Comparison of Tamiya and HMH 1/350 scale USS Enterprise

Hi all,

I've just received my Mini Hobby Models (MHM) Original USS Enterprise, CVN-65 (although the original designation was CVA(N)-65). Tamiya only offers the re-fit version of the Big E. MHM, on the other hand, offer the kit in two versions; a. the original Bee Hive Island (Kit #80502) and b. the re-fit version (Kit #80501). The other major difference in the kits is the MHM versions offer a split (up and down ) hull, so you can complete the kit in either the full hull or waterline versions. Also, in the Tamiya kit, the bow section of the hull comes as a separate section to be glued and bolted on to the rest of the hull, whereas the HMH version comes with the upper hull already screwed and glued together. The MHM kit is also set up for electric power with built in battery boxes in the lower hull part, but no motors or gearing is included in the kit.

The Bee Hive looks strangely elongated on the MHM box picture, and it is also strangely elongated on the kit itself. The kit does not include all the little radars that stick out on the Bee Hive on the real thing. The hull of the MHM kit is really for the re-fit version of Enterprise. As in the Tamiya kit, there are weapons sponsons forward that were put on during the refit, the outlines of which will have to be removed from the kit to do the older version. There are also other weapons sponsons, mostly for Phalanx guns, that will have to be modified and/or scratch built to back date them to the earlier version. Also, the life rafts on the re-fit version are rounded while the original life rafts were in square boxes.

There is no question the MHM kit is a derivative of the Tamiya kit, judging from the hull and the flight decks. However, the Tamiya molding is sharper and cleaner. The number 65 is molded into the fore of the flight deck of both. However, they are different and both are incorrect. Why the numbers were molded in at all is a mystery to me. The ship's parts sprues are similar, but not exactly the same. The odd thing is the elevators in the MHM kit seem to be more detailed than those of the Tamiya kit. The air wing sprues are the same in both kits, so you're going to have to buy Skyhawks, Phantoms, and Vigilantes from another source if you want to do a 1960's version of the Big E. This month's Squadron Mail Order is offering Trumpeter jet plane sets for $3.99 each. I bought sets of A-7s, A-6Es, A-3s, and E-2Cs from them.

The Tamiya version has three of the four elevator doors open on the kit, so putting in a hanger deck will be fairly easy. The MHM version has three of the four elevators closed on the kit, so you're going to have to do some surgery to open them up for a hanger deck.

I am building the Bee Hive version. I'm going to use the BeeHive dome and radars from an old Otaki 1/400 scale Big E. The difference in scale between the 1/400th and 1/350 kits is about 12 ½ %, so I'm going to use a little modification and a little license on these parts. For the island itself, I will use the MHM parts, as it will be much easier than trying to up-size the entire Otaki island. I'm also going to use the square life raft boxes from the Otaki kit.. I'm going to use the MHM hull that's already waterline, but I'm using the flight deck parts from the Tamiya kit. The detail of the Tamiya kit is better, and there is a slot in the MHM deck, which I think would be used for a on-off switch if it were electrified. I think it will be easier/faster to cut out the three hanger doors than it would be to reinforce and saw off the bottom hull for the waterline presentation. I'm also going to order the 1/350th scale photo etch for this project. This project will be expensive, but I'm only going to do two projects this year, and I've been doing my buying for several months now to stretch out the expense.

If you are interested in building the full hull re-fit version, you'd be better off paying the extra money for the Tamiya kit. If you want to build waterline or the Bee Hive version, you'd be better off getting the MHM kit. I bought the Tamiya kit last month for $127.50 after a local store matched the price in a Fine Scale Modeler ad. This month Squadron has the Tamiya kit on sale for $109.99. They are also offering the re-fit version of the MHM kit for $89.97. I bought the MHM original version Enterprise from Phoenix Models over the web this week for $79.99 plus $8.99 for shipping. They had both versions in stock when I ordered. They shipped the kit by UPS in four days.

If you have any specific comments or questions, you can reply to the group or to me personally.

Jerry 47

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jerry 47
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