Welcome race fans, to the great Lady Lex Photo-Etch Derby. A mighty gathering of photo-etch fillies have come together for this first major photo-etch race of 2005. All of the established favorites are there but for this event the first to cross the finish line is the first time photo-etch set effort of Yankee Modelworks. Although this two fret set is the first stand alone photo-etch set of YMW, in reality Yankee Modelworks and its predecessor, Blue Water Navy, have been producing outstanding photo-etch for a long time, as part of their resin and brass photo-etch models. In fact the 1:350 scale Lexington set , YKM-3000, was designed by Mike Bishop, who formerly ran Blue Water Navy.
On first impulse it may see obvious that YMW would produce the first fret for the Trumpeter 1:350 scale Lexington. After all YMW has an outstanding USS Lexington resin kit in 1:350 scale. However, this two-fret set is designed specifically for the Trumpeter plastic kit release. As you can see from the photographs, this set is a first class effort from YMW. As you look through the parts you’ll notice very fine touches of the best of the photo-etch art, such as relief etching and the usage of two textures of brash finish, burnished and bright. The brass gage used by YMW is just the right combination of delicacy and sturdiness. The individual parts have all of the visual delicacy and fineness any modeler could want and yet they are sturdy, making the set suitable for use by even a novice at photo-etch. These brass parts are not fragile hothouse orchids that crumple at the slightest touch.
The set is made up of two frets plus the instructions. Fret #1 measures 10 7/8-inches (277mm) by 2 ¼-inches (57mm). No one type of part dominates fret #1, although all of the super detail parts for the armament are found there. YMW provides all of the safety rails for the five-inch/25 mounts. Twenty-six Oerlikon 20mm guns are included along with a lot more gun shields. The guns have a very nice profile with shoulder brace and target sites. However, you will need to use the Trumpeter plastic Oerlikons for the base pedestal. Simply cut off the oversize plastic barrel and add the YMW brass parts to the pedestal. The multi-piece CXAM radar is the standout item on this fret. Using relief etching, the Yankee Modelworks CXAM will be a high point at the forward edge of the stack.
Another specialized multi-piece item on the first fret is the crane. It presents a good mix of very delicate latticework, safety rails, relief-etched pulleys & wheels and topped off with hook, block & tackle. Eleven open grid bottoms for carley rafts are included. You’ll need to remove the solid bottom from each plastic raft and then add the brass part. YMW provides a whole series of replacement splinter shields with more delicate and realistic support ribs than those provided in the kit. The balance of the fret consists of twelve inclined ladders with perforated frames, hand railing and individual treads that are bent to the correct angle.
Fret #2 is slightly larger and measures 10 7/8-inches (277mm) by 3 ¼-inches (82mm). About 55 to 60 percent of the fret consist of flight deck safety nets. These are absolutely gorgeous! Granted, to use these beauties, you’ll have to cut off the solid slabs on the Trumpeter kit. That may seem like some work but if you finish your Lexington without these superb parts, you’ll regret your timidity evermore. Other items that require the modeler to remove a portion of the plastic part are platform supports. There is no comparison with the appearance of the plastic supports with the brass supports furnished by YMW. Relief etching again comes to the fore with the four stack opening grates.
Yankee Modelworks provides a LSO platform and windscreen, found on fret #2. Other specialized parts include a topmast and yards. The bulk of the railing for the kit is found on this fret as well. YMW even throws in spare railing to use as you wish. Solid bulkheads for the 20mm galleries are found with four parts on this fret. Five more inclined ladders, of a different design from those on the first fret, are included as well as two runs of vertical ladder.
The Yankee Modelworks instructions consist of very clearly drawn diagrams for attachment of the photo-etch parts. Found throughout are short explanatory paragraphs of text. All in all, the instructions serve their purpose to a good degree. However, they could have could have been tweaked a small bit more. The instructions could have used a matrix to identify the parts. As it was I spent some time trying to find the location for some of the parts. I also prefer a more modular approach. These are very minor complaints based upon my personal preferences and should not interfere with your enjoyment of this excellent set or detract in any significant degree with your ability to attach the included parts.
This is a set of firsts. This is the first of the brass sets available for the Trumpeter 1:350 scale USS Lexington. Yankee Modelworks has produced their first stand alone brass photo-etch set with YKM-3000. Although this set is first in both categories, it clearly was not hurried. With top rank production values found throughout all of the components, Yankee Modelworks has produced a winner. Yankee Modelworks YKM-3000 can be acquired from Trident Hobbies.