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Scratchbuilding USS Saratoga CV-3, 1944 in 1/350 scale.

This model will depict Saratoga late war with asymmetrical hull, cut-down funnel, and heavy AA fit. It is NOT being converted from the Trumpeter kit.

Jim Russell did convert the Trumpeter kit into a 1944 Saratoga beautifully. You can see his conversion here: http://www.shipmodels.info/mws_forum/viewtopic.php?f=59&t=39515&start=0

Actual ship length overall: 910' - 1-3/4"
Model Length: 31.205 inches (79.26 cm). 
Material: Evergreen polystyrene sheet, strips, tubing, rods, H-sections, etc.
Hull construction method: double plank on frame
Plans and References:
1. US Navy Booklet of General Plans dated 1942 (implemented following Kamikaze damage sustained on February 21, 1945), available from Floating Drydock 
2. US Navy Booklet of General Plans dated April 23, 1936 (implemented during a refit in December, 1943, plans updated Aug., 1944 to include cross sections - vitally important for this build).
3. US Navy Booklet of General Plans for USS Lexington CV-2, dated 1936, for comparison
4. detail photos and comments posted by Tracy White (invaluable)
5. photos from USS Saratoga Squadron at Sea by David Doyle (Tracy contributed much to that effort). 
6. hull sections for USS Lexington CV-2, drawn by Thomas Walkowiak, available from Floating Drydock.

Technique inspiration: 
Paul Budzik's masterful scratch-built USS Enterprise CV-6 http://paulbudzik.com/current-projects/Enterprise%20Scratch/Enterprise_Scratch.html

Finish inspiration:
Martin Quinn’s exquisite prewar USS Lexington CV-2:
http://www.modelshipgallery.com/gallery/cv/cv-02/350-mq/mq-index.html

Your advice, constructive criticism and comments are most welcome and appreciated.

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One of the most interesting features of the two sisters of the Lexington class is the rudder. It has a distinct flare at the top that conforms to the shape of the hull and the bottom is in the shape of a diamond. Also interesting, the rams which operate the rudder are partially exposed. I have tried to capture the complex shape of the original rudder.

 

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Compare the effort above with the 1/350 scale Trumpeter kit rudder below which appears to be accurate in profile but wholly inaccurate in shape. 

 

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The aft end of the starboard stability blister is just visible in the first photo. At this end, the outboard blister side tightly conforms with the contour of the hull. At midships, the outboard side is vertical and extends a considerable distance from the side of the hull. 

Strake detail is also visible in the top photo. It was a swine to get to look good and considerable study of photos of the actual ship was necessary to identify, locate, measure and position each strake. This was only possible thanks to Tracy, Dave Doyle, and the hull sections on sheets 18 and 19 of the 1936 plans.

 

More photos of the scratch-built rudder:

 

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Compare the 1944 flight deck plan laid on top the model with the 1945 post-Kamikaze refit flight deck plan.  

 

During repairs following the Kamikaze strikes, the forward elevator was replaced with a much-anticipated larger elevator.  The aft elevator was deleted.

 

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The model is being built according to the ship's late 1944 appearance with two aircraft elevators.

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Here you can see that chocks and hawse pipes have been roughed in, docking keels have been installed, and the hull has been primed. In 1942, Saratoga's starboard main anchor hawse pipe had been conspicuously plated over. Next installations include propeller shaft housings and port-side bilge keel (no starboard-side bilge keel after the installation of the large starboard side stability blister).

 

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Taking a break from further detailing the hull, Flight Deck work has begun. The flight deck's major structures and details for 1944 have been penciled on the styrene deck. Plans for the 1944 flight deck and 1945 flight deck lay alongside for comparison purposes.

 

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Here's an excerpt from the 1936 design showing the asymmetrical hull to good effect as well as the proper, and structurally logical, location of the docking keels. The hull bottom is not flat but has a subtle deadrise.

