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CV 3 Kit

Trumpeter 1/350 USS Saratoga CV 3 Aircraft Carrier Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review September 2006 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject USS Saratoga CV 3 Aircraft Carrier Scale 1/350
Kit Number 5607 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Sara as a pre-war carrier with a new breed of biplane fighters for the air group Cons  
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $129.95

First Look

CV 3 Kit
CV 3 Kit
CV 3 Kit
CV 3 Kit
CV 3 Kit
CV 3 Kit
CV 3 Kit
CV 3 Kit
CV 3 Kit
CV 3 Kit

The USS Saratoga was the US Navy's third aircraft carrier, being commissioned a few months prior to its class-lead, USS Lexington CV 2, in November 1927. USS Langley CV 1, Lexington and Saratoga were instrumental in developing a new generation of fleet tactics that embraced the capabilities of airpower.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Sara was stateside having just completed some needed defensive upgrades in the shipyard. She had an extensive combat record and survived several serious attacks to see her crew through the end of World War 2.

Since Sara was several classes older than the (then) contemporary long-hull Essex class, she served one last time as a guinea pig anchored with other warships for Operation Crossroads - post-war testing of the atomic bomb.

Following up the earlier release of the USS Lexington CV 2, the USS Saratoga is essentially identical to the earlier release with several differences. Where the Lex was released in its WW2 configuration with an early WW2 air group, Sara has all-new tooling aircraft representing the yellow-wing biplane era. The ship is also fitted in its mid-1930s configuration as well.

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on six parts trees, plus separately provided upper hull and four sections deck. As with the other aircraft carrier releases in this scale, the Sara also provides a full lower hull and a waterline hull plate, both of which are molded in red. A stand is provided for the full-hull version molded in black styrene.

As I mentioned earlier, this kit is the first of the aircraft carriers to be set in the mid-1930s with an air group consisting of six BFC-2, six SBU Helldivers, six F3F, and six TG-2. For the first time, Trumpeter cast these 1/350 scale aircraft in all clear styrene. You'll remember that previous 1/350 aircraft used the innovative tri-color molding with most of the parts in gray, the wheels, etc., in black, and the transparencies in clear. It has been the 1/700 scale aircraft that have been cast in all clear up until now.

The box does not differentiate what year this kit represents as Trumpeter has done in earlier releases, but the release notes indicate the colors and aircraft compliment represent the Sara in 1936. According to the specifications, the kit is comprised of 566 parts and will be over 30" long when completed.

The decal sheet provides markings for the pre-war flight deck and 48 star US flags. The aircraft markings provide a nice sampling of aircraft from different sections, but no instructions on the proper colors to use with which section and place within the section. That's okay, we have all of that information here.

Markings are for F3Fs of VF-6B, SBUs of VS-2B, BFCs of VS-2B and TG-2s of VT-2B.

This is a nice addition to the Trumpeter aircraft carrier fleet and kudos to Trumpeter to release this one as a pre-war yellow-wing era vessel. With all of the combat camouflage schemes that apply to the other Essex-class carriers and the Lex, the colorful aircraft of the pre-war air groups will be very nice to see.

My sincere thanks to Stevens International for this review sample!

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