USS Enterprise CVN-65, Nuclear Aircraft Carrier
This model is the very well known (dare I say famous?) Tamiya, 1/350 Scale USS Enterprise that has been on the market for a good 20 years and more. In fact I bought this model back in the later 1980s and have had it in storage ever since, it having made three moves (along with other models both built and unbuilt) in that time. I finally started building it in June 2012 as a part of my large 1/350 Scale Modern Navy Carrier Strike Groups Project.
It is a model of the fist nuclear aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise, CVN-65. She was commissioned in 1961 and will be decommissioned in 2013 after over 52 years of service, having participated in every major US action from throughout the Cold War, through Vietnam, both Gulf Wars, Afghanistan, and countless exercises and other missions. She is called the "Big E"," and the "Old Lady of the Sea," because of her size and her longevity. She will be replaced by the first new Ford Class Carrier, America's latest super carrier design. When that vessel is launched in 2013 and commissioned by 2015.
This model has been built many times over and presented time and again. There are some absolutely phenominal builds. Here are a couple: HERE, and HERE, that I feel are excellent and very represetrnative of what is out there and can be done with the model, the aftermarket products available, and with scratch building.
For a great site talking about the actual building of this model, USE THIS ONE There are many others, but this one is illustrative of the various processes one has to go through and which are good reference.
...and for probably the best site for any build of the USS Enterprise (this one was a full scratch build in 1/72 scale...meaning it is over 15 feet long and actually uses 1/72 model aircraft on its deck and in the hangar), GO TO THIS SITE. But beware, that site is a major time hog...it's addictive. Amazing what that guy did. Took him 19 years!
Though this model can be built in a very nice way straight out of the box, I would reommend getting either Gold Medal Models, or White Ensign Model's Photo Etch parts specifically for the aircraft carrier. They add significant detail and realism over what is included in the box. It will require, for example in the case of the safety netting around the deck, the removal of some of the plastic portions of the model to be replaced by these parts. Also, I would suggest getting some of Tamiya's and/or Trumpeter's additional aircraft sets and Gold medal Models and Tom's Models have several decal sets for the Enterprise (Starfighter Decals is one company providing them, among others) and for American nuclear aircraft carriers in general. The Tamiya model is sorely lacking in terms of decals.
I intended to build the model in the 2000s version, which means the airwing is substantially different, mainly F-18s, E2-Cs, C-2 Greyhounds, and EA-6B aircraft along with Seahawk helos. Also, numerous platfors, housing new sensors, and some substnitally modeifued platforms (like the automated landing system tower aft on the starboard side) have been added and will need to be scrathc built. In addition, the RAM missiles will have to be either used from other kits or scratch built. Once again, the decals that come with the Tamiya model are very lacking as regards the deck specifically. You can either paint them (as they are shown on the deck with raised edges, or I would suggest getting those after-market sets as desribed above.
Finally, the model does not come with a hangar deck...which back when the model was released was not as big an issue as it is today...so most people (myself included) build scratch hangar decks from either extra, or stock purchased parts which are then detailed to whatever degree desired. As you can see by the links provided above, some of those details are so realistic you could believe you were in the hangar spaces yourself.
This model comes in a very large, well-built box, with a very nice picture of the Enterprise on the cover of the box. The pieces, the instructions and the decals are all safely located within and compartmentalized for the hull, the metal parts, and the other parts including the flight deck.
The Hull is in two pieces and together they measure over 3 ft long. There are several metal stiffener/strengthening brackets to be placed between the sides of the hull, and the front section is glued and screwed together with the larger aft section. Altogether there are 9 metal parts. Three stiffners, four screws and two nuts.
The deck comes in three large pieces that fit nicely to the hull in a dry fit, and have tabs to assist in their fit, as well as two screws that screw into the forward portion of the middile section down into one of the metal stiffners. The cat walks along the side of the main deck are molded directly into the deck with the stairs for the various levels included. The exterior is detailed and this is a nice feature.
The model comes with an additional eight sprus and a total of 604 parts. The pieces are well molded with very little or no flash. There are lots of finely detailed and small plastic parts for the sensors, weapons system, chaff/decoy systems, antennae, life rafts, and many other parts. The bridge windows are cut out nicely, but there are no clear plastic parts to fill in these holes so the builder is left to either leave them open, or device clear/tinted plastic pieces to fit.
As to the sprus themselves, they are arranged as follows:
The aircaft included are:
2 - F-18 Hornets
This totals ten aircraft but is not nearly enough for a full airwing, and is certainly not enough for my purposes because I intend an airwing in the 2000s when the A-7s, F-14s, A-6s, and S-3s were already retired. So, I have purchased four Tamiya aircraft sets (2 each of set 1 and set 2) and three sets of Trumpeter aircraft.
The 1st Tamiya set is exctly the same as what came with the model. The second Tamiya set includes the following aircraft:
2 - E2C Hawkeyes
I also purchased the following Trumpeter 1/350 scale models sets:
6 - F-18F Super Hornets
When you add all of these up and take out the aircraft no longer in use. I will put together an airwing of the following:
6 - F/A-18D Hornets
That's 30 aircraft so, in order to get that airwing up to more realistic numbers, I will purchase and add a dozen more F/A-18 Super Hornets, some more E-2Cs, C-2s and EA-6Bs to make a complete airwing of 50 aircraft.
