Trumpeter 1/350 USS Nimitz-CVN-68

By George Colman

History


This long awaited model of the second 1/350 scale nuclear aircraft carrier is almost as good as its billing. A perfect companion to Tamiya's USS Enterprise, it has both better and worse features.

The Kit

The kit comes packaged in a necessarily long box almost forty inches long by 12 inches wide. The box art is typically Trumpeter and is not nearly as attractive as the Tamiya box art.

Upon opening the box, the builder finds a very well-protected one-piece upper hull, a one-piece lower hull, a two-piece waterline plate, a two-piece hangar deck, eight parts trees and eight aircraft trees.

The aircraft trees allow you to build twenty-two aircraft consisting of one SH-3, one RA-5C, one E2-C, two A3D, two S-3A, three A6Es, and six each F4J and A-7E. This is a definite drawback, because Carrier Air wing Eight, which is depicted in this kit consisted of 94 aircraft of various types. Even though Trumpeter has released extra kits in this scale of duplicate as well as aircraft needed to complete this kit, they are exactly that - duplicates - without different squadron markings or aircraft numbers. Hopefully, an after-market manufacturer such as Loren Perry's Gold Medal Models, will soon produce a decal sheet with all the squadron markings for this kit. In contrast, even though Tamiya's Enterprise kit is older and lacks some aircraft types also, it provides forty aircraft.

I found no flash present in my sample, but the kit did have many annoying ejector pin marks on both large and small parts. While it was not necessary to fill all of these marks some filling and sanding was needed.

Construction

Construction of the kit is very straight-forward with no unusual procedures required. I followed the directions as printed and had no major problems. However, some sub-assemblies have, in my opinion, excessive parts that only serve to make an otherwise enjoyable kit tedious at times.

Two things are glaringly missing from this kits directions. The first is a total lack of ship's history and technical information (the Tamiya Enterprise kit is excellent in this regard). The second is even more of a problem. The Trumpeter kit provides no detail painting instruction for any of the seventeen pages of construction directions. Fortunately, I had kept and often referred to the Tamiya instruction booklet. If you can put your hands on a Tamiya Enterprise instruction booklet, do so. You will find it invaluable.

Construction begins with the one-piece hull. Trumpeter gives the hull already reinforced with five metal support pieces that bridge the bottom of the upper hull and are attached with small screws and nuts. This is much better than the Tamiya Enterprise which is in two pieces (fore hull and aft hull).

At this point, it is a good idea to decide if you will build the model with a full hull or with the water-line plate. I built mine with a full lower hull. I experienced some fit problems, that did require filling, when I fitted the lower hull to the upper hull. This may be a problem of my own doing, but I'm not sure. Leave off rudders, screws, and drive shafts detail until the ship is largely constructed painted. The upper hull has a portion of the starboard side which needs to be cut out and replaced with part R, which is the sponson between elevators 2 and 3. This was not difficult or time consuming.

The next three steps involve adding structural and sponson detail to the upper hull and building the stern gallery. You now need to add the hangar deck which helps to provide some upper hull reinforcement.

Aircraft tie down details on the hangar deck and flight deck seem to be way over scale and I opted to fill with vinyl spackling compound. I did this by working the compound across the tie down holes and wiping the excess off with water. This is quick and can easily be repeated if necessary. You need to make sure to remove all surface spackling material from the deck surface while leaving compound in the tie down holes. The compound will shrink slightly leaving a more acceptable scale representation. Paint the hangar deck and add any completed aircraft to this part of the model that you wish, remembering that few will show easily.

I now added some photo-etch details from Gold Medal Models. This photo-etch kit provides pre-fitted railings for all the Nimitz sponson openings.

The next step would be painting the upper hull. One of the fun things about building ship kits is the fact that they begin to be finished even before you are through with construction because of the final painting necessary. The topside of all sponson decks and stern gallery deck and platforms should be a medium blue-gray, the hull should be Dark Compass Gray (FS 36320) and the lower hull, hull red with a black waterline boot.

Now add structural details to the flight deck Even though the kit instructions call for building and attaching the flight antennas at this time, leave them off unless you have a death wish for these delicate parts. The flight deck is in three pieces with molded-on safety net details. Remove these at this time if it is your intention to add photo-etch details in place of the molded on portions.

The flight deck attaches to the hull as middle, fore and aft pieces. If I had it to do over again, I would try to mate the three pieces together before mating to the hull, this way the flight deck seams could be more easily reinforced and filled. After the flight deck is fitted to the hull, paint it dark gray and either apply the flightline decals or paint the lines. Either way will look nice, done properly. Next construct the island, radar mast, add the elevators and catwalk details and antennas. Rig the mast and you're finished. Now you can build your airwing. *A note on antenna construction: They have many sprue connections and require consummate care in removing and cleaning up.

I enhanced my kit with Loren Perry's Gold Medal photo-etch kits #350-28 Nimitz which includes radars and railing and kit #350-29 CVN Extra Details, which provides mobile crane details and, what is really slick, radars, radar masts, and different safety net configurations for all Nimitz Class carriers including intermediate and late CVN-68 plus CVN-69- CVN-76. A nice kit overall and easier to build than the Tamiya Enterprise.

Many thanks to Stevens International for the review sample.

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