Notice the starboard stability blister. Here at midships, the outboard blister side is vertical and extends a considerable distance from the side of the hull. Also note that the starboard side has no bilge keel. The port side bilge keel is present.

 

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Flight Deck.  This is the flight deck with major structures in place but still very rough.

Much cleanup to be done but you can see 
1. complex planking patterns.
2. the location of the floatplane tracks consistent with available photos.
3. the deck-edge waterways are installed. 

 

Bow. Deck-edge waterways are present. The deck-edge cutouts are clearance for quad Bofors mounts positioned one deck below on sponsons. The major structures are all in place. It needs some cleanup and seam-filling. The elevation of the floatplane tracks needs to be evened out and matched to the planked flight deck. That will be done with putty.

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Midships. Bow to left. Open bomb and torpedo elevators. There is still some cleanup and filling here to do. And the floatplane tracks need some evening out to match their height with the planked flight deck surface. That will be done with putty.

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 Aft. Compared to an Essex, the flight deck, particularly here, is quite narrow. There is some waterway adjustment and filling to do here but it's starting to look like it should.

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Arrestor cable anchor point details to be added next. Note for carrier model builders: a common error modelers make is the laying of the arrestor cables on the wrong side of the anchor points. The arrestor cables on US Navy carriers lay on the aft side of the anchor points. 

Also next, three quad Bofors mount platform bases and splinter shielding to be built next to the funner base. Round downs need more work but they're getting there.

Conning tower and funnel coming soon.

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Starting to work on the Conning Tower. The base and internal stiffener are .40 thou. styrene sheet for strength. The sides are .20 thou V-groove with the horizontal grooves on the interior of the tower. I have found that using the grooves as guides helps assure aligned portholes, platforms, hatches, etc.

 

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If you look closely at the top row of portholes on the starboard side, you will notice that I cut the aft-most two portholes a bit elevated compared to those forward of them. This is deliberate and consistent with the actual ship. On the exterior of the real conning tower side, there is a prominent exterior cable conduit just under these two portholes. Behind these portholes on the real ship was a radar control compartment. Presumably, the conduit contained cables associated with the ship's radars or other electronic gear.

 

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Here the lower three levels of the conning tower's hatches have been opened up. 

Since open hatches make any major interior features visible, it was necessary to build and install the barbette for a twin 5-inch mount and its associated radial bulkheads. Each of the four bulkheads has a passage cut into it. The real ship had six bulkheads but two will not be visible when the conning tower is complete so I omitted them.

 

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Here are some photos of the uptake casing placed on the flight deck. Around the casing will be built the funnel. The casing replicates the real ship's four enormous boiler uptakes (the words "uptakes" and "smoke pipes" are both used in the Navy plans). It is essentially a compartmentalized box made from 0.040" Evergreen V-groove sheet styrene. The thickness provides the funnel with internal strength and stiffness while the V-groove helps with alignment. 

The four, large rectangular openings at the top are the uptake exhausts and will be open with visible interiors when the funnel is complete. Therefore, the smooth side of the V-groove is used to form each of the four uptakes' interior. The grooves will all be hidden once the funnel is built up. The pencil marks on the casing exterior show the path of the uptakes.

The model is starting to be recognizable as Saratoga.

 

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Building the conning tower and funnel continues. 

Splinter shielding has been added to the various conning tower decks. A venturi (wind deflector) will be added to two of the bridge decks soon. 

The funnel is under construction around the uptake casing. The circular structure on the funnel's forward side is a quad 40mm Bofors mount tub. The mount's director will be placed in a small tub on top of the boxy structure seen here aft of the Bofors tub.

 

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Some overall views at this point:

 

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Some overall views so far. Work on the funnel continues.

The conning tower, funnel and flight deck are not yet fixed to the hull. The resin Twin 5-inch Mount and resin Mk.37 Fire Control Directors are by L'Arsenal and likewise are not yet fixed. As mentioned in the post above, the resin directors will be modified. The L'Arsenal directors are of the latter flat-back type and Saratoga carried the earlier angle-back Mk.37s.

