The Trumpeter release of the Essex had us all buzzing! I have gathered together some cropped photos from the book "CARRIER AIR WAR IN ORIGINAL COLOR" by Lawson & Tillman and printed by Motorbooks International in 1996. Please buy these reference books and help keep our hobby healthy, plus you get to see the rest of the cropped pictures!
The first raid on the Gilberts was conducted by the Essex, the Yorktown (II) and the Independence. The following photos illustrate the paint scheme of these two early Essex Class carriers. One way to judge a WWII color photo for accuracy is to see the colors of the American flag somewhere in the shot. The photos I have used have EXCELLENT color. It is my hope that you will see how hard it is to depict a color on your model especially if it involves a wooden carrier deck!
Two carriers are covered extensively by WWII color photographers. One was CV7 Wasp and the other was the new Yorktown, CV10. The Yorktown was covered from commissioning through the Gilbert raids. The picture of the Hellcat winding up in front of Yorktown’s dark blue island is one of the most reproduced pictures around. My objective is to provide some painting tips by example rather paint chip. Only the great and all-knowing John Snyder, of Snyder & Short Enterprises and WEM fame, can tell you the correct paint to use and I urge you to follow his advice, tempered of course by reality!
The first picture is of the Lexington (CV16) launching. She was launched in the same time frame as the Essex and Yorktown. This shot is included for those "full-hull" types who always want to argue about the color below the waterline and how wide the boot stripe is. Personally, I think if God meant us to model full-hulls he would have made us all fish. Please note the red, white & blue banner indicating how good this color shot is.
The second shot is of the Yorktown’s elevator and hanger while loading aircraft for her shakedown cruise. The Yorktown had a wide blue stripe down the center of the deck that was supplemented by a small red stripe on the port side of the Blue stripe. You can see this stripe on the top of the elevator which is lowered in the background. Of note in this photo is the color of the elevator bulkheads and of the hanger interior bulkheads. Note the two officers standing near the hanger interior color. One officer is in his whites and another in khakis. The hanger color therefore does not seem quite white but maybe a very, very light gray. John, are you there? Also note the catapult extension and the fact that it apparently has a cover over the track.
Now for the deck. The first shot is the stained deck on the day of commissioning. You cannot get a deck color in a more prime condition than this! YET . . . if you look at the hatchways to the island you clearly see that stain has already been worn down just from the human traffic! Three months later during her shakedown cruise the beautiful deck stain is "kaput"! The blue stripe apparently is not stain, perhaps enamel? John, are you there? Also note the red stripe outlining the elevator. The stain is gone and shortly the SB2C’s will be gone too.
The next shot is the Yorktown going through the Panama Canal in July of 1943. Her deck has been re-stained and the Beasts have been replaced by Slow But Deadly’s. After working up to her first deployment, the Yorktown prepares to launch her first strike in November of 1943. So much for the deck stain! Also, none of the ships in this raid carried deck numerals, so you can do a CV10 with your Essex kit!! Apparently deck numerals were not used on any carrier until after this raid when it was realized that the sheer number of ships being built would be too confusing without deck numerals. John, are you there?
Well, I hope this helps all of you modelers out there. I also hope that this article did not cause any modeler out there to give his carrier a flying lesson!