The decal sheet that comes with the model is lacking. There are no carrier deck markings, outside of a few innocuous loading markings. It seems you are intended to paint them all. That is why a 1/350 scale decal set from Starfighter, and othetrs available at Gold Metal Models or Tom's Models for the later model Enterprise sre important. Also decals sets for the airwing and the island specifically from Gold Medal Models also help out in this regard.
The model's instructions are very well done consisting of 29 pages. The first is a history of the vessel (but dated), and the next two pages are very good descriptions of the various equipment onboard the carrier. This is followed by 24 pages of very detailed instructions, many with pictures of the model as built to help you. Finally, the last four sheets are for painting of the model and are also done in very good detail.
I started by quickly gluing together, and then screwing together with the provided nuts and bolts, the two hull sections. This went very straightforwardly and provided minimal seam which I will later add putty to and then level off through light sanding to ellliminate the seam.
Then it was time to begin building the hangar deck. I do not have large sections of plastic (but may yet go out and buy some "cut to size" 2 mil white plastic sheeting) so was left with using pieces I do have from other builds, particularly water-line flat sections I have not used, to fasten the hangar deck, and then various other plastic pieces to fashion the walls.
I decided to extend the deck from just forward of the second elevator (which come open in the model but is meant in the instructions to be closed with its blast doors, all the way to aft of the last elevators. I used my dremel tool with a carbon disc cutter, my xacto knife, and my cutting dikes to make the pieces. I built ledges for those pieces out of spru parts from other models, supporting them with short sections of sprue glued vertically beneath them, and then did this all the way along the proposed hangar spaces on each side. I then pieced together the various section, painted the aft section using gray primer by Testor's Model Master, and then puttied the seams for the pieces I had used.
Later I will grind and/or sand these down to provide smooth surfaces throughout, paint the whole, and then begin adding details to the hangar spaces including piping, sections, blast doors, observation areas, and ultimately aircraft and equipment. I will also paint the tie downs onto the hangar deck like they will be on the main deck. I also am thinking of adding some lighting using a 12vdc source and small white or flourescentr lighting for the hangar bay, but will decide on that later.
I ultimately ordered some while styrene plastic sheet, 4 mils for the sides and 6 mils for the roof for the hangar deck so I could have uniformity. I should have done so with the floor of the hangar deck as well, but the thick plastic had bonded so well that taking it off appeared like it would damage the hull and create a larger problem, so grinding and sanding to a smooth surface would have to suffice.
I then took a number of spare parts from older naval vessel builds, and the various size sprues to create realistic hangar deck walls with stations, piping, etc. They are not an exact match, but they look good for my purposes and tastes, which is not to go all out on an exact replica of the vessel at any single date or time frame, rather to produce how the vessel appeared in general in the later time frames suited to my airwing without the A-7s, F-14s, or A-6s. In other words, conforming generally to the airwing listed above.
The white styrene walls came out good when painted and after adding the various detail work. I am still looking for good parts to add for the specific viewing and control stations along the hangar deck and will place them as I find or build them. I intend to use micro-led lighting for the hangar roof, and also build the various racks that hang from the roof, and will cover that detail in a future post.
With the hangar deck well along, I masked off and painted the upper surface of the entire hull in Model Master Neutral Gray, which I find to be as close to the normal color as possible without mixing. Next I will paint the black water line stripe and then the hull in a flat red. Here are the resulting pictures of the build to date:
The Enterprise, as shown, has numerous sponsons located around the entire hull...numerous ones. Building all of these are like constructing miniature models in and of themselves. I built all of the basic parts for them at once, and then come back and paint them...in this case all hull sides are Model Master Neutral Gray, and I am painting all deck portion Model Master Flight Deck Stain, except for the flight deck which will be Model Master Flight Deck Gray...which is a daker gray where flight deck stain is lighter and has some blue in it.
Anyhow, once painted, I then painted the detail parts (like the 20mm Phalynx CIWS and Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) launchers) and railing and then add them. These two steps are shown in the following pictures.
Once they were all built, I painted and built the launch and cutter and their decks, and then proceeded to paint the hull red below the waterline. This took some time as I tried several reds...flat red, and a couple of others to match my 1/350 Scale USS New Jersey, BB-62. I then remembered 20 years ago I had to mix the colors to get the right one...:
1 part flat brown
I did that and got a perfect match and then painted the whole hull below the waterline that color. Once that was done, I went around adding all of the sponsons, and several other hull-edge pieces (like ladders off of the deck level, various platforms, the nighttime landing guide light system on the stern, the entire fantail, and other protrusions from the hull. Once they were all in place, the vessel really was starting to look very good as these pics show:
The Island of the USS Entrerprise is a very detailed portion of the model. In reality it is an almost 300 part model in and of itself. I am using the White Ensign USS Enterprise PE package, which contain many parts useful to the model as a whole, and particularly to various sensors and othe parts, including railing, for the island.
First of all I painted and built the basic island structure itself, carefully using my xacto knife and sand paper it ensure a good fit and trim away any extra material left over from cutting the parts off of the spru. I added a couple of the spotlight platforms with their PE railing as well, placing the PE railing before painting and then painting afterwards. I am continuing the painting scheme of Model Master Neutral Gray for all horizontal services, and Model Master Flight Deck Stain for all of the walking surfaces for the crew, outside of the flight deck itself, which is Model Master Flight Deck. The flight Deck Grey is that darker flight deck grey we are looking for, while flight deck stain is several shades lighter and also includes a blue tint in it as called out for in the instructions and when compared to pictures of the vessel.
