by Martin Quinn
1/350 USS Intrepid CVA-11 (Gallery)
One of the most requested ship models ever, the 1/350 Gallery Models USS Intrepid finally provided modelers with an upgraded, Post World War II, angle-deck Essex class carrier. Not without its flaws (you can read the inbox review here), the kit builds into an impressive looking model.
Construction started, as with Gallery’s Iwo Jima, with the separately molded parts for the bow. Bilge keels, struts and shafts followed. Once the lower hull was painted, the finials to mount the ship were permanently installed and work proceed with the hangar deck.
Once the hangar deck was in place, platforms and sponsons around the sides of the hull were added, then work commenced on the bulkheads supporting the flight deck. The interior of the hangar has zero detail. In fact, the insides of the hangar bulkheads have knockout pin marks on them. However, since there are fewer hangar doors than in World War II, there isn’t much to see. I decided to leave the hangar doors closed.
I should note that Gallery did a good job on where they located the attachment tabs on many of the parts. There is also some really nice detail on the outside of the hangar bulkheads and on many of the sponsons. Really gives the kit a busy look.
Moving on, I airbrushed the upper hull, minus some of the larger sponsons that support the angled flight deck. After adding those, I airbrushed again, and found some of my first fit issues, which were cured by putty and some judicious use of styrene.
At this point, things were going pretty smoothly (other than the small seams mentioned), but the directions – I feel – let me down. At no point do the directions tell you to add the photo-etch railings to the model. Yeah, who follows directions anyway? They are like the Pirate Code, more of a guide…. right? Still, this caused me much grief after I had glued down the flight deck and realized my error. Gallery pointing this out on the directions would have saved me much heartburn.
Before I attached the flight deck I built both of the side elevators. These are really nicely done, with good detail, a combination of plastic and photo-etch. These have to be added before the flight deck is attached.
First, before the flight deck was attached, I masked and painted the boot stripe. Once that was done and the prerequisite touch up completed, the flight deck was glued down. Since this is a large, one-piece deck, I did find it a bit fiddly to attached. In fact, later on I found it had popped up a little in the port side aft quarter. At this point, CVA-11 was starting to look like something.
I moved onto the construction of the island. The island is one of the nicest parts of this kit – it’s loaded with detail – both plastic and photo-etch. Construction takes up four pages and multiple steps in the instruction booklet. The photo-etch is fragile and the instructions not always clear, but if you stick with it, the island becomes the most impressive part of the finished kit.
While parts dried on the island, I gloss coated the flight deck and started decaling. At this point, I felt that things were going very well. I had really enjoyed building this kit so far. It's well molded and - outside of a few fit issues - it goes together really well.
And then, I got to the decals. Not only did Gallery drop the ball by omitting prominent decals from the island, but the flight deck decals are just not very good. They are translucent, hard to work with and break easily. On top of all that, some of them are as long as my arm. A few of the decals measure 10.5 inches long. Ten and a half inches!! I had to cut some of them into smaller pieces, but the damn things didn’t want to line up and were very delicate. Finally, the hull number decals for the flight deck omit the prominent counter shading.
All in all, the decals are the weakest part of the kit. I could have masked and painted like others did with their Intrepid builds, but I felt that I should (outside of adding a few things) stick to this being as much "out of the box" as possible, since it's was a follow up to my inbox review.
Once the decals were done, it was then that I realized my error about the railings, mentioned previously. Now I had to try and fit railings onto platforms and sponsons tucked under the flight deck. To add insult to injury, the kit supplied railings are very 'springy'. When I cut them off the fret, they immediately bent into a curve. It might have to do with the relief etched stanchions, which I didn't notice while doing the review. That's a nice touch, not sure if they contribute to the bend. Either way, the railings were a pain to get straight and therefore attached to the model.
With the railings (mercifully) done, the island was finished and attached to the ship (took much longer than it sounds). The kit was – sans aircraft – pretty much done at this point. Instead of leave well enough alone, I added floater net baskets from the Tetra set, which Ryan Labieniec graciously sent me (along with aftermarket decals for the island and extra A/C). There were tedious and added much extra time to the build. In the end, I (mostly) like the way they look – they add a busy/cluttered look to the ship.
Aircraft were the next project, and as with everything else, they seemed to take forever. Decals for the helicopters, Skyhawks and Tracer were out of the box. Decals for the Crusaders and Skyraiders were from Starfighter Models. In my zeal to get the dang aircraft decaled and “done”, I neglected to paint the noses on the jets or add the glare shields to the Tracer and Skyraiders. I realized they were missing AFTER the aircraft were glued to the flight deck, so they will remain that way.
Flat coat, some repairs and touch up and a final coat of flat followed as time permitted. If this build was a song, it would be The Beatles “The Long and Winding Road”. After 28 months, Intrepid was finally done.
Before embarking on this journey, I hadn’t really been a “fan” of the rebuilt Essex class, even though I live near the actual Intrepid and have visited her many times. After building this model, I have a new appreciation for the class and this ship in particular.
As I wrote in my in-box review, the kit is not perfect. While it scaled out slightly undersized, you can’t tell looking at the finished product. Other “dings”: the instructions neglect to show you were to put the photo-etch railings, the photo-etch railings themselves are a disappointment, as are the decals – both in the quality and the lack of some of the prominent island markings. Plus there is the undersized air group.
I’d like to see Gallery release additional planes for those who want to beef up their air wing. If you are building this kit, I also recommend going with an aftermarket set, like the Tetra set, which was reviewed here.
All that being said, Gallery’s Intrepid is a big, complex, well detailed, well molded kit that, outside of a few areas, goes together nicely. Even with all the life events that conspired to drag this build out, I really enjoyed it. You should get hours and hours of enjoyment out of it.
Thanks to MRC for the review sample.
You can find the build thread here.