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Lady Lex and her Wildcat (Battle of the Coral Sea)


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Hello all,


I’ve built this Wildcat and base as this year saw the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Coral_Sea), and a tribute to the USS Lexington (CV-2) and her crew. Apologies if the post is a bit text– and photo-heavy… there are a few images of modifications/progress at the end of the post.


Although there has been subsequent debate on how much the fate of Australia depended upon the outcome of this battle, it stopped the Japanese from trying to take Port Moresby, New Guinea, by sea (they then attempted to take it from an overland route). It is also considered a strategic defeat for Imperial Japan that affected the outcome of the Battle of Midway one month later. During the battle, the USS Lexington (CV-2), A.K.A. Lady Lex, was lost along with 216 of her crewmen.


In May this year, my family attended a commemoration on the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea held in Brisbane. We were very lucky to meet, Cecil Wiswell, 92 years of age (and his son), who had served on the ill-fated Lexington. They had travelled to Australia for commemorations held in a number of cities for the battle. For those interested, here is a snippet featuring Mr Wiswell at the Townsville commemoration:




Anyway, I wanted to do a model that in a small way commemorated the battle, particularly those who perished aboard the Lexington. The model represents the aircraft of John Thach (as this was the only option for a Lexington-embarked plane). He did not take part in the Battle of the Coral Sea, but this plane is reported to have been lost with the Lexington in the battle:



















The decals were from a Wildcat/Martlet aces set from Printscale, with the exception of the wing insignia (pilfered from the Airfix kit as they were a better size. They also behaved much better).


Paints: Vallejo Modelair, followed by gloss coat and oil washes.


Modifications: Riveting added; Intercooler air intakes inside the cowl were scratch-built from PE; Wiring added to the engine; Scratch-built gunsight and painted decal strips for the canopy framing;




Hollowed-out sprue for exhausts to replace the kit’s (left), and drilled out holes in the fuselage for them:




The kit tailwheel was pretty ordinary, so I modified one from another kit, and drilled out a hole for it. The navigation and formation lights were coloured, transparent plastic that was glued into place and sanded to shape:





The carrier deck was painted with a mix of royal blue and some RLM?? grey to represent USN deck blue 20-B, and Vallejo primer for the light blue-grey flight deck markings. This was the scheme the Lexington received in Hawaii in April 1942, the month before the Battle of the Coral Sea. USN WWII tiedowns were PE from Tom’s Modelworks.


Cockpit and landing gear bay details:







FWIW, I had tried pre-shading for the first time, but I don’t think it made any difference:




And in its new home:




There, a third model finished for 2017. Happy New Year to all BMers!


Comments and criticism welcome, and thanks for looking.





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Hello all, thanks for all the nice comments.


On 12/30/2017 at 3:24 AM, Cookenbacher said:

Wonderful build David, and an excellent collection overall.


Coral Sea and Midway will get their due on Britmodeller this coming year with their own section in the Pacific War Group Build.


Thanks Cookie, I did stumble across the chat about that GB. There's also a Grumman GB (and I think Tricky Rich mentioned there is a Pearl Harbour GB too??). Right up my alley.


7 hours ago, jrlx said:

Great Wildcat, very well done!


Is it the Airfix kit?






Hi Jaime,


No, it's the short-run Admiral kit. I actually bought the Airfix kit for this project, but then found out that the Lexington only had F4F-3s (non-folding wings, less guns, different cowling and cowl flaps), not F4F-4s like the Airfix kit. Rather than modify the Airfix kit, I just got the Admiral one. It turns out there aren't many F4F-3 kits (at least in 1/72), and some that claim to be (e.g. Hobby Boss) aren't.


Anyway, it made this project a little more interesting to do.







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