Once the intial island structure is built, less the very top roof, you notice that a significant area is included on the upper operations deck within the windowed area that is very suited for detailing for operations on that level. So, I decided to add some work surfaces, internal doors, and quitre a few crewman since I would be enclosing this area. Once the crew were included and placed, and before the upper roof was placed, this is how that looked. Note particluarly the operations area on the uppoer, windowed deck:
Then, I added the roof for the Island and some other sensors, which covered over the operations area I had just detailed, but which can still be seen inside with either a flash light or natural lighting. I was going to use some tiny LED lighting in there like I plan for the hangar deck (that's coming next) but decided against it in the interest of moving along. So with the roof on, the island then looked like this:
At this point I cut out and assembled the various PE parts for the major sensors, like the AN/SPS-48 and AND/SPS-49 radars which look much, much better when you utilize the photo etched parts from an after market accessory kit like White Ensign, Gold Medal Models, or Tom's Models. Here they are on the table top as I was constructing them, which involves either cutting off the plastic supplied parts, or simply replacing them in the building process with the sensors you cut out, fold, glue and create from the accessory PE kit spru. Note: I use some quick acting glue for the PE parts, which is very thin (the kind of stuff that will glue your fingers together if you touch some of the glue and then touch two fingers) and then I thicken it up a little with a slight mixture of normal model glue. This has worked well for me in getting the PE parts to dry somewhat quicker and have a more defined base.
Finally, it was time, once all of those parts had properly set, and been painted, to add them all together and get all of the masts, other platforms, sensors, etc. onto the island. I must say she is looking pretty squared away. I do have a few more sensors, personnel, and then particularly the final PE railing to install before it is finished, but it is looking pretty good now.
I now have a family reunion/vacation to go on the end of this week and next, and then I will take a rest from the Enterprise project to build the 1/350 Scale, Blue Ridge Models, SSN-571 USS Nautlis, that they sent me to build and review. It arrived late last week and is a fine looking resin model with a lot of details and extra parts. I'm looking forward to a good build and review of this very nice and very detailed model of that historical vessel. Once that is completed it will be back to the Enterprise to detail out the hangar bay with aircraft and the lighting, then onto the main deck, detailing that and adding all the parts around it, and finally adding the airwing to the main deck and the personnel.
Ok, last night (July 15th) and into this morning, I got a bug and stayed up late and decided to dry fit the flight deck, and then place the Island on it and the Autmated Landing Tower. Which I did and it is looking awesome:
Then, as I looked at that, the thought occurred to me...okay, that's looking so cool (even though it's just a dry fit and there are weeks and weeks of work left to detail and finish the whole carrier)...hmmm, I wonder? as I glanced over and saw my 1/350 Scale PLAN (Chinese Navy) Aircraft Carrier sitting there all completed and pretty as you please...wouldn't it be cool to set them side by side and see how they compare? So I did.
Now that, is what I'm tlking about!
Well, I finally finished the USS Nautlis, SSN-571, provided to me by Blue Ridge Models. I also had to take time to travel to Houston, TX (we drove) to complete my annual checkup at MD Anderson Cancer Center for my Chodoma Cancer condition. BTW, that worked out as positively as it could, so that's a good thing.
Anyhow, after these delays I am finally back onto the Enterprise and wanted to let folks know. I have purchased the LED lighting and wiring, and PC boards for my lighting system for the hangar deck and designed the schematice. I will run it off of a 9V DC power supply and have the wires run to a simple switch which I will mount in the stand. So, with that I began working on the aircraft and equipment I intend to have in the hangar bay, which is alread painted and prepared for those aircraft and equipment, and for the lighting system which will be mounted in the roof.
I intend to have 14 aircraft in the hanar bay.
2 C-9 Greyhounds
Here are some pictures of progress to date on the hangar bay (which is pretty much finished except for some trafficing lines, and the aircraft as completed to date.
Need some more detail pinting and touch up, decals, and then the deck equipment. Then I will put together the lighting wiring attached to the roof, put it in place, and be done with the hangar bay.
I have completed all of the aircraft and vehicles to be placed on the hangar deck. I completed three tow trucks, one fire truck, and one forklift to go with the fourteen aircraft.
After assembling the aircraft, I assembled and painted the vehicles. The fire truch is white with a blue strip on the back.
Once this was completed it was time to put the decals on all of the aircraft and do the finishing touch up paint on them. The decals are very small and getting them on properly was time comsuming. I am using the low-visibility markings for the aircraft. I am limited to the "Navy" and wing markings, using what came with the model and aircraft kits.
Then it was time to prepare the hangar deck with all of the tie downs. Most suggest painting a small dot on the deck to depict this, but I decided on a different route. Using a very small hand-held drill, and a very small 1/64 drill bit, I drilled shallow holes, which more accurately depict these tie downs. I drilled in between 1/64 and 1/32 of an inch. Over three hundred were required for the amount of hangar space I have depicted. It was very time consuming and then required some touch up work with files, knife, and paint...but I like the look. Good warm up for the 800-900 that will be required for the main deck! I will take pictures of exactly how I did this when I begin working the main flight deck.
Once these tie downs were completed and touched up, I then was able to place the aircraft and vehicles in the hangar bay and arrange them until I liked the configuration. I then glued them all in place as shown below.
Now that is some good progress!
I will now begin putting together the lighting schematic with the wiring diagram I have designed and the 9 vdc power source (battery. The wiring will be inside the carrier with a plug-in recessed into the bottom so it doe not interfere with the stand. The switch and battery will be in the stand with a lead and connector that allows it to plug into the carrier, after which time the switch will operate the lights which will be miniature LEDs that simulate a flourescent lighting scheme.
