Recently I bought second hand an old Neptun YORKTOWN (N 1314). The older model can be distinguished easily from the newer model, because the deck is glued, not screwed on, and the numeral "5" is painted on the deck. My goal: retrofit the ship to pre-war condition.

The model depicts the ship circa 1942. In order to return the ship to a pre-war state, a number of modifications are necessary. These are relatively easy to do. No major cutting or construction is needed. The tools required for this modification are a Dremel tool with cutting wheels, files, sand paper, a hobby knife, and the usual small items one would use in any small building project.

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The major changes needed are these: All the 20 mm guns must be removed along with the railings and tubs. The Mk 37 directors on the island need to be removed, as well as the round bit in front of the forward director, where a range finder will be located. The large Mk 37s will be replaced by Mk 33's an even larger box like director, which can be found on many pre-war U.S. ships. In fact YORKTOWN never had her Mk 33's replaced, a long standing error on the Neptun model. The 1.1" guns also need to be removed. The bridge wings need to be reduced in size and modified, and a "greenhouse placed on the port side of the island. The walkway that goes around the front of the island midway to the top, must be reduced in size. A boat crane must be placed on the starboard side of the island directly below the mast.

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The photos show progress on the model from its original condition, which was slightly damaged, through to its completion. I first removed the flight deck, which made it much easier to work on the hull and island, and allowed me to paint and decal them separately, which is very important. Once that was done, I then cut off all the parts that had to be removed. Using the Dremel with a thin metal cutting wheel, I cut the 1.1" guns off at the base of their tubs. This allowed me to save all the 1.1" guns. It was the tubs that I wanted to eliminate. Once off, it was easy to cut the mounts out of the tubs with a hobby knife. This went so well that I did not even lose one gun barrel in the process. The gun mounts were then saved for re-installation later. I removed the aircraft crane while doing this work, as it otherwise would surely have been damaged or destroyed while cutting and filing other parts. The Mk 37 directors were also cut off with the wheel, and the bases then filed down using various grinding tools on the Dremel.

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The photos show the model after the removal of these items. Once removed, the rough cut areas were filed and sanded smooth, and white Squadron Putty used to fill in any flaws, then painted with primer to expose minute flaws, then sanded again. The new parts were then constructed out of Evergreen plastic, and one can readily see those items as white in the pictures.

Peacetime ships before World War II commonly carried a large complement of boats, and the YORKTOWN Class was no exception. This class carried a number of boats on the starboard side that needed to be added, because by 1942 most boats had been removed, and thus are not found on the factory model. I used 50 foot launches and captain’s barges that I had made for use on my Saratoga Model Shipyard (SMY) line of models.

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The ship carried a number of .50 caliber machine guns on either side of the flight deck fore and aft. I left these off until after the ship and flight deck were completed, so that I could re-install the flight deck without damaging them. Thus, they don’t show up until the completed ship is seen.

My goal also was to make the model as compatible with the other stock Neptun U.S. pre-war carriers, LEXINGTON and RANGER, and my prior conversion LEX to SARATOGA. In order to do that, it was necessary for me to limit the extent and nature of the modifications. For instance I would otherwise have done more with the masts and the flight deck markings. I would have outlined the elevators in yellow, and used the correct dark mahogany color for the flight deck. Instead, by mixing my own colors (Polly Scale Acrylic) I attempted to match the flight deck color used by Neptun, which can best be described as "pumpkin." The ship itself was airbrushed with Polly Scale British Medium Gray #505258, a color very close to that used by Neptun.

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The black "Y"on the funnel was created by cutting strips from a sheet of black decal film. The yellow stripes on the flight deck were cut from a solid yellow sheet. The identification letters came from the Microscale 72-0230 decal letter sheet. These sheets come in a variety of colors and are most valuable for work in this scale. The decals were melted onto the deck and funnel, using Solvaset wetting solution. Once the painting and decaling were completed, the deck was washed by brush with soapy water so as to remove the stains left by the Solvaset. This is critical to a uniform color. The flight deck was then glued on, then the 50. caliber machine guns added and painted, then the model was then airbrushed with DullCoat.

Good sources are needed to do any model. There are a lot of books and materials that cover this class of ship. For this model, however, I relied mainly upon the following:

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YORKTOWN CLASS CARRIERS, WARSHIP PICTORIAL 9, by Steve Wiper, Classic Warships Publishing, n.d.

THAT GALLANT SHIP, by Robert Cressman, Pictorial Histories Publishing Co. 1985.

This was an easy and very satisfying modification to do. I would not recommend it for your first one, but it is one that can be done once you’ve had some experience at doing them.