was the injection pin marks on the bottom of the lower full hull. These can be easily sanded smooth with some 300 grit sandpaper.

The Hull is packaged separately from the rest of the kit. The hull is divided into 2 pieces; upper and lower hull. The upper hull is molded in one piece so there is no seam to worry about filling and sanding. For the lower hull, the kit gives you an option for full-hull or waterline. Both parts of the lower hull are molded in a maroon-red color. The props, shafts, and rudder are molded in Gray plastic and can be found on the "G" trees. A Black colored base is included for those who wish to use it if you choose to display the full-hull version. These parts are of the same kind found in the USS Essex kit.

The kit does have a complete hanger deck interior for those of you who model the interior. All of the openings to the hanger deck are molded in the closed position so you will have to carve-away the openings should you choose to display the hanger deck.  The interior of the hanger deck is nicely done with lots of detail included on the bulkheads. Most of the doors and openings appear to be in the correct location. The roller doors include the cover at the top of each door and enhances the detail of the inside of each door; nice touch Trumpeter! The rest of the bulkheads attach to the hull at specific points so it would be difficult to mess up exactly where they are supposed to attach. I would still recommend a dry fit first just to make sure everything fits properly.  These parts are the same parts that are found in the USS Essex kit.

The Flight Deck is nicely molded and comes in 3 pieces. The detail on deck is beautifully done with fine lines representing the planks and expansion joints. The flight deck matches the plans contained in the "Anatomy of a Ship: The Aircraft Carrier Intrepid" by John Roberts.  The Bomb and Torpedo, and Ammunition  lifts are exactly where they should be located both fore and aft of the Island. There are no arresting wires engraved on the deck. You can easily locate where they should be because they are marked by blank spots on the edges of the deck. The forward part of the flight deck has two hydraulic catapults located on the port and starboard side. This was common to all of the ships of the Essex Class after about mid 1944 through 1947. Ships that did not have 2 catapults when commissioned received the second catapult on the port side during their first major overhaul.

The fore and aft aircraft elevators are molded separately from the deck so you can choose to model them in either the up or down position. If you mold the elevator in the down position, you will need to cut a hole in the Hanger Deck so the elevator is flush to the deck. Fortunately for us, Trumpeter did outline the elevator location on the hanger deck in order to simplify this task. Why they didn't just leave the hole open is a mystery to me, but it is a minor task to open it yourself with a sharp knife. 

The flight deck pieces are keyed so that you cannot accidentally reverse the forward and aft pieces. Unfortunately, the interlocks caused the parts not to fit very well together and made the flight deck deck bow on the ends. I would recommend removing the interlocks and flush-fit the parts together. Another interesting note is where they chose to split the decking. Instead of going for a major expansion joint, they opted to split the deck at 2 minor joints. This will not cause a seam problem in the finished model since they did split it at a spot where you would expect to find a seam anyways. Why they chose this point is sort of a mystery to me but at least they got it right. Another nice touch is that if you choose to model a ship that only requires a single catapult, you can simply swap the Yorktown forward flight deck for the Essex flight deck with no scratchbuilding or modifications.

The Gun Galleries located around the edge of the flight deck are molded separately. This will make it much easier to install photo-etch aftermarket parts to enhance the detail. The small defect with the missing bracing on the Essex Quad 40mm gun tubs surrounding the deck edge has been corrected with the Yorktown kit; good job Trumpeter!  As with the Essex kit,  none of the 20mm and 40mm guns included with the kit came with splinter shields. Aftermarket photo-etch kits will easily correct this deficiency. The single open and closed 5" guns are nicely rendered. As with the  Essex kit, the lower twin 5/38" mount does not have a cupola for the mount captain. This cupola protected him from the blast of the superfiring 5" turret above him. You could either ignore this minor issue, correct it with a little scratchbuilding, or replace the guns with resin parts. The L'Arsenal makes some very nice replacement mounts. A review for these guns can be found here.

The Island is well done and correctly represents a mid to late 1944 Essex Class Carrier.  During their 1944 refits, the forward most 40mm gun was deleted and more flag space was added to the Bridge Level.  The radars included with the kit are SK, SC-2 radars, and YE homing beacon; the same that can be found in the Essex kit. This was the common layout for this class of ship in 1943 through 1944. As the war progressed, the radars changed drastically so you may want to have plenty of photos handy should you choose to model a later war Essex. The good news is that Trumpeter included mounts for relocating the radars to either the port or starboard side of the smokestack. This makes it much easier to move the radars should you be required to do so.


Aircraft:

 

Dauntless SBD-3

TBM/TBF Avenger

 

F6F Hellcat

SB2C Helldiver

Decals

The model comes with 4 different types of aircraft. Included with the kit are 4ea Grumman F6F Hellcats, 4ea Dauntless SBD-3s Dive Bombers, 4ea Grumman TBF/TBM Torpedo Bombers, and 4ea SB2C Helldivers for a total of 16 aircraft. USS Yorktown in late 1944 carried  36 F6F's, 36 SBD's, and 18 TBF's for a total of 90 aircraft. Starting in mid 1944, Yorktown began carrying the SB2C Helldiver which slowly replaced the aging SBD-3s. The SBDs left the ship for good in January 1945. Trumpeter sells extra aircraft in packages of 6 in each set. Trumpeter has released the F4U Corsair as a separate package of 6 aircraft if you wish to add these aircraft which appeared on USS Yorktown beginning in June 1945.


