"Peter Hall had a bout with pleurisy which left him unable to do much except sit and read for a few weeks, which obviously impacted his design schedule and our production schedule." This message was posted by John Snyder on May 13, 2003 in response to an inquiry about WEM projects. Donít believe it. It is patently a cover story fabricated to hide the truth. The truth is out there! The truth is that Peter Hall was recalled to his home world for consultations with his government about their ongoing program to mesmerize the model building population of earth with Minutiae Madness. How else can one explain the release of the 1:350 scale brass photo-etch fret for the Interior Fittings and Accessories of the USS Hornet CV-8, WEM PE 3541 for the 1:350 scale Trumpeter kit.

First WEM gave us brass parts for the interior of the 1:350 aircraft that came with the kit. Parts like instrument panels and foot pedals in 1:350th scale! As if we did not enough to do, WEM has expanded the scope of their operations to include the interior of the Hornet herself! WEM with this interior fret and all of the Hornet frets that have preceded it, has allowed the modeler to add unprecedented detail into a 1:350 scale kit, or for that matter, any scale kit. Clearly, it is the design of White Ensign Models and Peter Hall to draw us into this Lilliputian world of 1:350 pilotís seats and interior girders. While we are mesmerized by the incredible detail put forth in their brass frets, we will be oblivious to their taking over our world.

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Naval architects and industrial designers will love this fret. It is full of rectangles, squares and triangles, the steel interior maze of reinforcing girders and supports of USN carrier at the start of World War Two. Unlike other frets from White Ensign Models there is no one item or group of items that jump out at you on this fret. Unlike a production that relies upon the talents of a lead actor, the Interior Fittings Fret for the USS Hornet is more like a production that relies upon an ensemble cast. You are struck by the reoccurring pattern of the interior support girders.

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Not that there is just one pattern of interior support girder. There are variations. There are alternate designs. Indeed if you examine the fret, you will see that instead of being the same pattern, there are 32 distinct girder supports in this fret with support #1 being at the bow and support #32 being at the stern. Each girder support is designed to fit at a specific location in the interior of the USS Hornet. Each support girder is designed to join the backbone of a centre (center) support beam (parts 36).

Although the support grid of the interior takes up the bulk of the fret, there is more. The central elevator has its own parts, including bulkheads and elevator supports. White Ensign Models has provided four large ventilation ducts for the interior as well as a large series of ventilator louvres.

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Instructions
White Ensign Models provides seven pages of comprehensive instructions for this brass fret. However, only three pages are devoted to the brass parts on the fret. One page of general instructions, one page of a photo of the fret with each part identified by number and one page of assembly locations. By far the key item in the instructions is the panel showing the "Hangar Roof Support Location Guide". This shows how the steel skeleton of the interior supports is put together.

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The other four pages go beyond what is provided in the fret. In some regard, designing a photo-etched fret is like designing an actual warship. It is a series of compromises and trade-offs. What features do you put into a fret that will create the greatest level of detail and modeler interest that can be produced at a price that modelers will find acceptable. WEM could have provided interior bulkheads for the Hornet as a second brass fret in this set but this would have significantly increased the price and decreased the accessibility of the fret. Instead WEM provides templates for these bulkheads so the modeler can use low cost plastic sheet or card stock to easily fabricate these bulkheads for the interior of the Hornet. With a small investment and the expenditure of a little time, you will have these parts with two exceptions. Parts A4 and C4 would have been better if they had been included on the brass fret, since they involve circular holes (weight saving voids) in the girders. However, even these are not beyond the ability of the average modeler.

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Verdict
Amazing! Caroline and John Snyder must have a controlling interest in a fiber optic company. When you see this interior brass fret for the USS Hornet, you can not help but think of ways to illuminate the interior of the model to show of the glorious detail now available for the heretofore unexplored world of the interior of a 1:350th scale model. Is WEM PE 3541, Interior Fittings and Accessories Brass Fret for the USS Hornet for everyone? No, it is not. Many modelers will say, no, Iím not going that far! No, Iím not going into that strange new world! No, Iím not going to set foot on that unexplored planet! However, this fret will appeal to the bold and adventuresome. It will appeal to those that what to explore the unknown. It will appeal to those that wish to cross the boundary of the commonplace. It will appeal to those that wish to push the envelope. With this fret in place, your Hornet will clearly be light years in front of the more mundane and conventional.

White Ensign Models, whose ongoing mission is to explore strange new worlds of microscopic detail, to boldly go where no photo-etch has gone before. Watch the skies! Watch your radar screens! The WEM invasion is coming! Now, where did I place my tin foil hat?

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