| KIT: || Trumpeter 1/700 USS Hancock (CV-19) |
| KIT #: || 05737 |
| PRICE: || $29.95 MSRP |
| DECALS: || One option |
| REVIEWER: || Scott Van Aken |
| NOTES: || |
"The fourth Hancock (CV-19) was laid down as Ticonderoga 26 January 1943 by the Bethlehem Steel Co., Quincy, Mass.; renamed Hancock 1 May 1943, launched 24 January 1944; sponsored by Mrs. DeWitt C. Ramsey, wife of Rear Adm. Ramsey, Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics; and commissioned 15 April 1944, Captain Fred C. Dickey in command.After fitting out in the Boston Navy Yard and shake-down training off Trinidad and Venezuela, Hancock returned to Boston for alterations 9 July. She departed Boston 31 July 1944 en route to Pearl Harbor via the Panama Canal and San Diego, and from there sailed 24 September to join Adm. W. F. Halsey's Third Fleet at Ulithi 5 October. She was assigned to Rear Adm. Bogan's Carrier Task Group 38.2.
Hancock got underway the following afternoon for a rendezvous point 375 miles west of the Marianas where units of Vice Adm. Mitscher's Fast Carrier Task Force 38 were assembling in preparation for the daring cruise to raid Japanese air and sea bases in the Ryukyus, Formosa, and the Philippines. Thus enemy air power was paralyzed during General MacArthur's invasion of Leyte. When the armada arrived off the Ryukyu Islands 10 October 1944, Hancock's planes rose off her deck to wreak destruction upon Okinawan airfields and shipping. Her planes destroyed seven enemy aircraft on the ground and assisted in the destruction of a submarine tender, 12 torpedo boats, two midget submarines, four cargo ships, and a number of sampans. Next on the agenda were Formosan air bases where 12 October Hancock's pilots downed six enemy planes and destroyed nine more on the ground. She also reported one cargo ship definitely sunk, three probably destroyed, and several others damaged.
As they repelled an enemy air raid that evening, Hancock's gunners accounted for a Japanese plane and drove countless others off during seven hours of uninterrupted general quarters. The following morning her planes resumed their assault, knocking out ammunition dumps, hangars, barracks, and industrial plants ashore and damaging an enemy transport. As Japanese planes again attacked the Americans during their second night off Formosa, Hancock's antiaircraft fire brought down another raider which splashed about 500 yards off her flight deck. On the morning of the third day of operations against this enemy stronghold, Hancock lashed out again at airfields and shipping before retiring to the southeast with her task force. As the American ships withdrew, a heavy force of Japanese aircraft roared in for a parting crack. One dropped a bomb off Hancock's port bow a few seconds before the carrier's guns splashed the attacker into the sea. Another bomb penetrated a gun platform but exploded harmlessly in the water. The surviving attackers then turned tail, and the task force was thereafter unmolested as they sailed toward the Philippines to support the landings at Leyte.
On 18 October 1944, she launched planes against airfields and shipping at Laoag, Aparri, and Camiguin Island in Northern Luzon. Her planes struck the islands of Cebu, Panay, Negros, and Masbate, pounding enemy airfields and shipping. The next day she retired toward Ulithi with Vice Admiral John S. McCain's Carrier Task Group 38.1.
She received orders 23 October to turn back to the area off Samar to assist in the search for units of the Japanese fleet reportedly closing Leyte to challenge the American fleet and to destroy amphibious forces which were struggling to take the island from Japan. Hancock did not reach Samar in time to assist the heroic escort carriers and destroyers of "Taffy 3" during the main action of the Battle off Samar but her planes did manage to lash the fleeing Japanese Center Force as it passed through the San Bernardino Straits. Hancock then rejoined Rear Adm. Bogan's Task Group with which she struck airfields and shipping in the vicinity of Manila 29 October 1944. During operations through 19 November, her planes gave direct support to advancing Army troops and attacked Japanese shipping over a 350-mile area. She became flagship of Fast Carrier Task Force 38, 17 November 1944 when Vice Adm. McCain came on board.