Work on the incomplete funnel top is the present focus. The funnel uptake exhaust grills ("Grand Arches") on the actual ship are much more complex than depicted by Fujimi, Trumpeter and Tamiya kits. I'll do my best to replicate their very interesting, 3D appearance.

 

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Taking a break from the conning tower and funnel, turning to heavy AA gun positions, here are some photos of initial work done on the 5-inch single mounts' and all but four of the quad 40mm Bofors mounts' positions. (Additionally, there are two twin 40mm Bofors tubs not yet fabricated.)

For the AA positions arrayed within the ship's former boat bays, I've begun fabricating these multi-level structures as inserts. Although not yet complete, the major structures, composed mostly of 40mm ammunition clipping rooms and vents on the actual ship, are visible. 

The splinter shielding, not yet complete, is composed of 0.010" styrene strip. It will receive outboard vertical stiffeners later and the tubs will receive supporting girders/trusses where indicated in plans and photos.

Note also that the portholes on the bulkheads at the back of the bays are shown quite large in plans and photos so I have assumed them to be standard 16" ports. By comparison, the portholes in photos and plans along the hull's shell plating are probably the smaller 12" standard US Navy ports so I have sized them accordingly.

 

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Taking a break from the conning tower and funnel, turning to heavy AA gun positions, here are some photos of initial work done on the 5-inch single mounts' and all but four of the quad 40mm Bofors mounts' positions. (Additionally, there are two twin 40mm Bofors tubs not yet fabricated.)

For the AA positions arrayed within the ship's former boat bays, I've begun fabricating these multi-level structures as inserts. Although not yet complete, the major structures, composed mostly of 40mm ammunition clipping rooms and vents on the actual ship, are visible. 

The splinter shielding, not yet complete, is composed of 0.010" styrene strip. It will receive outboard vertical stiffeners later and the tubs will receive supporting girders/trusses where indicated in plans and photos.

Note also that the portholes on the bulkheads at the back of the bays are shown quite large in plans and photos so I have assumed them to be standard 16" ports. By comparison, the portholes in photos and plans along the hull's shell plating are probably the smaller 12" standard US Navy ports so I have sized them accordingly.

 

Aft 5-inch and Bofors platforms are located at a level equivalent with what would be the gallery deck on later carriers. This siting of 5-inch mounts is quite high compared to later classes (Yorktown and Essex). When the AA guns are set in place, their tops will be nearly flush with the flight deck.

 

It would be interesting to know whether this height made crewmen and aircraft on the flight deck vulnerable to blast effects from mounts sited here, and mounts vulnerable to damage from aircraft accidents. Various publications indicate that these damage vulnerability problems were among the considerations in the siting of 5-inch mounts well below flight deck level in Midway class ships. In the Yorktown and Essex classes, the flight deck was a deck higher than Saratoga's flight deck, and the 5-inch single mounts were sited a deck lower than the gallery deck.

 

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Work on the two remaining quad Bofors platforms has begun. The penciled larger circles are the Bofors tubs. The smaller circles mark the locations of future director tubs. The gentle curves of each platform are where the platforms conform to the side of the hull.

 

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Here's where those Bofors platforms go, on hull sponsons right up near the bow. Cutouts, seen in the flight deck, will be cut into the hull soon. The sponson's rearward extension is a paravane platform. There is another mirrored on the starboard side sponson identical in shape. There are just two more Bofors platforms to construct: two twin mounts were positioned in individual tubs on the port side of the ship forward of the boat bays.

 

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More detailing done to the conning tower. The venturis and splinter shield vertical reinforcing ribs have been roughed in. They still need some tweaking but look good so far.

