I didn't realize the Trumpy prices had jumped that much - I can remember seeing those Hornets and Lexingtons (on sale, I'll grant you) for $50 or so. But at the new prices, yet another old classic - the Aurora Enterprise CV-6 - might even be competitive, if maybe you can find a bagged (cheaper) one somewhere. Scaling out to somewhere between 1:610 and -630, it would make for a nice 600-scale Ranger - again, perfectly accompanied by an Aurora St.Paul, and/or an Airfix 4-stacker DD.
Speaking of which, I searched my entire archive of ModelFleet posts for any hint of a scratchbuilt Ranger, and couldn't find any. (Though that does sound familiar to me, too.) Probably it must have been on ModelWarships' gallery. I would definitely love to see - and to post, here at ModelFleet - pics of that build (if you're out there, lurking).
I just had (yet) another guy buy parts to upgrade a Revell Hornet - maybe I'll dust off and perform an upgrade my old one, with weapons, directors and aircraft, and post it all, just to give you guys a shot of inspiration...