Tamiya 1/350 CVN-65 USS Enterprise


Tamiya 1/350 CVN-65 USS Enterprise






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Len Roberto


Gold Medals etched brass set used.



The Big E carried on one of the most illustrious US warship names when she was launched in 1961. CVN-65 was the first nuclear powered aircraft carrier and her dimensions, power, and aircraft capacity was a huge leap forward in carrier design. Punch in the name on your browser and you will find hundreds of sites covering the history of this long-lived ship.


When I was a kid, this Tamiya kit was like a holy grail to me every time I would visit my local hobby shop and see it perched up and out of reach on the shelf. The massiveness of the box, awesome box top painting, and the strange name of "Tamiya" scared and excited my young modeling brain. I vowed that someday I would build this model.

Well, I finally did but I was a still a ship modeling novice when I built this monster and will probably do another in the future using all of my acquired knowledge to make it the best I can make it. I once read that this kit never really completed because there are always additional details to be added to make it better. I agree—this model sits atop my 2 glass cases and every week I notice or read about some other tip or additional technique I could add to make it that much better. It is that big and it screams for the modeler to modify, add, scratchbuild, and use their ingenuity to bring out the detail.

The kit itself is well done. The hull is a 2 piece unit that screws together. The bow section was molded separately to cut down on the 3 foot plus length of the kit. Parts fit is good considering the size of some parts like the flight deck (3 sections.) Many have criticized the kit for lacking a hangar deck. Most expert modelers will scratch build a hangar deck which can be easily viewed through the elevator hangar doors. I built it straight from the box. My only addition was to add brass detail railings as this was in the early stages of my discovery of photo-etched brass detail sets.


I can summarize the building of this kit in the following order:

  1. Part 1 is assembly of the hull which includes the numerous cleat decks, weapon sponsons (CIWS and Sea Sparrow missile platforms), stern area, and the flight deck which includes hose reels and communications antennas.
  2. Part 2 is the ship’s island and mast which went together very well.
  3. Part 3 is preparation of the ships air wing. I added in planes from Tamiya’s additional plane set to round out the air wing. Here is where many modelers go nuts on detailing these little aircraft. I have seen people add refueling probes, arrestor hooks, drill out intakes and canopies, and fold the wings on certain planes. The creativity of other modelers always inspires me.

I also cut the hull down to waterline for display and added HO scale railroad chain to simulate the Big E at anchor. I had an acrylic display case built to house the ship (cost was more than I paid for the model!) but when I decide to build this kit all out in the future—I at least will already have a place to dock it!


I used Tamiya Light Grey mixed with a touch of Sky Grey for the base color. The flight deck was painted Tamiya Dark Grey and heavily weathered to simulate tire marks, oils and exhaust stains, etc. using black pastel chalk smudged into the deck. The landing pattern stripes had to be painted and I did not spend an adequate amount of time or effort to make these look as they should. The other decals were provided in the kit.


Despite the lack of a hangar deck and a fairly high price, this kit is so impressive and fun to work on—it was worth every penny. As I said, I should have not even tried this kit until I was a more experienced modeler, better equipped to make it into a masterpiece. Regardless of my shortcomings, it is a great conversation piece and is always fun to gawk at and imagine what it’s like to work on the flight deck. I think I will wait a few more years to start this never-ending project again!


There are various excellent websites on CVN-65 that will give you the details. I also know of a few sites specifically devoted to build projects of this kit by master modelers. Check them out if you plan to build this kit.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.


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