Instructions:

A 22 page assembly instructions is included with the kit. The instructions are simple diagrams showing the locations of where each part is supposed to go. There is very little text to go by but since the instructions are very clear, it is not really required. Also included is a fold-out full color painting guide of USS Yorktown in her 1944/1945 MS33/10a  dazzle paint scheme. Also shown is painting diagrams for different types of aircraft. The aircraft diagrams show the planes in the 3 tone mid war scheme. If you want to depict the aircraft late war, simply paint the entire aircraft Gloss Sea Blue.

The kit does include Decals for both the ship and the aircraft included with the kit. The ship decals have been expanded from the Essex kit with the inclusion of the centerline elevator X's and outline in black. There are also 2 types of dashed lines for the flight deck. Unfortunately Trumpeter chose to use white dashes rather than either black or Gray dashes. During WWII, no carrier used white dashes since they would be easily be spotted from farther away by enemy aircraft. The only flight deck numbers on the decal sheet are 2 sets of the number ten in black which is correct for CV-10 USS Yorktown. As far as I can tell, Yorktown only carried the number 10 on the forward end of the flight deck. You will need to ckeck photos of the ship to determine if the ship carried numbers on the flight deck stern. If you want to model a different Essex class Aircraft Carrier, Gold Model Models makes flight deck decals for all of the Essex class ships.


Final Notes.

Trumpeter has created an excellent rendition of a mid-to-late war Essex Class Carrier in 1:350th scale.  Some of the minor mistakes that appeared with the USS Essex kit have been corrected with this kit. If you take the USS Essex kit and mix it with this USS Yorktown kit, you can create any of the Short-hulled Essex Class CVs during any time frame from mid 1943 through 1947. If you only purchased one of the Essex class kits, ask around and see if other modelers are interested in swapping things like unused AA sponsons, Islands, or the forward flight deck. Remember, no two Essex class were exactly the same so the modeling possibilities are wide open. If you need help with some research, you can use Steelnavy's own Essex Class Aircraft Carrier Reference Guide to help you build the Essex Class Aircraft Carrier of your dreams.

Trumpeter should be congratulated for creating a excellent kit and I hope they continue to make 1:350th scale shipmodels of this quality. Since this kit is so well done and can make any short hull Essex class CV, I don't understand why Trumpeter wants to make a CV-13 USS Franklin kit. The Yorktown kit can already make this Essex class CV right out of the box. I think that Trumpeter should reconsider and cancel the CV-13 Franklin kit and move on to make the Long Hulled Essex Class CVs. Are you listening Trumpeter ?


Aftermarket parts:

For those of you who wish to take their model to a much higher level of detail than is provided in this kit you will need to purchase after-market parts. There are many aftermarket parts to enhance your USS Yorktown / USS Essex kit. The level of detail you can add to these kits can turn your model from an ordinary kit to a super-detailed masterpiece. How much detail to add is completely up to you. We highly recommend you take a look at some of the offerings from the listed manufacturers:

Manufacturer Product Description Stock Number
     
L'Arsenal 5"38 Twin Mounts (resin) AC350-13
L'Arsenal 5" Brass Turned Gun Barrels AC350-23
L'Arsenal Mk 37 Director w/Mk 22 and Mk 12 radars TBA
L'Arsenal Mk 51 AA Director AC350-11
L'Arsenal Quad 40mm AA Mounts AC350-7
L'Arsenal 20mm AA gun AC350-01
Gold Medal Models WW2 USN Carrier Decals 350-7D
Gold Medal Models WW2 USN Aircraft Decals 350-6D
Gold Medal Models WW2 USN Essex Class CV Photo-etch set #1
Standard set.
350-22
Gold Medal Models WW2 USN Essex Class CV Photo-etch set #2
Fine Details.
350-22A
Gold Medal Models 40mm & 20mm Gun details 350-10
White Ensign Models USS Essex Photo-etch detail kit, (3 sheets) 3536
White Ensign Models USS Essex Perforated Catwalks Photo-etch detail kit. 3554
White Ensign Models USS Essex Airwing Fittings Photo-etch detail kit. 3553
White Ensign Models WILDCAT, Dauntless & Devastator Cockpits Photo-etch detail kit.. 3548
White Ensign Models Grumman TBM-3 Avenger Photo-etch detail kit. 3545
White Ensign Models Curtiss SB2C Helldiver Photo-etch detail kit. 3544
White Ensign Models Grumman F6F Hellcat Photo-etch detail kit. 3543
White Ensign Models Dauntless SBD-3 Photo-etch detail kit. 3532
White Ensign Models USN Light AA Weapons & Fittings Photo-etch detail kit. 3555
White Ensign Models Colourcoats Paints See site for stock numbers
Tom's Modelworks ESSEX Class Carrier detailing set (5 sheets) 3530
Tom's Modelworks Dauntless SBD detail kit. 3537
Tom's Modelworks SB2C Helldiver detail kit 3542
Tom's Modelworks F6F Hellcat detail kit. 3541
Tom's Modelworks TBM-3 Avenger detail kit 3543
Tom's Modelworks F4U Corsair detail kit 3544
Tom's Modelworks
40mm Pair & Quad Mount (rails/shield)
3516
Tom's Modelworks
US WWII Miscellaneous Radars SC, SK, Mk4, Mk22, SG
3505

Trumpeter has made it easy to modify the kit by making most of the parts additions to the kit as opposed to casting features into the hull. This makes adding or removing AA sponsons or walkways a breeze instead of cutting, filling, and scratchbuilding cast on details. You will have no trouble modifying this kit to create your favorite Short hulled Essex Class CV.

The Trumpeter Essex is available from Chris Decker at Trident Hobbies, along with everything else that the naval modeler might need.


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