USS New Jersey & USS Essex

Published on
Review Author(s)
Product / Stock #
009338 & 009376
Company: Aoshima - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Dragon Models USA - Website: Visit Site
Box art

Two Tiny Ships

The USS New Jersey and USS Essex by Aoshima

  • USS New Jersey
  • USS Essex

I like small models, so when I saw these two 1/2000 scale kits from Aoshima on the review list I quickly asked for them. Aoshima makes a whole series of ship kits in this scale, and I admit that I liked these review samples enough just upon opening the box that I went out and ordered a half-dozen more. The series includes American, English, and German subjects. There are unfortunately no Japanese ships included in this series so far.

Since the kits are so small, and are very similar, I’ll be reviewing the two sample kits side-by side.

These two kits represent a couple famous WWII US Naval subjects – the USS New Jersey BB-62 and the USS Essex CV-9.

The USS New Jersey was an Iowa-class battleship commissioned in May of 1943. She served with distinction, participating in many significant actions in the Pacific. She later served during the Korean conflict, after which she was put into the reserve fleet. Reactivated in 1968 she was posted off the coast of Vietnam during that conflict, after which she was once again placed into the reserve fleet. She was reactivated in the 1980’s, when she was modernized to carry missiles and took part in a few minor actions. The ‘Big J’ was finally decommissioned in 1991 and now serves as a museum ship in Camden, New Jersey.

The USS Essex was the lead ship in a new class of 24 aircraft carriers constructed during WWII. She was commissioned in December of 1942 and participated in several major campaigns in the Pacific, earning a Presidential Unit Citation and 13 Battle Stars. Put into reserve almost immediately following the war, her career in the US Navy continued when she was pulled out of the mothball fleet, modernized, and put into service as an attack carrier (CVA) in the early 1950’s, where she service primarily in the Atlantic. Her role later changed to an anti-submarine carrier (CVS) before she was finally decommissioned in 1969, and sold for scrap in 1975.

The Kits

The kits are fairly new releases; all of the 1/2000 scale series were released in 2013. The box art is very nice, with the instructions printed on the back of the box. The parts are sealed inside a clear plastic bag.

The USS New Jersey consists of two gray sprues that contain the major components of the ship – the upper hull, superstructure, guns, and such, as well as a stand for the completed model. There is one red sprue that consists of the ship’s lower hull.

The USS Essex is similar, two gray and one red. The gray parts are the upper hull, flight deck, and the carrier’s island, assorted guns, and a stand. The red sprue is the lower hull. Don’t count on populating the deck with aircraft, though. There’s only two tiny fighters included, which means the deck will look really bare.

Both ships can be built as either waterline or full-hull. They come with a nice little stand that plugs into holes in the lower hull if you choose the full-hull option.

The small parts count means the built will go quickly, with most of the focus being on paint. Both of these subjects have a wide variety of potential camouflage measures, from plain solid colors to stacked colors to dazzle effects. Since the Essex was the lead ship, it should be possible to do one of the other early Essex-class carriers like the USS Yorktown or USS Wasp.

There are no decals in either kit, so any ID numbers would need to be sourced elsewhere. This is probably not a big deal, since in this scale you certainly wouldn’t see the ship’s name, and the number would be almost insignificantly small. The big ID number on the deck of the carrier is molded into the plastic, which I don’t particularly like but should make it easier to paint. I would have preferred it if this was left blank so other Essex-class carriers could be done without a lot of work to remove the molded-in number.

The instructions are printed on the back of the box, and can be a bit difficult to follow because the print is small and the attachment points are not always clear.

The Build

I built both of these kits simultaneously, since the assembly of each was similar. I chose to do the USS New Jersey in a Measure 22 scheme as a full-hull model utilizing the included stand. The USS Essex is the waterline version, painted in the unique-to-the-Essex two-color dazzle camouflage scheme (A black and gray variant of Measure 32).

All of the parts were primed before painting with appropriate colors.

USS Essex

The hull is in two pieces, with small button-like connectors in the center to give it some structural integrity. These were glued together, and I added a thin piece of cut and shaped sheet styrene to the bottom, as I didn’t want to leave it open. There are seams that need to be cleaned up on both the bow and stern, with the one on the stern being particularly challenging.

In preparation for the dazzle paint scheme on the Essex, I found copies of the original drawings on the internet, and printed them out in both a full-page version as well as a couple that were shrunk down to 1/2000 scale. I’ll cut out the sections to mask the lower hull – it’s nice because in this scale a single width of tape is more than adequate!

