Arii broke tradition by offering accurate kits of EACH aircraft carrier in service. So rather than just take their Nimitz kit and then rebox it with different decals for it's sisters, they made sure that each kit looked like the specific ship. Although Nimitz, Eisenhower and Carl Vinson are all in the same class, they all have some pretty major differences. Differences that Arii accurately recreated. Arii did all of the USN Cold War carriers from Midway all the way to Carl Vinson.
The only down sides were that the Arii kits are 1/800th scale and full hull. There is no waterline option. However in their defense, they not only give you 36-40 aircraft with each kit, but the planes were MODERN! This meant Tomcats, Hawkeye radar planes, Intruders, etc. Even in 1/800th scale, the Arii carriers build into big, impressive kits.
For my Nimitz, I chose to do her at the beginning of her comissioning so that I could take advantage of all the aircraft I had laying around that didn't fit anywhere. I won this kit in one of my model club's raffles and as I already have a Nimitz, this one will be donated to our club's display case that travels to various libraries, schools, museums, etc.
The painting is pretty straight forward with all Polyscale colors throughtout: Night Black (flight deck), Haze Gray and Anti-Fouling Red. There is no weathering as she's brand new. The decals are the ones that came with the kit. For my "aftermarket," I used Skywave 1/700th scale Sea-Sparrow launchers. For my radars and rails I used scraps from the spares box. My radar tower is home-made using 1/350th scale PE ladders and rails. The radar on top of it is also scratched using PE ladders of different scales.
USS Nimitz as built, was pretty naked for a few years. The Skywave launchers I used are the MK-16 "box" type that she carried prior to the 1980's. As the 1980's arrived, Nimitz and her sister Eisenhower transitioned to the MK-29 launcher with it's higher rate of fire. SLQ-32 ECM gear and Phalynx 20mm guns would also be added. The island would also change. For the money, the Arii carriers are easy, accurate builds and are high quality all around. The box art borders on cheesy but the kit inside is everything you wanted and then some. So how does the Arii kit stack up? On the left is the Trumpeter 1/700th scale Nimitz. In the middle is the Italeri 1/720th scale Nimitz and lastly is the 1/800th scale Arii.
There's a minimal width difference between the Trumpeter and Italeri ships, but the Arii is noticeably smaller. Also the Trumpeter and Italeri kits come with the option to do full hull or waterline. My Italeri is in need of "yard work" to repair some moving damage, replace some damaged/missing aircraft and repair some general stuff. The Trumpeter Nimitz will be built as the USS Harry S. Truman.
Notice the difference between 1988 Nimitz island (foreground) and the 1978 one. More sensors and other little bits and pieces. Also the darker color. Late 1980's Nimitz was Dark Ghost Grey for Pacific service. Oh by the way, the skull and cross bones on the Tomcats were hand-painted. Sorry Phil... Also note that 1988 Nimitz's deck markings are hand-painted.
The stern/fan tail will also change. Note the smaller missile launcher and both Phalynx 20mm (CIWS) guns. Also note the extra sensors, deck area, etc. The canopies on 1978 Nimitz are painted Gloss Silver and the planes are early-mid Cold War TPS of Gloss Gull Grey on top and Gloss White on the bottom. 1988 Nimitz' birds are Dark Ghost Grey all over with Tamiya Metallic Blue for the canopies. Oh by the way...the Italeri's nice sensors and weps are aftermarket Skywave parts as well.
If space is at a premium, the Arii kits are a perfect size. The new Trumpeter kit is indeed VERY NICE, but very pricey. And by all means, avoid the Fujimi 100+ dollar 1/700th scale carriers (Kitty Hawk and Constellation).