Once the hangar deck had been completed in terms of the structure, the tie downs, the aircraft, and the details, it was time to put together the hangar deck lighting system I had envisioned. Basically I was going to use miniature LED lights that would burn in a flourescent color, powerd by 9 V DC source, and wired together with 22 and 18 guage electrical wire such that the wiring ultimately comes out of the carrier on the bottom with a flush plugin that would then connect to a switch located in the stand to turn on and off the hangar deck lights.
I purchased the LEDs and the solderless connections and 9 V DC connectiors from Modeler's Brand (www.modelersbrand.com), an online source that makes miniture LED tape in several densities (in terms of lights per inch). I bought the regular-double density tape and then bought five solderless connections to it along with five 9 V DC connections. I had 22 and 18 guage wire, wire connectors (butt connectors as well as various plug ins), tie downs, and 9 V DC batteries. I used my own wire dikes, wire strippers, cutters, etc. I planned for three LEDs in each of three bays within the hanger deck. Each group of three leds pulled 20 mA, so I would be pulling a total of a 60 mA load on my battery which was quite acceptable. Here are pictures of the Modeler's Brand material and the roof sections onto which I placed the LEDs and wired them up.
Once I had the roof sections wired up, it was time to attach them to the hangar and wire them all together and then run the wire to the forward end of the carrier, forward of the hangar deck so I could then have it exit the hull around the first starboard side elevator underneath the carrier.
As I was doing this, I used the 9 V DC battery to test the lighting after each section was wired together to ensure it all worlked as I put it together. I did three individual tests on the individual sections, and then a total of three more tests as I put it together to make sure it all worked right through the completion of the wiring so I would know where the error came in if one appeared.
Sure enough, as I was wiring the last section together, the lighting in the other two stopped working and I had to correct an impropoer connection to get them all to work. Here are pictures of the three bays put together and wired up, with two pictures of the whole thing together.
Finally it was time to light it up and take a few pictures. The first two are with a flash, so the lighting system does not appear as bright. The last one is with a auto time lapse where the lighting appears more brightly to the eye. This has turned out pretty well and I would recommend this method of putting your lighting system together. Altogether, I spent aboout $30 for all of the material I used. I have also purchased a more ready made, out of the box system for 1/350 scale Carrier by Madman Lighting Systems at Freetime Hobbies - Pacific Front Models (www.freetimehobbies.com). It cost about $45.00 that I will use on my USS Iwo Jima LHD-7 1/350 Scale Model by Gallery models when the time comes and advise how it goes.
Pretty nice if I do say so myself. Next I will be working on the main flight deck, getting all of the tie downs there drilled and then placing the flight deck on the hull and covering over the hangar deck. At that time I will also put the Island and the decals on the main deck before going into the long process of building all of the air wing for the flight deck.
Now it was time to deal with the tie down holds which are located all over the flight deck, well over 900 of them. On the Tamiya Enterpise model, these are represented with circles, the outline of which is slightly raised. Most people paint the interior of these circles either a white or off-white color. These circles are approximately 1/32" in diameter. I decided that the painting did not give the relief of the actual tie downs because they are actually holes in the deck with the tie down "bar" to which the chains are attached mounted inside the hole and flush with the deck. So, I decided to drill them all out. I did not drill out the holes in the middle of the flight deck landing outlines or stripes, or where the catapault lines crossed the deck, but did drill out all of the others.
I initially used a 1/32" drill bit with a hand drill and drilled down about ten revolutions each to about half the thickness of the deck...perhaps to a depth of about 1/8 of an inch. Because this was taking so long, I ultimately decided to use my dremel tool. Due to the slight movement of the drill bit as it rotated while I held it, the 1/32" bit was making the holes a little too large. I reverted to a 1/64" bit and this worked very well. I was able to then drill out all of the holes, though it was still took quite a bit of time. After every 6-8 holes you have to stop and clear the plastic out of the drill grooves so as to get clean crisp holes. I ultimately just drilled all the way through the deck in order to speed up the process and because the depth was not nearly as consistant with the dremel as it was with the hand-held drill. Here's how that turned out.
Once the holes were drilled, there was quite a bit of scratching and impact on the deck due to the drilling where the deck had already been painted. It was necessary to go back and paint over this, though there were a few places where the wear and marking on the deck looked a good bit like normal wear, particularly around the landing and take off areas (catapaults). In those area's I simply used a mostly dry brush to "dry brush" the areas and give them the appearance of wear on a painted and non-skid surface.
I will now be able to move fairly rapidly on painting the deck markings and applying decals, and then placing the various small features around the deck, like antennae, fire hose reels, walkways, etc. And then placing the entire flight deck on the hull and adding the Island and the rear landing control tower. That's what I will be doing next and I hope to be back with pictures and progress on that in the next week or two.
The last six days have seen a LOT of progress. A three day weekend helped in that regard. There comes a time when you are building models, particularly these larger 1/350 scale warships, where all of the prepratory work and various individual sections and sub assemblies start to come together and within a day or two the entire thing comes together to finally start looking like what your end object was in mind. These last few days have been that type of experience as the pictures will attest.
