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Trumpeter 1/350 scale USS Sangamon (ACV-26) aircraft carrier plastic model kit review

Be prepared to spend as much time building planes as the entire ship
Kit:05369 // Scale:1/350 // Price:$162.00
Missing two 5-inch/51-cal., two twin 40mm guns, and four ship’s boats
Injection-molded plastic (gray); 314 parts (62 photo-etched metal); decals

The USS Sangamon was unique in that it was in demand both as a Cimarron-class tanker and as a converted aircraft carrier. The first of four converted from a T2 tanker hull, the Sangamon and its sister ships proved resilient and capable in both roles during World War II. Faster, longer, and deeper-hulled than other conversions, it could carry a full 35-aircraft air wing with improved stability. Beyond its 24,000-mile range, it hauled an additional 14,000 tons of fuel for its escorts. Initially deployed in 1942 for Operation Torch in North Africa, the Sangamon also served in the Pacific and was the first to encounter the Kamikaze off Leyte, surviving significant battle damage.

Trumpeter’s 1/350 scale kit comprises 252 plastic parts and 62 photo-etched metal (PE) details on a single fret. Sixteen aircraft from Sangamon’s 1942 deployment are included, as is an instruction booklet, decal sheet, and painting guide.

Throughout the assembly, follow the instruction sequence because it builds up and limits access to previous steps. A full-hull kit split along the keel and internal bracing helps to maintain the hull form. However, it did cause keel opening issues amidships while the bow and stern remained flush. Make sure to test-fit and shave down the light seams along the edges of the five internal braces.

The original tanker deck wears PE deckhouse details that are difficult to see with the hangar deck on top, and there are several railings and some deck machinery for refueling other ships.

After adding the hangar and flight deck, it’s time to add the pre-measured catwalk railings and assemble the 17 20mm and two twin 40mm guns. In hindsight, I would have added the stern railings before installing the flight deck. Parts H4, H5, H6, and H7 are davits for the four ship's boats (not included).

Twenty-two styrene and PE parts create the island. The two radio masts (Part H1) extend below the catwalk and should not be trimmed off at the midpoint. The originals were able to raise to a higher elevation as needed and, though they look odd, hang as shown.

As ship modelers tend to build to a specific period, this kit has nearly all the elements for Operation Torch in 1942. The two radars and the gun tubs are pre-Pacific deployments, but the armament is a bit off-kilter in the stern, lacking the two 40mm and two 5-inch .51-caliber guns in the prominent tubs on either side of the stern. No flight deck numbers were used then, but they are included on the decal sheet. Flightdeck line decals require just a quick dip in water to come loose.

The kit includes 16 aircraft: eight F4Fs, four TBFs, and four SBDs. These are mini kits on their own and offer either folded or open wings. The folded wings for the SBDs should be discarded because they were never built with that option. I did much of the painting by hand and set the decals before mounting the wings. The decals are almost perfect, but if you want to make them correct for Operation Torch, you will need to paint yellow around each fuselage star. No numbers are included on the decals, so you’ll have to turn to the aftermarket or make them yourself.

Overall, this was an interesting, well-engineered subject with just a few minor historical flaws that can be rectified if you have the right parts in your spares box. The decals are a quick dip and release, although a bit thin, and lay down nicely. The PE railings were nearly the perfect length and had clear placement information. I did find that I spent as much time building the air wing as I did for the ship itself, but including the planes works well. Now, where to find 72 P-40s in 1/350 scale to do a sister ship?

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