|KIT:||Trumpeter 1/700 USS Nimitz (CVN-68)|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Can be built full hull or waterline|
The Nimitz Class aircraft carriers are the largest warships ever built. With over 6,000 personnel (crew and aircrew), the carrier has a displacement of 102,000t, and a flight deck length of 332.9m. All seven nuclear-powered Nimitz class carriers have been built by Newport News Shipbuilding (now Northrop Grumman Ship Systems), based in Virginia.
Tasked with a multi-mission attack/ASW role, the first of class, USS Nimitz, was commissioned in 1975. The latest, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), was commissioned in July 2003. Other hulls are: USS Dwight D Eisenhower (CVN 69), Oct 1977; USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Mar 1982; USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), Oct 1986; USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), Nov 1989; USS George Washington (CVN 73), Jul 1992; USS John C Stennis (CVN 74), Dec 1995; USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) July 1998.
The keel for the tenth and last Nimitz Class, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), was laid in September 2003 and the carrier will enter service in 2009. The vessel will have a modernised island house with new radar tower and transparent armour windows as well as upgraded navigation and communications systems. It will also have a new aircraft launch and recovery system and JP-5 fuel system for improved storage and handling of aircraft fuel. This will be the first transition ship to a new class of carriers, CVN 78 (formerly known as CVN 21 and CVNX), planned for construction start in 2007 and delivery in 2014. Northrop Grumman Newport News will be the prime contractor for the program. CVN 78 will incorporate new technologies including a new multi-function radar system, volume search radar and open architecture information network, providing a significantly reduced crew requirement, and a new nuclear power plant.
It is difficult for your reviewer to realize that this ship has been around for over thirty years and so is nearing the end of its useful 40 year life span.
Many of us were wondering when Trumpeter would provide us with a scaled down version of their 1/350 USS Nimitz and here it is. Even in 1/700, it is not a small kit, measuring almost 19 inches in length and consisting of over 600 parts. So far, this and the Kutznetzov are the only modern 1/700 aircraft carriers done by Trumpeter. I'm not sure if this means they aren't doing any more or want to finish the WWII versions first.
I'm going to call it a 'typical Trumpeter aircraft carrier kit'. What that means is that you get a choice of waterline or full hull, and a nice starter set of aircraft for the air wing. In this case this means A-3B Skywarrior (2), RA-5C Vigilante (2), SH-3 Sea King (4), E-2C Hawkeye (2), A-6E Intruder (4), F-4J Phantom II (4) and A-7E Corsair II (6). Of course, these are in clear plastic, something that Trumpeter feels is more realistic in the end than solid colors. New to this kit is a clear main island structure and bridge windows. The rest of the bits and some bulkheads are in standard plastic, but the goal is to provide clear windows. There is also a photo-etched fret for the antennas along the forward section of the flight deck.
The other parts are for sponsons, elevators (which can be posed up or down), doors for the entrances to the hangar bay, and other various pieces that are part of a modern aircraft carrier. A real difference with this kit is that there is hangar bay bulkhead detail. Nothing fancy, but unlike other kits, you could put some planes in there and have things look somewhat normal. I'm quite pleased to see this trend and would hope that it continues. I also noted that there are the 'catch screens' on the outside of the elevators, stern, bow and the forward part of the angle where there are no catwalks. These have saved many a sailor from being blown clear over the side of the ship. Also included are a couple of mobile cranes and a couple of fork lifts as well as a few other assorted flight deck vehicles.
Things that I'd like to see are aircraft where you can display the wings folded (which is how most planes are on a carrier when not actually flying) as well as some tow bars. Often times planes are spotted on the deck with the tow bars attached. I imagine an aftermarket company is working on these as I type!
The decal sheet is very well done and includes both deck and aircraft markings. I can't tell for sure if the aircraft ones are oversize or not as was the case with the 1/350 kit, but just eyeballing things, they do look a bit large. A full color painting and decaling guide are included for both the ship and the air wing (or at least a partial air wing as only one of the two squadrons for the F-4, A-6 and A-7 are represented).
Now ship fans have a nice 1/700 USS Nimitz to put on their mantles and play with the planes (that IS what they are for, isn't it?). While I haven't scaled this against blueprints, it definitely looks like the ship I've been on and off a few times (mostly scrounging for parts from their supply folks) in my Navy career. I'm sure that you will be happy with it as it is a beauty.
A good Google of the internet.
Thanks to Stevens International, Trumpeter's importer, for the preview kit.
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