First I began adding the deck decals. Since the flight deck is in three sections, I wanted to make sure that any linear or large decale that might cover the areas where those sections came together were not applied until the the three pieces had been affixed to the hull. So, using the very few decals that came with the vessel, but using seversl sets of decals specifically for the Enterprise and for US nuclear powered aircraft in general (most of these being provided by Gold Medal Models and Tom's Model Works and their large availability of aftermarket decals), I began marking up the deck. Note, some of these decal sets are older and the decals are ver fragile and tend to come apart. In addition a few sheets are not individual decals, but the whole thing is a single decale sub-surface so cutting the decals on those sheets as closely as possible to the actual lines is required. Nevertheless, after a few set back, re-cuts, some toch up paint work, and improvising, they all came together:
Then it was time to glue the flight deck down to the hull. These are large pieces of plastic and it was critical to prepare for this ultimate attachment by making sure that the hull pieces, the metal braces, the scratch built hangar deck and its roof, all provided for the eventual addition of the flight deck and that nothing interfered. Having done so, I added the deck setions starting at the rear and moving foward. There are interlocking flanges on the decks and a couple of screws on the forward portion of the center piece which must align with one another and with the holes in the metal cross structure there. Having alinged them all and done several dry fits, it was time to attach then, use the clamps, and make copious use of the many various size and strength rubber-bands that I have saved over the years for just this purpose.
Now, there are just a LOT of pieces to be placed all around the deck, and some scratch builds I needed to accomplish in order for the Enterpprise to more accurately reflect the 2000's configuration I wanted as as opposed to the 1980s configuration the model was built as...this included decal markings on the deck and on the Island.
One of the main pieces ofdeck equipment, located all around the flight deck are the hose spools for fire fighting purposes. I have photo etched parts for this, and their detai in terms of spool sides are great, but they did not include an inner spool to accomplish what I intended. The PE parts, and the parts that came with the kit are made to build, paint and then place, with no provision for the hoses that are wrapped around them. I wanted these spools to show as being filled with those hoses. So, I used the parts that came with the kit because they do have an internal spool structure, which I could wrap the proper twine around and achieve full spools. So that is what I did. It was a laborious, time consuming process because there are 38 spools, each of which must be glued trogether, and then have the same length of "hose" (in this case the proper weigh and color of thread) to wrap aroind the spool...and then of course you have to wrap them.
Then I scratch built some parts, and also built the straboard side Phalanx CIWS gun mount amidhsips next to the Island. On the island there are three platforms, two forward and one aft, which are new and carry newer sensors that have been added to the carrier. I needed to sratch build these, finding or making domes and platforms and supports from spare parts or just plastic I have on hand. In addition, the shape and equipment on the port aft automatic landing tower has changed considerably. I scratch built that too, and placed it in location.
On the CIWS deck, I used a photo etch ladder in place of the one that came with the kit. Very small and difficult to work with, but I ended up with an acceptable piece, though some of the railing is a little deformed.
Onto completion of the Island.
I had completed the island to the instructions, less the rigging, earlier in the process and it's been sitting, patiently waiting its time to be completed and then added to the flight deck. That time had arrived. I researched the Island to ensure that I was adding the latest decal/marking configuration, appropriately located to make room for the new platforms I had built. In addition I wanted to add campaign markings and performance eval markings appropriate for her final years. Once these decals were found and applied, I then attached the platforms for the new sensors, and then completed the rigging with four lines from the first main crossarms on each side, and then three lines from the higher main crossarm coming down forward and aft to the attachments off of the island on the port foreward side, and the aft starboard side.
I then added other equipment around the flight deck. The Optical Landing System, the side radar, other radars and sensors, .50 cal gun mounts, etc. All of which add a lot of detail to the vessel and continue to add to the overall, realistic look of the model.
As she sits then, here are some close-ups of the vessel, followed by some overall pictures from around the overall 1/350 scale model of the USS Enterprise, CVN-65.
That's very nice!
Now, I still had two scratch built decks to add to the vessel, both on the port side for...again...new sensors for the vessel which have been added in the 90s and 2000s. One is just aft of the side radar and forward of the optical landing system, and the second is further aft, just forward of the port side ESSM Missile launcher. I built these decks and added them. In addition, as soon as I can find them, I will replace one ESSM launcher and one Phalanx CIWS with 21-round RAM missile launchers. As it is, less the RAM missiles launchers, the carrier is ready now for me to start to build the airwing for the flight deck.
This will be a time consuming task which I expect will take at leat two weeks, if not longer.
I already have 12 aircraft (as shown and noted above) on the lighted hangar deck. I intend to build 36 more aircraft. They will include
2 E-2C Hawkeye AEW Aircraft
Once those are complete, I will add them to the flight deck. Then it will be a matter of building and adding the various tow trucks, fire truck, cranes and other equipment and the props and rudders.
Finally at that point I will build the stand and attach the switch for the lighting and wire it in, add the many side mounted antennae, and then be done. Still hoping for a mid-to end of December completion.
The last nine days have seen me building my entire flight deck contingent of aircraft in the evenings. These included all of the aircraft named above, at the end of the last section.
The first job was to gather them all together and then put the initial coat of Model Master's Standard Navy Gray paint on each. I am using Standard Navy Gray for the upper portion of the aircraft and using Model Master's Light Gray for the bottoms of the aircraft.
The above pictures are of the entire group of aircraft, still on their sprues and painted the intial gray. Specifically showing the C-2 Greyhound cargo aircraft and the F/A-18C Hornets.
The pictures above show the initial coat of paint on the EA-6B Prowlers, the S-3 Vikings, and the F/A-18F Super Hornets, all still on their sprues.
