KIT: Trumpeter 1/700 USS Lexington, CV-2 - May 1942
KIT #: 05716
PRICE: $27.95
DECALS: One ship with airwing.
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: Can be built as waterline or full hull

HISTORY

displacement: 41,000 tons
length: 888 feet
beam: 105 feet
draft: 32 feet
speed: 34 knots
complement: 2,122 crew
armament: 8 eight-inch and 12 five-inch guns (as originally fitted)
aircraft: 81
class: Lexington

 

From: Dictionary of American Fighting Ships, published by the Naval Historical Center
Full-screen images are linked from the images in the text below.

Lexington being built

The fourth Lexington (CV 2) was originally designated CC 1; laid down as a battle cruiser 8 January 1921 by Fore River Shipbuilding Co., Quincy, Mass.; authorized to be completed as an aircraft carrier 1 July 1922; launched 3 October 1925; sponsored by Mrs. Theodore Douglas Robinson, wife of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy; and commissioned 14 December 1927, Capt. Albert W. Marshall in command.
 
After fitting out and shakedown, Lexington joined the battle fleet at San Pedro, Calif., 7 April 1928. Based there, she operated on the west coast with Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Fleet, in flight training, tactical exercises, and battle problems . Each year she participated in fleet maneuvers in the Hawaiians, in the Caribbean, off the Panama Canal Zone, and in the eastern Pacific.
 
On 16 January 1930, Lexington completed a 30-day period in which she furnished electricity to the city of Tacoma, Wash., in an emergency arising from a failure of the city's power supply. The electricity from the carrier totaled more than 4.25 million kilowatt-hours.
 
In the fall of 1941 she sailed with the battle force to the Hawaiians for tactical exercises.
 
On 7 December 1941 Lexington was at sea with Task Force 12 (TF 12) carrying marine aircraft from Pearl Harbor to reinforce Midway when word of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was received. She immediately launched searchplanes to hunt for the Japanese fleet , and at mid-morning headed south to rendezvous with USS Indianapolis (CA 35) and USS Enterprise (CV 6) task forces to conduct a search southwest of Oahu until returning Pearl Harbor 18 December.
Lexington at sea in 1941
Lexington sailed next day to raid Japanese forces on Jaluit to relieve pressure on Wake; these orders were canceled 20 December, and she was directed to cover the USS Saratoga force in reinforcing Wake. When the island fell 23 December, the two carrier forces were recalled to Pearl Harbor, arriving 27 December.
 
Lexington patrolled to block enemy raids In the Oahu-Johnston-Palmyra triangle until 11 January 1942, when she sailed from Pearl Harbor as flagship for Vice Adm. Wilson Brown commanding TF 11. On 16 February, the force headed for an attack on Rabaul, New Britain, scheduled for 21 February. While approaching the day previous, Lexington was attacked by two waves of enemy aircraft, nine planes to a wave. The carrier's own combat air patrol and antiaircraft fire splashed 17 of the attackers. During a single sortie Lt. E. H (Butch) O'Hare won the Medal of Honor by downing five planes.
 
Her offensive patrols in the Coral Sea continued until 6 March, when she rendezvoused with USS Yorktown's TF 17 for a thoroughly successful surprise attack flown over the Owen Stanley mountains of New Guinea to inflict heavy damage on shipping and installations at Salamaua and Lae 10 March. She now returned to Pearl Harbor, arriving 26 March 1942. Lexington's task force sortied from Pearl Harbor 15 April, rejoining TF 17 on 1 May. As Japanese fleet concentrations threatening the Coral Sea were observed, Lexington and USS Yorktown (CV 5) moved into the sea to search for the enemy's force covering a projected troop movement. The Japanese must now be blocked in their southward expansion, or sea communication with Australia and New Zealand would be cut, and the dominions threatened with invasion.
 
On 7 May 1942 search planes reported contact with an enemy carrier task force, and Lexington's air group flew an eminently successful mission against it, sinking light carrier Shoho. Later that day, 12 bombers and 15 torpedo planes from still-unlocated heavy carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku were intercepted by fighter groups from Lexington and Yorktown, who splashed nine enemy aircraft.
 
