Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Old Navy

"Old Navy" is a correct description of the vessels above - they go back some 70 years - back, in fact, to World War Two or before. They are models of actual U.S. Navy ships, like the cruiser Portland and destroyers Sampson, Jouett, and Davis.

Before the war started I got the idea of making a scale model of every ship in the active Navy. Using an ancient copy of Janes Fighting Ships (the authoritive book listing all Navy ships of the world) I began to make small models of active ships.
Using small pieces of balsa, at a scale of 100 feet to the inch, I crudely shaped the hulls and super structures. Guns were formed with magnet wire, and the vessels were, for the most part, painted with water soluble poster colors. A scale model of the battleship North Carolina is in the set but it is battered with it's superstructure pretty well gone because it was too high for the box it was in.

I don't know what got me off on this project - I think I saw some models made by a neighbor's son who was a student at Annapolis. Also, I often got caught up in the enthusiam a lot of teen agers had about the Navy in the late thirties and early forties. I even tried to join the Navy during the war but was rejected because I was too young (my father was not happy at all about this ill-fated attempt which involved playing hookie from school).

Anyway, this little box of models has somehow survived all our moves and is a reminder of an early-age passion. So has a copy of the 1942 edition of "Janes all the world Fighting Ships" that provided dimensions and outlines of the ship models.
Not all the ship models survived - among the missing is a very complex model of the first aircraft carrier "Langley". However, I'm happy the small number that HAVE survived are still around - they remain a memory of creative times and of a teen-agers love of the Navy. Now that I think of it, my life has involved the Army, Air Force, Marines, and Navy at one time or another. Not many people can claim that and no one has this many ships that are long gone but not forgotten by the men who sailed aboard them

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