ENTERPRISE. It is extremely rare for one ship to come to symbolize the navy of a nation. A warship whose name is so widely known, that the mere mention of the name triggers memories and history. HMS Victory is one such name, symbolizing the centuries of supremacy of the Royal Navy in the days of sail. USS Enterprise is another. The United States Navy has had other Enterprises before CV 6 but the pivotal role of the Aircraft Carrier USS Enterprise was of such importance and impact that she rightfully came to symbolize the United States Navy in the War in the Pacific.
This historic name was carried on by another historic warship. USS Enterprise CVN-65 was launched only a few years after the original "Big E" was sent to the scrappers in an action of monumental penny-pinching and ignorance. The new "Big E" was worthy of the name she carried. As the world’s first nuclear powered aircraft carrier, CVN-65 had endurance and capabilities that Admirals Nimitz, Halsey or Spruance could only have dreamed. Almost 40 years later, the USS Enterprise CVN-65 has had a face-lift but is still going strong.
Tamiya has long been known as one of the finest producers of injection plastic warship kits. The company’s 1:350 scale line of warships forms the standard and staple of warship modelers around the world. At the pinnacle of the line is the largest, most ambitious and most expensive warship kit produced by Tamiya, the USS Enterprise CVN-65.
As good as the Tamiya Enterprise is, injection plastic parts cannot approach the fidelity and fineness required for certain systems, such as radars. White Ensign Models has produced a large ( 11 ¼ inches 286mm by 7 11/16 inches 195mm) photo-etched brass fret to add this fidelity to the premier warship kit in the Tamiya lineup. WEM has actually produced two frets for this kit. One fret dealt with super-detailing the aircraft of the kit (Click for review of WEM photo-etched fret for the Airwing) and the fret reviewed in this article, which is for the ship.
This fret is worthy of the largest and arguably best warship kit in the Tamiya series. It provides the intricate detail that cannot be captured in plastic and will make this impressive kit come alive. Designed by WEM’s resident savant and mad genius, Peter Hall, the fret has its own high level of intrinsic beauty. This beauty comes from many sources; the multitude of pure geometric shapes, squares, rectangles, triangles and circles; the relief-etched brass with two different textures; and the sheer fineness of the individual pieces. One characteristic of many brass frets from White Ensign Models is the use of two different textures in their relief etching. Most of the fret is the highly polished, high sheen brass but WEM also uses a different texture to accentuate the three dimensional relief of the fret. A burnished satin texture is used to impart emphasis to the lower level of the relief-etched parts. The beauty of the fret can make it difficult to take a knife or scissors to it, to detach the individual pieces. However, the WEM fret for the "Big E" is designed to be used, not just collected as a work of art in itself.
Geometry is the study and mathematics of shapes. With the Enterprise fret the pleasing lines of various shapes come to the fore. Numerous safety nets are provided by WEM for the kit. Whether they are straight, curved or horseshoe in shape, they all exhibit the fineness of detail and superb execution that has come to be associated with brass photo-etched frets from one of the leaders in the industry. The delicacy of the grid-work of the pieces will immeasurably enhance the model of the Enterprise. The mast and island platforms of the fret also display this masterful touch. Any plastic parts by any company will look like misshapen caricatures next to these platforms and the radars surmounting them.
Hose reels are normally an afterthought, something that is nice to have but not necessary. With this fret WEM has made these parts a must have. In two sizes, the solid reels are designed for the island and the more numerous open reels for the balance of the ship’s structure. The one-piece vertical ladders with surrounding safety cage are other stand out pieces of workmanship. Seventy-nine doors and hatches in six different designs are included to convert the mundane to the exceptional. Given the high freeboard of the Enterprise, the lengthy accommodation ladders of the fret give new impact and detail that cannot be duplicated with plastic parts.
WEM provides nineteen runs of railing, each ten-inches (255mm) in length. The railing comes in five different shapes to replicate the variety of shapes and styles found in the prototype. Arrestor wire guides are provided, allowing the modeler to run the arrestor wires across the deck. Inclined ladders, aerial spreaders in crosses and triangles, triangular platform supports from large to tiny, all form a geometrical mosaic of finely detailed parts. In all, by my count, there were 312 individual parts that comprised this fret but I could have missed some in the counting. Three Hundred Twelve parts that were more finely done than anything that could be produced in plastic. That is what you get with the White Ensign Models brass photo-etched fret for the CVN 65.