On the morning of the 8th, a Lexington plane located the Shokaku group. A strike was immediately launched from the American carriers, and the Japanese ship was heavily damaged.
Lexington on fire and sinking
The enemy penetrated to the American carriers at 1100, and 20 minutes later Lexington was struck by a torpedo to port. Seconds later, a second torpedo hit to port directly abreast the bridge. At the same time, she took three bomb hits from enemy dive bombers, producing a seven degree list to port and several raging fires. By 1300 her skilled damage control parties had brought the fires under control and returned the ship to even keel. Making 25 knots, she was ready to recover her air group. Then suddenly Lexington was shaken by a tremendous explosion, caused by the ignition of gasoline vapors below, and again fire raged out of control.
 
At 1558 Capt. Frederick C. Sherman, fearing for the safety of men working below, secured salvage operations, and ordered all hands to the flight deck. At 1707, he ordered, "abandon ship!", and the orderly disembarkation began, men going over the side into the warm water, almost immediately to be picked up by nearby cruisers and destroyers. Admiral Fitch and his staff transferred to cruiser USS Minneapolis (CA 36); Captain Sherman and his executive officer, Cmdr. M. T. Seligman insured all their men were safe, then were the last to leave their ship.
 
Lexington blazed on, flames shooting hundreds of feet into the air. The destroyer USS Phelps (DD 360) closed to 1500 yards and fired two torpedoes into her hull. With one last heavy explosion, Lexington sank at 1956 on 8 May 1942 at 15 20' S., 155 30' E. She was part of the price that was paid to halt the Japanese overseas empire and safeguard Australia and New Zealand, but perhaps an equally great contribution had been her pioneer role in developing the naval aviators and the techniques which played so vital a role in ultimate victory in the Pacific.
 
Lexington received two battle stars for World War II service.
 

Historical background courtesy of the Naval Historical Center.

 
THE KIT

It seems as if Trumpeter is going to panatagraph down all of its big scale kits (and perhaps this will work the other way as well). This is great news as the very old Fujimi Lexington has been commanding very high prices on the auction sites. This will effectively stop that as this kit is light years ahead of the older Japanese version in every way. For one thing, there are over 500 parts in this one. Sure, many of those are from the air wing, where each aircraft is five parts, but still, there are tons of small guns and other fittings.

As with the Kuznetsov, this one has a nice acrylic base with wave action and everything. A great way to display a waterline model. Of course, you can build it full hull if you wish and a nice piece of 'dry dock' stand is provided for that purpose.

The level of detail is all that one could expect from a modern Trumpeter ship kit. You'll spend the first of the construction steps working on situating the myriad of sponsons and anti-aircraft guns that come with this kit. The two ship's elevators are molded in such a way that you can pose them in any position that you wish. However, the small extension on the forward elevator is molded to the deck in the up position.

There is no hangar deck with this kit, however, it does include a one-piece flight deck. That should make it much easier to install. The island structure follows Trumpeter's norm in that there is a core to which you attach bulkheads. Both this structure and the stack structure are festooned with anti-aircraft guns as well.

Also included are a number of aircraft. Each one of these is a mini-model. They consist of the basic airframe to which you attach the three landing gear and a prop. Yep, in 1/700 scale these are tiny. The aircraft are molded in clear plastic so that you'll have a clear canopy. However, you'll be looking at whatever the underside color is so perhaps the builder will want to paint the bottom black before proceeding the the usual colors. These will be the Blue-Grey uppers with Light Grey undersides. A full set of markings are provided as well.

You get 12 SBD-3 Dauntlesses, 12 F4F-3 Wildcats and 6 TBD-1 Devestators. One of my Dauntless bombers was molded without a tail section so I guess I got 11 1/2 of these planes! The image you see is a bit larger than life size and shows one of the SBD sprues. The decal sheet is very well done and includes not only insignia but the tail stripes used at Coral Sea, which is the time period of the kit. I've heard that these markings on some of the 1/350 kits are a bit oversized, so it will be interesting to hear how these turn out.

Instructions are very well done and nicely drawn. No problem with parts placement should be encountered during any of the 21 construction steps. With over 500 parts, one does need to take time to complete this one. A full color painting and markings sheet is included. The ship itself is painted in blue grey on the vertical surfaces and island with the flight deck in deck blue. References use Gunze paints and generic names. 

CONCLUSIONS

Toss away your Fujimi Lexington unless you want to do the early version with the big guns. This kit will just blow that one away. It is not for the meek at the sheer number of parts will keep you busy for a very long time. Painting this beast (actually painting the air wing) will have you go cross-eyed so be sure to wear some sort of magnifiers when doing this one.

REFERENCES

www.history.navy.mil

Thanks to Stevens International for providing the preview kit

September 2005

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