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The Chinese Carrier: My review and Build of the 1/350 scale Trumpeter model kit #5617
JEFFHEAD.COM - PLA NAVY CARRIER ^ | March 15, 2012 | Jeff Head

Posted on 03/16/2012 6:08:00 AM PDT by Jeff Head

As many of you know, I have been tracking the growth and modernization of the Chinese Navy (PLAN) for a number of years. Particularly their acquisition and refit of the former Russian Varyag which they launched last August.

I also have a hobby for building 1/350 scale model military vessels and recently decided to build modern carrier strike groups (including the carrier and all of their escorts) for each major power.

Trumpeter, a well known mode company announced the release of the new Chinese Carrier in January and I was able to get one directly from Hong Kong before they made any mass shipments to whole salers in the US. This is my review and build of that kit and my progress to date. (Be forewarned, the thread is pictorial intensive and I will add more as I complete the model according to the schedule I report here in this thread):

My Review and Build of Trumpeter's 1/350 scale Kit #5617,
The new PLA (Chinese) Navy Aircraft Carrier (STOBAR)

(The refurbished and refitted former Soviet Carrier Varyag)

Introduction and Purchase

Late in 2011, Trumpeter announced their new 1/350 scale model for the People's Republic Army Navy (PLAN) aircraft carrier that had been launched and undergone initial trials in August of 2011. Since I have been gathering 1/350 scale models to build Carrier Strike groups for the various nations that can deploy them, I was determined to buy it. I am a member of the US Naval institutie and the son of a father who was a US Navy combat officer in World War II in the PTO. I have been interested in naval matters my whole life.

In addition, I have a web site where I have tracked the growth and modernization of the Chinese Navy for the past ten years called, The Rising Sea Dragon in Asia. One of the most visited pages on that site is my detailed tracking of this very carrier, since it was sold by the Ukraine to China and towed to the Chinese Naval Shipyards in Dahlian,

I found it available first on eTamiya in Chinaand placed the order, only to find that they had not gotten them in yet and it had to be back ordered. I asked for a refund and they said they would give it to me, but then renigged and instead offered me an in-store credit. This is an expensive model and I was not happy. But it worked out okay because I used the credit later to buy the new 1/350 USS Iwo Jima, LHD-7, Wasp Class Amphibious Assault ship...a very sweet model but that will be a discussion for another day.

As it was, Lucky Models in China advertised that they had it and so I ordered it there and within a few days they shipped it to me. I received in in early February, one of the first purchases of the kit in the United States.

What all is in the Box

First of all, the box is large and has great graphics of the vessel (artist depiction) and the markings on the carrier and the contents.. It is packed very well. Here it is with the box, the open box, and with the plastic sprues in their bags on our Queen sized bed: (Click on any of the following pics for a higher resolution pciture)

Here's a better look at each bag. There are a total of thirty plastic sprues in 16 bags, the hull pieces, and a photo etch kit for detail metal parts. On the order of just under 1000 pieces for this model overall. Fine detail you come to expect from Trumpeter, with the full hull or water line version available. The upper hull is in a single piece and the lower hull is a single piece molded in red with the forward dome a seperate piece. Lots of finely detailed and small plastic parts for every sensor, weaponss system, chaff/decoy systems, antennae, sensors, life raft, and part that you can imagine. I was a little disppointed in that the bridge and flight control windows were not cut out and available as clear or smoked plastic, and that there was no hangar deck. If you want hangar spaces, you will have to scratch build them, which is what I do. Anyhow, here are the pics of the many detailed parts:

The decal page is extensive to fully makr the vessel and the deck. The instructions are extensive There is no official name or pennant number for the vessel yet. Numbers that are most likely are either "01" for their first carrier, or "83" for their next large training vessel which they may class her as for political purposes. But make no mistake, with the weapons outfit, and the Chinese J-15 Strike Fighters (which are modernized Chinese rebuiilds of the Russian SU-33, this carrier will be fully operational and capable once the crew is trained up and the aircraft are embarked.

This model is really a remake of the Trumpeter Russian Kuznetsov Carrier in 1/350 scale, which was the earlier sister ship of the Russian Varyag. The Varyag was left about 80% complete with the Ukraine when the Soviet Union fell apart and was never completed. She was later sold to China and towed there where she began her long refit and was ultimately launched as this vessel. There are a couple of sprues of Kuznetsov parts you will not use, and new PLAN parts for the Island, the weapons, the sensor fit, and for the aircraft, particularly the different Chinese helos used. The paint scjheme is also quite a bit different, as are some of the deck markings.

