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Shar2

USS Enterprise, CV-6. 1:350

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USS Enterprise, CV-6
Merit International 1:350


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Enterprise sailed off the South American for her shakedown cruise and operated off of the east coast of the United States and the Caribbean Sea until Apr 1939. Transferred to the Pacific, she trained navy pilots on carrier operations. When Pearl Harbor was struck by the Japanese in Dec 1941, she was en route from Wake, thus escaping potential damage or destruction. Her aircraft scouted the area for retreating Japanese vessels but failed in the search attempt. They did, however, find and sink submarine I-70 on 10 Dec 1941. In late Dec 1941, she sailed for Wake to assist the defending the garrison, but it was already too late to make a difference. Beginning in Jan 1942, she began operating in the South and Central Pacific.

On 1 Feb 1942, her task force struck the Marshall Islands, dealing significant damage, although the Enterprise received minor damage herself. During Feb and Mar, she continued to supply the aircraft that attacked various Japanese bases in the Central Pacific. She returned to Pearl Harbor in late Mar 1942 and received repairs. In Apr, she provided air cover for the USS Hornet to launch the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo and other Japanese cities.

In early May, Enterprise sailed south in anticipation of what would become the Battle of Coral Sea, but she arrived too late to participate in the action. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 26 May, and immediately began to prepare for another anticipated action somewhere off of the Hawaiian Islands. On 28 May, she set sail from Pearl Harbor as the flagship of Rear Admiral Raymond Spruance "to hold Midway and inflict maximum damage on the enemy by strong attrition tactics." On 4 Jun 1942, a combination of luck and skill on the part of pilots from three American carriers led to the discovery and sinking of four Japanese fleet carriers. Enterprise's pilots were given credit for the sinking of Soryu and Akagi. She returned to Pearl Harbor undamaged on 13 Jun.

On 15 Jul 1942, Enterprise sailed for the South Pacific. As a part of Task Force 61, her aircraft support the landings on the Solomons Islands on 8 Aug. On 24 Aug, she participated in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. With Enterprise's aircraft lured to a sideshow by light carrier Ryujo, aircraft from Shokaku and Zuikaku passed the anti-aircraft curtain laid down by North Carolina and other ships and attacked Enterprise. One of the three bombs that hit Enterprise passed through several decks aft and exploded deep in the carrier and caused serious fires and casualties. However, effective damage control kept her from being disabled. She was able to restore use of the flight deck briefly while the Japanese aircraft returned for fuel. Enterprise managed to transfer the majority of her aircraft to Henderson Field at Guadalcanal before limping away to the southeast to fight another day. During this confrontation, Enterprise's aircraft also disabled the Japanese seaplane carrier Chitose, though she would be saved.

After down time between 10 Sep and 16 Oct, she returned to Task Force 61 in late Oct. On 26 Oct, she engaged in the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands with carrier Hornet. Initially hidden in a squall, Enterprise was hidden from Japanese detection, leading to Hornet bearing the entire weight of the attack by herself. But by 0930 that day, Enterprise's aircraft found the Japanese carrier Shokaku and commenced their own attack. Without adequate fighter cover, Enterprise's dive bombers suffered heavy losses, but did successfully plant several 1,000-lb bombs on Shokaku causing damage so heavy that she was to be placed in repairs for nine months. At 1000, Japanese aircraft found Enterprise, and just like Enterprise's aircraft they mounted an uncoordinated attack on the enemy vessel. Out of the 23 bombs released, only two landed on the Enterprise. The first hit exploded 50 feet under the forecastle deck, and the second crashed into the third deck before exploding. Despite damage, Enterprise was not disabled. The Japanese sank the carrier Hornet and sailed away with a tactical victory.

On 30 Oct 1942, Enterprise made port call at Nouméa, New Caledonia for repairs. On 11 Nov, she sailed prematurely for the Solomon Islands again with repair crew still on board due to war demands. She arrived at the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, in which battle her aircraft helped in the sinking of 16 ships (including helping to sink the battleship Hiei) and damaging 8. She returned to Nouméa on 16 Nov to complete her repairs, and spent most of Dec 1942 and Jan 1943 at Espiritu Santo for training. On 30 Jan 1943, Enterprise's aircraft flew air cover during the Battle of Rennell Island. Between 1 Feb and May 1943, she covered troops and supplies being shipped to the Solomons Islands. On 27 May 1943, she received the first Presidential Unit citation won by an aircraft carrier. On 20 Jul 1943, she made port call at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for an extensive overhaul.

Returning to action in Nov 1943, the Enterprise provided air-support during the landing on Makin Island. During the night of 26 Nov, she launched the first carrier night fighters of the United States Navy. She returned for Pearl Harbor after launching an aerial attack on Kwajalein on 4 Dec. Between 29 Jan and 3 Feb 1944, the ships aircraft, as members of Task Force 58, attacked the Marshall Islands and Kwajalein. On 17 Feb, she attacked Truk in the Caroline Islands. Three days later, she launched a strike on Jaluit Atoll. From this point on, she provided air cover and close ground support on nearly every landing operation, large or small, in the Pacific. One of the major engagements she participated during this time was the Battle of the Philippine Sea between 19 and 20 Jun 1944, where she provided air cover for the landings at Saipan. At the end of that battle, 429 Japanese aircraft were shot down at the total cost of 29 American aircraft.

