"Joint Operations" – This phrase has a specific meaning in current military parlance. It means a military operation conducted by more than one service. White Ensign Models new brass photo-etch fret, "The Airwing" WEM PE 3526 for the 1:350 scale USS Hornet CV-8 released by Trumpeter, could be called a Joint Operations fret in a manner of speaking. This fret comes by Air, Land and Sea.

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Air Operations It is no surprise that White Ensign Models covers air operations for the Hornet in this set, entitled "The Airwing". One of the highlights of the Trumpeter Hornet is the inclusion of nicely done aircraft for the carrier. The kit comes with two aircraft each, for the SBD Dauntless dive-bomber, TBD Devastator torpedo bomber, F4F Wildcat fighter and B-25 Mitchell US Army Airforce medium bomber. These little gems are fine, just by themselves, however "fine" is not good enough for WEM. With the aircraft parts provided by WEM, these aircraft will have superlatives with far stronger impact than "fine". First of all, each aircraft type is represented on the fret by two sets of parts. One set is for the exterior pieces and one set for the interior parts, that is correct, interior parts for 1:350 aircraft. The emphasis in this review will be on the exterior parts as the interior parts are available in separate frets from WEM and John Sheridan will be reviewing those photo-etched frets. There are enough parts, internal and external, to outfit the eight aircraft that come in the kit, two each of SBDs, TBDs, F4Fs and B-25s.


TBD Douglas Devastator
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Some modelers may wish to feature the tragic Torpedo Eight of Hornet at the Battle of Midway. All aircraft of the squadron were shot down by Japanese Zeros or AA, leaving only one survivor, Ensign George Gay. They were flying the Douglas TBD Devastator. WEM provides the parts for the two Devastators that come in the Trumpeter kit. Each torpedo bomber receives a propeller, antenna, aiming site, tail hook and tail wheel as external parts. For the internal parts there are instrument panels with foot pedals, aircraft floor/deck, interior partition, two seats and rear machine gun. As you can see, there are plenty of parts for each Devastator but part sets get better and better with each aircraft from this impressive base.


F4F Grumann Wildcat
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Most modelers will want to have the portly F4F Grumann Wildcat featured on their Hornet. WEM provides all the trimmings and much more to tart up the mainstay of the USN fighter force in 1942. The Wildcat is covered, as the Devastator, with internal and external parts for two aircraft. The external parts are the tail wheel, propeller and especially impressive, the landing gear assembly. The landing gear of the Wildcat retracted into the barrel shaped fuselage. WEM provides six parts for each aircraft for this assembly, one horizontal set of struts, one vertical set of struts, two wheels and two fuselage flaps. For internal parts, you receive instrument panels with foot pedals, cockpit interior walls, seat and joy stick.


B-25 North American Mitchell
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Hornet holds a unique position in naval history for the Jimmy Doolittle raid. Only Hornet of every carrier from every country launched medium bombers in combat, with the sixteen B-25 Mitchell medium bombers of the U.S. Army Airforce in Army Olive Drab. The majority of modelers building this kit, probably chose to portray Hornet with Doolittle’s B-25s. White Ensign Models does not stint in providing the parts to super-detail the Mitchells. Exterior parts for two bombers are included in the fret. The parts are two propellers, four engine nacelle landing gear panels, two nose landing gear panels, two wing landing gear struts, nose landing gear strut, two wing gear wheels, nose gear wheel, belly entrance hatch and four wing flaps, two inboard and two outboard of the engine nacelles. (18 brass parts for the exterior of each B-25). For the interior, there are pieces for the nose bulkhead, cockpit interior floor and aft bulkhead, seats, instrument panel, and joy sticks. (8 brass parts for the interior of each B-25). WEM gives you 26 high detail parts for each one of the two B-25s in the kit.


SBD Douglas Dauntless
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As glorious as the parts for the B-25s are, they do not hold pride of place in this fret. That honor goes to the WEM parts for the SBD Douglas Dauntless. A cobra looks like an ordinary snake until it rises to strike. Then its hood flares, giving it its unique appearance. In straight flight the Dauntless appears fairly nondescript, almost like a trainer. However, the Dauntless was designed for dive bombing attack. It is then, with its dive flaps extended, that it takes on its true guise, that of a deadly strike craft. In four minutes at Midway, the SBDs changed the course of the Pacific war. Akagi, Kaga, Soryu and Hiryu, all learned of the deadly effectiveness of the Dauntless. White Ensign Models provides perforated dive brakes for two SBDs. There are five dive brakes for each aircraft, upper and lower for each wing fuselage/wing root brake. These are wonderful parts. They are _________ (please insert your own glowing superlative). Other external parts are propeller, tail wheel, tail hook, two landing gear struts, two landing gear flaps, antenna, bomb carrier/release rack, plus two other underwing fittings. Interior parts include instrument panel with foot pedals, cockpit floor, separation bulkhead, two seats, rear machine gun, machine gun swivel and joystick.


Land Operations, Gentlemen, Start Your Engines
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Land Operations Land Operations on a naval aircraft fret? WEM gives you enough wheeled vehicles to run your own Daytona 500 NASCAR race. There are six tow tractors with operator and assistant as well as tow bars; four forklifts with operator; 28 two-wheeled bomb barrow trolleys; and eleven four wheeled torpedo/bomb trolleys. This is more than enough deck equipment to decorate the Hornet to your heart’s delight.


Hornet Fittings
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Naval Operations Although the fret is designed for the airwing, White Ensign Models also provides supplementary parts for the Hornet herself. Depending upon how you depict your Hornet, these parts could be very important. Included are retractable bow railings, retractable stern railings, elevator safety railings, and flight deck wind brakes with multitudes of support frames. Most of these fittings would be retracted during flight operations. However, in normal steaming most of them would be up.


White Ensign Models Instructions - Comprehensive with Clarity
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Verdict
The fret could use more aircraft parts sets and perhaps fewer deck equipment parts but that would be a tough call for WEM to make. With 26 parts for one B-25 alone, it would not be reasonably possible for WEM to provide the right mix for every modeler. Some modelers would want 16 B-25 sets, while those featuring Torpedo Eight would not want any. As it is, WEM provides all of the parts that you need to outfit all of the aircraft that come in the Trumpeter USS Hornet kit. However, additional exterior and interior aircraft parts frets for all four aircraft are inexpensively available from WEM for those that want a full flight deck. 

White Ensign Models has produced another winner. Replete with well designed, excellently produced detail parts for the Trumpeter USS Hornet CV-8, this fret will allow you to put the strike in your strike force.

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