Lots done today on the May ’42 Lexington. Finished the degaussing cables on the hull, added boats to the boat pockets, started adding doors to the stack, and laid down the initial application of deck striping.
I realized a few weeks ago that one reason my 2017 Lexington didn’t look right was that it was missing the characteristic degaussing cables that are so prominent in photos during the battle and the ship abandonment.
I started with a single cable, but soon realized that the rod I was using – .01″ – was actually more or less correctly scaled – meaning I had to double it for the ship’s midsection and quadruple it for the bow and stern.
The cables are covered with cleats/fenders where ship’s boats could snag them while lowering, and the represented these with PE ladders.
This photo of the wreck shows cabling that’s been partially torn from the ship’s side. The hull plating is blown outward by the torpedo hits, but as the below photo taken after the attack shows (the metal fragment is unmistakably the same) it was pulled out further during the ship’s sinking – either when the forward part of the ship broke off or during the hydrodynamics of the sinking, because the torpedo hit didn’t damage the degaussing cables.
Flight Deck Striping
I assembled, painted, and installed the two remaining boats in the boat pockets, and closed them in with railings, and then addressed myself to the initial application of the deck striping.
Lexington had two prominent fore and aft flight deck stripes during her prewar career – Chrome Yellow on a mahogany stained flight deck. When she went into camouflage in 1941, her deck was darkened with the new blue flight deck stain, and the striping changed to light gray for reduced visibility from the air. But by October the thin light gray lines had new darker lines inboard .
Photos taken in early 1942 confirm that the port guide line extends all the way to the stern and was using for aircraft to line up take-off runs. It also confirms what the above showed back in October – the starboard line only went back to the beginning of the catapult track.
But what color are they? Later in the war, we’d say Navy Blue 5-N or Dull Black. But these photos were before Lexington’s camouflage colors included Navy Blue. And if you look at the bow, the ramp is the same dark color as the stripe, but is darker than the hull color, which was Ocean Gray (5-O). So it’s not the hull color. And it’s unlikely to be the slightly darker Sea Blue (5-S) since the flight deck stain was intended to match Sea Blue.
I think the ramp is Deck Blue – which makes me conclude that the flight deck stripe was likely Deck Blue as well.
Now I can’t confirm that Lexington carried the same deck striping after her March/April refit at Pearl Harbor. She may have switched to the light gray dashes that the Yorktown class ships were using. But neither of the photos of her flight deck during abandonment at Coral Sea show any striping or dashes – which I think make it likely that she continued to use a faded dark line on the port side – but likely didn’t renew the striping on the catapult, since it would not have been in use for flight operations.
But this closer photo shows something else – what are those light stripes?
When she was first built in 1927, Lexington and Saratoga carried a catapult forward on the starboard side for launching seaplanes. The second was never fitted, and by 1932 the ship’s plans showed only the starboard side one. In 1931, Saratoga reported that the only thing she’d done with hers was fire five “dead loads” = no aircraft had ever used it.
As the photo (and plans) show, the planking changed around the catapult, and the fore and aft planking was edged with metal strips. I had assumed that when the Lexington’s flight deck was widened forward in 1937, the catapult was removed, but apparently not. The catapult may or may not be present, but it’s unlikely they’d be using it since that would require dismantling the new bow arresting gear, and there are no indications of wear or use in the photo.
By the way, as the plans and the October 1941 photo show, the flight deck had multiple drainage channels running more or less longitudinally – these show up as light lines in photos of the flight deck at Coral Sea – but they’re not striping.
Photos of the wreck show the old catapult track. This photo of the starboard corner of the bow (and a subsequent one taken on Petrel‘s 2018 expedition to the wreck site) confirm the different planking and show the metal strips. (The planking on the wreck is slightly different than the 1932 plans – nthat might have happened in the 1937 refit).
The last bit of work today was starting adding the PE doors to the stack and island. Once that’s done, I might be able to go ahead and mount them on the flight deck, but I’m going to double check whether it would be easier to do some of the work – especially on the island – which it’s on the handy 3D print base.