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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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FYI, for those with interests in Naval matters, the growth of the Red Chinese, or in model building as a hobby, please enjoy the thread. I'll add more (building of the air wing, finishing the outfitting of the deck, painting/decals of the deck markings, and the final railing on the main deck) as I do them.
1 posted on 03/16/2012 6:08:11 AM PDT by Jeff Head
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To: Jim Robinson; Noumenon; joanie-f; Dukie; Squantos; JohnHuang2; RobFromGa; k.trujillo; ... way I pass the time when not at work, doing chores around the house and honey do’s, or spending time with family (esp grandkids) and friends.

2 posted on 03/16/2012 6:10:13 AM PDT by Jeff Head (Liberty is not free. Never has been, never will be. (
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To: Jeff Head


I used to build Tamiya kits, not quite as detailed as what you’ve done.

3 posted on 03/16/2012 6:16:05 AM PDT by humblegunner
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To: Jeff Head
I grew up with the miltary modeler 1/35th series from Tamiya. I really didnt get into the modern water-line series, but I really did enjoy the WW2 collection.

Great work!

4 posted on 03/16/2012 6:17:43 AM PDT by DCBryan1 (Tagline removed at the request of someone who doesn't "get" Monty Python or Shakespear.)
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To: Jeff Head
I wish they would start a series of great sunken warships. I love visiting museums and seeing "as they are now" diorama's. Eerie, yet calm and morbidly facinating. Unfortunately, the HMS Hood diorama would be in pieces over the place.

You can look online for artists conceptions, but very rare to see model dioramas. I think there is a 1/350 scratchbuilt of the Goya in Gdansk both before and after the tragedy.

5 posted on 03/16/2012 6:21:11 AM PDT by DCBryan1 (Tagline removed at the request of someone who doesn't "get" Monty Python or Shakespear.)
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To: Jeff Head

Very neat!

6 posted on 03/16/2012 6:24:55 AM PDT by unkus (Silence Is Consent)
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To: Jeff Head
The model looks fantastic Jeff! I don't think I would have the patience to build a model like that.

Keep the updates coming.

7 posted on 03/16/2012 6:37:36 AM PDT by wagglebee ("A political party cannot be all things to all people." -- Ronald Reagan, 3/1/75)
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To: Jeff Head
Excellent work, Jeff!

Your post brings back fond memories of my parents building model ships when I was a child. Both were in the Navy in WW2, and spent many hours together in the evenings working on their models.

8 posted on 03/16/2012 6:48:26 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: DCBryan1
Hey Trumpeter does a very nice 1/200 USS Arizona
9 posted on 03/16/2012 6:50:39 AM PDT by tophat9000 (American is Barack Oaken)
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To: Jeff Head


10 posted on 03/16/2012 6:53:38 AM PDT by ▀udda▀udd
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To: Jeff Head; mickie
I read every word of your "shipbuilding" odyssey with a great deal of interest and pleasure. I used to do hobby work that required a great deal of miniature piece work and patience. Some folks think these are painstakingly onerous tasks, but to the contrary, they are intensely interesting, fun and totally self-satisfying and rewarding in the long run.


11 posted on 03/16/2012 6:53:50 AM PDT by MinuteGal
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To: Jeff Head

We (the communist PLAN) thank the multitudes of USA consumers for funding this and other Chinese military projects. Millions in Europe have doen their part, too. A wise choice, cheaper products in exchange for our future.

Nice pics, Jeff.

12 posted on 03/16/2012 7:07:33 AM PDT by veracious
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To: Jeff Head

Fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

13 posted on 03/16/2012 7:11:28 AM PDT by don-o (He will not share His glory and He will NOT be mocked! Blessed be the name of the Lord forever.)
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To: humblegunner

Thanks. My center piece for the US CSG will be the Tamiya 1/350 USS Enterprise model which I have had sitting around for 20 years. Will have an AEGIS Cruiser, and AEGIS BUrke DDG, one each of the LCS Freedom and Idependece, a Flight III LA SSN boat, tghe USS BOise, a Viginia SSN boat, the USS Texas, the LHD-7 Iwo Jima which will be Trumpeter’s 1/350 scale model of that, and the USS New Jersey (no in museum state) which was a Tamiya kit I built back in the early 90s in 1/350 scale.

The Chinese CSG will have the carrier, three of their new DDGs, two of their new FFGs, and one of their new nuclear SSNs. The only thing I do not have there yet are the two new FFGs which are coming out in May.

14 posted on 03/16/2012 7:15:24 AM PDT by Jeff Head (Liberty is not free. Never has been, never will be. (
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To: DCBryan1

I have a complete line of 1/35th Tamiya , Testors, AMT and other military armor for both the US and the Russians. Tanks, IFVs, Hummer, MLRS, etc. Never built, just waiting for the day. I have years of shipbuilding before I get to them so they may end up going on ebay.

15 posted on 03/16/2012 7:17:44 AM PDT by Jeff Head (Liberty is not free. Never has been, never will be. (
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To: Jeff Head

Great model Jeff! Trumpeter makes some really awesome kits.

16 posted on 03/16/2012 7:19:01 AM PDT by DarthVader (Politicians govern out of self interest, Statesmen govern for a Vision greater than themselves)
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To: trisham

Thanks. I love doing it therapeutic.

I have two grandsons who come over almost each weekend and work with me. Thy help with mine, but also are building their own, using my equipment and my help. Lot’s of fun and good experience for them and memories for all of us.

17 posted on 03/16/2012 7:19:45 AM PDT by Jeff Head (Liberty is not free. Never has been, never will be. (
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To: wagglebee; unkus

Thanks! I will update this thread as I complete the carrier and will add seperate threads for each kit I build in the Carrier Strike Groups.

18 posted on 03/16/2012 7:20:44 AM PDT by Jeff Head (Liberty is not free. Never has been, never will be. (
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To: tophat9000; DCBryan1

Yes they do...and a 1/350 scale as well. But I think DCBryan is actually looking for a kit that shows them as they rest after being sunk.

Sounds like a great idea for a scratch build using the main model as the foundation, doing a lot of research, then using tools and material to set up a display of how they ended up at rest.

19 posted on 03/16/2012 7:22:40 AM PDT by Jeff Head (Liberty is not free. Never has been, never will be. (
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To: MinuteGal

Amen to every bit of that! It is very satisfying, particularly as tow of my granssons have taken an interest and I help them with their interests.

Also, very therapuetic!

20 posted on 03/16/2012 7:24:22 AM PDT by Jeff Head (Liberty is not free. Never has been, never will be. (
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