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Academy USS Enterprise

FineScale Modeler reviews the 1/700 scale plastic model ship kit
USS Enterprise (CV-6) received 20 battle stars during World War II, more than any other American warship. It participated in every major action against the Japanese, from sinking a Japanese submarine three days after Pearl Harbor was attacked to supporting the invasion of Okinawa in spring 1945. Reported sunk by the Japanese three times, the Yorktown-class carrier earned the nickname “The Gray Ghost.”

Based on anti-aircraft armament and the air wing, Academy’s new 1/700 scale represents Enterprise in mid-1942.

Most of the parts are molded in gray plastic, with red used for the lower hull and black for the base. No flash mars the parts, and the only blemishes are minor mold seams and a few shallow sink marks that are mostly hidden on the finished model. The hull features recessed portholes, molded hatches, and the prominent degaussing cables, and it accurately captures the unique pear shape of the lower hull. The ship can be built full hull or waterline.

A single photo-etched (PE) fret provides railings, ladders, and an excellent CXAM-1 radar dish for the mast. Separate instructions guide the addition of the PE parts, so you will need to pay attention. A nice addition is the masks for all decks and catwalks, complete with a large placement diagram. Decals provide flight-deck markings and three sizes of insignia for the aircraft.
Assembly of the hull progressed quickly. In Step 8, the aft 5-inch gun galleries required 1.5mm gaps be cut into the splinter shields for PE ladders.
Although the kit is not snap-fit, many of the parts had tight locators that hindered fit. For example, in Step 10 the forward 5-inch galleries did not seat properly. Here and in several other places, I shaved the pins for more precise fits.
In steps 12-17, I fitted PE railings to the main deck sections (parts B5-8 and F21) before attaching them to the flight deck; there’s not much room under the overhang to maneuver once the parts are joined.

The kit provides about three-fourths of the hangar deck with the midships and aft elevators molded on, but only the forward and aft elevator are separate. You could leave the aft one off to display the hangar, but the forward elevator must be attached at flight-deck level because it opens to a void. I shaved its front attachment for a better fit with the flight deck.

For the most part, the kit’s anti-aircraft guns look good for the scale. The eight one-piece 5-inch/38 Mk.21 Mod. 16 guns include breeches and fuse-setting equipment. The four 1.1-inch Mk.2s also scale out well and look the part. But the 20mm guns are a bit bland and would benefit from a little extra work.
I spent a little more than eight hours building the island, much of it bending and attaching PE railings. The highlight was the PE replacement for the kit’s solid plastic CXAM-1 radar (Part E15). Pay attention, though, as you need the support from the plastic radar to mount the PE dish. The island’s PE instructions include the kit’s only part misidentification. The long port-side catwalk railing should be PE47, not PE57 as shown.

I painted vertical surfaces with 5-0 ocean gray as indicated in the instructions, but the color should be 5-S sea blue. (The lighter gray helps show details.) The carrier was repainted with 5-N navy blue during its 1943 refit. For the flight deck, I applied 20-B deck blue; the other decks received No. 20 deck gray.
The deck’s stripe and elevator outline decals went on without silvering over a coat of clear gloss with a touch of Microscale Micro Sol. The decals release quickly, so don’t leave them in the water.

The 24 aircraft — eight each of F4F-4 Wildcats, SBD-2/-3 Dauntlesses, and TBD-1 Devastators — are correct for May-August 1942. The single-piece moldings include propellers and wedge landing gear. The Wildcats have fine lines at the wing folds, and the SBDs have indents at the nose for the .30-caliber machine guns. The national insignia decals laid down nicely.

For more detail, you could cut and fold the wings of the F4F-4 and TBD-1, shape the robust landing gear, add torpedoes or bombs, and sand the props to scale.
Academy’s Enterprise scales out nearly perfectly, and the kit was a lot of fun to build. It would be an attractive build for an experienced modeler and has a lot of the extras in the box. However, ease of construction, paired with good instructions, makes it a good introduction to PE for those with less experience.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the November 2017 issue.


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