I've been closing in on finishing the Trumpeter 1/700 USS Essex (CV-9) that I bought so long ago I don't even remember. Last weekend I got the main body of the kit complete except for the 20mm AA guns, and got the island complete except for the radars, which I'd already decided I was going to replace with leftover photoetch radars from my 1993 Essex-class carriers Lexington and Ticonderoga.
The photo at left shows the island with the kit radars I am dispensing with painted red. The kit radars lack detail, and the masts are undersized and contain no yardarms at all. But they match the configuration shown in the below picture from my 1996 book Essex Class Carriers in action, which was taken 3 August 1943 at Pearl Harbor.
While my book refers to this as the initial radar configuration of the class, that isn't exactly true, and is the one change I'm making to the kit.
As you can tell from the 1943 photo, the SC-2 radar sits atop a lattice tower that is on a sponson on the starboard side of the smokestack. But initially, it sat directly on the sponson at stack level. Interference with other radars so so serious a problem that raising it become the first change to the ships of the class. So while the first three ships of the class, Essex, Yorktown and Lexington were all completed and went through shakedown without the tower, all three received it – likely after they reached Pearl Harbor – before going into action in August 1943. So it was the initial radar configuration for the ships in action, but not if you are modeling the ships as-built and as they appeared en route to the Pacific in the spring and summer of 1943.
But as I am building the Essex as it appeared when it reached Pearl Harbor on the last day of May, 1943, I have to eliminate the tower from my kit. The picture at left shows the island with the kit radars removed, and the parts for the SC-2 assembled. The include a photoetched sponson, lattice base, platform and radar, with the latter attached to a plastic rod.
They consist of:
- new foremast and topmast with YE homing beacon on top and SG radar below that.
- SK "bedspring" radar on the platform over the tripod mast.
- photoetch SC-2 is now just above stack level.
- scratchbuilt mainmast (behind the stack) with an empty SG platform (as built the ships carried this as an empty backup location)
- photoetch radars for the two Mark 37 directors.
- the large white pipe added to the island is, I think, a steam pipe.
- yardarm on the rear of the tripod mast.
The final picture shows the island with its new radars and scratchbuilt masts painted. It is ready for rigging and flags after it is mounted to the flight deck.
For comparison, the below pictures are of my Lexington and Ticonderoga (behind a 1940 Yorktown (CV-5) for comparison. Lexington has the SC-2 on a lattice tower on the port side of the stack, and Ticonderoga has the initial location on the starboard side low.