Between Oct 10 and 20 1944, Enterprise attacked Taiwan, Okinawa, and the Philippine Islands in preparation of an invasion of the Philippines. During the Battle of Sibuyan Sea, her aircraft played a major role in the sinking of several major Japanese vessels. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 6 Dec 1944 after another month of support in the Philippines area. She returned to the Philippines at the end of the year, performing raids on Japanese shipping as well as providing day- and night-time fighter escort for bombers that headed for the Japanese home islands. During the Battle of Iwo Jima, Enterprise's aircraft provided air cover between 10 Feb and 9 Mar. On 15 Mar, she departed Ulithi for attacks on Kyushu, Honshu, and Japanese shipping but was turned back on 18 Mar after receiving damage from a Japanese bomb. Between 5 Apr and 11 Apr, she supported the Okinawa landings and received damaged from a kamikaze aircraft. She returned to Okinawa once again on 6 May after receiving repairs at Ulithi, but was once again damaged by kamikaze on 14 May 1945. She sailed for repairs at Puget Sound Navy Yard and remained there until the end of the war.

After the war, Enterprise participated in Operation Magic Carpet that brought troops back to the United States. While in Britain, she received the British Admiralty Pennant, the only ship outside of the Royal Navy to receive the honour. Enterprise was decommissioned in Feb 1947 and after a bid to save her for use as a museum ship failed, she was sold for scrap to the Lipsett Corporation of New York City.

The Model
At last, those of us who build maritime models in 1:350 have a kit of the USS Enterprise from WWII. It’s been an awful long time coming, but has the wait been worth it. Well, we shall see. The kit comes in quite a large oblong shaped top opening box, although not as large as one would expect. Inside there are seventeen sprues in a light grey styrene, which is also used to produce the single piece island, central hanger roof section, two hanger floor sections , two flight deck sections and of course the magnificent single piece hull. In addition there are fifteen sprues of clear styrene for the aircraft, five sheets of relief etched brass, a large decal sheet and a large black stand. As we have come to expect from the likes of Merit, the moulding of all the parts is superbly done, and there is only one small area with an imperfection, and that is a small sink mark on the single piece hull, around the area of a sprue gate, as seen in the close-up picture of the bow., Of course there is no flash, but there are quite few moulding pips, mostly on the smaller parts. For those who wish to build this kit as a waterline I’m afraid that you’re out of luck, unless you wish to take a Dremel to the hull. Speaking of which, the hull plates do look a little over done, but it’s nothing a bit of sanding can’t cure. What is nice is that much of the interior of the hanger deck is included, although it’s not overly detailed, so will give those super detailers something to do.

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Taking the hull in hand, construction begins with the fitting of the four propeller shafts. Each shaft is attached to the hull via two A frames and a propeller. Once the single rudder has been attached the hull can be turned over using the steadying nature of the large base the main hanger deck, along with the separate foredeck, with two holes opened up from the underside, can be glued into place. The foredeck is the scene of the next four steps in the instructions, with the fitting of the four capstans, eight cleats, eight bitts and two hatches. The six flight deck supports are attached, along with the anchor chains, two 20mm cannon and the Jackstaff. Now, although the instructions call for the PE railings to be added to the foredeck at this point, it would probably be best to leave them till later in the build as they would be prone to being knocked off. The two, two piece platforms are assembled and glued into position and fitted with their PE railings. The three inner panels for the foreward lift are fitted.

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The ships weaponry is built up in a series of sub-assemblies, with the twenty three 20mm Oerlikons made up from the cannon/pedestal, and PE gun shield, the quad 1.1” machine guns are made up from 3 styrene parts and the eight 5” mounts consist of the single gun barrel, breech mechanism, railings and gun captains stand. The foreward superstructure, consisting of three parts is glued to the foredeck, with the port and starboard 5” gun decks attached four of the 5 gun assemblies can be glued in place, along with the quad 1.1” machine gun mount, its platform and two support legs, which is glued right on the prow, just aft of the Jackstaff. The foredeck flight deck supports fitted earlier are now fitted with the flight deck strengthening beams, moulded as a single part, (This area is ripe for the aftermarket companies to reproduce in PE, much like Hasegawa did with their carrier detail sets). The port and starboard bow catwalks are assembled and attached to the crossbeams and the side of the hull, with a PE catwalk folded to shape and fitted to the foreward beam.

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Much like the foredeck, the quarterdeck area is kitted out with the various deck fittings, capstans, bitts, cleats and hatches, followed by the rear bulkhead, flight deck supports and crossbeams. The rear 5” decks and their guns are glued into position, along with the aft catwalks and stern mounted PE catwalk. The starboard hanger walls are each made up form two halves, providing detail for both the interior and exterior. These are then detailed with various styrene catwalks and PE platforms, whilst the hanger side openings are fitted with their respective shutters. Although the shutters are moulded in the closed position, it wouldn’t take much to either cut a number off the block of shutters, or leave them off altogether and fashion rolled up versions out of spare PE or even paper and scratch build some supports. The port hanger walls/hull side plates are quite a bit different form their opposite halves, but are again detailed using a mix of styrene and PE, and also have the shutter parts in the closed position, (see above for solution). Both hanger walls/hull side assemblies are now glued into position on the hanger deck, along with a boat davit on the port side.

