KIT: Trumpeter 1/350 USS Saratoga CV-3
KIT #: 05738
PRICE: $34.95 MSRP ($26.70 from GreatModels)
DECALS: One option
NOTES: Scaled down from the 1/350 kit



The Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 was an attempt by the world’s naval powers; Great Britain, the United States, Japan, Italy, and France; to limit the on-going arms race on capital ship building.  Under the terms of the treaty the members agreed to no new capital ships being built in the near future. Specifically mentioned were aircraft carriers.  Each power was limited to having only two carriers that exceeded 27,000 tons with 35,000 tons being the upper limit.  Interestingly, the treaty also attempted to prevent cheating by forbidding battleships and/or battlecruisers that carried reconnaissance aircraft from being declared as “aircraft carriers”!   The United States then decided to convert two of her then building battlecruiser hulls to carriers. The results were the USS Lexington (CV-2) and the USS Saratoga (CV-3), the subject of this preview.


Launched on April 7, 1925, the “Sara” soon proved her worth as a test bed for future U.S. naval carrier strategy.  Most of the architects of that strategy served aboard either “Sara” or her sister “The Lady Lex” at one point in time during the interwar years.  When WWII erupted in the Pacific, the Saratoga was in San Diego.  She was kept in the Pacific but mainly stayed in the region around Oahu during the early days of the war.  In January 1942, she was stuck by a torpedo from the Japanese submarine I-16.  She returned to Pearl Harbor after suffering only minor damage and 6 KIA.  While at Pearl she had her 8-inch gun turrets landed as they were ineffective against what was obviously becoming the real threat to aircraft carriers, other aircraft.  She then returned to the West Coast where she received more modern anti-aircraft protection in the form of four twin 5-inch dual purpose turrets.  She missed the crucial Battle of Midway by only two days, arriving off the islands on June 6, 1942.


Saratoga was one of the more active carriers during the remainder of the war.  Although damaged again off of Iwo Jima in April of 1945 by six bomb hits, she was considered a “lucky ship” overall and survived the war.  Her end came in 1946 when she was expended as a target during the Bikini Atoll A-bomb tests.



Trumpeter has done it again with this latest release in 1/700 scale.  For those of us who have been waiting for an update of the old 70’s-era Fujimi kits, the appearance of this kit, featuring both the 8-inch gun turrets AND a “Yellow Wings” air complement, has been worth it.  Trumpeter’s

offering is molded in light gray plastic and consists of 375 parts packed in the now common sturdy box..  It is obviously a one-half scaled down version of their 1/350 scale Sara.  Among the parts are 6 Great Lakes TG-2 torpedo bombers, 9 SBU dive bombers, 9 Grumman F3F fighters, and 9 BFC-2 Goshawk fighter-bombers.  The aircraft and their accessories are molded in clear plastic and packaged in a separate box inside the kit box.


The moldings are crisp and appear to be accurate in dimension and detail.  Some of the parts are very tiny and very fragile in appearance so I recommend treating those parts with particular care.  There is little detail in the hangar decks although the two elevators can be posed in either the up or down position. Here's a look at the detail provided.


The kit can be built as either a full-hull replica or a waterline model for display purposes.  If one chooses to use the full-hull configuration, a stand is provided.  But if one chooses to display the finished kit in a waterline setting, Trumpeter has provided a really nice display base with the hull part depressed into the base and the rest of the base textured to simulate an ocean environment.


The instruction sheet is comprehensive and easy to follow.  There is a full-colored painting and markings sheet with all colors being called out using Gunze Sangyo paints.  The decal sheet appears to be nicely printed with the correct 48-star American flags.  Hopefully, these decals will be of better quality than some of those in Trumpeter’s early aircraft kits!  Of note is the fact that the version of Saratoga represented by the kit had a wide, black, vertical identification stripe painted on her stack.  This was to help the carrier’s aviators distinguish between the “Sara” and her almost identical twin, the Lexington.  (Ask any U.S. Navy carrier aviation veteran what happens to an aircraft that mistakenly lands on the “wrong” carrier.)   No decal is given for the stripe, so it will have to be masked and painted by the modeler.




This kit should be on every modeler’s list of “must haves” if you are even a dabbler in the world of 1/700 ship building.  The fact that it eclipses the older Fujimi offering makes it worth the price.  For about US$10 more than the Fujimi kit, you get at least twice the bang for the buck.  I highly recommend it.



For more information on the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and the USS Saratoga CV-3, I refer you to Wikipedia available on the net.  Just type either subject heading into your favorite browser and then click on the Wikipedia entry.


January 2007 

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