Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated (Lexington CV-2 Build Log, pt. 2)

Despite nearly two months separating my previous post from this one, I have neither died nor suspended work on the Lexington.  While this is a hobby blog and not a personal one, you may be curious to know that the previous 60 days have seen a Canadian vacation, a house flood and subsequent dislocation, the search for a replacement a vehicle ( when my current one was lost in said flood), and the beginning of my grad school’s fall semester.  Needless to say, I’ve been busy, and my building necessarily took a hit (especially in July/August, when my house and build area were either buried under clutter or unlivable entirely) from said business.  But while it may have slowed, friends, it has not stopped.

Here we are, days from October, and the hull of Lexington is all but completed with the superstructure nearly there as well.  Here’s a photo log update of how we got from there to here.

Yeah, let's spend time preparing for the world's smallest and least visible color flight deck boundary demarcation.

Yeah, let’s spend time preparing for the world’s smallest and least visible color flight deck boundary demarcation.

As you can see, the island and funnel came together easily and quickly (though in this shot they are merely dry-fitted).  In fact, the flight deck isn’t even attached in this photo.  There is a small boundary between the flight deck wood and vertical edge of the deck that, historically, was a steel barrier painted 5N Navy Blue.  This contrasted so minimally with the flight deck’s Norfolk 250-N Flight Deck stain that plans to paint each independently proved impossible for this color-deficient modeler.  So, let’s just call the outside boundary spray you see above an airflow test shot.  🙂

For the curious among you, the flight deck structures came together in a simple port side/starboard side/wedding cake assembly order:

My wedding cake tasted better AND was easier to eat.

My wedding cake tasted better AND was easier to eat.

Wait, wasn’t this model supposed to see extensive use of photo-etch as I honed my skills?

Yes.  Yes it was.

The first application of PE on the Lexington was pretty straightforward.  Replace these funnel grates:

Gross, chunky plastic.

Gross, chunky plastic.

With these:

See?  Isn't that better?

See? Isn’t that better?

It was here that I learned something I wish I’d known before starting on my PE journey with the Tirpitz last winter: Gold Medal Models PE products are excellent if you’re looking for something with more rigidity than tin foil.  I haven’t yet come across a bending problem with the GMM parts I purchased, and in fact this brand’s strength has been saved me more than once from accidentally crushing a finished bit of railing.  I have yet to compare the to the stuff put out by Tom’s Modelworks (that set has already been purchased for a 1:700 Trumpeter HMS Hood), but from here the GMM stuff is hard to beat.  OK, enough of that plug which, believe it or not, nobody paid me to write.

Once the flight deck was painted in White Ensign Norfolk 250-N and properly cured, I masked the piece for the flight deck markings:

Straight lines are your friend.

Straight lines are your friend.

And airbrushed the lines:

Cleared to land?  Nope, not even close.  But getting there!

Cleared to land? Nope, not even close. But getting there!

You may from time to time see that unpainted clear F4F Wildcat sitting innocuously for scale. by the way.

And here’s where things got tricky, and I hit the first major snag of this build.  The GMM instructions advise that, when replacing the kit’s clunky safety netting with the fine PE mesh, the modeler should mark with pencil the locations of the original netting so as to facilitate its replacement.  So, feeling particularly smart, I instead placed the deck on my home photocopier and simply printed out a full-scale copy of the deck.  I then cut the netting from the flight deck, lined the deck on my printed page, and…

Voila!  Right?  Guys?

Voila! Right? Guys?

All I had to do now was add the PE to the proper locations along the flight deck sides, right?  Well….no.

First off, I had pre-painted the PE on the fret, thinking that doing so would save me a step later.  This, by the way, officially ended my occasional forays into on-the-fret painting (PE or styrene).  It never turns into a good thing.  The paint on the PE chips and flakes as it is removed and handled, requiring re-painting later anyways.  Next, I made the mistake of gluing the PE flush with the flight deck, instead of several scale-feet below it.  This is why you use reference material, folks.

The not-pretty (hell, downright ugly) result of this foray?

Viewers of this image may be scarred permanently.

Viewers of this image may be scarred permanently.

As a side note, this disappointing result became visible about 2 hours before my home decided to imitate the real-world Lexington and allow water to rush in at will, so I was left to stew on this for nearly two weeks with no way to remedy it.  It did give me plenty of time to plan, though.  Upon my return to the workbench, I scrapped the entire PE suite, doused each piece in lacquer thinner, and waited until the flight deck was attached to give this another go:

That's better!  And to think, my earlier workaround was designed to avoid masking off the flight deck.

That’s better! And to think, my earlier workaround was designed to avoid having to mask off the flight deck exactly like this.

Feeling emboldened by this success, I decided it was time to take care of all the flight deck photo-etch.  With three types of railings, five sizes of stairs, and about three hundred things that could go wrong, I was nervous.

I shouldn’t have been.

I think this is my favorite image of the entire build so far.

I think this is my favorite image of the entire build so far.

GMM, folks.  I really can’t praise it enough.

While this saga was unfolding, work did, of course, continue on the superstructure.  I decided to tackle one component at a time instead of building the two pieces in unison.  Seeming (erroneously) the most complicated, I took the bridge structure first.  This piece did require some intense PE bending, so I decided to try out both the “bend the entire length as one piece” method and the “break the railing into several smaller pieces” technique.  Honestly, both were simple enough when used with PE as rigid as this.

Facebookers, you've seen this one already.  But you love it enough to see it again, right?

Facebookers, you’ve seen this one already. But you love it enough to see it again, right?

A nice coat of 5N Navy Blue (portrayed by Tamiya acrylic Medium Blue) later, and the result is striking:

Now we're cooking with gas!

Now we’re cooking with gas!

As you can see, the funnel structure has not been painted yet – let alone fully assembled (I think it was mostly dry-fitted when this photo was taken).  That’s actually something I accomplished about an hour ago – and something that you’ll have to wait and see the outcome of.  Hopefully it won’t take two months for an update this time.  But if it does, I think I’ve given enough of a mega-post here to keep you sated for a while.

And so, friends, as I return to my workbench with a goal of having the vessel proper completed (or nearly completed) this weekend, I look forward to continued posts detailing the construction of the Lexington, her airwing, her ocean base, and the myriad of other projects I have lined up in my stash.

Until then, as always, happy modeling.

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