The whole reason for this resurrection build of the 1957 Revell kit I first built in 1981 was to get the hangar deck walls – which were originally the outer hull of the ship all the way down to the waterline – to line back up with the flight deck. The Revell kit has the hangar wall inset, as shown at right in a picture of this kit as CV-31 before I took it apart to start this build.
As the above photo next to the 1/700 1943 Essex shows, the flight deck is finally aligned (there's now a tab near the stern that holds it in the right position) so that the hangar sides match it exactly. This alignment will be even better when the flight deck is glued in place, but then obscured when the catwalks are added, but it's rewarding to see it now.
With the flight deck aligned, the next step is adding the gallery deck around the sides of the flight deck. I measured the precise height using the FDD plans and cut strips of plastic the appropriate widths, keeping in mind that the flight deck is approximately .06" thick already, generally over a third of the finished height.
The starboard side needed an additional 5" gun gallery aft so after a couple of false starts on the measurements I finally got that built into the hull with a recess in the gallery and flight deck above it.
Next was the very odd shaped section over the forward hangar deck opening (the white plastic in the photo to the left below). The photo to the right, taken shortly after the Essex' SCB-27A modernization, showed the shape of the gallery deck, which in most photos is obscured by the catwalk. With this photo as a guide, I was able to locate the right lines on the blueprints and duplicate them in the right scale. Again, it'll be obscured by the catwalk, but it'll be right.
Setting the correct elevation for the new 5" gun tub on the starboard side made me realize that the two forward 5" tubs would need to be raised slightly – in fact completely rebuilt – so for a change of pace I moved to the port side and did the corresponding weird forward section, as well as some initial bracing for the angled flight deck sponsons as I start to figure this area out.
The thing about the gallery deck is that contrary to how almost every Essex carrier model is built, the gallery deck needs to be full height all the way to the hangar deck walls (in most cases it runs all the way across the ship) and not just a flat panel hanging off the side of the flight deck. So once I had the outer face in place I put spacers and a bottom all the way back to the hangar deck – which is why the above photo is from below. This ended up being a lot easier than I had feared, so when I got a few minutes later in the day I went back and added the same thing for most of the aft starboard side as well.
As this (right-side up) photo from the Essex' 1968 visit to Hamburg shows, this area will be covered with a lot of detail once the catwalks and life rafts are in place.