How did they do it? How did White Ensign Models and Mad Pete get so much detail in the WEM frets for the Nimitz 1:350 scale air wing (click for review of the WEM Nimitz Air Wing Photo-Etch Set) and the WEM Nimitz 1:350 scale "The Ship" Brass Photo-Etch set? For clearly the evidence was there with "The Ship" set that Mad Pete had access to a source of great detail in the aircraft and fittings of the USS Nimitz CVN-68 and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower DD-69 as the ships appeared in the late 1970s. As I pondered these questions over a fine bottle of Ripple, I was perplexed as I had no clue. A few days later the mystery started to unravel. As I examined the items at Brother Buford's Olde Antique Shoppe a movie poster caught my eye. It was a poster from the movie "The Final Countdown" starring Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, Katherine Ross, James Farentino, and most of all the USS Nimitz and her aircraft. You know the film, the one in which Nimitz travels through time to December 6, 1941 near Pearl Harbor. The travel agent for this strange voyage was a mysterious time vortex which engulfed the ship. The movie never explained how this vortex occurred. As I looked at the poster, something seemed amiss. Some items were on that poster that I did not remember seeing when the movie was released.
Instantly the call went out to the Hollywood bureau of SteelNavy for the crack investigative reporters to scour the film archives for any scenes in the movie that seemed out of place or that were left on the cutting room floor. The search revealed a couple of scenes that were not in the theatrical release. These clearly showed that WEM had been involved in that same time vortex that sucked the Nimitz back to 1941. Another piece of the puzzle fell into place as I examined the 1978-79 cruise book of the USS Eisenhower. There on one of the pages was a photo of race among ship's boats of an USN carrier task force visiting Britain and the topmost boat in the photo was crewed by the personnel of White Ensign Models. Another photo in the same volume was a close up of Mad Pete and the Token Yank dressed up as exotic dancers about to board the Ike in 1979 to entertain the crew, who are eagerly lining the flight deck behind the pair in anticipation of the event. It was obvious that somehow WEM had used time travel to go back in time to acquire the great detail they needed for Mad Pete's creations. That still did not answer how they did it. That answer was not revealed until SteelNavy agents acquired a photograph from the 2003 Telford show. This secret photograph, long hidden and suppressed by WEM, made it obvious as to how WEM had acquired the time travel capability. For there, in the foreground of the photo, standing with the Token Yank and Caroline, was the answer. As I looked at Mr. Peabody expounding on the virtues of WEM photo-etch and studied Boy Sherman eagerly grabbing packets of detail parts from the WEM display rack, it was clear that the pair were co-conspirators in WEM's secret voyages back in time, for they had provided the Way Back Machine. It is now obvious that the Nimitz was transported back to 1941 through a operator error in the usage of the WBM and that it was WEM who had created the time vortex in their quest for exacting detail.
You certainly donít have to be a time traveler to get extraordinarily accurate brass photo-etched parts for your build of the newest class of nuclear powered carrier for the USN. As seen in the foregoing paragraphs, the WEM crew of time bandits have done the research for you. The White Ensign Models 1:350 scale Nimitz Class "The Ship" brass photo-etch Set WEM PE 3538 is designed to fully equip the early version of the Trumpeter USS Nimitz. Parts are included for fitting out either USS Nimitz CVN-68 or USS Dwight D. Eisenhower CVN-69. This deluxe set comes with two photo-etch frets, Part A with radar and electronics fittings, Part B with masts, platforms and a host of other brass items necessary to fully doll up your Nimitz or Ike and of course with complete WEM instructions for attachment and assembly. He set is designed to allow the modeler to equip the Trumpeter kit, right out of the box with little modifications to the plastic kit. A typical modification necessary would be the removal of the solid plastic safety net at the edge of the elevators in order to attach the finely wrought brass safety nets provided by WEM.
Part A Ė The Big Array
As mentioned above, Part A is the fret that contains the bulk of the electronics gear necessary for the carrier. It is the smaller of the two frets. This particular fret is dominated by four very fine multiple piece radars for the masts of Nimitz or Ike. The largest of these is the AN/SPS-43. There are 13 separate brass parts that go together to form a very intricate assembly to replace the solid plastic radar provided in the kit. This is the most complex of the radar assemblies in the kit but the detail and impact of the spidery WEM SPS-43 over the clunky plastic part will be tremendous. The slightly rectangular AN/SPS-48 is another large sensor but with five parts, easier to assemble than the big SPS-43. About the same size is the AN/SPS-49, which is longer but not as wide as the SPS-48. Consisting of six parts the WEM SPS-49 does not replace any of the parts in the kit. Instead this array is used in later fits of the ships, replacing the larger SPS-43. The AN/SPS-10 is the smallest and easiest radar to assemble on the fret. Consisting of only two parts it will go together quickly and will provide a superb replacement of the radar included in the kit.