The above pictures are of the SH-60 Sea Hawk helos, the E-2C Hawkeys and the S-3 Sea King helos, and then the initial building of an F/A-18C. After the aircraft were all painted their initial coats of Model Master Standard Navy Gray for the upper surfaces, Model Master Light Gray for the lower Surfaces, Floquil Weathered Black for the canopies/windows and tires and Model Master Steel for the landing gear and jet exhausts, it was time to take the aircraft off of their sprues and one by one build them. This took quite a bit of time as each is a miniature model with as many as 14 parts...times thirty-six.
Once the aircraft were completly built, I then went back and touched-up each aircraft, using the same paints mentioned above to fix/correct any areas necessary where the building process had marred the original paint. The results were the following pictures:
Those above pictures show the entire carrier deck airwing, a close up of the six F/A-18F Super Hornets, and two EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft (which I created from two F/A-18 Super Hornets, by adding the electronic countermeasure pods from a couple of EA-6B aircraft models).
The above pictures are of the four EA-6B Prowler electronic aircraft, the two E-2C Hawkey Early Warning (AEW) aircraft, and the two C-2 Greyhound cargo aircraft.
The last three pictures are of the thirteen F/A-18C Hornets, the three S-3 Vikings, and the two SH-60 and two S-3 Anti-submarine (ASW) / Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopters.
This completes the building and painting of all of the deck aircraft...adding the 12 I have in the hangar bay my entire airwing totals 48 aircraft. This is a light load for the Enterprise which normally carries 55 or 60 aircraft lately, but is capable of carrying up to 90! (Which she regularly did during the Vietnam war days and during the height of the cold war)
Now I will next add the decals for all of these aircraft, which will also be a long process as they are very small and have to be handled very carefully and delicately. This will involve an initial coat of clear gloss coat and then adding the 4-6 decals for each aircraft (using a decal set for any areas requiring it to help the decal adhere and meld into the paint), and then a coat of clear dull coat after the decals dry. (Both clear coats are , again, Model Masters from Testors.) I find that this porocess is best for helping the decal edge lines disappear into the aircraft paint scheme, thereby making the decal itself standout as if though painted on directly.
Once that is done I will place tall of aircraft on the flight deck.
I intend to have a busy flight deck, with a rather larger strike package forming up, using three of the catapaults. An E-2S AEW, an S-3 for refueling and two two EA-6B EW aircraft from the port side forward catapault, two EA-18G Growler EW aircraft and four F/A-18F Super Hornets from the outside catapault on the portside amidships, and six F/A-18C Hornets from the inside catapault on the port side amidships. I will also have two helos, one S-3 Sea King and one SH-60 Sea Hawk shown ready for launch, one amid ships near the island, and one toward the stern on the starboard side. This will be a total of eighteen aircraft, or half those built, forming up for launch. The other eighteen aircraft will be positioned around the deck with wings and rotors folded, several F/A-18C Hornets forward on the bow, others around the Island, and others along the port side, with a couple of aircraft on the elevators.
Within a week or ten days, I hope to have the model completed to that point and then do an update and show some pictures of that...before the end of November if possible.
Then it will just be a matter of the carrier deck equipment, the props and rudders, and the stand with its switch, all of which I believe I can finish in aboutr a week after that next session.
Before signing off this time, here I thought I'd show some pictures of the island detail as it exists now on the carrier flight deck:
That's looking pretty nice. Now, with that said, here's my new schedule of activities, including adding the new Japanese JMSDF carrier group centered on the new Fujimi 1/350 Scale Hyuga, DDH-181.
Detailing the aircraft with some final additions and then touch up, and then placing all of the decals on the aircraft is a time consuming effort, particularly when you are talking about 36 aircraft at a time.
I used the decals that came with the Trumpeter and Tamiya 1/350 scale aircraft kits to add the decals. In most cases I used the Trupmeter decals to augment the Tamiya decals because the Tamiya decals are very basic. Basically the "Navy" decals and the star insignia. The Trumpeter decalss come with unit numbers, unit logos, air intake decals, squadron numbers, etc. in addition to the same decals that Tamiya provides. Since I was not using complete sets of all the Trumpeter models, I was able to raid the Trumpeter decal sets to round things out. This of course is at the expense of future aircraft, for which on future builds I will have to buy more decals.
Once the final pinting and details were done (and this could include anything from open cockpits to more detailed weapons) in my case it involved some touch up and addition to the folded wing areas, and to the intakes and tires, I sprayed all of the aircraft with a Gloss Coat enamel from Model Master. This allows the aircraft gloss to help hide the line along the edge of the decal. Here's how that looks going from the finished painting to the first set of decals. I would usually put the insignia on the wing, the intake danger warning and the aircraft number on each time, followed by the vertical stabilzer logo, and the "Navy" decal on the body of the aircraft between the back edge of the wing and the start of the horizontal stabilizer on each side.
Each aircraft had between eight and twelve decals...so an average of ten, times 36. This is 360 decals, many of which are extremely tiny, and also very fragile. If one does not make sure thay the decals get wet enough...they will easily pull apart. At the same time, if you allow them to get too wet, it is easy for them to slide right off the backing when you are placing the decal sheet to carefully transfer them from the sheet to the model.