Unfavorable weather prevented operations until 25 November when an enemy aircraft roared toward Hancock in a suicide dive out of the sun. Antiaircraft fire exploded the plane some 300 feet above the ship but a section of its fuselage landed amid ships and a part of the wing hit the flight deck and burst into flames. Prompt and skillful teamwork quickly extinguished the blaze and prevented serious damage.
Hancock returned to Ulithi 27 November 1944 and departed from that island with her task group to maintain air patrol over enemy airfields on Luzon to prevent enemy suicide attacks on amphibious vessels of the landing force in Mindoro. The first strikes were launched 14 December against Clark and Angeles Airfields as well as enemy ground targets on Salvador Island. The next day her planes struck installations at Masinloc, San Fernando, and Cabatuan, while fighter patrols kept the Japanese airmen down. Her planes also attacked shipping in Manila Bay.
Hancock encountered a severe typhoon 17 December and rode out the storm in waves which broke over her flight deck, some 55 feet above her waterline. She put into Ulithi 24 December and got underway six days later to attack airfields and shipping around the South China Sea. Her planes struck hard blows at Luzon airfields 7 and 8 January 1945 and turned their attention back to Formosa 9 January hitting fiercely at airfields and the Tokyo Seaplane Station. An enemy convoy north of Camranh Bay, Indochina, was the next victim with two ships sunk and 11 damaged. That afternoon Hancock launched strikes against airfields at Saigon and shipping on the northeastern bulge of French Indochina. Strikes by the fast and mobile carrier force continued through 16 January, hitting Hainan Island in the Gulf of Tonkin, the Pescadores Islands, and shipping in the harbor of Hong Kong. Raids against Formosa were resumed 20 January 1945. The next afternoon one of her planes returning from a sortie made a normal landing, taxied to a point abreast of the island, and disintegrated in a blinding explosion which killed 50 men and injured 75 others. Again outstanding work quickly brought the fires under control in time to land other planes which were still aloft. She returned to formation and launched strikes against Okinawa the next morning.
Hancock reached Ulithi 25 January 1945 where Vice Adm. McCain left the ship and relinquished command of the 5th Fleet. She sortied with the ships of her task group 10 February and launched strikes against airfields in the vicinity of Tokyo 16 February. During that day her air group downed 71 enemy planes, and accounted for 12 more the next. Her planes hit the enemy naval bases at Chichi Jima and Haha Jima 19 February. These raids were conducted to isolate Iwo Jima from air and sea support when Marines hit the beaches of that island to begin one of the most bloody and fierce campaigns of the war. Hancock took station off this island to provide tactical support through 22 February, hitting enemy airfields and strafing Japanese troops ashore.
Returning to waters off the enemy home islands, Hancock launched her planes against targets on northern Honshu, making a diversionary raid on the Nansei-shoto islands 1 March before returning to Ulithi 4 March.
Back in Japanese waters Hancock joined other carriers in strikes against Kyushu airfields, southwestern Honshu and shipping in the Inland Sea of Japan, 18 March 1945. Hancock was refueling the destroyer USS Halsey Powell (DD 686) on 20 March when suicide planes attacked the task force. One plane dove for the two ships but was disintegrated by gunfire when about 700 feet overhead. Fragments of the plane hit Hancock's deck while its engine and bomb crashed the fantail of the destroyer. Hancock's gunners shot down another plane as it neared the release point of its bombing run on the carrier. Hancock was reassigned to Carrier Task Group 58.3 with which she struck the Nansei-shoto islands 23 through 27 March and Minami Daito Jima and Kyushu at the end of the month.
When the 10th Army landed on the western coast of Okinawa 1 April Hancock was on hand to provide close air support. A suicide plane cartwheeled across her flight deck 7 April and crashed into a group of planes while its bomb hit the port catapult to cause a tremendous explosion. Although 62 men were killed and 71 wounded, heroic efforts doused the fires within half an hour enabling her to be back in action before an hour had passed.