Dry fitting, initial repair and removal, and initial painting

The kit fits well together, but upon putting the larger portions together it became apparent that once I reached a point where they were to be glued, ample use of clamps and rubber bands would be required to hold the parts closely togethere and minimize gaps. In addition, there were several areas along the sponsons, particularly forward, where detail from the Kuznetsov had not been removed. Meaning they simply used the same mold from the Kuznetsov and you will have to remove those details. The largest removal involves sanding down the forward VLS missile silos on the Kuznetsov to smooth areas as they exist on the PLAN Carrier, which uses ther FN-3000L missile launcer adn Type 1030 CIWS instead. This involved the use of my drimmel tool, grinding blocks and sand paper. There are other areas where similar removal was required for various antennae and other equipment mounts, as well as drilling to make way for Chinese antennae not in place on the Russian carrier.

As you can see in the previous pics, I also began painting. The PLAN Carrier is a very light gray, so I used Light Gray from Master Modelrs. For the flight, though the carton and the paint schemeshows the deck in a single color, the actual deck is painted in two colors. A medium gray for the non-landing strip (parking, movement, elevators, etc.) and a darker gray for the landing strip. I used Deck Gray for the non-landing areas and Engine Gray for the landing strip. Here are the finished inityial deck paintings and the initial upper hull painting.

Scratch build of Hangar, Upper Hull and Lower Hull attached, Deck Attached

So, the model came with no hangr spaces provision. I used the flat pieces meant for the waterline version bottom to create hanger spaces at each elevator. I sized them, cut them, glued them in place and then painted them as follows:

It was then time to glue the upper hull and lower hull together. I used extensive rubber bands to pull them tightly together, and then used sprue left overs to glue the two pieces together from the inside for further support so that when they dried and the rubber bands were removed, they were very firmly and tightly in place and not prone to pull apart in the least.

I then used the same methods to attach the flight deck to the upper hull. Clamps and rubber bands were used to firmly attach the parts. Once they were together I began some railing attachments, using Gold Medal Model's excellent Kuznetsov photo etch detail kit. Alhought a lot of the sensors are not correct for the PLA Navy carrier in that kit, those sensors are included in the photo etch parts that came with the model, but there were no handrails of any sort, and none of the mesh around the deck edge in the supplied photo etch set, which are all available in the Gold Medal Work's set.

Putty fills, Sanding, Weapons Systems Build and Attachment

Once the deck was attached, it was time to fill in any gaps between the deck joints and grind/orSand them down and repaint them. This was done with classic model putty in white, my dremmel tool, grind stones where necessary, and then sand papers of various grades as appropriate. I did the same to some areas around the elevators and sponsons where some hgaps existed as well.

Then it was time to build the major weapons system. There was one issue here, The plans in the model call for a single Type 1030 CIWS system on the Starboard forward sponson. But photographs of the actual vessel indicate that there is also a FN-3000L missile system located there. I contacted Lucky Model and Trumpeter and informed them of this and asked for the additional piecves necessary to fix it. I also used other actual photos in building and painting these systems accurately.

Picture of PLAN Carrier showing starboard forward sponson with both the Type 1030 CIWS and FL-3000N Missile launcher

The various weapons systems employed by the PLA Navy Carrier, the CIWS, the Missile launchers and the ASW Rocket launchers, as seen on the actual carrier

There are many parts that go into the missile launchers, the CIWS, the ASW Rocket tubes, and the decoy/chaff launchers. Both plastic and photo etch. Be careful in cutting these away from the sprues because they are easily broken and mishandled. I completed all of the weapons and then added them to the sponsons where they we intended to go, including the additional missile launcher.

Building and painting the Island

The Island for the PLA NAvy Carrier is very detailed. One disappointment, unlike some of the other new Trumpeter models, the windows on the bridge and other control spaces (flight ops, etc.) were not cut out and there is no clear or moked plastic windows available. I suspect this is because they did not want to have to create complete new tooling for the Kuznetsov carrier which they relied on heavily for this kit.

So, I painted the windows in with weathered black, which is a painstaking but gratifying and enjoyable experience. In addition, there are a lot of walk ways all around the ildand all the way up to the stack and the main mast where the sensors and main radar are located. The Gold medal Model Kuznetsov phot etch kit with all of the various hand rails comes in handy here. More painstaking work.