Saratoga in 1944 had venturis on two levels of the conning tower. 1) The venturi on the flag bridge above the pilot house was rather plain. 2) The venturi forward of the pilot house was an elaborate design consisting of a simple venturi placed above a wind splitter of several compound curves.

 

Port side. Photos of the ship during its 1944 refit show that the vertical reinforcing ribs on the splinter shielding are uniformly spaced on the navigating bridge level (pilot house level) but not along the splinter shielding of the two levels above. The rectangular cutout in the flight deck is the bomb elevator opening. The cross-deck strip with two grooves appearing as a set of three wide planks replicates the crash barrier's metal strip with two parallel recesses for the crash barrier's cables. Looking into the open hatches under the twin 5-inch/38 mount, interior bulkheads, oriented radially from the interior barbette, and scuttles are visible.

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The complex shape of the two-part venturi forward of the pilot house can be seen well in this photo. Notice that both venturis are open. The flight deck planking shows up well in this photo. Another crash barrier strip appears here, located at the base of the funnel, complete with parallel cable recesses, extending cross-deck.

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Some of the supporting structure under the decks can be seen here. Looking under the SM Radar Platform extending forward from the funnel cap, the platform's supporting structure is visible, all consistent with photos.

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Starboard side. Photos and plans of the conning tower show that features such as porthole placement, hatch locations, and splinter shield ribbing are not the same from port to starboard. The conning tower is generally symmetrical in shape but not in detail.

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The SM radar dish is a Gold Medal Models SP radar dish that perfectly matches photos of Saratoga's SM dish. The dish is composed of four PE parts. The GMM part comes from GMM's Essex set. An SC-3 radar screen is needed to install on a mount at the aft end of the top of the funnel cap. I'll need to procure one as I used the GMM SC screen on a model of USS Yorktown CV-10. Hoping to find a spare SC in the stash somewhere...

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Hi Steven

 

I'm really enjoying going through your build log, so far. Aircraft carriers have always held a particular fascination for me, so it comes as no surprise that your Saratoga is like a 'moth to a light globe' for me. I'm also amazed at your level of detail and commitment to historical accuracy. Great job!

 

Will you also scratch build the aircraft, as well?

 

I'm really looking forward to following along.

 

Cheers

 

Patrick

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Thank you all very much!  I appreciate the encouragement and interest.

 

Some good questions asked.  For aircraft, rather than make them from scratch, I intend to modify 1/350 scale Hellcats and Avengers made in plastic by Trumpeter.  Overall, they have good outlines and shape but need detailing and some minor corrections for better accuracy.  At the time Saratoga wore camouflage, she operated primarily out of Pearl Harbor conducting pre-deployment training exercises for various airgroups not assigned to Saratoga.  So those aircraft will not have Saratoga's distinctive airgroup markings (white chevron and white propeller hub).  

 

The ship's camouflage scheme was repainted overall Navy Blue 5-N before deploying back to the South Pacific for combat operations.

 

Here are two photos taken of Saratoga during Kamikaze attacks showing Hellcats in the markings of her airgroup, and a 1/48 scale model of an F6F-5 Hellcat made by modeler Scott Van Aken in Saratoga's markings. Sadly, the Hellcats seen in the top photo are about to be obliterated by another Kamikaze striking this area shortly after this photo was taken.

 

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In the photograph below, the Hellcats seen in the above photo have been destroyed by another Kamikaze crash (5 hit the ship in close succession that day).  Very little remains of Hellcat #7, seen in the photo above, and Hellcat #27 and the night-fighting Hellcat that was burning to its left are both gone entirely.  Note the white outline on the flight deck in the shape of an elevator forward of the island.  This outline is meant to be deceptive; it is a false elevator outline.  Kamikazes were known to target elevators in an attempt to render the ship incapable of operating aircraft even if the ship survived the attack.  The false markings provide for a decoy, away from the actual elevator which was farther aft of this point, and the hangar deck below.

