A May 1942 Lexington has always been a favorite of mine, and this will be my fifth Lexington in 1/700 scale, and second Trumpeter kit. I got my first Fujimi kit in New Orleans in junior high (far back below) and beginning in graduate school kitbashed a second in the May 1942 configuration, and built a third in its 1930’s appearance of Navy Gray with mahogany flights deck marked with Chrome Yellow.
Frustrated with the Fujimi, I had begun drawing plans for a scratchbuilt 1/700 version of the ship in 1993-94, but had not gotten further than the hull when Trumpeter came out with May 1942 kits in 1/700 and 1/350 scale. The Trumpeter kit is far, far superior to the Fujimi – while Fujimi’s profile approximates the Lexington, the hull shape is completely wrong, especially aft, and the flight deck and island are shaped wrong as well. I had considered simply replacing the Fujimi hull with a scratchbuilt one, but the more research I did I realized that there really wasn’t a single part of the kit that was worth saving and it would be easier to just build from scratch. Fortunately Trumpeter saved me the trouble.
But the kit I completed (albeit with a truncated air group) in 2017 for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea has always had problems. The hangar shown in the elevator shafts is way, way wrong, and since I placed them in the lowered position, I can’t easily fix it. The hangar is far too shallow, there’s no hangar deck around the elevators, and they’re in some cases surrounded with bulkheads. The kitbashing I did on the island looks sloppy, and the foremast and rigging has never looked right. More recent scholarship has also shown that the shape of the splinter shielding for the 1.1 in. mounts added to the ship in its final refit in March 1942 is also wrong, but that’s hardly on my radar.
But more of a problem is the base. Back in 2017 I didn’t anticipate getting back into the hobby in such volume, and have since stopped mounting ships on bases in part because it takes up too much space, but also because the bases tend to put everything under them in shadow, as shown above. I tried extracting CV-2, but it wouldn’t budge, so I decided the best solution was to get another kit, get the Model Monkey island and stack to avoid the sloppy kitbashing, and start over. That’ll give me room for two more aircraft and a second carrier, and lighten up the Midway shelf.
First step was actually to cut away part of the supports on the island & stack. I started using a heated knife for this, since the 3D parts are very brittle and sometimes snipping them would cause part of a shield to break away. So I’m started melting them off.
I expedited finishing HMS Hood to free up a dock, and started today by priming the necessary parts (a third of the kit is the island and stack, so I skipped those), pulled out my reference materials, and got started.
I would normally both prime and paint the parts at this stage, but since everything is the same color and what little deck there is will be hand-painted anyway, I will do basic assembly and then the finish coat before the flight deck goes on.
And this time the elevators will be in the “up” position! (Well, maybe. I really could do a partial hangar deck …)