by: Stefan Halter [ ]
Italeri has had a line of modern US aircraft carriers in 1/720 scale ever since I can remember. This particular example has been in my stash for quite some time and it is now time to have a look at one of these.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), nicknamed TR or Big Stick, radio call sign Rough Rider, is the fourth Nimitz class aircraft carrier and first of the Theodore Roosevelt subclass of Nimitz carriers. She was launched on 27 October 1984 by the Newport News Shipbuilding Company and commissioned two years later almost to the day. Her 6 month maiden voyage bagan on 30 December 1988 and took her to the Mediterranean and Red Sea as well as the Persian Gulf.
TR participated in all of the important actions of the last 20 years, in which Aircraft Carriers were involved.The most important events of over 20 years in service:
TR saw her first combat assignment in Operation Desert Storm, flying over 4200 sorties, more than any other carrier during that war. She was then assigned to flying patrols over northern Iraq, returning to Norfolk on 28 June 1991.
During the 1990ies she was assigned several times to enforce the no-fly zones over southern Iraq and Bosnia. In 1995 she participated in Operation Deliberate Force against Bosnian Serb targets and in 1999 in Operation Allied Force against Serbs in Kosovo.
On October 4 2001, TR launched the initial strikes of Operation Enduring Freedom against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. In 2003 she was ordered to the eastern Mediterranean Sea to launch air strikes for Operation Iraqi Freedom together with USS Harry S. Truman. In 2005 she returned to Iraq in support of OIF. This was the last deployment of the F-14 Tomcat before its retirement in 2006. In 2008/09 TR flew in support of ISAF forces in Afghanistan.
She received numerous awards and citations during her career and is currently (until 2013) undergoing Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH).
Carrier Air Wing 8 was TR's assigned Air Wing with the exception of her 5th deployment in 1996/97 when she was assigned Carrier Air Wing 3 and her 7th deployment in 2001 with Carrier Air Wing 1. Aircraft deployed until her 9th deployment in 2005/2006 were the F-14 Tomcats, F/A-18 Hornets, E2C Hawkeyes, EA-6B Prowlers, C-2A Greyhound and Seahawk helicopters. In 2006 both VFA-31 and VFA 213 of Carrier Air Wing 8 trasitioned from the F-14 to the F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornets respectively.
First Impression:The box is typical Italeri and has the inscription “New Airplanes and Helicopters Included”, which probably means that most of the sprues have been around a while. This rendition of the kit has a copyright mark with the year 2002, presumably the release year. The short info about the ship on the side of the box makes you wonder how thorough Itlaeri’s research was as it talks of a crew of 8000 men, some 2300 more than is true.
Upon opening the box you will find the ship’s hull, three sprues, a large decal sheet and the instruction sheet. Molding is typical Italeri with some flash, substatial mold seams, pin marks and the occasional sink mark here and there.
Starting with the latter, this is typical Italeri fashion with clear line drawings and a painting guide. The painting guide also includes the placement of the flight deck decals. However, these are not numbered and it is up to the modeler to find out exactly which decal goes where.
The decals are well printed with no misalignment. Most of the many lines on the flight deck simply consist of lengths of decals and it is up to the modeler to cut them to the appropriate length. Flight deck elevator outline stripes are provided as one decal for the line that should go on the deck and the one for the elevator, making an accurate depiction out of the kit almost impossible when the elevator is not in the up position. Deck and island numbers are both all white. The solid flight deck number would point to the model representing USS Roosevelt’s state of the late 1980's, as after that period those numbers were were changed to outline design. Also, comparing the number size to GMM’s decal set 700-4D they are way too big and should be approximately 1/3 smaller. The decal sheet also has two warning signs in yellow for the island (with no indication in the instructions as to where they belong) and the small national insignia for the planes in black.
