AT Hall of Fame

Now That’s Incredible

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.

Note the ACLS antennas, the two robotic dishes on lower left

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.

USS Enterprise Super Replica on

(photos Courtesy of Gabriel Suranyi via


  • OA5599
    • Naval aviation. I sometimes forget there are "other" parts of the Navy.


      • I've heard there are two parts: submarines and targets.

  • The Professor

    Looking at those pictures, it occurs to me that we could use some in-depth looks at some of the systems on a carrier. Myself, I'm curious about several things regarding the catapults. You should give some thought about writing some articles like that, given your experience. And you can also regale us with stories of your time aboard them.

    • Steam catapults FTW!

    • I've planned on a few special articles for quite some time but was looking for the right occasion. This is the perfect segue…

    • SSurfer321

      I have an uncle retired out of the Navy but they wanted him to stick around another year and offered him the position of counting catches on the catch arresting cable. I guess there's some little cockpit recessed in the carrier deck for the catch cable counter.

      /couldn't find pics

  • Mwahahaha… Thanks for a great writeup there Pete, er ZomBee!

  • Number_Six

    There's so much content on this site where I'd love to have something intelligent to say but I'm just thinking, "gaaaaaaahhhhhhawesome!"

  • craigsu

    What are the numerous protrusions on the number 65 on the tower? Lights, part of the communications array?

  • Mr_Biggles


    I have the same question as craigsu.

    Also, what are the yellow slide looking things that you can see in the second picture and under Tilly's hind end? Are they actually there to make a quick getaway if things go awry?

    • The slides are to quickly jettison anything that is on fire or in danger of blowing up, usually positioned wherever weapons or explosives are staged. Here's a shot I took on a different ship (Midway) looking aft towards the same general area. You can see Tilly just beyond the 500lb love letters to Mr Hussein, and the slides are every few yards here.

      <img src="; width="500">

      On the Midway I had an RC Monster Beetle I used to secretly run around the deck while in port.Towards the end of the cruises things tended to get rather oily from all the planes and one day it slid backwards and ended up on the slide. Even with the wheels spinning at full throttle it slipped all the way down to the edge before slowly crawling back up. A few more inches and it would have fallen several stories over the side and into the water. Scared the crap out of me, AND I would have gotten busted from the splash.

      I still have that Monster Beetle. To this day it has never seen dirt, only flight decks & hanger bays.

      • Mr_Biggles

        So presumably they don't take kindly to random splashes alongside the hull, especially below the slide?

        • One of the worse things that can happen. It usually means someone fell overboard – and until they find the culprit, body or random item that is missing, they immediately start a rescue search and do an all hands emergency muster. Throw/drop something overboard and you endanger the entire ship, not to mention pissing off all 5,000 of your shipmates, many of whom were probably asleep for different duty shifts.

          A few people have been known to "fall down" ladders after getting caught pulling stupid stunts, and often it was the captain announcing it would be a shame if they "happened" to do so.

          Always got a laugh. 🙂

  • texlenin

    Hey Zombee!
    Used to work with a guy that served on a Sigint ship that still
    used water cooled transformers on the sets. Did the Big E
    use the same tech?

    • Heh-heh, I've got a funny story about that….

      I can't speak specifically for the Enterprise as I was only on conventional fuel burners, but I do know they used many of the same systems. A few of our high power Radars did still use sea water for cooling. I learned this after our ship allegedly hit a sand bar (never happened) off the coast of Kuwait and allegedly bent a prop. My buddies had to drain and flush their outer cooling system because a bunch of crap got sucked up in the melee. They opened the valves and had live fish, sand and starfish splash out on the deck.

      Allegedly. It never officially happened.

      Our urinals and toilets also had tiny fish in them every time you flushed for a while. (not THAT kind of toilet fish) The trip back to Yokosuka Japan was long and bumpy if you happened to have a GQ station near the rear of the ship. It was quite comical to watch your coffee cup slide along the table with a steady rhythm.


      • texlenin

        So, the fish that aren't there are allegedly pre-cooked by a ship
        that doesn't exist?
        Damn, son, you need to check those meds again….but, then
        again, we aren't having this conversation and you don't really

      • I can neither confirm nor deny….