Many many small plastic parts for all of te antennae and sensors, and a lot of photo etch parts provided with the kit for supports, andtennae, and other pieces. I worked after work and on weekends for a couple of weeks to put the island together, but it was a very fun experience and came out well.

I put the entire thing together from a structual standpoint without the main domes, mast or stack, and then painted it. I used Light Gray for the decks and housings, I used Brown for the fore and aft deck oveer the control rooms, white for the ra-domes, and then various metallic colors (steel, aluminum, silver, etc.) for the vents on the sides, various sensors, and spotlights. then worked on the main mast and stack and got all of the antennae on and painted them. I then added all of th domes adn railing and then did a lot of touch up painting to finish it off. Ultimately final coas will be applied before and after decaling, with the final coat being a clear Dull coat from Model Master.

Finally, placing the Island on the flight deck (though I am not gluing it on yet), looks very nice. The carrier is taking great shape.

STATUS as fo March 15, 2012

This is where I have gotten to date. My plan over the next few weeks is the following, and I will update this posting as I go along:

  1. By March 18th, 2012: Complete antennea, landing lens system, launches, life boats, and other instrumentation along the flight deck and other main hull decks.
  2. By March 25th, 2012: Complete all railing, meshes, and other photo etch parts along the flight deck and other main hull decks, including props and rudders.
  3. By April 2nd, 2012: Complete all deck markings and decals on the flight deck and the rest of the carrier.
  4. By April 16th, 2012: Complete all aircraft and deck equipment building, painting, decals, and aircraft and equipment placement.
  5. By April 23rd, 2012: Paint and place all all 1/350 scale personnel on the carrier, complete carrier and place on stand.
At that point I will be finished with my PLAN Navy Carrier from Trumpeter. At that point I will do my priniple PLAN Escort for the carrier, Trumpeter's DDG-170, Lanshou Type 052C destroyer. This is the Chinese Arleigh Burke-like destroyer with PARS, battle management and VLS air defense missiles. After that, I will build Hobby Boss's PLAN SSN attack submarine, the PLAN SSN-405, ChangZheng5, a Type 091 Han class SSN, for escort duties. Then, rather than build the other three surface combatants (Trumpeter's DDG-168, Guangzhou; DDG-139, Ningbo; and FFG-570, Huangshan) as part of the Chinese Carrier Strike Group, I will build the initial portion of the US Navy Carrier Strike Group.

That US CSG will be centered on Tamiya's 1/350 scale USS Enterprise, CVN-65. I will build Trumpeter's USS Bunker Hill, CG-52 an AEGIS Cruiser, Trumpeter's DDG-82, USS Lassen an AEGIS destroyer, and the Los Angeles Class attack sumbmarine, Testor's SSN-764, USS Boise (It was actaully the San Juan, but I built and marked it as the USS Boise) which I have already completed.

Then back to finish the Chinese CSG, and then finish the US CSG with the following four vessels: Trumpeter's USS Iwo Jima LHD-7, Trumpeter's USS Freedom, LCS-1, Cyber Hobby's USS Independence, LCS-2, Hobby Boss's USS Texas, SSN-775. When a USS Gerald R. Ford comes out, I will add it to this group along with another AEGIS Cruiser and Burke DDG.

Outside of the new Trumpeter Type 054A FFG-570 Huangshan which comes out in May, I already have all of these vessels and the photo etch sets to go with them. I will post seperate postings/threads/pages for each build as I go through it.

Once the US and PLAN groups are built, I intend on building complete Russian (centered on Trumpeter's Kuznetsov) and UK (centered on the HMS Queen Elizabeth if it is available then, and if not then on Airfix.s HMS Invinsible) strike groups as well. Once the models are available, I'd like to build a Japanese group centered on their new 22DDH carrier and the Hyuga, an Italian Group centered on the Cavour, a French Group centered on the De Gaulle, a Spanish Group centered on the Jaun Carlos, and ultimatly an Australian Group centered on the new Canberra. If they ever build the models, an Indian group centered on either the Vikramaditya or their new ADS Carrier the Vikrant would also be nice. You can see all of these carriers at my site:

All of these along with their escorts will be in 1/350 scale. Literally years worth of building.


...and most of their surface escorts at:


Jeff Head
March 15, 2012

KEYWORDS: chat; chinesecarrier; navair; navyships; plan; redchinanavy; vanity
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To: don-o

You are very welcome.