Hancock was detached from her task group 9 April 1945 and steamed to Pearl Harbor for repairs. She sailed back into action 13 June and left lethal calling cards at Wake Island 20 June en route to the Philippines. Hancock sailed from San Pedro Bay with the other carriers 1 July and attacked Tokyo airfields 10 July. She continued to operate in Japanese waters until she received confirmation of Japan's capitulation 15 August 1945 when she recalled her planes from their deadly missions before they reached their targets. However planes of her photo division were attacked by seven enemy aircraft over Sagami Wan. Three were shot down and a fourth escaped in a trail of smoke. Later that afternoon planes of Hancock's air patrol shot down a Japanese torpedo plane as it dived on a British task force. Her planes flew missions over Japan in search of prison camps, dropping supplies and medicine, 25 August. Information collected during these flights led to landings under command of Commodore R. W. Simpson which brought doctors and supplies to all Allied prisoner of war encampments.
When the formal surrender of the Japanese Imperial Government was signed on board battleship USS Missouri, Hancock's planes flew overhead. The carrier entered Tokyo Bay 10 September 1945 and sailed 30 September embarking 1,500 passengers at Okinawa for transportation to San Pedro, Calif., where she arrived 21 October. Hancock was fitted out for "Magic Carpet" duty at San Pedro and sailed for Seeadler Harbor, Manus Admiralty Islands, 2 November. On her return voyage she carried 4,000 passengers who were debarked at San Diego 4 December. A week later Hancock departed for her second "Magic Carpet" voyage, embarking 3,773 passengers at Manila for return to Alameda, Calif., 20 January 1946. She embarked Air Group 7 at San Diego 18 February for air operations off the coast of California. She sailed from San Diego 11 March to embark men of two air groups and aircraft at Pearl Harbor for transportation to Saipan, arriving 1 April 1946. After receiving two other air groups on board at Saipan, she loaded a cargo of aircraft at Guam and steamed by way of Pearl Harbor to Alameda, Calif., arriving 23 April 1946. She then steamed to Seattle, Wash., 29 April to await inactivation. The proud ship decommissioned and entered the reserve fleet at Bremerton, Wash."
Thus ended the Hancock's WWII career. She was later modernized several times and those of us who served aboard her often referred to her by a much ruder nickname! Thanks to www.chinfo.navy.mil for the super background history
Continuing with their size reduction program, Trumpeter has now added the USS Hancock to their growing list of of Essex class carriers.
The kit itself is all that we've come to expect from Trumpeter in terms of high mold quality, thoughtful engineering and attention to detail. The info flyer that came with it says there are 523 parts and I can believe it. In the air wing alone there are nearly 150 spread amongst three types of aircraft, all in clear plastic. There are TBMs, SB2Cs and F6Fs; 12 of each. Yes, that doesn't come close to the usual air wing of 100 aircraft, but it is more than enough to look impressive on the deck!
The other 400 or so pieces are devoted to ship itself. Trumpeter provides both full hull and waterline options. A stand is given for the full hull version and a nice vac sea scape for the waterline. This latter thing is such a great idea that I'm really surprised no one else has picked up on it.
The flight deck is in two pieces with separate elevators. These could be placed in the lowered position, but really, there is nothing to see aside from a deck for the centerline. All the hangar side doors are separate, but we will attach them as the hangar deck is devoid of any detail. It is, however, there so scratch builders will have a great opportunity to have at it. I'm also surprised that some resin maker hasn't tried to fill this void (pun fully intended).
Building the kit will keep one busy for quite some time. Just assembling the quad 40 and 5 inch AA guns will take some time as there are a lot of them. Then there are the various bulkheads, sponsons, life boats, cranes and so on. The island structured is quite complete and has its own array of AA guns as well. The sound of all those firing off against incoming Japanese aircraft must have been deafening. As with all other Trumpeter ships, you can do this one as full hull or waterline version.
A very nicely done instruction booklet is included and offers well drawn construction steps. Color information is on a separate, full-color painting and decaling guide. It is for a Measure 32/3a 19443 scheme, which would have been its initial outfitting. I'm not sure how often aircraft carriers were repainted, but the paint alone must have added several tons. The decal sheet has insignia for mid-war tricolor scheme camo painted aircraft markings and a simple centerline and ship number marking. It is well printed and I would recommend some sort of vision enhancement device when putting on those insignia!
A really superb addition to the growing family. By this time, the modeler could do a diorama of 'Murder's Row' the famous photograph of a line of Essex class carriers at Ulithi in 1945. A super kit and one that is well worth the price.June 2006
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