You are correct...that mount did get removed. Further down in the Navsource images you supplied there's a picture of her island, and the caption plainly states the mount was removed.
However, further up in these images is one from February of 1944 of her in action before the refit. So, if it is not painted in dazzle, you could still have the island with the mount, and call it 1944.
I believe the forward 40mm mount on the bridge needs to be removed. In the Essex's April '44 refit (her only one of the war), that mount was removed and the interior spaces were enlarged.
I'm sure someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that is the case.
See the pic with the caption below.
"Essex in San Francisco for a refit, April 15th, 1944. At this time, she had her dazzle paint (Measure 32, Design 6/10D) applied. Photo shows her loading new SB2C-3's." http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/09.htm http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/09.htm
Well … Kyle has restarted his work on my USS ESSEX, CV-9 in her 1944 configuration. He has painted the hull … this is what he has said …
“I ordered some liquid masking on Sunday, to start to tackle the Essex color scheme, will keep you updated I’d like to get back on it soon. A little touch up to do where lines of tape overlapped each other but nothing too bad. Next up will be getting the armament and other little parts in and masking and painting the island.”
Here some photos of the build …
IMG_6558 by Tim Connelly , on Flickr
IMG_6557 by Tim Connelly , on Flickr
IMG_6556 by Tim Connelly , on Flickr
IMG_6637 by Tim Connelly , on Flickr
IMG_6636 by Tim Connelly , on Flickr
IMG_6560 by Tim Connelly , on Flickr
IMG_6559 by Tim Connelly , on Flickr
IMG_6650 by Tim Connelly , on Flickr
IMG_6649 by Tim Connelly , on Flickr
ESSEXBUILD34 by Tim Connelly , on Flickr
ESSEXBUILD33 by Tim Connelly , on Flickr
ESSEXBUILD32 by Tim Connelly , on Flickr
ESSEXBUILD29 by Tim Connelly , on Flickr