 

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Although some of the fittings and all of the aircraft will not be scratchbuilt, I still consider the ship itself to be scratchbuilt in the same way that a cake made from scratch doesn't require the baker to grind the wheat or mill the sugar.

 

very nice build here Steve......the level of detail is fantastic!    I noticed the different color in plastic.......are you using some parts from a kit?  looking forward in seeing more  :)

 

The darker items are resin aftermarket items from L'Arsenal of Normandy, France.  They are a Twin 5-inch/38 caliber mount and a Mk.37 5-inch Gun Director.  These items look very good in this scale.    

 

They will each have to be modified for accuracy.  Saratoga had two Mk.37 Directors with angled-backs of an early design.  The Directors shown here are the latter flat-back type.  Modifying them will be a matter of simple cutting and the relocation of a small boxy structure.  

 

Saratoga carried four Twin 5-inch Mounts, two forward of the conning tower and two aft of the funnel.  The base of L'Arsenal's Twin 5-inch Mount is too small and should be positioned a bit more forward rather than centered front-to-back. The modification needed will be replacing the base with a new, scratchbuilt one of proper size and position.  When complete and installed, the mounts' bases will sit directly over the interior barbettes you see in the photos above.

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Here are some photos of the conning tower and funnel painted in Measure 32 11a consistent with photos of the ship taken in September, 1944 appearing in USS Saratoga Squadron at Sea by David Doyle. There is still some adjusting and tweaking of the pattern to be done but generally it is ready for additional detailing.

The colors are acrylic PolyS Light Gray 5-L, Ocean Gray 5-O and Grimy Black as a substitute for Dull Black, all applied with a 38 year-old Badger 200 airbrush. Deck Blue 20-B was applied by brush on the decks. Masking was done with Tamiya masking tape (wonderful stuff).

The conning tower levels are not yet cemented together in order to ease painting and detailing.

 

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Official US Navy drawing for Ms. 32.11a. Photos indicate that yard personnel matched this drawing very closely. They did a great job.

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Official US Navy drawing for Ms. 32.11a. Photos indicate that yard personnel matched this drawing very closely. They did a great job.

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An overall view of the model so far. The colors are not lightened for scale effect and appear a bit dark. In this scale, it is less necessary than for 1/700, but will help. I'll do that through weathering techniques. I decided this would be best since Saratoga only wore this scheme for some weeks before it was painted out. Therefore, it should look rather new and stark with only mild weathering and no fading.

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Dull black needs some adjustment, but pretty close. The lower section of the foremast is installed. The foremast is an Evergreen styrene tube filled with and Evergreen styrene rod, and tapered on each end by turning in a drill against some fine sandpaper. It leans forward a bit here but that will be fixed later.

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The dull black on both conning tower and funnel needs some adjustment, but you get a feel for how the pattern looks. When painted, the flight deck will be overall blue, replicating a stained appearance, with black numeral "3"s at each end. When set next to a 1/350 scale Trumpeter Yorktown for comparison, Sara's flight deck looks decidedly narrow, lending to her fast look. In practice, I imagine that an Essex class flight deck was much more practical because of its wider size and more uniform shape. But I just love the look of this ship.

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Details of the SM radar dish show up pretty well in this photo. You can also see that the barbette for the Twin 5-inch mount by L'Arsenal needs to be enlarged and moved forward. The L"Arsenal gunhouse itself looks very good. The bell-shaped object suspended from the front of the Navigating Bridge venturi is, yes, the ship's bell, filed and hollowed out from some stretched sprue to match drawings.

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Hi Steve

 

I've been looking forward to your update! Now that I've seen it, I'm not disappointed because the conning tower and the massive funnel, not to mention the camouflage paint scheme are masterful.

 

I'm looking forward to more updates!

 

All the best

 

Patrick

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this is a very well done scratch build......kudos on the research.   I like the colors you chosen.......the camo looks very good.   it's your build......strive for exact color if you wish,  but from what I see........I think you have done very well!  keep up the good work!

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