Other electronics are also found on Part A, other than the main radars. This fret also features a complete set of antennae. These come in all sorts of shapes and styles and provide a great variety of fittings on the carriers. Included are: Sword and Shield type ECM antennas, flight deck communication antennas with mountings, folding side antennas with three types of wire spreaders, folding dish D3 antennas, small DF loop antennas and antenna ring diapoles. The fret does not stop with just electronics fittings. There are also some structural fittings included. If you look at the catwalks that edge the Trumpeter flight deck, youíll notice that the inclined ladders are outmoded solid aztec steps. Do you want to have these relics on your Nimitz or Ike? With WEM PE 3538 you donít have to accept those monoliths. It would have been better not to have any inclined ladders molded in the kit than to have that aztec step design but they are there. WEM Part A provides twelve replacement inclined ladders with folding handrail and individual treads. The best practice would be to remove the entire aztec block, patch up the area and add the WEM parts. If you donít remove the entire aztec step blocks, at least remove the corners of the steps so that the WEM parts can rest on top of them. WEM also provides 18 reel or hose mounts on this fret. The three parts to each include the folding mount and end wheels. The modeler will need plastic rod, cut to length to provide the center spindle on each assembly.
Part B Ė Structural Fittings
Part B is by far the larger of the two frets. Major components found on this fret are masts, platforms, railing and safety netting but the other smaller parts on this fret are legion. Of course with White Ensign Models and Mad Pete, you would expect to find extensive use of relief etching and Part B to WEM PE 3538 wonít let you down.
This fret provides three types of masts for the kit. Which you use depends upon whether you are building Nimitz as commissioned, Eisenhower as commissioned or Nimitz after her first refit. The folding mast assemblies are the same over all shape but the pattern of each is different. The vertical mast parts are only the largest component of the mainmast assembly. There are different platforms, ventilator trunking and other parts that go into the assembly of the mast. Which ones you use are again dependant on which ship and fit you are portraying as some of these parts are used only with specific fits. Frankly it will be a tough choice as to which Nimitz Class you want to build based upon mast design as each of the three masts have some beautiful features captured by WEM. The early Nimitz and Ike start by using their specific vertical main mast and then they use the same smaller parts to provide the smaller platforms, trunking and waveguide conduit. Each terminates at the top in a small radar platform. The attraction of both of these assemblies is the intricate nature of the mast assemblies as they are complex with a lot of parts and action. Of course if you plan to use the kit supplied Phantom IIs, the early Nimitz mast should be your choice.
The third choice is the Nimitz refit mast. This is a simplified redesign of the earlier mast. Although it still has a couple of platforms attached for additional interest, other platforms, trunking and conduit found on the earlier masts are gone. However, this mast has one stellar design feature that really is aesthetically attractive. Instead of the earlier square platform at the top, the Nimitz refit mast has a multi-piece large four armed starfish platform. This platform comes not only with the intricate perforated main platform but also sub-platform girder support piece, supports, platform railing parts and mast top pole antennas fitted to the end of the starfish arms. Although the Nimitz refit mast itself is simpler, this mast top platform is far larger, intricate and complex than the early fit masts. It is a tough choice as to whether you want the beautiful early masts with all their intricate detail or the Nimitz refit mast with its delightful top platform. White Ensign Models canít make that choice for you, they can just provide you all of the necessary super-detailed parts for you to make that choice.
Perhaps even more spectacular than the mainmast are the intricate and large platforms and yardarms of the fore mast. With these WEM really shines again. It is all contrast between the WEM parts and the solid plastic kit parts they replace as there certainly is little comparison, other than name, between the exquisite brass parts found on Part B and the solid plastic parts found in the kit. As with any plastic kit, there is no way that any injected plastic part can even remotely come close to the detail and intricacy of brass photo-etch. Although called a lower yardarm to the fore mast, the part really is a very large platform with a perforated walkway. There is an upper yardarm/platform as well that is only slightly smaller than the lower platform. The plastic parts that are replaced by this brass do have one advantage over their more attractive replacements, they have the under platform support beams integral to the part. Each of the two platforms have significant support beams underlying the platform that the WEM instructions suggest should be replaced with plastic card along the solid portions of the brass pieces. Another possible remedy would be to snip off the upper platform of the Trumpeter plastic part, leaving only the support beams, sand off the excess width where the removed plastic platform used to be present and then attach the resulting support structure under the WEM brass part. Either way, the platforms will look better with the solid support beams present.
