USS Enterprise CV6 1/350
USS Enterprise 1942

This page is no longer being updated because it was originally based on the correction of the Trumpeter 1/350 USS Hornet.  I have since come to the conclusion that this kit cannot be adequately corrected to yield a proper model of a Yorktown class carrier.  I have undertaken a scratchbuilt project.  The pages outlining the construction are presented here

Of all the gallant ships in the US Navy during WWII, the USS Enterprise should have been on the top of the list to be preserved.  Remarkably, the fate USS Enterprise, CV-6, was to become nothing more than scrap.  It has been said that the Enterprise, more than most ships, possessed a soul.  Indeed, as a final testament to this fact, as the USS Enterprise had been reduced to nothing more that its keel, one of the ship’s most famous residents, Admiral William F. Halsey, died.  Sadly, the only representations of this famous ship are photographs, paintings, and models.

The Enterprise was launched in 1936 and was one of three ships that formed the Yorktown Class of carriers.  Along with her sisters Yorktown and Hornet, these ships were the vanguard of the US carrier force during the early stages of the Pacific war.  They were also the precursor to the very successful Essex class carriers that would follow.  With the exception of the battle of the Coral Sea, Enterprise would participate in every major naval battle of the Pacific campaign and would become the most decorated ship of WWII.

Trumpeter Hornet CV-8 1/350

To date, there has been no injection kit of the Enterprise in 1/350th scale.  The only alternative available in an injection kit is to convert the Trumpeter Hornet.  The Trumpeter Hornet, while not one of the company’s best efforts, is a reasonable starting point.  With this conversion, I have attempted to construct a likeness of the USS Enterprise as she would have appeared during the battles of Santa Cruz and Guadalcanal.

Construction of the kit began with the assembly of the hull, Figs. 1, 2.  In an effort to keep the bottom of the hull as flat as possible, the bottom portion was screwed down to a board that I had run through the table saw.  After a bit of sanding and fitting, the upper half of the hull was put in place and held securely with masking tape.  Cement was applied from the inside.  I reinforced the joint with a mixture of cyanoacrylate and dental acrylic powder.  For a explanation of this technique, go here.

USS Enterprise CV6 1/350 Hull
USS Enterprise CV6 1/350 Hull

After the joint had thoroughly set, the straps that join the sides of the hull where either cut or removed, Fig. 3.  Next, the forecastle deck was cemented in place.  Again, a bit of fitting was necessary to allow the deck to sit flush with the hull sides and have a minimal gap.  I used several rubber bands and a block of wood to hold the forecastle deck in place during the cementation process, Fig. 4.  After this had thoroughly set, I glued a piece of acrylic into the foremost portion of the bow and backfilled around it with the same mixture of cyanoacrylate cement and dental acrylic powder.  The reason for this step will become obvious when the hull is opened up.

USS Enterprise CV6 1/350 Hull
USS Enterprise CV6 1/350 Hull

One of the main criticisms of the Trumpeter kit has been the shape of the bow.  I think it is a valid criticism.  The shape of a ship’s hull is a defining element.  The manner in which Trumpeter has molded the bow is extremely out of character for the Yorktown class carriers.  To completely correct the problem would be difficult without scratch building a new hull.  While the alternative of scratchbuilding a new hull seemed attractive, I had a greater desire to have a “reasonable” facsimile completed in a “relatively” timely manner.  These, of course, are obviously relative terms and they are indeed a rationalization for all manner of peccadilloes that occur while constructing a model.  To get a better idea of what went wrong at Trumpeter, I ordered a set of Enterprise plans from Floating Drydock.  The hull station drawing on these plans are for the Enterprise prior to the bulge that was added during her major refit in 1943.  The hull diagram below is my redraw of the Floating Drydock plans originally drawn by T. F. Walkowiak.

USS Enterprise CV6 1/350 Hull

I used these drawings to generate loft lines at ¼” elevation intervals.  The second loft diagram is a comparison of loft three with a tracing of the Trumpeter hull at the same elevation (green line).  The red line is my attempt to reconcile the contours of the prototype hull with the Trumpeter hull.  Using this loft will give me a little extra to play around with and refine the shape.

