Last week we celebrated US Naval Aviation’s 100th birthday, and Monday we featured a neat pic of the ex-USS Enterprise (CV-6) steaming into 1945 New York City after WWII.
Today thanks to a tip by Toasters & Hooniverse regular commenter Justin Eddings, we offer an entirely new twist on the theme.
Behold this mind-bogglingly awesome 1/72 scale replica of the current USS Enterprise, CVN-65.
Scratch built by madman Gabriel Suranyi, this work of art stands 16 feet long, 5 feet wide and 4 feet tall and represents 19 YEARS (as of 2007) of his hard work. It is so exact in fact, that a flat-top sailor would instantly recognize any of the close-up photos. Indeed, the replica represents the USS Enterprise along with the embarked Air-Wing 11 during the ships’ actual 1989 cruise.
And he nailed it. While viewing the 100 or so detail shots, this author was transported back to his own days at sea on a different ship in the same era. The textures are right, and the myriad of little details on a ship at sea (that are usually overlooked ) are just as I remember it. The hoses & fittings, the ladders & guardrails, fire extinguishers and life preservers. It’s almost like looking at a memory through a tilt-shift camera. Even the hanger bay is lit, with spare aircraft drop-tanks hung from the ceiling.
I can almost smell the JP5 tainted coffee and hear the various tractor motors as they spot planes on the deck. The angry Airboss barking orders topside, while the ship’s yeoman whistles various calls and announces “Sweepers, sweepers, man your brooms” on the 1MC public address system inside.
So lifelike is this creation, that the captain of the real Enterprise invited Mr. Suranyi out to visit the actual ship as his guest for 2 days in 1997, arriving via a C-2A Greyhound.
My favorite parts are the yellow crane that sailors nicknamed “Tilly” and of course the uuber-accurate representations of all the Radar and communication systems. Our Tilly sat outside and below the transmitter space on my own ship, and from “Vulture’s row” I was able to look down and see that every type plane had its weight listed on one of Tilly’s fenders. The F-14 Tomcat was listed as 54,000lbs, a strange bit of trivia to remember.
And the Radars dishes are just awesome. Each and every one of them I can look at and associate with actual friends, all of whom we shared incredible adventures with. Even my own ACLS Radar system is there, and in spite of being one of the coolest systems in the Navy it is NEVER included on lesser models.
But perhaps my favorite part of all is the visit back in time to an Airwing configuration I once knew. Tomcats still prowled the skies, A-6 Intruders still flew overhead with their distinctive refueling pod & twin windshields that resembled the eyes of a Disney character, and the F/A-18 Hornet was still the young new Hot-Rod of the sky. S-3 Viking CODs (carrier onboard Delivery) occasionally brought celebrities onboard, C-2A Greyhounds delivered letters from home and cookies from Operation Dear Abby, while E-2C Hawkeyes kept a watchful eye over us all. EA-6B Prowlers could mess you up with the flip of a switch, and SH-3 Sea King whirley-birds stayed at the ready, to hunt overly brave USSR submarines or pick up a downed pilot (or clumsy sailor).
Check out Mr. Suranyi’s work, and then spend some time and go back to marvel at all the tiny details. You can almost hear the catapults launch, or the captain announcing liberty-call in some exotic port…
Now weigh anchor and brew us up some coffee.
(photos Courtesy of Gabriel Suranyi via carrierbuilders.net