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Before the flight deck can be attached, the interior of the hanger deck is further detailed with the addition of some trunking and wall sections, whilst on the exterior the numerous inclined ladders of varying lengths are fitted between the various platforms and decks. The four ships boats each consist of the upper and lower hulls, and which once assembled are each glued to their respective six piece cradles, and into position on the ships side decks. Along with the two aft mounted cranes, each made up form three PE parts. The hanger roof structures, consisting of three large individual parts are glued to the hull sides, covering the hanger. The two flight deck sections, the largest of which requires certain holes to be opened up, are glued into place, along with the PE railings on the exposed main deck areas.

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With the flight deck on, she’s beginning to look like a carrier, but there’s quite a few parts to add before she’ll really look the part. These include the three lifts, the bow anchors, crash barrier, three gun tubs, two director tubs, the eleven piece deck crane, which, apart from the king post, is made up entirely from PE and the three quad 40mm bofors mounts, each consisting of four parts. The rest of the catwalk railing can now be attached, and the ships light AA weaponry fitted into their positions along the catwalks. The degaussing cable run is made up from several lengths of PE, which needs to be carefully fitted around the top of the hull, just beneath the main deck level. The two Mk 37 directors are each assembled from four styrene and seven PE parts, whilst the main CXAM radar array consists of five styrene parts and five PE parts. The foremast is now built up for the main platform onto which the multiple arms of the PE supports are attached to the underside, along with the three support legs, and long vertical ladder. There is a second platform fitted on support legs, and window framework attached to the topside of the first and the mast top, with yardarm, along with the CXAM radar are glued to the top platform. Two more yardarms are attached between the first and second platforms. The single piece island is fitted with the Admirals and control bridge decks, then festooned with styrene platforms, searchlights, and other deck fittings, plus a the associated PE railings The funnel cap is glued into place and fitted with three PE funnel caps and a length of railing that surrounds the entire cap walkway. The two Mk37 directors are fitted, one on the foreward end and one of the aft end of the island structure, these are followed by the foremast assembly and the main mast. The completed island assembly is then glued into position on the starboard side of the flightdeck, completing the build of the ship. But what of the aircraft I hear you ask, well, each of the three types, TBD-1, SBD-3 and F4F-4 each come in multiple parts, the two fuselage halves, separate wings, horizontal tailplanes, cowling, undercarriage and propeller. There are five aircraft of each type, if you want to fill the flightdeck, then Trumpeter already do separate packs of these aircraft. The wings of the F4F-4 and TBD-1 can be posed folded, whereas the wings of the SBD didn’t have the option to fold.

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Decals
The very large decal sheet, which unfortunately was curled up in the review sample as its only just smaller than the box is wide and it got a bit squished, is actually very well printed. There are a full range of markings for the flightdeck, including the lift surrounds and three dotted lines. Two that extend the full length of the deck and the middle one extends aft from the bow to just aft of the middle lift. The large flightdeck id numbers could be used, but these were generally painted out during the war, or at least painted black, whereas these are a very bright white. There are also examples of the Stars and Stripes plus Jacks in wavey or straight forms. Each of the aircraft is provided with a full set of stars, plus individual aircraft codes. The decals look suitably thin, so great care will be need when laying the flightdeck stripes down, they appear in good register and nicely opaque, which will be handy if you use the large deck numbers.




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Conclusion
It’s great that, at last, the maritime modeller can now build all three US carriers used at the Battle of Midway. It has been a long time coming, and they say patience is a virtue, particularly for a modeller. Well that patience has been rewarded with a super looking kit. I’m not a huge fan of clear styrene for use with the aircraft, preferring them to be made from standard coloured material, but I guess I’ll have to live with that, as there’s no other option at the moment. From what I’ve seen during the research for this review, the hull looks to be ok in shape, only the plate detail may be a little on the heavy side, which will be a relief to those that found the Trumpeter Hornet kit a let-down with the hull. I’m sure that once built it will make an excellent addition to any collection. Very highly recommended


Review sample courtesy of
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Another good review mate.

Seems amazing that the Big E wasn't preserved as a museum ship. The most highly decorated USN ship of WW2 with 20 battle stars, Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Commendation, and the distinction of being the only survivor of its generation. Strange that the Arizona is revered and still in commission for being destroyed, while the ship that might lay claim to being the US Navy's greatest fighting vessel ended up as dog food tins and wheel hubs.

Post-war austerity succeeded in destroying what the Japanese fleet couldn't in many attempts and battles. A familiar and sad story.

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Thanks Al. Yes it is great shame that is wasn't kept as a museum ship.

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I'm already seeing the whiffing potential...

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