USS Enterprise CV6 1/350 Hull Loft Lines
USS Enterprise CV6 1/350 Hull drawing

The paper template for the prototype bottom loft is displayed over the Trumpeter hull, Fig. 5.  The modified loft is displayed over the Trumpeter hull, Fig. 6.  At this point, it is obvious that there is no way to “correct” the Trumpeter hull.  If you really want an accurately shaped Yorktown class hull, you will have to scratch build one.  I have to admit, I am very close to doing just that.  If Trumpeter had included a flight deck of the quality of their Essex kits, I would go for it.  Especially after seeing Jim Russell’s beautiful hull.

USS Enterprise 1/350 Trumpeter Conversion Hull Correction
USS Enterprise 1/350 Trumpeter Conversion Hull Correction

Before starting any surgery on the hull, I wanted to cement the hanger deck in place to add some rigidity and preserve the integrity of the hull shape, Fig. 7.  The forward hanger deck superstructure was also added.  I began the surgery by rough cutting the opening in the hull that will be filled with the basswood pieces, Fig. 8.

USS Enterprise 1/350 Trumpeter Conversion Hull Correction
USS Enterprise 1/350 Trumpeter Conversion Hull Correction

I added a .060” thick styrene strip at the upper edge of the opening, Fig. 9.  This adds more rigidity and also provides more meat for possible future contouring.  The opening will be refined and enlarged to the height of the strip.  I measured the width of the hull at the level of the first loft so that I would know exactly how to modify the loft line, Fig. 10.

USS Enterprise 1/350 Trumpeter Conversion Hull Correction
USS Enterprise 1/350 Trumpeter Conversion Hull Correction

The first level was cut with an extension to help provide structural integrity with the existing hull, Fig. 11.  Strap clamps were used to keep everything straight when the first level was cemented, Fig. 12.

USS Enterprise 1/350 Trumpeter Conversion Hull Correction
USS Enterprise 1/350 Trumpeter Conversion Hull Correction

All the pieces have been glued in place, Fig. 13.  After continued study, I have reached the conclusion that, while this technique might result in an improvement, the final result will still be a hash.  The more I work with the hull lines, the worse the Trumpeter kit looks and it is hard to rationalize spending anytime on details when the most obvious element is completely wrong.  Frankly, the USS Enterprise deserves much better.  So at this point I will be drawing up the lines to scratch build the entire hull.

USS Enterprise CV6 1/350 Hull flight deck joint

Unfortunately, the flight deck is supplied in three pieces.  Extra care needs to be taken to cement these pieces together so that the joint is as precise as possible.  My method for assembly was to first remove the overlapping portion of the locating tabs.  The mating edges were dressed with a few passes of sandpaper on a block.  The underneath corner of the mating edge was given a bevel, Fig. 100.  The pieces of the flight deck to be mated were positioned and held in place by spring clamps and wood blocks backed by a piece of glass, Fig. 101.  Cement was applied between the joint.  The joint was then reinforced with a mixture of Zap-A-Gap and dental acrylic powder, Fig. 100, 102.  The excess Zap-A-Gap and dental acrylic powder, along with the remaing portions of the locating tabs, were removed and sanded flush.  The finished joint was very acceptable, Fig. 103.

USS Enterprise CV6 1/350 gluing up flight deck
USS Enterprise CV6 1/350 assembling flight deck
USS Enterprise CV6 1/350 finished flight deck joint

The foremost portion of the Hornet flight deck differed from her sisters.  I carefully added in a portion of .080” styrene and finished it flush with the top and bottom of the existing deck, Fig. 104, 105.  Although it is not scribed, it blends in nicely with the flight deck border and the existing detail was preserved.  The forward elevator is assembled in the raised position so I wanted the each elevator to have the same definition of separation.  I rescribed the borders of the other two elevators, Fig. 106.

References

Chesneau, Roger. Yorktown Class Aircraft Carriers. London: Lionel Leventhal Ltd, 2005

Ewing, Steve.  USS Enterprise (CV-6), The Most Decorated Ship of World War II.  Missoula: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company

Friedman, Norman.  U.S. Aircraft Carriers: An Illustrated History.  Annapolis: United States Naval Institute, 1989

Walkowiak, T. F.  USS Enterprise Plans 1/96. Floating Drydock

Wiper, Steve.  Yorktown Class Carriers, Warship Pictorial #9.  Tuscon: Classic Warship Publishing