Among the long line of reissues of the classic Revell modernized Essex class in 1:540 scale are space capsule recovery ships. Revell initially released the kit in 1956 as USS Essex in her CVA guise but later the kit was issued as other members of the class. One was the Oriskany, as an attack carrier, one as Lexington as a training carrier, and one as Wasp as the recovery carrier for the Gemini space capsule. The parts to the ship apparently remained the same with the only differences among the different releases being the decals and aircraft types provided. As an example, the Wasp release had a Gemini capsule included in the aircraft assortment, which also included CVS antisubmarine aircraft and attack aircraft. This fifty year old kit can still produce a very attractive finished model of the angled deck Essex and they can be found at reasonable prices from tie to time, depending upon the release. The Oriskany version sells for far more than the Lexington and Wasp releases in spite of the fact that they are basically the same kit. If you get a copy of the kit, odds are that the decals will have yellowed with age and for all practical purposes be useless.
Now there is no need to use those "Ole Yellers" or home brew your own decals to finish your 1:540 scale Essex class kit. Starfighter Decals produces a whole series of decal sheets for the classic Revell kits, including the multitude of Essex class carriers. Some sets include ship decals only and some include ship and airwing decals. Set 540-22 for the USS Hornet as Apollo mission 11 & 12 recovery carrier includes two sheets of decals, one for the ship and one for the aircraft. The Revell supplied decals are crude and sparse compared to the intricate and extensive detail provided in the Starfighter sets. Ship decals include complete elevator warning lines, deck lines, helicopter landing circles, island lettering & numbering, and everything a modeler could desire to fully ornament their carrier.
Starfighter also provides a second sheet of decals devoted to Air Group CVSG-57. You'll need to get more aircraft to use all of the decals provided because quantity of decals provided is as excellent as the quality of the decals themselves. Decals are provided for the following squadrons: HS-2 and HS-3 flying SH-3A Sea King helicopters; VAW-11 and VAW-111 flying the E-1B Tracer; VS-35 and VS-37 flying the S-2E Tracker; and VR-30 flying the UC-2A COD. These decals are thorough with individual aircraft numbers as well distinctive squadron makings.
Don't believe me? Think that I'm overstating my case? See for yourself with the following photographs. These show the Starfighter decals next to the Revell decals provided in their Wasp Gemini recovery kit. Even if the Revell decals were not yellowed with age, why use them? There really is no comparison in quantity or quality of detail provided. If you are going to spend the money to acquire one of these classic Revell kits and then build it, why not use the best and most detailed decals available for this special kit? With Starfighter Decals set 540-22 you certainly will have the ship and aircraft markings to replicate the Apollo recovery missions of USS Hornet in 1:540 scale.
Starfighter continues to amaze with the sheer quantity and quality of their releases. I personally love the Starfighter releases that include ship and air wing markings, as no peacock has more brilliant plumage than a carrier with a deck load of HI-VIZ aircraft. 2007 is sure to bring even more excitement to modelers, courtesy of Starfighter Decals.