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Trumpeter 1/350 scale USS Lexington

Kit: No. 05608
Scale: 1/350
Manufacturer: Trumpeter, from Stevens International, 856-435-1555,
Price: $120.95
Comments: Injection-molded, 583 parts, decals
Pros: Good detail, good fit, accurate representation, waterline or full-hull option
Cons: Ejector pin marks need cleanup, fitting large subassemblies tricky
Trumpeter has reproduced the World War II carrier USS Lexington in her May 1942 configuration when it was sunk at the Battle of the Coral Sea. The gray, red, black, and clear plastic parts showed no significant flash, but mold seams and ejector-pin marks had to be cleaned up. The kit provides the option of modeling a full-hull or a waterline model. Portholes and windows on the upper sections of the ship are open; however, the numerous hull portholes may be drilled out.

At this time in Lexington's career, the four 8" turrets had been removed and replaced with 1.1" antiaircraft gun emplacements. Kit armament consists of nicely molded 5" guns, 1.1" guns, 20mm guns, and .50-cal. machine guns. The kit includes 13 aircraft: six SBD Dauntlesses, four F4F Wildcats, and, three TBF Devastators, each molded in several parts with clear canopies. The F4Fs have optional folding wings; however, the Lexington carried non-folding F4F-3s. Also, consult references for folded wings on the Devastators, the instructions are incorrect. Superb decals are provided for the aircraft.

The overall fit is good and the detailing possibilities are endless. As with Trumpeter's earlier ship releases, this kit is designed to accommodate aftermarket photoetched details, for example, radar, flight deck safety nets, and railings. Good references are a must and should be consulted often during construction.

The hull pieces are thin and flexible, so I reinforced the seams with .030" plastic stock. The instructions indicate joining the upper and lower hull sections at the very end of construction, but that will lead to difficulties. I assembled the hull first, and then assembled the three deck sections and added this assembly to the hull. In order to achieve a good fit, I removed the locking tabs from the deck sections, sanded the edges, and joined them with .030" strips on the underside of the deck. The deck to hull fit is tricky, and test fitting before gluing may indicate trouble areas. The flight deck has optional raised or lowered positions for the two elevators.

At the Battle of Coral Sea, the Lexington was painted overall sea blue (5-S) with the flight deck finished in deck blue stain. I used Testor Model Master paints to mix these colors. The airplanes went together OK, but the tiny landing gear items are hard to handle.

Trumpeter's Lexington is an impressive replica that accurately reflects the shape and dimensions of the real thing. I spent about 80 hours building the Lexington, and modelers with experience in large ship models and small parts can cope with the project. Trumpeter is in the lead with their selection of WWII ship subjects. So, how about a British or Japanese carrier?

- Bill Teehan


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