1/350 USS Hornet CV-8 Doolittle Raid

On 1 April 1942 sixteen modified B-25B bombers were loaded aboard the USS Hornet CV-8. The next day the USS Hornet along with the ships of Task Force 18 sailed towards the Hawaiian Islands. They met up with the USS Enterprise and Task Force 16 then headed across the Pacific Ocean. On the morning of 18 April 1942 approximately 650 nautical miles from the Island of Japan, sixteen B-25B’s Led by Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle launched off the Hornet’s deck to perform the first air operation to strike the Japanese mainland in retaliation for the attack on Pearl Harbor.

For this next build I am building Trumpeter’s 1/350 USS Hornet as she was during the Doolittle Raid. This is going to be a super-detailed project. It is being built to be displayed at a museum that is creating a display of the raid for the 80th anniversary. This project is estimated to take around 4 – 5 months to complete. There are many aftermarket accessories that will be utilized in this build. So far I have four different sets of photo etch parts just for the ship, a wooden deck, all the B-25B’s as well as all the aircraft that were stored in the hangar bay that were later moved to the flight deck after the bombers departed in case the Task Force was spotted and needed to defend itself. All of the aircraft have multiple photo etch sets for the cockpits and exterior details.  I will also be illuminating it as well. I have many accessories still on order like 3-D printed Moto-Tugs and crew members. At the end of the project I will list all of the accessories I used. I also purchased two reference books. One on the USS Hornet itself and the other covers the Doolittle raid. I also located a shipbuilding drawing of the Yorktown class carriers that covers all the decks from keel to the top of the island. I scaled the hangar deck sheet to 1/350 scale and printed it out so that I can accurately place the interior walls and other details.

Starting with the hangar I began using the White Ensign Hangar bay photo etch set (#3541). The instructions give you sizes and plans to scratch build the hangar bay walls. I installed the hangar deck then painted it deck grey and gave it a basic weathering. I will be doing more weathering/staining once I figure out the layout of the aircraft. Using Evergreen Models 1.0mm styrene sheets I cut out the parts for the interior walls per the hangar bay detail set instructions. I have a few sheets of extra doors and rails from previous ship sets so after building the walls I added photo etch doors, stairs and rails to match the reference photos. The kit walls have numerous ejector pin marks. Instead of filling and sanding all of them I opted to use sheets of 0.5mm sheets to cover them. Also, since I will be illuminating the hangar bay I cut open many of the hangar bay side doors. With the starboard side interior walls assembled per the photo etch set instructions I added all the fine details as they are shown in the photos from the reference book.

After adding details to the forward elevator bay I did some detail work on the bow. One of the obvious things missing from the model details is the bow mooring guides. I used some styrene tubing to make these. I then reshaped the anchor chain holes. On the kit these were just straight thru holes. I used a file to make them angled and flared. I removed the molded chain and will be replacing it with a real anchor chain. There are two supports for the front of the flight deck. I filled the mounting holes for the kit plastic ones and installed the correctly sized photo etch parts from the White Ensign Detail set (#3525).  Working on getting the starboard side interior detailed and installed this coming week.

This week’s update on the USS Hornet covers more work on the hangar bay walls. I also started my experiments on add illumination to the hangar deck. I do not have all the lighting figured out but I have a general idea on what I need to do and a good start on how to accomplish it.

Back to the hangar bay walls, the kit walls have many ejector marks so they have all been covered with 0.5mm styrene sheets. I then use extra rails and doors to detail them. On the thin hangar walls that lead to the outside I matched the doors on the inside. I framed the areas around the doors and for the doors that are closed I scored the surface to match the same detail as the outside. I still need to make the rolled up doors for the open ones but I need to wait until I install the flight deck supports. These will also affect where the wiring for the lights will go. I have also added a couple of stokes litters and a hose reel for where the Moto-Tugs will be parked. Another thing I need to do is to remove the guilds on the hangar deck for the walls. This is because with opening doors and with adding details to the inside of the wall they get in the way.