Moving on to the plastic, the hull (marked sprue A in the instructions) is a one piece affair and requires the removal of the hull below the water line, whether you want to build a full hull model or a waterline model. This is because Italeri left a 1mm gap between the parts to ease cutting. For ease of build it would probably have been better to provide two parts in the first place, but I assume production costs were the reason for doing it this way. There are no shims to help with alignment and I could imagine some filler and sanding will be needed.
There is a substantial mold seam along the bottom edge all the way up to the deck. A broken off sprue attachment in the center will probably require some putty. The hull above the water line has the anchors molded into it and goes right up to the flight deck level. It also includes the hangar openings but little else detail wise. There is no interior for the hangar deck, the hangar deck openings are simply closed with a plug from sprue B.
Sprue B has a floor for the waterline version of the model – this time with shims. It also includes all the parts needed for the island and radars as well as the rocket launchers, two elevators and other small parts for the hull above the water. 4 parts are provided to plug the hangar openings. Radar mast and antennae are very simplified and it would be recommended to replace these with PE. Also on this sprue are presumably the “old” aircraft to whick I will come at a later point. Several parts on this sprue are marked as not used which most probably means the sprue is generic for all Nimitz class carriers.
Sprue C is mainly used up by the flight deck. The rest of the sprue are the screws and other parts for the hull below the water line. Several parts on this sprue are marked as not used which again most probably means the sprue is generic for all Nimitz class carriers.
The flight deck has two of the elevator molded into the deck. It would have been preferable to have all 4 elevators separate and I don’t see any reason why this would not have been possible. The deck itsself is quite bare of details. It has the catapults, arresting cables and the catapult control system (bubble). The protective walls for the catapuls are molded into the deck for the two side catapults and provided seperately for the front catapults. There is no hydraulic system for those in the open position. There are also slightly raised lines to indicate where all the deck lines are supposed to go. The deck has no other surface detail and in particular no tie downs.
Sprue D holds 4 F-14 Tomcats with wings deplyed forward, 4 F/A-18 Hornets, one E2C Hawkeye, 2 EA-6B Prowlers and one Seaking helicopter. Both Prowlers and the Seaking are marked as not used, which in particular for the Prowler is strange as these were in use on the USS Roosevelt until the so far last deplyment in 2008/2009.
Sprue D is clearly a newer sprue than the others as can be seen by its neater layout, better molding and details. It is marked with the kit number and seems to be the only specific sprue for this kit. It holds 6 small towing vehicles and two crane vehicles, all with very basic detail. Furthermore it holds 10 F/A-18 with folded wings, 6 F/A-18 with deployed wings and 6 Seahawk helicopters with 4 rotors provided deployed and 2 folded.
Detail on these little planes is adequate for the scale, with landing gear being simple stubs. While the wings are commendably thin, the rudders are quite thick, especially on the F/A-18, where they are also not the right angle. While this is clearly a molding restraint, it would have been better to provide them separately. The F/A-18 on the two sprues are slightly different moldings but none of them are Super Hornets. The folded wings are –like the rudders – rather thick and have no wing-end rocket stations.
The choice of aircraft is rather strange, especially considering there are (to my knowledge) no after market planes. There are 20 F/A-18, 7 other planes and 7 helicopters. There is also no possibility to have the wings of the F-14 in stowed / swept forward position.
Clearly this is an older kit not up to todays standards. Nevertheless detail seems more simplified than necessary and a lot of work and AM-Parts are required to get a good model. Decals are somewhat lacking and the instructions are vague or non existent concerning the placement of some of them.
It is unclear, what year the model is supposed to depict. One would assume with the special mention of new aircraft included it is around the release time (meaning 2002). The solid white deck numbers on the other hand point to the late 1980ies. Italeri’s Homepage says in the subtitle “from ‘90” (whether that is an indication of the year the kit was first produced or the time the kit depicts is unclear).To build a late 2000s model one would – among other things – have to add the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile which was added in 2007 as well as find some Super Hornets.
To my knowledge this is the only game in town in this scale. If you want to build a Nimitz class carrier, be prepared for some work. Recommended with reservations.