by: Gremlin56 [ ]
The USS Hornet, CV-8, was the third and final carrier in the Yorktown class. The Hornet was commissioned just six weeks before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. The Hornet sailed from San Diego on March 30th 1942 to Alameda Naval Air Station where 16 USAAF B-25 were loaded on deck. On April 2nd the USS Hornet left San Francisco on what would be known as the Doolittle Raiders attack on Tokyo. After launching the B-25’s on April 18th the Hornet proceeded to Pearl Harbour for reassignment. The Hornet just missed taking part in the battle of the Coral Sea but later participated in the battle of Midway. The USS Hornet was lost at the battle of Santa Cruz Islands on October 27th 1942, just one year and a week after being commissioned. Four bomb hits, two torpedo strikes and two Val dive-bombers crashing into the Hornet put her propulsion out of operation. After the majority of her crew was transferred to other ships the damage control parties who had remained on board managed to put out the fires raging on board and proceeded to patch up some of the other damage. The Cruiser Northampton took the Hornet on tow but later that day the Hornet was hit by two more bombs and a torpedo. After this the Hornet was abandoned sinking next day. An impressive War record for a ship in such a short timeframe.
As a child I remember watching 30 Seconds over Tokyo and devouring the epic story of the attack on Tokyo by 16 B-25 bombers. The CV-8 played a minor role in my appreciation of the tale at that time. Now, about 46 years later, and after buying Trumpeters first two 1/200th offerings I was rather interested in the rumours that Trumpeter were working on a 1/200th scale Yorktown class carrier to be issued by their daughter firm, Merit. On learning that it was not vapourware but a fact I waited patiently for the model to be released. During this wait I asked myself where I would put a 1,25 meter long Yorktown and had more or less convinced myself common sense would be a better option than lust and to let this model pass. Yes, well, that sounds good until you walk into your local model shop and see a huge box leaning against the shelves containing more practically sized models, with artwork depicting the Doolittle Raid. I was lost and 3 minutes after walking into the store I left carrying the huge box to my car. Now, after rummaging around in the box here are my thoughts on this magnificent kit.
The intimidatingly large and heavy box contains the now familiar nest of smaller boxes, meticulously packed hangar and flight decks and a huge single piece hull moulding. Also included are the typical Trumpeter style instruction booklet, colour scheme and decal sheet, along with 10 sheets of photo etched railings, scanners, undercarriage doors etc. Finally 8 brass barrels for the main AAA battery and a length of anchor chain are included to finish off the model. Every single sprue is wrapped and packed carefully so that the chance of damage in transit is extremely unlikely. Nearly all parts are moulded in the familiar Trumpeter light grey plastic, the only exceptions being the flight deck and the rather extensive number of aircraft included. There is no flash worth mentioning and everything looks crisp and sharp. The model includes some extremely fine mouldings that contrast sharply with some less well detailed parts. Scuttles, hatches and doors will benefit from the inevitable aftermarket PE sets.
The hull moulding has received some flack online due to apparent inaccuracies to the shape of the bow and forward hull, (the prototype model hull was based on smaller scale offerings). A rumour also circulated that Trumpeter would issue the 1/200 Hornet with the corrected hull and Merit would sell off the incorrect mouldings. I don’t have a set of hull drawings but comparison of the model’s hull with a photo of the Hornet being built would appear to mitigate the scuttlebutt circulating. Is it 100% accurate? I really couldn’t say and to be honest I really don’t care either. Just ask yourself how many 1/200 scale Yorktown class carrier models are there around and then ask yourself if you are going to pass on it because the bow isn’t exactly correct according to “the men who stare at rivets”.
Construction appears to be straight forward and the complete hangar deck is included and reasonably detailed, so there is room for super detailers to go mad here. A well thought out part of the model’s design is that the flight deck is made of a translucent plastic so you will be able to see all the details in the hangar. I will be opting for the Doolittle raider version but the Wildcat, Dauntless and Devastator aircraft will be parked down below. The B-25 Mitchells used on the Tokyo raid are provided in magnificent detail, even down to the correct nose art being included on the decal sheet, (yes, even the “Ruptured duck”, of raid and movie fame).
Detailing is good although out of the box it will not approach the clutter on and below deck of the real CV-8: apart from the aircraft only 6 tow-tractors are included, a stark contrast to the Dragon USS Independence that included crewmen, tractors, jeeps and all sorts of odds and ends to busy up the flight deck. There is plenty of room here for the aftermarket vendors to come up with bomb carts, crewmen and all the myriad articles necessary to keep flight deck operations running smoothly. I also can’t see any fire fighting or refuelling hose reels in the catwalks, (still need to do some reference work here though), not a big issue because after building the BB-39 and the Bismarck I have plenty of reels spare but it is a rather surprising omission.
The 20mm AAA have been “dumbed” down in build which suits me fine considering the number that have to be built, (this doesn’t mean they are badly rendered though, there just aren’t many parts to them). The main AAA battery guns are clones of the USS Arizona parts supplied in the Trumpeter model. The 4 quad AAA’s are adequately detailed with small PE gunner and tracker seats included.
The bulkheads are nicely detailed although once again missing the cluttered look that the model of the Bismarck did have.
The island builds up into a reasonably representation of the real item although a lot of detailing is missing here, (the ubiquitous loudhailers i.e.).
One omission that is rather unusual on a model this scale is the complete lack of arrestor wires and crash barriers, items that will need to be scratch built. The omission is even stranger when you consider that the tiny LSO platform is a nicely detailed PE part that even includes the canvas windbreaker.
As usual there is a plastic name plate but no stand to put the finished model on if you are not inclined to cobble up a wooden base.
The instruction book is well thought out and easy to follow in typical Trumpeter fashion. The colour sheet is basic giving just enough information to paint the hull and aircraft, some research is definitely advisable here.
The decals are in register. The decal sheet is more air wing orientated than designed for the ship itself.
Merit’s 1/200 scale CV-8 USS Hornet is a very desirable addition to any model builder’s collection, be it as a base to build a hugely super detailed museum quality Doolittle raider or just to build a huge OOB carrier model. Once again Trumpeter/Merit’s latest offering is a diamond in the rough and needs some care to bring out its finer points. This is the most expensive piece of 1/200th hardware I have bought to date, a whacking € 298,-, but I can really say I don’t regret the purchase. This will provide more than a year of fun I would calculate and that works out at very cheap investment per day. At the moment I am collecting all the reference material online I can find and luckily my current builds ensure that by the time I get around to building CV-8 there should be quite a few PE sets available.