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Merit International USS Yorktown CV-5

Kit:65301 // Scale:1/350 // Price:$180
Merit International
Cleanly molded parts; excellent photoetched metal
Vague instructions; overly pronounced hull plates; clear plastic aircraft parts needed cleanup
Injection-molded plastic, 1,104 parts (288 photoetched-metal), decals

Merit International's 1,100-part kit represents the first USS Yorktown as she was at Midway shortly before being sunk by Japanese torpedoes and bombs. The 12" x 30" box has 16 sprues of gray plastic, 15 clear sprues for the aircraft, and 5 large photoetched-metal frets. The flight and hangar decks and hull are separately, securely packaged.

The gray parts show few sink marks, but some of the clear propellers were warped.

Hull plates and vertical butt straps are over-scale — a micrometer shows they would stand out 14" from the hull on the full-size ship. So, before starting construction, I spent four hours shaving and sanding the hull for a better appearance.

Step 1 revealed minor warping at the bow that prevented part of the hangar deck (No. V2) from sitting right and could have lead to fit problems later. Gluing and clamping may fix the issue and prevent some of the fit problems I encountered.

Steps 2 and 3 create the busy forecastle and introduced me to the kit's excellent photoetched metal. The railings fit perfectly and the bends are marked just right.

Step 4 instructs you to build 25 of the 20mm gun mounts, but you only need 17. Also, there's an anomaly with Part P25 on the 5" guns — four are smooth and four have boxes. There's no mention in the instructions, so I teamed like parts. The base of the mount (No. P22) appears to be for a later version of the gun; the footplate could be removed to make it more accurate. Careful construction allows the 5" guns to elevate. Leave the photoetched-metal railings off the gun mounts.

Watch the alignment of the forecastle pylons when fitting the deck framework (No. E11) in Step 5. Pay attention when adding the catwalks to the bow because the instructions are a little vague.

The instructions indicate attaching them a step ahead, but I recommend adding the photoetched-metal platform and ladders (parts PE-B7 and PE-B8) as you attach the girder E12 because they need to be lined up correctly. Use ladders PE-B21 instead of PE-C21 in Step 6.

Pay attention in steps 8 and 9 as the orientation of some hangar wall sections changes in the sequence and others do not, creating confusion. Rather than try to assemble the long wall sections, then install them, I attached them a section at a time. The warp I mentioned earlier caused problems here — the hangar walls proved to be a bit too long, especially on the port side, which needed 1mm removed at the join between parts A12 and B8. Removing the locator pins from the starboard side wall (Part B2) improved the fit, but it was still a squeeze.

One of the kit’s highlights is the inclusion of the internal supports for the flight deck, visible in the ceiling of the hangar deck. Test-fitting revealed that girders N2 and longitudinal stringer B3 cross under the midships elevator. If you want to lower the elevator, cut B3 at the end of girder N1 and shift it to port, then cut both N2 girders and mount it to the port wall only. (Check Step 14 for how it will look if left as is.)

I left the flight deck free in two pieces so it could be removed to view the hangar.

The instructions show the photoetched-metal railing (parts PE-A3 and PE-A18) bent around the hangar-deck catapult horns, but they should run straight along the line of the deck.

In Step 15, I encountered a couple of too-short railings (parts PE-A25 and PE-D10); also, Part PE-C19 should be PE-C22.

The island is a wonderful bit of engineering, comprising 172 plastic parts and near-perfect fits.

Delay building the aft legs of the tripod structure in Step 16 until Step 18 because the apex of the tripod is too tight to pass through the lower platform (Part F20).

Platform Part L15 was too wide to fit between the amazing photoetched-metal primary flight control (Pri-Fly) structure and the bridge. I sanded 1mm from it to fit. The starboard bridge wing labeled Part Q12 actually is Q6, and Part PE-A26, an L-section of railing not listed in the instructions, fits the part's rear edge.

Also omitted in the instructions are parts L53 and L58 that combine to form a secondary gun director on top of the wheelhouse.

Finally I assembled the aircraft. There was flash on some of the F4F-4 Wildcat parts, and the propellers for the Devastators were warped. Note that the TBD's wings should fold back almost to the canopy, not vertical as shown in the instructions.

The decals went on smoothly. They include a variety of aircraft numbers within each squadron. Oddly, while 30 national insignia are required for each type of 5 aircraft, only 24 are printed for the SBD-3.

For reference, I used That Gallant Ship: USS Yorktown CV-5, by Robert Cressman (Pictorial Histories Publishing, ISBN 978-0-933126-57-2) and Yorktown-class Aircraft Carriers in Action by Robert C. Stern (Squadron/Signal, ISBN 978-0-89747-543-3), as well as the website

I finished my Yorktown on Memorial Day, a fitting tribute to the U.S. Navy and the role the ill-fated ship played in turning the tide of the Pacific War.

This wonderful-if-complex kit accurately portrays the carrier’s graceful lines, although the 20mm guns look a little undersize on the finished model. The photoetched metal is exceptional and actually fun to work with. My only complaint is the instructions; the small illustrations offer vague placement directions.

Note: A version of this review appeared in the September 2015 FineScale Modeler.

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