Generally, while the decals are softening and coming loose, I clean the surface of the model where the decals will go using very mild detergent water and a paint brush I use just for this purpose. I then dry it quickly and add some clean mostiure on the surface. Then, I work with the edge of the table for horizontal and vertical stabilizers or wings and carefully use another paint brush to move the decal to the side of the sheet, and then using either my tweezers or a small pick I carefully move the decal onto the model surface, holding the model in place with one hand while the decal sets on the edge of the table, and using the other hand to carefull move the decal onto the model surface. I do this for a few decals, usually three, on each side of the aircraft. Genrally for aircraft, most of the decals are placed on both sides (ie. logos, unit numbers, aircraft numbers, jet intakes, insignia, the Navy marking, etc.)
I do not worry too much about getting the individual decals perfectly positioned at first...just move onto the next aircraft with the decals in the same position. I will do four aircraft at a time this way, coming back after the fourth is applied and then working the decal into exactly the right position and then ensuring that there are no bubbles or wrinkles under the decal before gently drying it off just a bit ...not completely, because it is best to let the air do that, just enough so there is no noticable moisture sitting on the decal. I then move forward to the next decal for those four aircaft and will generally do three decals at a time before coming back and doing the other side of the aircraft for the same decals. This way I can move through four aircraft at a time fairly quickly.
But "fairly" is a relative term. To completely decal up thirty-six aircraft with all of their markings can take me 10 days to two weeks. They are very intricate and minute and one has to work carefully and slowly...that's why I saw "firly fast" is a very relative term here.
Anyhow, here's how the aircraft looked after carefully gluing them to the deck (using a small pick or tweezers to add small drops of glue right to the aircraft wheels) in their various positions:
And here are three pictures of more of the overall layout of the aircraft. I am using three catapaults on deck to launch a fairly large package of AEW and tanker aircraft off the port bow catapault followed by several F/A-18C aircraft. From the two waist catapaults, I am launching some EA-18G Growler EW aircraft followed by F/A-18E and F/A-18F strike and air dominance aircraft. Eighteen aircraft are being launched in all, with the other eighteen on deck and spott3ed around the deck, with several on the elevators:
That is looking very nice now...like the real thing.
A point to note, the day before I was finishing this, on December 1st, the USS Enterprise, CVN-65, was decommissioned after almost 52 years of service. To the last she carried out her duty as a mainstay of US power projection and foreign policy. Of GREAT NEWS was the announcement that day by the Secretary of the Navy, that the third Ford Class Carrier...the first of which, CVN-78, USS Gerald R. Ford will be launched in 2013...the third, CVN-80, will now be officially named the USS Enterprise! That is excellent and outstanding news. When a 1/350 scale model of her comes out, I will immediately buy and build her. This is what she what will look like once it comes out and I finish her:
At this point, within the next two weeks, I will build the deck equipment, paint it, and place those tugs, fire trucks, cranes, etc. on deck. Also, I will add the props and screws and rudders and then build the stand and add the switch for the hangar bay lights I installed in the carrier. At that point, she will be finished for now...coming back a few months from now to add about 150 painted, 1/350 scale deck personnel to the vessel.
I had a large crane, a fork lift, two fire trucks, five tugs and two fueling trucks to build and p[lace on deck. Putting these together and painting them properly adds significant realism to the carrier deck and its air operations.
I painted a lot of the parts on the sprues in the various colors. A lot of yellow, but alos various grays, orange, black, and some metal/steel.
Once the parts had been painted and dried, I then carefully cut them loose and glued them together. Then touch up paint work was in order, as well as detailing with various additional parts, like the twine for the cable on the crain, small taanks for the fire trucks, and the extended attachement for the aircraft foir the tugs, and the folded versions for those tugs not actively working with aircraft. I decided to hae one of the tugs pulling an S-3 off of the port, aft elevator, and another positioning the E-2C next to the island.
These pictures show the completed equipment in place on deck. The crain is large and located next to the starboard, aft elevator. Several pieces of equipment around the idans, and other parked in convienent locations around the deck.
Here are a few more:
Now, here are a few pictures of the carrier deck, showing some close ups, and then showing the overall carrier, port, starboard and from the fron and aft.
Then, once that is complete, it will be on to the USS Lassen (whiose schedule is slipping as a result) and then the two Type 054A PLAN Firgates and so forth as shown below. One day, when I complete the final tidbits on the Enterprise I will add the additional pictures here at the end.
With the flight deck equipment complete and added to the flight deck, it was time to finish the few remaining items in order to fully complete the model.
First this involved adding the Photo Etched (PE) webbing around the deck edges. Particulalry on the bow and waist launch points, and along the aft edge of the flight deck and along each elevator. I did this by painting them first and then adding them to each location. Note: Once again, I use quick acting glue for the PE parts, which is very thin (the kind of stuff that will glue your fingers together if you touch some of the glue and then touch two fingers) and then I thicken it up a little with a slight mixture of normal model glue. This has worked well for me in getting the PE parts to dry somewhat quicker and have a more defined base.
These all looked very good as shown below
Then I put together the stand, with the wiring and switch for the hangar bay. As it turned out, the thickness of the 9 vdc batter was a little greater than the height of the stand, so I had to scratch build a holder and then some flat surfaces for the stand at that level so it would all look nice and stand there. I decided to just glue the stand to the bottom of the carrier. At first I was going to wire in some connectors so I could detach the carrier from the stand, but decided this was not needed, so I just glued the stand to the carrier and routed the wire out of the bottom of the carrier, through the stand to a terminal block, and then from that terminal block to the switch and to the battery.
I build a slide in, slide out holder for the battery and use sprue parts (as before) to shore it up and provide additional support for the nex structure.
