FLIGHT DECK-Edge PIERCINGS
Posted by Matty on September 27, 2009, 14:12:45, in reply to "Of Planked Decks and Pointy Bits: The EARLY-FIT ESSEXES"
Message modified by board administrator September 28, 2009, 10:37:14
This may sound like an esoteric or geek-enized topic, but it is actually one required at the present stage in my USS Boxer build. What I need to determine is an accurate - or, at lest plausible (see below) - layout of all the holes, hatches, doors and scuttles along the sides of her flight deck; leading from the catwalks inside, to the gallery: |
Click on Image to Enlarge Here, as a Hellcat does its best to lose control (though in the end it didn't) while landing aboard Yorktown-II during the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot (6/19/44), note a crewman (lower-left) is ready to shove himself through one of these openings - not a hatch, note, but simply a rounded, approximately two-thirds-height archway - to (relative) safety, under the flight deck. And note in the foreground a second, even lower archway (whether leading to the same space or to its own small niche or cubby, I don't know) has a squared-off top. Note also that, especially in black-and-white pics from this angle, the general shapes of the fire extinguishers also can resemble the round-topped archways.
This is only the beginning of the complexity in identifying these piercings; there were several more types clearly apparent alongside Essex flight decks:
Click on Image to Enlarge Here, on the bow of Lake Champlain in February of 1952 - with several crewmen also in the picture, for a good indication of scale - there are visible six large piercings, of three distinct types: 3 large oval openings; 2 smaller oval hatchways (or perhaps more accurately "scuttles") and - furthest aft, below the crewman on the flight deck - a rounded archway, as already seen above. This "as-built" type of archway was doubtless the origin of the 3 large ovals (without hatches); given rounded lower rims during subsequent lowering of the forward catwalk.
Yet another type of archway - and yet more to the point, documented for Boxer - is seen in this example, from exactly the same forward-starboard area:
Click on Image to Enlarge In 1964, her starboard-side forward catwalk has either still not been lowered, or has reverted back to the higher level, after her conversion to an LPH. But now note (at least) two archways are clearly wider - nearly square in shape; like those seen above on Yorktown-II, except now of the full, "two-thirds" height (and proportional width). Of course, such closeup pics - of Boxer in her immediately preceding CVS fit - are all I would need, however such references, covering all edges of her flight deck, are simply not available; not for any Essex-class carrier, AFAIK.
Moreover, note even in this closeup much of the bulkhead is obscured by float-net baskets, radio aerials, etc. - a common occurrence in historical pics and - maddeningly - a (copout) feature of virtually all drawings I have seen, as well. Nevertheless, on a model - particularly in 1/525 scale - the typical view from well above the flight deck will reveal these openings clearly, where they were distinctive on the Essexes.
So - despite the above proof that piercings were not identical on all ships (certainly at least not between different fits) - we are left with the endeavor to cobble together a decent generalized layout for them, employing all available Essex-class pics. Some of which clearly show the above high, wide-type archway on (probably most, if not all) early-fit Essexes:
Click on Image to Enlarge Here on Bon Homme Richard, still in her WWII configuration on 2/2/52, a pair of wider archways right aft appear to have stature - compared to the crewmen on deck - closer to half-height than to two-thirds', but either way they are clearly wide, with flattened top edges; similar or identical those on Boxer, above. Further forward, it is unclear whether additional, small dark swaths high on the side walls, in this black-and-white pic, are perhaps yet another type of squarish piercing, or the shadows on fire extinguishers, etc., as previously observed. And note that the floater-net baskets again complicate the view.
Nevertheless, already at a minimum we have observed at least four distinct types of piercings, whose statures I will label "tall" for between about half- and two-thirds-height, or "short" when roughly half that high:
- Tall oval arch
- Tall square arch
- Short oval hatch (scuttle?)
- Short square arch
And again, the short piercings can occur high-, low- or midway up the bulkhead, relative to the level of the catwalk.
A helluva lot bigger research project than I originally bargained for! But - especially given my interest in additional Essex-class builds in the future, not to mention all your various Essex-class builds, already in progress - I think this will be effort well spent, all around.
I have already divided the total Essex flight deck perimeter into 8 segments, each of whose piercings I will document, and attempt to lay out accurately - or, failing that, at least plausibly - in generalized drawings for the entire class. Look for installments on each of these appearing as "responses", below.
And of course, if you have any good graphic references - for any Essex carrier, in any fit - give me a shout, and I will incorporate it here, and/or post a copy.