My next project will be a "double build" of kits as the USS Bon Homme Richard (CV-31), one of the last of the Essex class carriers to make it into combat in the Pacific before the end of World War II in 1945.
One kit will represent the ship in its initial configuration in the summer of 1945, shown at left refueling with the battleship Missouri. For this I'm using the state of the art Dragon kit of CV-31 at it appeared a few years later when reactivated for the Korean War in 1951-52.
The second will represent the Bonnie Dick in 1968 as an attack carrier off the coast of Vietnam after her SCB 27C / SCB 125 modernization. For this version I am using an old Hasegawa kit that I bought at least 26 years ago intending to accurize it as an October 1944 Yorktown (CV-10) as I had done with two other similar kits the previous two years. It's long since been surpassed by the new Trumpeter and Dragon kits, but it'll do fine as the starting point for an angled deck postwar Essex. None of the detail is accurate, but all will be covered or replaced anyway.
I chose the BHR because I needed the Dragon kit for parts to finish Oriskany. BHR has the "early jets" aircraft, and after getting it I discovered it also has the twin 20mm mounts that CV-34 carried (briefly). I was going to just build it as the 1968 version, but that would be a waste of a really good kit. So I decided to backdate the kit to the carrier's World War II appearance (I always wanted a Measure 12/Measure 22 two-tone Essex anyway) and use the old Hasegawa kit from my stash as the base for the angled deck version.
The 1968 version will combine the research and skills I've learned on the SCB-125 Essex and the SCB-27A Oriskany – but every ship is different. BHR was one of the three ships that got both the 27 and 125 modernization in one yard period – and as a 27C ship she has a completely different bow flight deck and hull from the Essex, which I'm looking forward to modeling. Plus, I've never scratchbuilt a hurricane bow, especially for a ship that went from a "short hull" to SCB-125 in one fell swoop. (The other was Lexington (CV-16) but I already have a 1/700 CV-16, and I'm trying not to unnecessarily duplicate ships. This project is the exception).
I try to focus on a specific feature in each build, and on BHR it'll be the forward elevator. BHR was one of the few ships that had the forward elevator elongated by extending the forward edge – either to accommodate larger aircraft or the tugs that pulled them. I've built #2 and #3 elevators up and down before – but never #1, and certainly never a pentagonal shape. So that'll be something new to look forward to.
I'll build both kits' #1 elevators down so the change in configuration is apparent. The Dragon kit already has a fairly accurate elevator well (as you can see in the picture below), but the Hasegawa doesn't even have a hangar deck, so everything – including the flight deck opening – will be scratchbuilt.
The Dragon kit could be built far faster since other than thickening the gallery deck – which kit makers always model too thin – and redoing the catwalks it's an almost OOB build – but I'm hoping to keep both at about the same level both so I can use the Dragon kit as a guide for the extensive scratchbuilding that'll be needed on the Hasegawa, and show the differences that were made in the later version of the ship.
Also, the Dragon will be painted throughout the process, but I'm hoping to keep the Hasegawa largely unpainted (at least the exterior) to show the work as it's being done.