The foremast is certainly crowned by these large platforms but they are not the only adornment that WEM provides in WEM PE 3538. There are three smaller perforated treadway platforms, two of which have support structures present on the fret and the third features beautiful relief etching. Even though significantly smaller than the two major yardarm/platforms, they in their own right add much greater detail than the stock Nimitz parts out of the box. Another platform that has to be mentioned is the LSO platform. Actually White Ensign Models provides two parts to this essential part of carrier operations. There is the platform itself, which is in the form of a blunt pyramid with a solid relief etched base and open from apex that has a folding three-sided safety net basket underneath. This in turn is complemented by a relief etched vertical windscreen. This assembly provides another very nice, attractive and exceptionally detailed focal point for your Nimitz or Ike.
The most spectacular of the smaller fittings are probably the two name plates for Nimitz and two for the Eisenhower. Beautifully relief etched, a less knowledgeable observer at an IPMS show, such as your average unwashed treadhead or airdale, wonít have to know your carrierís deck and island number but will clearly be able to know whether your sailing the Ike or Nimitz through these nameplates. Tilley needs a crane! The one provided in the kit is solid and has all of the finesse of a brick. With WEM, Tilley can salvage aircraft in style and grace with her intricate crane and relief etched lifting beam. Instead of having bland tow trucks with a solid faceless front, you can pop on some relief etched tow truck grills to give your flight deck hotrods a sporting look. With WEM PE 3538 you can really super-detail a lowered elevator. WEM provides four sets of cables with block and tackle for you to really go to town in detailing an elevator lowered to hangar level. Each of these parts is actually a double set of cables that fold in the middle. Two of the pieces are attached outboard sides of the elevator and two on the inboard sides. Do you have a hot piece of ordnance that you need to dump? Without WEM it might just roll off the edge and land on a catwalk, causing untold trouble. Your red suited EOD wonít have to sweat it with the WEM bomb disposal ramps, in two styles, installed on your flattop. The shipís crane gets the detailed treatment with block and tackle and rigging. Other special detail include UNREP bay pulleys, spot light brackets, arrester wire guides, and SLQ 17 mounting. Fret B has an even more generous supply of hose/cable reels, this time in different sizes and styles, than the 18 found on Part A.
Look at the edge of the stock plastic elevators, or at the flight deck bow, or the flight deck stern or the forward and side edges of the angled flight deck. What do you see? Thick solid safety nets line the edge, looking like a thick patterned steel deck instead of the fine grid pattern that they really are. White Ensign Models provides what you need to really capture the authentic look in finely detailed brass safety netting for all four elevators, bow front and sides, stern aft and sides and the long angled deck slanted front and side. You will have to remove the plastic safety net from the Trumpeter pieces to use these but the results will be worth the effort.
For railings, WEM provides a rainbow of variety in styles and lengths on this fret. A great many of these railings are specifically designed to exactly fit a particular location. First of all you get railing for all of the mast platforms and LSO platform already covered, but then you get all of the railing necessary to fit out the island and hull. Included in this feast are: hangar door catwalk railings, hangar door aperture safety railings, elevator deck boundary rails, tailored fit safety rails for lower bays, two bar platform railings, three bar open deck railings, island top railings and tailored fit bridge platform railings. In addition to the flight deck edge/ catwalk inclined ladders, you also receive three styles of accommodation ladders, vertical ladder with safety frame cage and two runs of standard vertical ladder.
Check for yourself the difference WEM will make to your Ike or Nimitz. Here are a series of photographs that make direct comparisons, more accurately contrasts, between the plastic kit provided part and the WEM brass replacement part. Of course this only reflects replacement parts as the majority of the parts of each fret are for extra detail not found in the kit.
Instructions? There are none better than those found in White Ensign Models photo-etch sets. WEM PE 3538 has eight pages of overall information from identifying each brass part through word and picture to page after page of painstakingly detailed modular instructions, that present each assembly stem in a comprehensive manner through one or more paragraphs of text and very well done drawings. As Iíve said in other WEM brass photo-etch reviews, there are no finer instructions than those provided by White Ensign Models in their kits and photo-etch sets.
Donít clown around with your early Nimitz or Ike! If you want the newest nuke in the fleet to look her part, White Ensign Models WEM PE 3538 is for you. You donít need your own Way Back Machine or highly modified DeLorean to scour the future for superb quality brass photo-etch super-detail parts to trick out your carrier with the best quality parts. With this WEM brass photo-etch set the Future is Now!