For the lighting each support has lights hanging from their edge. (4 to 6 per support) There are total of 166 lights! I took some 0.5mm fiber optic lines and using a lighter I slightly melted the end to look like a bulb then dipped it in acrylic gel medium. Once dry I cut the excess gel off where the “bulb” part is and primed it all white except where the bulb area was. I used an individual Pico LED to see how the lighting would look. The effect came out perfectly. Now I just need to make 165 more and figure out how to mount them and illuminate them.

As for extras, I received Hornet Air Wing decals from Starfighter Decals. These are for the battle of Midway aircraft so I will need to make the red dots for the center of the insignia for the Doolittle raid version. I also could not find 1/350 decals for the Doolittle B-25B’s so I made my own including the few aircraft that have nose art. The other accessories I received were ten 3-D printed moto-tugs thanks to BaconFist on Shapeways and I have 3-D printed officers and enlisted crew from HOLDEN8702RD on Shapeways.

Next up is the finishing of the hangar walls then I will need to start making all the aircraft, accessories, and figures for the hangar deck. These will need to be installed before the flight deck supports and lighting can be installed.

Work continues on the Hornet hangar bay walls.  While reviewing the few photos I have I noticed that the hangar doors roll up. I used some styrene tubing for the open doors and rods for the closed ones. The open door ones were painted the exterior color 5-O Ocean Blue due to how they would roll up. As for the brand of paint I am using, I will be using Scale Colors for the ship. The colors are 5-N Blue, 5-O Ocean Grey and 5-H Haze Grey. Once these were installed I then began to add fine details to the walls. I added doors to match the ones on the outside and then added ducts for the vents on the port side. A few platforms with railings and stairs/ladders were added as well. Other details I noticed in the photos were added as well. There are many pipes and cables which will be added later. I will be using the pipes to hide wiring and fiber optic lines when I add them. The walls were then painted and installed. I am currently working on the aft elevator then I need to build up and detail the fantail. This coming week I have a couple of days where I won’t have time to work on this but am planning on starting the aircraft by the end of the week.

This week the work on the USS Hornet was limited. I was “forced” by my lovely Wife to spend a relaxing weekend on the lake fishing. We both had a great time and caught many fish

Anyhow, back to the build. I finished up the aft elevator and the fantail of the ship.  I then moved on to some aircraft. During the trip across the Pacific the Hornet had its normal compliment of aircraft packed on the hangar deck while the B-25B’s remained on the flight deck. I need to build all these aircraft so I can finish the hangar deck. I purchased all of the photo-etch for these aircraft. Both Tom’s Model Works and White Ensign Models provide sets. The Tom’s provides landing gear, antennas, and propellers for each aircraft. White Ensign has some cockpit details (like the rear gunner for the SBD’s) as well as flaps for the aircraft. I decided to start with the F4F Wildcats of “Fighting 8”. Using the F4F that came with the kit I built it up to the point it was ready for decals. One of the things I noticed was they have a hole for the landing gear that comes on the tree. Since I was using the photo-etch landing gear I took a small drill bit the diameter of the main gear wheels and drilled into the fuselage to create the wheel wells that are on the real aircraft. I looked at using the photo-etch cockpit pieces but the canopy is very small and thick. You would not see any detail at all. So I opted to just paint the interior green and flat black for the instrument panel under the canopy. For the propeller I need to make the shaft into the engine. The hole in the propeller and hub are 0.5mm as well as the on the aircraft cowl. I took a 0.5mm fiber optic strand and used a lighter to melt the end slightly to make it the propeller hub cap. The propeller hub then blades were slid on and painted. The landing gear and antenna on the dorsal behind the cockpit were added. It was base coat painted for the intermediate blue and grey scheme. With interior green for the wheel wells and white for the main gear struts and hubs. I then took the other 17 aircraft and created an assembly line. I am building them up until the point of adding the photo-etch. As soon and all 17 are at this point I will add the photo-etch details and then paint them. After they are built up I will use the individual aircraft decals that are part of the Starfighter Decals Hornet set.

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