After priming the first coat was the light sea gray. Once dry it was time to add the dazzle camo. The Essex was unique in that its camouflage was just two colors - gray and flat black. I had initially intended to try and mask it, but since it was so small I lightly outlined the areas to be painted black with a pencil and then filled it in by hand (with the exception of one square section, which I masked with some short pieces of Tamiya masking tape). It’s probably not as sharp as it might be if it were masked, but in this scale I think it looks OK – not competition worthy but will look fine on the shelf.

The flight deck was painted deck blue on top and a ‘dirty’ white on the bottom. The underside surfaces were white on some ships in order to help minimize shadows. The sides will be touched up with the camouflage colors once it’s mated to the deck. Once the deck was dry, I carefully picked out the highlights, filling in the big ‘9’ ID number, as well as the surrounds on the deck elevators using fine-tipped dark gray paint markers. I also masked off the bottom of the hull, leaving just a fine section exposed, and hit it with some hull red.

The carrier’s island has a big problem – there’s a huge ejector pin mark right in the center of the starboard side. It’s very obvious, so had to be removed. I carefully scraped it off using a sharp chisel blade in my hobby knife. The 5” guns are also very fragile. When I went to put them on I found that one of them had lost the barrels. So I drilled some fine holes and cut some thin brass rod to fit.

When they were ready, the island, guns, and deck hardware were all sprayed with haze gray. The guns and other hardware were installed onto the deck and then any additional colors for the dazzle scheme were added. The island was touched up by hand with the various camouflage colors before it was installed. Then the whole thing was sprayed with flat clear to even everything out.

The one thing I’d change about this kit? More aircraft. There’s two tiny Hellcats, but that’s it. The deck looks really bare without any aircraft on it. I’m going to see about 3D printing a few more Hellcats and maybe an Avenger or two to fill out the air wing.

All in all not a bad tiny kit, not a lot of parts or fine detail, but it gives the overall look of the ship.

USS New Jersey

The main hull of the New Jersey is a single piece, and the lower part (below the waterline) of the hull is in two pieces split down the middle. This means there’s a nice seam to clean up right down the keel of the ship. Most of it is fairly easy to smooth out, but the small section at the stern is a real challenge, because the rudders and prop shafts are molded in, and because this is such a small scale there’s not a lot of room to work with between the rudders – and the seam goes right between them. I had to cut down a sanding stick to smooth it out, and because it’s so small I sprayed some surfacer on it about half-way through just so I could see it! While this is going to be barely visible once the model is on its stand, I still wanted it to be nice and smooth in there. Once it was smooth to my satisfaction, it was primed and then given a coat of hull red.

Measure 22 is a three-color camouflage scheme, with the hull being a dark blue, vertical surfaces above the hull are gray, and the horizontal surfaces are deck blue. Masking the intricacies of a battleship’s superstructure in the scale was going to be impossible, so I decided to spray as much as I could knowing that there would be a lot of hand-painted touchup work to make it look right.

After some deliberation, I decided to spray the primary dark blue on the hull first, then mask it off and do the deck blue next. The superstructure would be touched up in gray by hand. My reasoning was that most people would be seeing the model from above, so I wanted that finish to be as nice as possible.

Compared to the Essex kit, the New Jersey had a lot more parts. In addition to the main guns there’s all those 5” guns, catapults, masts, etc. to tack on. I sprayed most of these parts with gray and touched up the horizontal surfaces with deck blue. There are a few extra parts on the sprues that are not shown in the instructions; they may be for other Iowa-class ships. As far as I could tell there was nothing missing from the New Jersey.

The lower hull does not fit very well. Mine was a bit bowed, and had to be clamped down to make it stay. It’s also a bit larger in the bow, which would need some work to make it perfect.

I had to drill out some of the holes where the 5” guns attach to make them fit flush.

I realize that due to the small scale it’s really hard to replicate certain features of the ship. For example, the molding for the anti-aircraft batteries is very shallow, as well as those of the 50 caliber machine guns. So shallow, in fact, that it can be very difficult to even see them.


I like these kits. As I mentioned above, I like them so much I went out and purchased the other ships in this series. While small, they are of some good subjects and with a bit of work can do a good job of replicating the real ship. I’d love to see a few more, especially of some of the Japanese fleet – say an Akagi and a Yamato.

Many thanks to both IPMS USA and Dragon Models for providing these kits to review.


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