A complete Cold War-era carrier air wing, built at roughly 1:200 scale.
About this creation
If you have been following my micro-scale aircraft builds, you may have expected that I would eventually arrive at this point -- building all of the aircraft of a carrier air wing. What I have included in this picture are micro-scale (1:200) versions of the aircraft that would have been found in CVW-1 (stationed aboard CV-66 America) in the years leading up to the Gulf War. Starting with the back row, from left to right we have an E-2C Hawkeye, an SH-3H Sea King, and an EA-3B Skywarrior ELINT aircraft. In the front, from left to right, are an F-18C Hornet, an S-3A Viking, an F-14A Tomcat, and an A-6E Intruder.
Two of these aircraft are new (i.e. they haven't appeared in any of my builds so far) -- the EA-3B Skywarrior and the SH-3H Sea King. The Skywarrior served in many different roles since its introduction in the 1950s, including nuclear bomber, heavy bomber, tanker, and ELINT. In the ELINT configuration, the weapons bay is filled with electronic equipment operated by 4 EW specialists. Interesting fact: The Skywarrior is the heaviest aircraft to have ever operated from the deck of a carrier on a regular basis. Building its swept wing was a little bit of a challenge, but I reasonably happy with the result (just don't look too closely under the wings -- it's a little ugly there).
The SH-3H Sea King served primarily in the ASW role. It could carry a pair of Mk 44 or Mk 46 torpedoes and a number of sonobuoys. Like most ASW helicopters, it was also equipped with a dipping sonar. The 5-blade main rotor of the Sea King was definitely a pain in the neck to build at this scale, and I am still not entirely satisfied with the result. The Sea King also has a 5-blade tail rotor, but there was absolutely no way to duplicate it at this scale.
The composition of the CVW-1 in the late 1980s was something like this:
Two fighter squadrons of 12 F-14A Tomcats each (VF-102 Diamondbacks and VF-33 Starfighters)
Two strike fighter squadrons of 12 F-18C Hornets each (VF-82 Marauders and VF-86 Sidewinders)
One all-weather attack squadron of 10-12 A-6E Intruderss and 4 KA-6D tankers (VA-85 Black Falcons)
One early warning squadron of 4-6 E-2C Hawkeyes (VAW-123 Screwtops)
One ASW squadron of S-3A Vikings (VS-32 Maulers)
One Helicopter ASW squadron of SH-3H Sea Kings (HS-11 Dragon Slayers)
One tactical EW squadron of 4 EA-6B Prowlers (VMAQ-2 Playboys)
One ELINT detachment of 4 EA-3B Skywarriors (VQ-2 Batmen)
Thanks again for your comments, everyone. I have to say that I'm not too surprised to see many suggest that I build a carrier to go along with these. The thought did occur to me, but I have already realized that there are a few obstacles in the way. First, I want to finish the Hamilton-class cutter, and that is going to take a little while. Next, a carrier built at 1:200 scale would be pretty big -- it would be almost as long as the 1:65 Hamilton I'm working on, but the beam would be almost double (48 studs vs. 25). The final problem is that I would probably have to build wings-folded versions of all of these aircraft to put them on a carrier deck, and I can tell right now that it wouldn't be a very straightforward conversion for some of them. We'll see, though, it's something I'd definitely like to do at some point.
Well, you know you have an awesome collection when I can't pick a favorite. These are all outstanding in their own right. Highly distinctive and recognizable for so few pieces. Amazing air wing that really need a place to land. ;) Yeah, I'm with everyone else. Time for a carrier. Nimitz would be my call, but that's just because I loved The Final Countdown. Kirk Douglas FTW! Impressive job Matt!