Home  |  What's New  |  Features  |  Gallery  |  Reviews  |  Reference  |  Forum  |  Search

Trumpeter's 1/350 scale
USS Enterprise CV-6

by Rick Cotton


USS Enterprise CV-6

Trumpeter's 1/350 USS Hornet is available online from Squadron




Easily the most famous of the wartime US aircraft carriers, Enterprise should have been preserved after the war as a memorial. The fact that she was not is, in my opinion, a crime, plain and simple. At least this most heroic and glorious ship, where so many gave all for their country, can be remembered in the form of a large-scale model, and that is what I intended to do. I acquired a started Trumpeter 1/350th Hornet and got ready for plastic surgery.


The Conversion


There are four main issues to be addressed when converting the Hornet kit to a circa-1944 Enterprise:

  • island modifications,

  • torpedo bulge around the hull,

  • anti-aircraft fit, and

  • aircraft catapults.

There is also a late-war radar fit to install, a measure 33 4AB dazzle paint scheme unique to Big E, and of course, the late-war aircraft. There are many excellent photos of Big E, at all stages of her existence at www.cv-6.org. Check it out.

The island is, in my opinion, the most difficult change to make. There is an expensive resin conversion set available, but I’m way too cheap for that, and besides, cutting, swearing, and sweating are half the fun, right? Enterprise was originally launched with a more squared-off, glassed-in bridge like her sister Yorktown, but a 1943 refit resulted in a rounded bridge with portholes, much like her later sister, Hornet. She carried a small gun director in a tub on the front of the bridge, which I added by cutting one of the leftover tubs from my previous Hornet build and mating it to the bridge with crazy glue and putty. The foretop on Enterprise was also glassed in, unlike Hornet, and this had to be scratchbuilt from sheet plastic. I added clear plastic “glass” to the back of the windows, along with a few Tom’s Modelworks photoetched sailors and some ladders and railing. Radar sets from the Tom’s Modelworks Essex set were added, as well as four photoetched loudspeakers. There is also a large glassed-in area at the aft port end of the island that was fashioned in the same way as the foretop. By 1944, Enterprise did not have the lower platform at the front of the Hornet-style island , so its slot was filled in, and the bracing under the port bridge structure was added with bits of sheet styrene.



The torpedo bulge was added by laminating layers of sheet styrene onto the hull , and then fairing the ends in with putty to get that “pregnant dolphin” look. I also thinned up the bow somewhat, mostly by much, much grinding and sanding. I sanded off the molded-on anchor chains and replaced them with some small chain from my parts box.

The kit’s hangar bulkheads are molded with all doors shut. In an un-air conditioned steel ship in the Pacific, I can guarantee the doors were open for ventilation whenever they possibly could be. I cut them open with a razor saw, and sheeted and detailed the insides, as there is no detail molded on the inside of the hangar. Sheeting also eliminates the numerous ejector pin marks on the inside of the bulkheads. I added bits and pieces of Plastruct, photoetched ladders and railings on interior balconies, and used some of the brass aircraft detail parts in the Tom’s Modelworks sets to replicate spare aircraft part stowage. I then added 21 aircraft; TBF’s, F6F’s and a detachment of F4U-2 night fighters, all in the standard dark blue/light blue/white scheme, with wings in the folded position. Radomes were added to the starboard wings of the Corsair night fighters. A detachment of 3-6 F4U or F6FN night fighters was standard among the big fleet carriers, and Big E eventually had a completely night-trained air group embarked. A couple of hundred or so photoetched sailors man the hangar deck area, in various poses. I used Plastruct beams of various sizes to add some structural detail to the underside of the flight deck. Interior bulkheads and underside of the flight deck were sprayed Testors Flat White. The hangar deck itself was sprayed a slightly lightened mix of Gunship Gray, heavily weathered and drybrushed. All horizontal decks outside of the hangar are painted PollyScale Acrylic Weathered Deck Blue.

By 1944, Enterprise was positively infested by new AA guns, with many 40mm quad and twin mounts replacing her outdated, useless 1.1inch pre-war mounts, and numerous additional 20mm singles lining her catwalks, each behind a semi-circular shield of sheet metal armor. I used L’Arsenal’s 40mm twin mounts to update the anti-aircraft suite, and added spare 40mm quads from my previous CV-10 Yorktown build, along with scratchbuilt tubs and bracing for all 40mm units. I repositioned most of the 20mm singles, as they were located differently than Hornet’s 20mm guns.





The fit of the flight deck to the top of the hangar bulkheads is very good, much better in my opinion than in the later Essex-class kits. There were some high spots around the elevators at either end that needed sanding to achieve a flush-deck appearance. I filled and sanded the molded-in catapults at the forward end of the flight deck, rescribed the deck planking, and added very thin brass strips to represent the new catapults, which were “toed-in” towards the bow , and slightly staggered, with the starboard cat slightly forward of the port. The flight deck was shot with Pollyscale Acrylic Weathered Deck Blue, the stripes were masked and shot with Testors flat white, and the deck was then shot with Future to achieve a gloss finish before the big “6” decals were added. These were inverted Essex-kit “9”s, graciously provided to me by fellow Hyperscale reader Wally Bigelow, who also was the source of the Hornet kit and some of the photoetch. Wally’s a good guy, and a good trader, have no fear dealing with him. Once the decals were dry, the deck was flat-coated with Testors Acrylic Clear Flat. I then put thin strips of tape to mask the metallic tie-down strips, and dry-brushed the wooden portions of the deck in various shades of flat tan and brown to give the impression of wear on the blue deck stain. The Toms Modelworks sets supply many photoetch deck details, including arrestor gear, barriers and such, and they added greatly to the deck detail , along with metallic gray-sprayed 1 lb. fly fishing line for wires.


Painting and Base


The camouflage scheme was shot with PollyScale Acrylics, through an ancient Paasche double-action airbrush. PollyScale is my favorite paint. It lays down flat and smooth, and water cleanup is a breeze.


The island and crane went on without any incident, finishing up the ship itself. I decided to pose Enterprise in the midst of recovering her strike group at the end of the day, with just-recovered aircraft crammed forward and another coming in at the aft end. The Pacific was replicated with clear acrylic caulk over a deep-blue painted base.





There she is, the Big E in all her glory. Long may she and her crew be remembered, both by those who sailed in her, and those who are still free because of her.



Additional Images


Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2004 by Rick Cotton
Page Created 16 March, 2004
Last Updated 27 September, 2005

Back to HyperScale Main Page