by Konley Kelley
1/700 - 1/72 USS Hornet CV-8 (Tamiya/scratch)
As a CAF member, I wanted to do something special in the Education Hangar at the CAF’s Wings Over Dallas on Oct 6-8 this year. The show included a 75th anniversary Doolittle Raid tribute and there was a chance the last surviving Doolittle Raider, Col. Dick Cole, would be attending. Col. Cole was the co-pilot of plane #1 flown by Jimmy Doolittle on April 18, 1942. Col. Cole is 102 years old. He didn’t make our show this year L
I came up with the “toy” all of us wanted as a kid – a huge aircraft carrier with a zipline to land planes. I originally envisioned making the Yorktown because I finished a 1:700 Yorktown to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway and was inspired by this project. Mid-project for the big one we changed our ship to the Hornet because she was present at the Doolittle Raid and Battle of Midway (and we hoped to see Dick Cole.)
While my two friends and I were making the huge Hornet in 1:72 scale, I was making Tamiya’s 1:700 Hornet (very weird going from big to small to big to small).
My original design blueprints for the 1:72 Hornet are included. It helps to have a friend (also a Navy veteran) with a fully-equipped woodshop in his garage. He had a lot to do with the design of the interlinking base boards, foundation panels and supplied six caster wheels. The flight deck essentially breaks down into five sections. Another friend, whose son is serving on the USS Carl Vinson, took on the Hornet’s island. I did graphics, painting and had oversight of the project.
Thanks to Photoshop and Costco, I made five, 20” x 30” images of the Hornet’s deck and mounted them to posterboard. My friend came up with the idea of using business card magnets to attach the posterboard to the wooden base. This is cool because we can swap out the shuffleboard/target pattern for the flight deck or have no pattern if the ship is put on static display vs. used for the zipline. The finished ship was 12 ft. long and approximately 1:72 scale – which made it easy to put some 1:72 static models on the deck for display and find 1:72 diecast models for the zipline.
The heavy diecast metal planes worked best for the zipline. We first used paperclips then lanyard clips to secure the aircraft to the heavy-duty fishing line. The planes really took a beating! We also had poles to grab a eyehook on the stern of the ship to rock it back and forth in “heavy seas” to further challenge our pilot trainees. Either one of us or a kid had LSO duty.
At Wings Over Dallas, over 600 kids did the zipline. We gave out stickers so we could keep track of the headcount. Some came back to try again and improve their scores. Nearby I had 1;700 models of the Hornet, Yorktown, Lexington, Akagi and other WWII carriers for further education and to see the ships side-by-side for comparison.
On Veteran’s Day we are taking the Hornet out of drydock for another event. A dream realized. The toy I always wanted. Best of all it can teach a variety of STEM and history-related topics to your audience. A cool educational tool in our arsenal for CAF and other activities in Dallas!