1/700 USS Princeton (CV-37) and 1/144 CVG-19 Air Wing

Gallery Article by Robert C. Bond on Dec 1 2014



Last year my daughter took my grandson  to see a local airshow which featured the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels.

I had recently started collecting 1/144th scale aircraft and had already picked up several of the newer Blue Angels aircraft. But a little research can sometimes be dangerous, and lead to bigger projects.  I found in my research that  during the Korean War, many of the Blue Angels pilots were transferred to combat duty aboard USS Princeton and formed the core of VF-191 “Satan's Kittens.”  I haven't seen many Korean war era models so I thought I'd give one a try.

  My submission is based on USS Princeton  (CV-37) and the aircraft of Carrier Air Group Nineteen (CVG-19) as
Princeton conducted her first combat tour in Korean waters in November 1950 to May 1951.

USS Princeton (CV-37) - The prototype: (from several online sources)

      The ship was laid down as Valley Forge — one of the "long-hull" Essex class — on 14 September 1943 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. She was renamed Princeton on 21 November 1944 to commemorate the light carrier USS Princeton (CVL-23), which was lost at the Battle of Leyte Gulf on 24 October 1944. The new Princeton was launched on 8 July 1945. Following the war in 1948 she prepared for inactivation, and on 20 June decommissioned and joined other capital ships in the Pacific Reserve Fleet.

   Reactivated with the outbreak of hostilities in Korea 15 months later, Princeton recommissioned on 28 August 1950. Intensive training refreshed her Reservist crew, and on 5 December she joined TF 77 off the Korean coast, her planes and pilots (Air Group 19) making possible the re-institution of jet combat air patrols over the battle zone. She launched 248 sorties against targets in the Hagaru area to announce her arrival, and for the next six days continued the pace to support Marines fighting their way down the long, cold road from the Chosin Reservoir to Hungnam. By the 11th, all units had reached the staging area on the coast. Princeton's planes, with other Navy, Marine, and Air Force squadrons, then covered the evacuation from Hungnam through its completion on the 24th.

  Interdiction missions followed, and by 4 April Princeton's planes had rendered 54 rail and 37 highway bridges inoperable  and damaged 44 more. In May, they flew against the railroad bridges connecting Pyongyang with Sunchon, Sinanju, Kachon, and the trans-peninsula line. Next, they combined close air support with raids on power sources in the Hwachon  Reservoir area and, with the stabilization of the front there, resumed interdiction. For much of the summer they pounded supply arteries, concentrating on highways, and in August Princeton got underway for the U.S., arriving at San Diego on the 21st. On 30 April 1952, Princeton rejoined TF 77 in the combat zone. For 138 days, her planes flew against the enemy. They sank small craft to prevent the recapture of offshore islands; blasted concentrations of supplies, facilities, and equipment behind enemy lines, participated in air-gun strikes on coastal cities, pounded the enemy's hydroelectric complex at Suiho on the Yalu River to turn off power on both sides of that river, destroyed gun positions and supply areas in Pyongyang; and closed mineral processing plants and munitions factories at Sindok, Musan, Aoji, and Najin.

    Reclassified CVA-37 (1 October 1952), Princeton returned to California on 3 November for a two-month respite from the western Pacific. In February 1953, she was back off the Korean coast and until the end of the conflict launched planes for close air support, "Cherokee" strikes against supply, artillery, and troop concentrations in enemy territory, and against road traffic. She remained in the area after the truce on 27 July, and on 7 September got underway for San Diego.

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USS Princeton (CV 37) - The Model
   I purchased the Dragon USS Princeton CVS-37 model online and started to built it straight out of the box, however I found that this was a 1954 configuration, and ended up trying to back-date it to it's 1951 appearance as it can out of mothballs.  A review of the “Model Warships” web page, and
navsource.com web site,  I was able to find some valuable pictures and construction sheets for other Essex class carriers. With these in hand I able to complete my back-date relatively easy. I experimented for the first time with the etched brass in the kit to complete the radar dishes and the elevator framework.  Etched brass is nice, but I have a long ways to go with it. I used some old guitar strings to make antenna.  My model was finished with Model Master enamel and acrylic paints.

CVG -19 (9 Nov 1950 -29 May 1951*) Aircraft
Squadron       Aircraft          Tail Code
VF-191           F9F-2                B
VF-192           F4U-4                B
VF-193           F4U-4                B
VA-195           AD-4                  B
VC-3 Det F     F4U-5N             NP  Night fighter with APS-6 radar
VC-11 Det      AD-4W               ND  3 seat airborne early warning version
VC-35 Det 3   AD-4N                NR
VC-61 Det      F9F-2P               PP  Photographic version of the F9F-2
HU-1 Det        HO3S -1             UP

The CVG-19 aircraft are all 1/144th scale.  I have worked with 1/72 aircraft in the past, so working with something that size was very different.  But surprisingly, these little birds are full of nice detail.

The F9F-2 Panther aircraft are from OZMODS Kits, a company from Australia. They were a little difficult to get everything lined up properly and required a bit of body putty all around, but the kits do produce a very nice Panther.

The F4U's and the AD-4 variants were from F-Toys of Japan.  These are nice little gems. I did strip and repaint them with  Model Master enamel paint, then decaled with Microscale and kit decals.  Some variations included the APS-6 radar on  the VC-3 F4U-5N night fighter. The enlarged canopy, reworked tail,  and underbelly radome on the VC-11 AD-4W were kitbashed with left over parts from an Airelex resin kit.

The HO3S-1 helicopter was one of the most difficult of to find, and I had originally looked at leaving this out of the display.  But quite by accident I found that a company called Anigrand produces rather large resin 1/144th scale aircraft and each kit comes with 3 or 4 additional models of experimental aircraft. As it turns out,  one of their kits had the Sikorsky R5-A  helicopter which, with a little work produced a very nice model of the HO3S-1.

 The display base is red oak 1 X 8 and with a little fancy work. I sat and drew all the plank lines to simulate the Essex class  deck in 1/144th scale. Stained to match the color of the prototype flight deck and hand painted the deck stripes.  The clear case is my only dislike about this project. I  plan to replace this later on when I have time.  I found both  the ship and the Air Group patches to complete the display. I worked on the project for the better part of a year, and I am very pleased with the final outcome.

Robert C. Bond

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Photos and text © by Robert C. Bond