Monday, March 15

Construction Review: 1/72nd scale USN Carrier Deck Section From Italeri

There is nothing more enhancing for a model than placing it on a suitable base to give the onlooker some perspective and feel of the aircraft's natural environment. What do you choose for a 72nd scale US Navy jet? Italeri has the answer with their 1/72nd scale USN Carrier Deck Section that Gary Wickham has built & reviews today...

Construction Review: USN Carrier Deck Section
From Italeri
Kit No #1326
1/72nd scale
Product Link on the Italeri Website
Most modellers I know are always on the lookout for good quality, well priced and realistic accessories for their models. Display bases are one example of an add-on to your model that can really enhance the overall realism and also allow you to add other related items (like figures, maintenance equipment etc) around the main model. One very popular display base subject that you see very often are aircraft carrier decks. They are readily available in most popular scales for all era's from the Essex Class wooden decked WW2 carriers to the very latest nuclear powered Nimitz class super carriers.

Initially released back in 2012, Italeri have recently re-boxed their 1:72 modern (Nimitz class) US Navy Carrier Deck "section" as kit number #1326.
The Italeri kit is made from plastic and consists of two sprues and the main deck section itself. The kit focuses on the business end of a carrier deck, that being the launch catapult itself and the extendable JBD (Jet Blast Deflector) panels. Nimitz class carriers have four steam catapults to launch fixed-wing aircraft. Two steam catapults are located on the bow of the flight deck and two on the angled (or waist) deck amidships.
The main inclusion in this kit which I feel makes it stand out from other bases (like printed cardboard) are the passive jet blast deflector (JBD) panels which are used to deflect the exhaust of the launching aircraft away from the rest of the deck behind, in particular away from the following aircraft lining up for the catapult. JBDs are cooled by active cooling systems that tap the fire mains (i.e., fire suppression water systems) to circulate seawater through water lines within the deflector panel. Each of the four jet blast deflectors consists of six sections each of which can be raised or lowered independently from each other.
Assembly of the Italeri kit begins with the hydraulic actuators for the JBD sections. The recessed cut-outs for the six JBD panels are spread out over two sub-assemblies, each containing three panels each.
Both of the recessed housings for the JBD panels are next attached to the rear of the main deck assembly. There are several locking/alignment tabs that ensure all the parts fit together correctly when mated.
The interior of the deck recess is typically painted white, but as can be seen, it becomes grotty fairly quickly, despite regular cleaning. Keep this in mind when you paint your deck as you will want to avoid leaving this area too clean. Weathering via oil washes will be your friend here.
The outer edges of the JBD panels are painted in warning colours of alternating red and white. Italeri provides these as decals but I myself would prefer to mask and paint these.
The small decal sheet contains all the appropriate warning markings for use on the deck surface and on the aforementioned JBD panels edging.
Each of the six JBD panels are quite detailed both front and back. It's unfortunate that the rear (interior) of the panels are covered in so many ejector pin marks. These are very visible on the completed model and really should be dealt with by the modeller. On the front (top) surface I noticed several of the panels suffered from sink marks (some quite large) which run across inline with the internal ribbing. These will be tricky to deal with as you will need to re-instate the rough surface texture found on the JBD once the sink mark if filled and sanded.
The support struts (two per panel) are now attached. Note that you do not need to open all six but you only have the option for each panel to be either fully open or fully closed. I think it would look interesting to show several panels part way through their extension, but some surgery would be needed to the struts to achieve this.
Also included in the kit is the station for the JBD operator. This small hatch is situated adjacent to the JBD/catapult and the operator is responsible for lowering and raising the JBD in between aircraft launches.
A key part of the catapult mechanism is the "shuttle" which is where the aircraft actually attaches to the catapult. It is this shuttle that moves forward under 540psi of steam pressure and literally drags the aircraft forward. The Italeri shuttle is supplied as a separate part which allows you to position it correctly with the nosewheel of the aircraft you are modelling.
The surface of the catapult itself is smooth metal, consisting of separate panels on either side of the channel along which the shuttle runs.
Across the surface of the carrier deck are tie-down (or pad-eye) points. These are used to chain the aircraft (and other deck equipment) down when not in use. Italeri have done a nice job of reproducing the tie-down points in 3D. Also worth noting is the rough texture of the deck itself. A non-slip coating is applied to the carrier deck and Italeri have done a good job of re-creating that in 1/72 scale. It's little details like that set this display base apart from your common cardboard base.
The completed base measures 405mm x 235mm and will comfortably accommodate any 1/72 fixed-wing aircraft model you wish to display. There is also plenty of room for deck figures and a tractor if you so desire.
CONCLUSION - Italeri 1:72 Carrier Deck Section (1326)
A great way to add that "something extra" to your model is to place it onto a suitable display base. Nowhere is that more true than for carrier-based aircraft. These models always look best in their natural habitat, especially when it involves preparing to be launched from the carrier.
Italeri have really nailed this subject in both detail and accuracy and with appropriate painting and weathering it will make your next 1/72 carrier aircraft shine.

Many thanks to Italeri for providing me with this review kit, it's much appreciated.

Gary Wickham
To see more of Gary's work then please do go to his website for a whole lot more of that...

Appendix: Instruction manual.