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The Revell angled deck Essex is a little like the AMT Star Trek Enterprise in that I’ve looked at the models hundreds of times more than I have even photos of the real article, so sometimes it’s a surprise that the familiar arrangement of the kit doesn’t match the real ship.
One of the examples of this is the gallery deck platforms for the modernized carriers’ 5” .38 cal. guns. This became a consideration when I decided that the platforms were far enough off – primarily that they were .04" too low – that I would rebuild them to match the 1966 plans and contemporary photos.
The basic plan was to sand the existing platforms flat and place new correctly elevated and shaped platforms on them, then rebuild the sponsons as needed. That ended up being a bigger project than I initially anticipated. (These photos are taken while I'm still sanding and fitting parts together, so the appearance is not final).
Port – forward
The platforms on the port side are original to the ship’s construction during World War II, but there’s a major difference forward. While the shelf supporting the mounts looked fine at first glance – after all, I’ve been looking at it for 40 years and never noticed anything – when I checked my 1993 photos of the Yorktown I was surprised to realize that the platform doesn’t sit on a shelf at all – it rests on a sponson that’s smoothly faired into the hull. Can’t imagine how I missed that.
Now the 40mm quad that it once held aft of the 5" mounts was on a shelf, as shown in this February 1, 1943 photo of Essex newly commissioned, and maybe that was the origin of the kit’s configuration, but by 1968 the Essex’ had been removed. One difference between the kit gun platforms and the real thing was that the former didn’t recess under the flight deck as they should have, so that adds some shadow detail to the model – as shown in this 1968 picture taken during the Apollo 7 recovery operation – precisely the period I am building the ship to.
I built the sponson up using putty, and after cutting out essentially the entire hangar and gallery deck of the kit in this area, I reconstructed it using sheet plastic, and left an opening for the new platform.
Port – aft
The aft platform was correctly shaped, but extended significantly too far out, so I cut the sponson back, sanded the existing platform flat, and added the new platform on top of that. Kudos to the designers of the original 1957 kit here – after studying a Yorktown photo closely I noticed that the forward edge of the sponson was slanted slightly as a result of the hull being slightly wider here after the SCB-27A conversion. Sure enough, the kit’s sponson is slightly slanted the same way.
The starboard sponson was new to the Essex class ships, but reminiscent of the same platform on the older Yorktown class ships and appears to be the same as the existing port sponson , although the platform somehow extends further from the flight deck, and the recessed area is less.
But in studying the photos it became clear that the sponson extended significantly further back than the model – so I added sheet plastic platform deck and framing and puttied it in. As the existing platform stayed in place it shows how much had to be built up. I then placed the new platform on top of the old.
More sanding next, and finishing up the hull and getting the platforms glued in place, then I'll prime everything to make sure it's good. Then it's time to start adding railing to the platforms.
BTW there is also a completely new sponson on the starboard side aft – it's already had railings added and been painted, so it doesn't show up as well as the three new platforms.
When the flight deck is added, there will be yet more extreme puttying and sanding, of almost everything forward of the sponsons, so we're a long way from starting detailing still. But I thought I'd bring out the 3D printed gun mounts for the overall picture at this stage.