|KIT:||Trumpeter 1/350 USS Nimitz (1975)|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Can be built full hull or waterline|
The Nimitz Class aircraft carriers are the largest warships ever built. With over 6,000 personnel (crew and aircrew), the carrier has a displacement of 102,000t, and a flight deck length of 332.9m. All seven nuclear-powered Nimitz class carriers have been built by Newport News Shipbuilding (now Northrop Grumman Ship Systems), based in Virginia.
Tasked with a multi-mission attack/ASW role, the first of class, USS Nimitz, was commissioned in 1975. The latest, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), was commissioned in July 2003. Other hulls are: USS Dwight D Eisenhower (CVN 69), Oct 1977; USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Mar 1982; USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), Oct 1986; USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), Nov 1989; USS George Washington (CVN 73), Jul 1992; USS John C Stennis (CVN 74), Dec 1995; USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) July 1998.
The keel for the tenth and last Nimitz Class, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), was laid in September 2003 and the carrier will enter service in 2009. The vessel will have a modernised island house with new radar tower and transparent armour windows as well as upgraded navigation and communications systems. It will also have a new aircraft launch and recovery system and JP-5 fuel system for improved storage and handling of aircraft fuel. This will be the first transition ship to a new class of carriers, CVN 78 (formerly known as CVN 21 and CVNX), planned for construction start in 2007 and delivery in 2014. Northrop Grumman Newport News will be the prime contractor for the program. CVN 78 will incorporate new technologies including a new multi-function radar system, volume search radar and open architecture information network, providing a significantly reduced crew requirement, and a new nuclear power plant.
Just a look at the massive box gives a clue that you are in for a real treat. Opening the box confirms all that one would hope for. This is one huge kit. It should be considering that it is a model of the largest class of warships ever built. I was immediately impressed by how well things were packaged. Those sprues and parts that might be damaged in shipment are protected by foam packing or bubble wrap. There are cardboard bulkheads in the box to protect it from crushing. Some of the smaller sprues (such as the air wing) are in their own little box. Sprues themselves are packaged no more than two to the bag in the case of ship parts and no more than three in the case of the air wing parts.
I'll have to start off by saying that there is no way to give you a photo of the parts layout or even the decal sheet for the deck. Though the box doesn't say what the parts count is, an info sheet that came with it states there are 962 parts. Now that is enough to keep someone busy for months putting this beastie together. What I did do was to scan some sections and sprues to give you an idea of just what to expect.
The detail level of the parts is absolutely first rate, in fact just about everything about this kit is going to result in superlatives, mainly due to its size and the number of bits it has. For example, shown on the left is a section of the small aft portion of the flight deck. It has all the hold-downs on the deck the real ship has. It also has all the ladders molded in along the outer catwalks. An underside view of this same section shows that the builder will need to break out the filler or sandpaper to take care of some of the ejector pin marks that are along the outer rim. Of course, these will only be visible from the underside, so most will probably just leave them as they are.
The kit includes a fill hangar deck floor. This is a bit of an oddity, as there is no other hangar deck detail. In addition, the hangar bay doors are all molded closed so you can't see in the hangar bay even if you wanted to. I can only assume that this is in there to provide stiffness to the kit. Those that want to go nuts super-detailing this area will have a base-line to choose from. I'd also not be surprised to see some enterprising resin manufacturer provide detail for this area. Elevators can be positioned raised or lowered.
All the deck edge antennas are molded in the raised position so to do a ship in flight ops, you'll have to do a bit of minor surgery on them. The blast deflectors for all four catapults can be molded raised or lowered, as you choose. There are also Sea Sparrow launchers provided. An option for a raised barricade is provided as is thread for you to make one. For deck 'stuff' you get two different mobile cranes and eight tow tractors as well as several fork lifts. The major option is the ability to build this as a Waterline kit if you should choose. For those who want a traditional full hulled ship, that can be done as well and a nice 'drydock' stand is provided.
A large portion of the parts count has to go with the air wing. You get the following bits: One SH-3H from HC-2, One RA-5C from RVAH-9, One E-2C from VAW-116, Two S-3A probably from VS-24, Two EA-3B from VQ-2, Three A-6E from VA-35, Six A-7E from VA-86 and Six F-4J from VMFA-333. Decals for these aircraft and for the ship itself are very well printed by Cartograf in Italy, so you are sure of their quality. The aircraft themselves are a bit simplified as you can image a 1/350 aircraft would be. They have engraved panel lines that are probably a scale 2 feet wide and the gear doors are all molded closed. However, the landing gear bits are in black plastic and they have clear canopies. The sprues are put together in a most interesting way to combine all the different colors. Those who know air wings will comment that there are only half the fighter and attack units provided on the decal sheet and there aren't any EA-6Bs. All of that is true and the odds of there being aftermarket decals for those three units is rather remote, but I'm jazzed that there is a Viggie and a Whale included in the aircraft mix so that is quite a bit of compensation. I've included scans of one of the EA-3Bs and the decal sheet so you can see the level of detail in them. If I had to point out an area for concern with the decal sheet, it would be that I think the insignia for the Phantoms is too small as these planes often carried very large insignia on the upper and lower wings. It has also been pointed out to me that for the most part, the squadron decals are too big for the aircraft. They seem to scale out to something like 1/300, which is not good. Hopefully, some kind aftermarket company will see a need for quality decals for these teeny airplanes. For those wanting to supplement the air wing, I wouldn't doubt if Trumpeter will offer additional aircraft as they did for their WWII carriers. You can also get some more modern types from the Tamiya aircraft sets.
With all these bits, you can be sure that the instructions are quite large. Four full pages of the 28 are for parts layout alone. There are 26 well detailed and complete construction steps that show every option. This is a kit where one doesn't do subassemblies until they are needed. The last few pages are on construction of the aircraft. A full color painting and decal guide is provided with colors given in FS 595 numbers to help things out. This guide also includes the air wing. Bring out the magnifying lenses when you get to doing this stage as well!
Well, many have asked for it and here it is. The last time I built a ship this huge was the Aurora Enterprise back in the early 1960s. I actually had just as much fun playing with the airplanes that were supplied as anything and I think this one will be pretty much the same. Some things never change!
A good Google of the internet.
Thanks to Stevens International for the review kit.
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