As a career Navy man I have had the opportunity to serve in many ships over the past 25 years. By far the best was USS REEVES (CG 24), the final member of the LEAHY Class Cruisers. I served in REEVES from 1979 to 1981 and during that short time I went from being based in Pearl Harbor to Yokosuka, Japan and made two Western Pacific Deployments.
I had built the Monogram HALSEY
kit back in 1979 when I received orders to her and that model came out horribly.
The kit, long since out of production has fairly correct lines for an "as
commissioned" outfitting, but I really wanted to show her in all her glory
prior to her decommissioning in 1993. To achieve that I needed to make many
scratch-built structures and totally re-worked the masts. Also the kit did not
have the required four 55B fire control radars and it was my desire to make this
a dramatic seascape. I made the fire control radars out of craft store "5mm
rolling eyes", so they could be positioned in any way I desired. The
SPS-48E and SPS-49 radars were made using photo-etch from HO Scale railroad
grills. The kit I used was a partial kit from a swap meet and was missing the
gig and utility boat, these I bought from H&R Products and
modified. Various decks and walkways were added as well.
I had never worked with sculpney but decided to build up an armiture out of layers of cardboard for the seascape. The cardboard was easy to carve the groove in which the ship would sit. I wanted the sonar dome to be completely out of the water and this allowed enough flexibility to do this. I then covered the remainder of the seascape with paper mache. This needs to be thoroughly dry prior to painting, I used Pactra harbor blue and flat white to detail the wake and transverse waves.
To give it a sense of motion, I used stretched cotton balls to make the spray and twisted it over a wire for the exhaust from the launched missile. All in all, this project came out better than I hoped. I was fortunate to obtain many detail reference photos which greatly helped the accuracy of this model.
This was my third REEVES model, the first was re-worked and sold to an Admiral, the second was given to a Navy buddy for his retirement, and this is in my home. I am waiting for White Ensign Models to get its 1/350 LEAHY out sometime next year so all my ships will be in the same scale.