21 posted on 03/16/2012 7:24:49 AM PDT by Jeff Head (Liberty is not free. Never has been, never will be. (
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To: veracious

AMne to that. At least we now have some candidates talking about doing something about it while we still can.

They are still tremdnously dependent on us to have a place to sell all of the things their factories are producing so they can make the money to fund their military buildup.

Perhaps a new President will level that field and begin worrying about American strategic and long term interests.

22 posted on 03/16/2012 7:27:07 AM PDT by Jeff Head (Liberty is not free. Never has been, never will be. (
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To: Jeff Head
I stuck mostly with tracked vehicles, WWII era.
They were fun to build, one of the Panzers had an electric motor and ran pretty good.

By misaligning the motor it could be made to run in a big circle.

(I'm easily entertained.)

23 posted on 03/16/2012 7:29:51 AM PDT by humblegunner
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To: DarthVader

Thanks...and yes they do. They have become a very premier model manufactuer.

Airfix, Tamiya, Dragon, HobbyBoss, CyberHobby and a few others are in there too...some of them relabeling the same models, but each having some of their own. If you want the best UK models, Airfix is usually the source.

24 posted on 03/16/2012 7:34:05 AM PDT by Jeff Head (Liberty is not free. Never has been, never will be. (
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To: Jeff Head

Very nice! Thanks for keeping us in the loop.

25 posted on 03/16/2012 7:37:48 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: humblegunner


There are some manufactueres who place motors and appropriate props in the 1/350 scale vessles too. You have to ballat them...and then you can easily convert them to RC. Probably could do the same to the Amor is my guess.

That’s HUGE industry itself, th RC industry. At Hobby Town in Boise where I frequent, they have about a 4-5 foot long Arleigh Burke DDG that is RC and very detailed.

$700 bucks as she sis. I told my wife to be thnakful I didn’t go that route. I’m sopending in the 20-80 dollar range and sometimes a little more. Those guys spend thousands.

26 posted on 03/16/2012 7:38:31 AM PDT by Jeff Head (Liberty is not free. Never has been, never will be. (
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To: Jeff Head

I have several Tamiya, Dragon and Trumpeter. In Trumpeter I have the 1/350 Hood and 1/200 Sovremenny.

27 posted on 03/16/2012 7:44:24 AM PDT by DarthVader (Politicians govern out of self interest, Statesmen govern for a Vision greater than themselves)
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To: DarthVader

Nice kits! I get the Gold Medal, Tom’s Model Works, Eduard, and other detailing kits and they make a huge different to the finished product.

Well, now I am off to do a little work on the model now.

I work 4-10s and have Friday and Saturday to get things done.


28 posted on 03/16/2012 7:49:33 AM PDT by Jeff Head (Liberty is not free. Never has been, never will be. (
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To: Jeff Head
How in the heck do you Freep and have time for models too?

Great work Jeff.


29 posted on 03/16/2012 7:54:11 AM PDT by The Shrew (;; The Truth Shall Set You Free!)
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To: The Shrew

Time management and a little sleep deprivation...but it is therapuetic!

30 posted on 03/16/2012 8:06:53 AM PDT by Jeff Head (Liberty is not free. Never has been, never will be. (
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To: Jeff Head
Well done Comrade!

We hoist the Ensign of the People's Liberation Army Navy to Salute you!

However, we will be sending out best interrogators to find out where you have obtained such accurate information on our newest vessel.

You will not be able to resist them!

On a serious note, this is really cool, building just one 1/350 model has been on my "to do" list for over 20 years. Building what you have planned is awe inspiring

31 posted on 03/16/2012 8:17:17 AM PDT by GreenLanternCorps ("Barack Obama" is Swahili for "Jimmy Carter".)
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To: GreenLanternCorps

Which one are you thinking about?

MOdern? World War II? Pre- WW II?

There are so many out there and now there are so many really great detail sets available.

Let me know, Id be interested in your choice and experiene.

I already have a complete USS New Jersey (the 1980s modern refit) a Spurance Class Destroyer, and a Flight II LA Class attack sub.

32 posted on 03/16/2012 8:26:16 AM PDT by Jeff Head (Liberty is not free. Never has been, never will be. (
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To: Jeff Head

I am very glad you are up and going to get more done in your life!

I’ve enjoyed your books, and hope you would write more someday!

I certainly wish I had the patience and determination as you seem to have! I am retired at 76 and with 10 grandkids I have plenty to do so I have to get my ass in gear! LOL

Your documentations on the model building are fantastic and serve as a model for others to take some ideas how to structure or re-structure their lives.

