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Military Scale Modelling

Showcase: 1/350 U.S. Aircraft Carrier CV-9 Essex (Trumpeter 05602)

U.S. Aircraft Carrier CV-9 Essex (Trumpeter 05602)


In late 2011 I decided to take part in a campaign build organized by a local modelling site. The subject was the Korean war and everything that participated in it.

I decided to build my first warship, the USS Essex CV-9 Aircraft Carrier. I like photo etched stuff, so I decided to buy Tom’s Modelworks PE sets to detail my kit:

  • #3530 Essex Carrier details
  • #3518 Carrier perforated catwalks with rails
  • #3531 the Carrier Flotation baskets
  • #3545 Naval Doors

The Build

I was very motivated in the beginning but lost it after a few months. In the meantime I built other models like the Type 90 and the M270 MLRS and put the USS Essex CV-9 Aircraft Carrier back in the box.

The kit itself is great and the photo etched parts add amazing detail. One big disadvantage of the PE is that Tom’ s Modelwork didn’t put much effort in the manual, so you have to figure a lot out by yourself. Figuring out where all the PE should go on the USS Essex CV-9 carrier, takes a lot of time and requires a lot of reference material such as books and the internet. I am using the following books for locating all the detail work:

  • Anatomy of the ship || The Aircraft carrier Intrepid
  • Squadron/Signal – Warships number 10 || Essex Class Carriers
  • Osprey Publishing – New Vanguard || US Navy Aircraft Carriers 1942 – 1942

Those books helped me a lot with all the detailing.

When you read those books and check the pictures you will find details that are not provided by Tom’s Modelworks PE sets, so I decided to scratchbuild them. An example is the masts on the main island and  all the other styrene that you can see (white plastic card).

On the hull of the USS Essex CV-9 Carrier were a lot of  seams between the main hull and the blocks that had to be glued on top, this had to be fixed with putty to make sure the hull looks smooth and nice.

Anchor chains are not provided by both Trumpeter and Tom’ s Modelworks, I had to buy my own.

The PE set was applied pretty easy although a PE bender is very handy and a requirement if you ask me. Specially when trying to bend the long catwalks or railing.

As mentioned before, the only bad thing about the PE set is the lack of instruction, so get ready to do a lot of research.

The PE for the airplanes is a great addition and makes the planes look from “simple” to detailed planes, especially when keeping in mind how small they are!

Painting and Decals

Painting the whole ship was a big challenge because of the multi colored hull and the different colors on the vertical and horizontal surfaces. After some brainwork on what the best way would be to mask it for airbrushing and what colors to be applied first, I started with the vertical surfaces. The horizontal surfaces on everything but the flight deck were painted by hand because it would be way easier then masking and airbrushing. The flight deck was airbrushed because of the large surface and easy masking.

The hull with the red bottom and black horizontal stripe was not easy to paint for me. Main reason was the failure with masking fo the black stripe, the paint went all under the masking tape and I had to start over with the red color…. After a second try and more careful masking I succeeded.

The little airplanes were the most boring if you ask me because I had to two tone all those little planes the same over and over again, I was very happy when I did the last but then arrived to a more time consuming and boring matter….

The decals on the little planes went on fine with a softener but it was way to boring to place about 8 separate decals on each plane! On the USS Essex there are not many decals to be applied, just the flight deck need some decals. You really need some patience and a very strong decal softener to apply the decals without silvering.


When all the painting and decals were done it was time to put another gloss coat on the USS Essex! Weathering was the next step and started doing this by using the streaking technique where you place dots of oil on the vertical surfaces, let it dry a little and then with a flat brush dipped in thinner drag them down. This resulted in some very realistic looks on my Essex. just be sure not to overdo this and place the oil dots on places where it would happen in real life, like on edges and other extending parts around the hull. Adding rust was done with the same technique, just use rust colored oil and use a a more dryer brush to make the effect more visible.

The chipping on the hull was done with a sponge dipped in black.make sure not to put to much paint on the sponge, first dip in on some paper a few times if you do, then carefully place the chips where they would appear in real life as well. Some reference pics might be useful here!

I hope I have described my build process clear enough, if you guys have any more questions or suggestions for a next build, please let me know!


This build has been awesome and has learned me a lot! I really like the kit and the extras add great detail to it. Just be sure to have a lot of free time once you get started with a project like this!

Please enjoy the final pictures below!


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