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Trumpeter 1/700 scale USS Lexington (CV-2)

Kit: No. 05716
Scale: 1/700
Manufacturer: Trumpeter, from Stevens International, 856-435-1555,
Price: $27.95
Comments: Injection-molded, 525 parts (1 vacuum-formed sea base), decals
Pros: Great detail for the scale, optional full hull or waterline, excellent engraving on flight deck, well-done aircraft
Cons: Vague fit of bow flight-deck supports, tiny parts are hard to handle
The United States Navy's second aircraft carrier, the USS Lexington was built along with its sister ship the USS Saratoga, on partially completed battle cruiser hulls. While Saratoga survived WWII, Lexington was sunk during the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942.

Trumpeter's kit depicts the ship in its final configuration, with a widened flight deck on the bow and galleries full of antiaircraft guns. It features the option of waterline or full hull, positionable elevators, and 30 aircraft. A decal sheet provides national insignias and rudder stripes for the aircraft, but no deck markings, as none were visible at the time of Lexington's last battle.

The kit is clearly scaled down from Trumpeter's 1/350 scale Lexington, but in this scale, some of the parts are tiny. The 20mm cannons lack the characteristic splinter shields and seem to stand much taller than the average sailor. The single-piece flight deck is beautifully engraved and permits the installation of both elevators in the raised or hangar-deck positions. Extra 20mm and .50-caliber guns are provided, and that's good because you're liable to lose a few with the dreaded tweezers catapult. Each quad 1-inch "Chicago Piano" emplacement is a two-part affair. There are no extras of these, and sure enough, I lost one part in handling.

Construction is labor intensive, with each little sponson having its own deck. The Lexington's flight deck was widened at the bow, and Trumpeter made separate pieces of the skinned-over supports. Their proper positioning is vague in the instructions, and no clear attachment points are indicated on the hull. I ended up resting the hull upside down on the flight deck to position the supports. Molding the supports separately indicates Trumpeter could be planning an earlier version of the Lexington or the Saratoga.

I had trouble with a gap at the top of the bow where it met the flight deck, probably due to the questionable placement of the supports.

The bridge and smokestack assemblies feature loads of parts, mostly tiny antiaircraft guns. The bridge consisted of 54 parts; the smokestack 94!
But when it comes to tiny parts, consider the little airplanes with separate landing gear. Honestly, I've seen bigger poppy seeds on a bagel than the tail wheels for this airwing. I appreciate the attention to detail, but when parts are this small, they become nearly impossible to handle. All the aircraft parts are molded in clear plastic; you just paint around the canopies. The kit includes 12 F4F Wildcats, 12 SBD Dauntlesses, and 6 TBD Devastators. If you want more, you can get boxed sets of the same moldings.

All the major components fit together well. Painting was simple: flight deck stain 21 on the flight deck, and everything else was Measure 11. I painted the aircraft with Polly Scale blue gray over light gray. The aircraft decals were tiny and several disappeared among the bristles of my decal brush!

A nice feature is a clear-blue vacuum-formed plastic "sea," complete with waves and wake, that fits the model in its waterline form. I painted the underside (back) with black, then hand-brushed light blue and white for the frothy sea.

I put about 30 hours into my Lexington, most of them devoted to constructing and carefully handling the tiny bits. Just for giggles, I compared the completed model with the old Fujimi waterline Lexington, and Trumpeter's ship far exceeds the old chestnut in detail. Looks like I'll be replacing a lot of my closet collection of 1/700 scale carriers with the new generation kits.

- Paul Boyer


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