I have long been long interested in the Navy warships and had built several models in the past. USS FDR, USS Enterprise. My brother was in the Submarine Service but so far to date I haven’t found the model of USS Bugara. I did find several website dedicated to her.

Great article and great models. Keep it up!

Sen Jack

33 posted on 03/16/2012 8:34:58 AM PDT by Sen Jack S. Fogbound (We have met the enemy and they is us!)
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To: magslinger


34 posted on 03/16/2012 8:43:26 AM PDT by Vroomfondel
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To: Sen Jack S. Fogbound

Thanks so much,

I will be posting others as I move along. More posts to this thread as I finish this one, and then other threads for the others.

The Balao was the follow on to the Gato subs of World War II. They built over 120 of them and thus they are the largest numerical class of subs ever built by the US.

There are a lot of Gato class subs out there for sale in 1/700, 1/350,1/200 and I believe there is a monster one at 1/72 scale as well.

Yankee Models makes a resin Balao in 1/350 scale. It’s retails at $60, but you can get it for $39.95 at Free Time Hobbies. Here’s a link:

Resin is a little different to work with, but it turns out fine.

I believe Robin Models also makes a 1/350 scale resin kit.

Hobby Easy has that one (as do other suppliers) for under $50 bucks. Here’s that link:

Hope that helps, I’ll look for a plastic kit too.

35 posted on 03/16/2012 9:00:29 AM PDT by Jeff Head (Liberty is not free. Never has been, never will be. (
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To: Jeff Head

sweet. i am currently building 1/35 MAS pt boat. type XXVIIB midget sub, canadian 6x6 COUGAR, and 1/32 me-163.

i have all the 1/350 plastic from the sino-japanese war (1894-1895), russo-japanese war and WW1 including LUSITANIA w/ GMM pe set in my stash.
think i will move this to the top of my big 3 list above the 1/35 VOSPER MTB and HET us tank transporter.

36 posted on 03/16/2012 9:11:45 AM PDT by bravo whiskey (If the little things really bother you, maybe it's because the big things are going well.)
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To: bravo whiskey

Bravo Zulu, Bravo Whiskey!

Post a review and build thread like this. Maybe we can come up with a model builders ping list on FR or something.

That’s very ambitious building all of those vessels from all three wars, WOW, Wars along with the armour.

I built the 1942 USS Hornet and have the B-25s on deck...still have to add all the GMM details. But will add the USS Enterprise, the New Orleans Class Cruiser and two Gleaves class destroyer because I wanted that historical Tokyo raid gorup.

Probably work on it after the US CSG while waiting on the UK models and others to come out. I could already get all the Ruskie models but will wait on those until after I build the US groups on orders from the CINC here at the house. LOL!

37 posted on 03/16/2012 9:18:15 AM PDT by Jeff Head (Liberty is not free. Never has been, never will be. (
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To: Jeff Head

What a wonderful way to spend time with your grandchildren! That’s just great. :)

38 posted on 03/16/2012 9:51:52 AM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: Vroomfondel; SC Swamp Fox; Fred Hayek; NY Attitude; P3_Acoustic; investigateworld; lowbuck; ...


Click on pic for past Navair pings. Post or FReepmail me if you wish to be enlisted in or discharged from the Navair Pinglist. The only requirement for inclusion in the Navair Pinglist is an interest in Naval Aviation. This is a medium to low volume pinglist.

39 posted on 03/16/2012 3:28:59 PM PDT by magslinger (If I wanted to vote for a Commie I would vote for Obammie. He has a chance of winning.)
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To: Jeff Head
As one of many Freepers who has come to know you, and become very fond of you, through your multitude of posts on FR and your superb literary efforts, let me just say again that we're all thrilled that your recent medical "adventures" are all behind you, and you're now able to indulge your passion for modeling..and to share it with your grandkids, and pass along your passion.

When I was a lad, I loved doing model airplanes..the Revell models especially. My dad was a pilot in WW II, and I swear I had the entire 8th USAF hanging from the ceiling over my bed. I also enjoyed the sailign ship models...USS Constitution and the clipper Cutty Sark were my faves...and oh, the rigging....

I have two daughers, so was never able to share it with to know all about Cabbage Patch kids, especially those gawd awful Koosas.

My oldest grandson is now perhaps in a few years..

40 posted on 03/16/2012 4:53:30 PM PDT by ken5050 (The ONLY reason to support Mitt: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir will appear at the WH each Christmas)
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