Brewster, Massachusetts / USA
It was in Chicago that as a grade-school boy that I began ship modeling.
Day trips across Lake Michigan to Benton Harbor - St. Joseph on the Goodrich steamer Theodore Roosevelt inspired me to make a model of that ship. It was of course scratch-built and wildly out of scale but it had all the essential parts, white painted, the two stacks linked by a unique openwork nameplate and tiers of open decks. Wish I still had it! After that my interest shifted to clipper ships, and Megows balsa wood kits kept me busy for a while. My next passenger ship model was another scratch built one, the Milwaukee Clipper, the streamlined Muskegan-Milwaukee excursion vessel. In my High School years ocean liners and modern warships commanded my interest. The Normandie disaster and the constant naval war news were the stimulants. I set myself tasks such as wooden models of all the larger warships and liners over 20,000 tons waterline scale 1"/100'. These led me into another project, the 'blue riband' liners, waterline, 2"/100' Mauretania to Queen Mary (the ss United States not yet around). These were all scratch-built in pine with windows done in paper strips. Art College, and a career in graphic design, kept me away from the workbench for some years though my interest in ships never waned. And, as I was able to travel on the transatlantic liners I also collected all the material I could on them as well as photographing as much as I could.
Living on the Boston waterfront, I could keep a watch on ships comings and goings and the polystyrene kits came on the market plunging me back into modeling. Those early ones demanded a lot of modifying but it was possible to achieve a much greater accuracy of detail. One of my favorites was the Revell Great Eastern which I eagerly built having admired that ship through old prints from the Illustrated London News. I resisted Revellís Queen Mary because of some glaring inaccuracies, but finally succumbed (chief objection was the lack of relationship of davits to the windows below, an important feature on that ship). Airfix liner kits were certainly an improvement and I made up three versions of Mauretania, using varied liveries on each. The ss France came along and I still consider that one of the finest kits ever. As the plastic kits got larger and more varied it was a joy to haunt the hobby shops here and in England ever looking for new, interesting kits. The large Entex Titanic gave me the opportunity to convert to Olympic, which I did by writing to the company for extra lifeboats. Others of roughly the same scale were the QE2 which I converted to a later configuration than that provided in the kit, and Lusitania which held special interest for me as a relative had sailed in her in 1909. Two Mediterranean voyages on Canberra persuaded me to make up the Airfix model of that wonderful ship. I like the 600 scale particularly because its relative ease in construction and I often use these models to get various viewpoints on a ship for the paintings I work on.
Now we have resin kits, which though expensive, offer a chance to make models of less popular ships. It was a real delight to have Tom Nicolai's Normandie to do. Following that was the Bremen from HP. Tom Nicolai suggested once that he might produce an Andrea Doria kit and I for one fervently hope he does. Regia Marina has projected one of the Rex. That would be Marvelous! They have produced one of the 1930 Italian liner Victoria and I have that to look forward to next.
Don ~ 11/03