Here is that assembly:
Finally it was time to add the deck edge antennae (which I located in the lowered position to reflect the ongoing air operations on deck), add the Propos, Rudders, and screws, and then place the entire thing on its stand. Once all of that was completed, the carrier, now fully complete, looked really good as shown here:
...and with the hangar deck lighting turned on via the switch in the stand:
Now that is the completed Tamiya, 1/350 Scale, USS Enterprise model by Jeff Head.
The completion of the PLAN Carrier group, centered on the already completed Trumpeter's 1/350 scale PLA Navy's Aircraft Carrier CV-16, Liaoning, (in addition ot the other escorts already completed) will incluide Mini Hobby's's PLAN Guangzhou, DDG-168; the PLAN Ningbo, DDG-139; and the PLAN ChangZhang5, SSN-405 by Hobby Boss. If a 1/350 scale model of the PLAN Type 071 LPD, Yuzhao Class, is added, I will add one of those, propbably LPD-999, Jinggangshan.
The completion of the US Carrier Strike group, centered on the completed Tamyia's 1/350 scale USS Enterprise, CVN-65, (in addition ot the other escorts already completed) will include Trumpeter's USS Bunker Hill, CG-52 and USS Freedom, LCS-1 and Hobby Boss's USS Texas, SSN-775. (All of which I already own). When a 1/350 scale USS Enterprise, CVN-80 (or any Gerald R. Ford Class) comes out from Trumpeter, Airfix, Tamiya, Dragon, or whomever else, I will add it to this group along with another AEGIS Cruiser. Whatever Ford Class coms out, I will build her as the USS Enterprise, CVN-80.
The UK Group will indlude the Airfix 1/350 scale HMS Illustrious (which I already own), two Airfix 1/350 scale Daring Class DDGs (which I own and should arrive in January 2013), two Trumpeter 1/350 scale Type 23 HMS Duke class Frigates (which I already own), and the Hobby Boss 1/350 scale HMS Astute SSN and Airfix 1/350 scale HMS Tragalgar SSN, both of which which I already own. One day, when a 1/350 scale HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier and a 1/350 HMS Ocean LPD come out, I will add both to this group.
The French CSG will be centered on Heller's 1/400 scale Charles De Gualle (which I already own). I have purchased 1/400 scale Heller French De Grasse, D612 DDG, which is an ASW DDG, the French Duquesne, D603 DDG which is an anti-air multi-purpose DDG, and the French Aconit F713 FFG and Gueprattet F714 FFGs, both of which are Lafayette class frigates. These five vessels will round out my French CSG. As soon as a French Robin class nuclear sub, like the French Perale S606 SSN comes out, I will add that to the group. Also as soon as the Forbin D620, Horizon class anti-air DDG is available, I will purchase it and add it to the group as well.
The Japanese JMSDF group will be centered on Fujimi's very finely detailed, 1/350 scale Hyuga, DDH-181, which I own. It will be escorted by Trumpeter's 1/350 scale DDG-177, Atago, an AEGIS class DDG (which I have purchased), Trumpeters's 1/350 scale DDG-114 Susunami (A Tachanami Class DDG which I own), and by the 1/350 scale SS-503 Hakuryu (which I own), one of Japans new, very modern and capable AIP Diesel Electric submarines. As soo as a DDG-115 Akizuki in 1/350 scale becomes available, I will add it to this group.
The completion of the US ARG will include Tamiya's 1/350 scale, USS Iowa, BB-62 (which I have already completed), Trumpeter's 1/350 scale USS Iwo Jima LHD-7, Gallery's 1/350 scale USS Sommerset, LPD-25, and Trumpeter's 1/350 scale USS The Sullivans DDG-68,
Then, finally it will be a complete Russian CSG (centered on Trumpeter's Kuznetsov which is available but I have not purchased yet) the Russian Slava Class cruiser, Varyag by Trumperter (which I own), two Trumpeter 1/350 scale Udalaoy DDGs (which I own), Hobby Boss's Akula II class SSN (which I own), and the Russian Alfa Class SSN, which I have already completed.
Recently I purchased Heller's 1/400 scale Foch, the Clemceau Class carrier that was sold to the Brazilians in 2000 and in 2002 was refitted and bacame the Brazilian CV, Sao Paulo, using steam catapaults. I will build the model as the Sao Paulo and thus start a Brazilian group, though the Type 22 DDGs and the FFGs the Brazilians use are not available at present.
Then, again, once the models are available, I'd like to build an Italian Group centered on the Cavour and their Horizon DDGs, a Spanish Group centered on the Juan Carlos and their F-100 AEGIS FFGs, and ultimatly an Australian Group centered on the new Canberra Class LPD and the Hobart class AEGIS DDGs. If they ever build the models, an Indian group centered on either the Vikramaditya or their new ADS Carrier the Vikrant and their Kolkata class DDGs and Shivlak class FFGs would also be nice.
You can see all of these actual carriers, read their histories and specifictions at my site:
...and most of their surface escorts at:
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Dragon's Fury - World War Against America and the West: Following great success in the War on Terror, politicians and analysts alike thought that future global conflict was impossible...but they were wrong. Journey into a possible future where Islamic terrorists sharpen their horrific skills & ally with Red China. In such a future, can the U.S. & western civilization survive?
The Stand at Klamatjh Falls: How rural western farmers and their supporters stood up to entrenched environmentalism, activist judges, and agencies of the Federal gGovernment in southwestern Oregon...and prevailed.
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