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Trumpeter 1/350 scale USS Hornet

Kit: No. 5601
Scale: 1/350

Manufacturer: Trumpeter, distributed by Stevens International, P.O. Box 126, Magnolia, NJ 08049, 856-435-1555
Price: $119.95
Comments: Injection-molded, 427 parts, decals
Pros: Well engineered and detailed, good fit, can be built full-hull or waterline, ready to accept photoetched detail parts, excellent instructions and color chart, excellent aircraft
Cons: Bow is too fat, some minor surface detail missing, only eight aircraft provided
Made famous by the daring Doolittle raid of April 18, 1942, the USS Hornet was the third and last Yorktown-class carrier (along with Yorktown and Enterprise). The Hornet also fought in the Battle of Midway, but it sank Oct. 26, 1942 in the Battle of Santa Cruz Island.

Trumpeter's new USS Hornet is the first injection-molded World War II U.S. Navy fleet carrier model in 1/350 scale (Trumpeter has announced forthcoming Essex and Saratoga kits, too). The one-piece upper hull comes with a waterline plank or an additional "full hull" bottom. The illustrated instructions are first-rate, along with the full-color drawings for the camouflage and markings. The decal sheet is also well done.

Overall, the fit is good, with great detail all around. The bow of the kit is a little fat, but that's not a big problem. The hangar deck is thick and strong and comes with floor-plating detail. The hangar deck superstructure sides are detailed down to the hinges and dogs on the hatches. The roller door detail is also crisp. The flight deck is in three sections and features plank and tie-down strip details. The boat cranes located on the hangar deck are too short, though.

The island superstructure has lots of surface detail. The splinter shields are just the right thickness, although the shields for the 20mm-gun placements should be a little higher.

The aircraft are jewel-like models. Each is molded in gray, black, and clear styrene - on the same sprue! Each features recessed detail and a clear canopy. However, you get only two each of B-25B Mitchells, SBD-3 Dauntlesses, F4F Wildcats, and TBD-1 Devastators. More aircraft are sold in separate packages.

The lower hull is about 1/32" longer than the upper, so I cut the lower just forward of the rudder-post hole, sanded down the small end, and reattached it for a near-perfect fit. The V struts for the propeller shafts fit perfectly in the hull indentations, and the propellers are some of the best I have seen.

Building the hangar deck and superstructure was a bit tricky. I had to remove about 1/32" from the center sections and adjust the positioning tabs to get everything tight.

I glued the flight-deck sections to each other before attaching the assembly to the hull. I laid them upside down on a flat surface and used super glue and strip styrene to reinforce the joints.

When the seams were dry, I carefully sanded them smooth and rescribed the lines. I had to remove some of the positioning tabs on the underside of the flight deck to get it to fit correctly on the hull, but once that was accomplished, the flight deck sat level. The tie-down strips are slightly oversized, and there are no arrestor wires molded on the deck.

Be careful attaching the thin, flexible catwalks to the hangar deck superstructure sides. The island has beautiful surface detail, but some small superstructure items are built as four-sided boxes - a bit tedious.

The tripod mast goes together easily, and the yardarms have small rings to anchor the rigging. Small detail parts such as searchlights, anchors, gun directors, 5"/38, 20mm, and 1.1" guns are OK, but the 5"/38s could use more detail and the 1.1" gun barrels should be a little longer.

Make sure you paint the deck under the fantail before installing it. To get it to sit level, add a small piece of .030" styrene to the underside, then more .030" stock to the underside of the flight deck where the forward and aft girder supports attach. The starboard edge of the flight deck should also be flush with the rectangular-shaped box that juts out from the side of the hangar deck superstructure. I used more sheet styrene to fix that.

If my Floating Drydock drawings for the Hornet are correct, the kit's overall length is about 1/4" short, but you'd never know it.

I enlarged the color illustration 305 percent to make tape masks for the hull camouflage. I lightened Model Master dark sea blue with intermediate blue to achieve the navy blue and deck blue colors, then added flat white to the deck-blue mixture to paint the island's blue areas. I used dark gull gray for the vertical sides up to the flight deck and light sea gray for the rest of the island.

This model was clearly designed for the addition of aftermarket photoetched railings and ladders. The numerous platforms and flight deck catwalks have rabbets for railings. There are no molded-on or separate inclined ladders to remove, so for these details, photoetched sets are a requirement. I installed a new Gold Medal Models set made for the Hornet (No. 350-21).

I spent about 110 hours building and painting my carrier. Without question, Trumpeter's Hornet is an excellent kit that any modeler just past the beginner stage could put together and have a great time doing it.

Mike Ashey
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