|HMCS Bonaventure: Part 7: Display by Dan Linton|
This model is awarded by Editor's Choice - Excellence Award!
When I first began this model I expected that I would have it on the water a few times, and then it would simply be on display in my basement. As I was building it, I then thought that an escort or two would look good sailing on the water alongside. So I began building three 'St.-Laurent' class DDE/DDH -- one would be display only and a gift for a son-in-law and the other two would be radio-controlled and would escort the Bonaventure. Pictures 1 to 6 below show how far I had progressed by the time the carrier was completed. As it turned out, Bonaventure would sail across two ponds but would not enjoy the company of escorts.
I built a test basin 96" long (almost three metres) which is as long as any model I am likely to build (Nimitz-class carriers are 91" at 1:144). Picture 7 below shows the model in the basin for the first time. It floated quite well and at a good depth (picture 8). When the flight deck and superstructure were put in place, however, there was a noticeable list (pictures 9 and 10). Adding some weights to the port side and shifting a battery pack effectively counter-balanced the superstructure (picture 11).
On June 16, 2012 I put the model in the back of my Hyundai Santa Fe. It was too long to lie flat, thus all the towels you see pushed up against the hull (pictures 12, 13). The antennas and aircraft were brought in a separate box. The trip to the pond was an hour and we left at 9:00 a.m. to avoid the mid-day sun. I wanted pictures of different aircraft arranged on the deck and wanted the smoke-generator tested. My wife would be taking pictures. Such were the plans -- the reality was quite different.
Look at the picture that heads this paragraph. It is the only picture taken of the model on the pond, despite my wife's belief that she had taken many pictures. The model sailed well but the rudder did not respond effectively to commands to steer to starboard (port was no problem). The model was only on the water for ten minutes because, although I thought the styrene flight deck was thick enough and secure enough, if you look at the above picture carefully, particularly along the long yellow line that defines the landing area, you will see a hump. Despite the early hour the temperature was already 80F (27C) and the flight deck had buckled in the car on the way to the pond. No aircraft were put on the deck and the smoke generator was not tested. When I returned the model home to a relatively cool basement, the styrene flight deck settled down and after five hours was perfectly level again. Very strange.
September 30, 2012 was a cool day with intermittent clouds. I had arranged to take the mode to a pond that was only 10 km. away and would test the smoke detector and put various configurations of aircraft on the deck. Such were the plans. What happened was that on the way the model suffered damage, mostly to the mainmast. And then once on the water would not respond to radio signals. I knew the battery could not be dead as I had tested everything two days earlier. In frustration I put the model in the water and just let it float (pictures 14-17). I then had the idea of putting a charge into the radio transmitter and ---- it worked! I had only charged it for about 10 minutes and again, thats about how much sailing time it was given.
All the pictures in this section were taken by my neighbour Ed Lehming and while I was getting more and more frustrated, he stayed cool and enjoyed his hobby which is photography. Whereas I would look at the picture that heads this chapter and see a broken mainmast, a Tracker being tail-heavy, and an elevator not sited properly, he was keen to capture the ripple effect of the wind coming across the pond as the model sailed along.
After the short sail, the model was taken home and repaired; and then all the r/c equipment, motors, and batteries were removed. The model would not sail again for reasons explained below.
The picture at the head of this paragraph (picture 18) shows the completed model with some aircraft on it, as it was intended to be displayed in my basement. It rests on an oak board, stained, that has keel block attached to it (pictures 19 and 20). The red felt on the blocks is to prevent scratching of the hull. At either end of the board are two small (4" x 2") brass plaques (picture 21). As well, a metal plaque showing the ship's crest is on the display board (picture 22). On the wall behind the model is a mirror that allows viewers to see the other side of the model without having to touch it (picture 23). With this arrangement, however, the model cannot be displayed with the antennas outward -- it would be too easy for someone to walk by and accidentally knock them off. (pictures 24-27). So the model was all set up to be displayed, but it turned out that it would not stay long in my basement.
From time to time I get e-mails from modelers who have comments or questions about the models I have made. Once such e-mail came from Robert St.-Pierre, a retired air traffic controller from Quebec. That's him in picture 28 below. Robert asked many questions and as his wife was to attend a conference not too far from my home, he asked to come see the model. This was arranged and Robert arrived, camera in hand, and began snapping pictures. A pleasant lunch and a few beers later he left but it was agreed that the next time he was in the area he would bring his brother-in-law, Richard Ouellette. Richard flew Trackers off the Bonaventure. Small world! Again, more pictures, lunch, and a few beers. Picture 29 shows Richard (he has glasses) and I in my basement standing by the Bonaventure model. Pictures 30 and 31 show him as a Flight Lieutenant in the 1960's. Meanwhile, Robert, who is very active in many aspects of aviation in Canada had been in contact with the Director-General and a number of the curators at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa. Pictures of the model were shown and the wheels set in motion in the summer of 2012 to have the model donated to the museum.
Picture 32 above shows me nervously carrying the Bonaventure model to the rear of the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum. The day is October 24, 2012 and the model has survived the five-hour drive. Picture 33 shows me with the museum director, Stephen Quick, and picture 34 adds in Robert St.-Pierre. At the time none of us knew that it would be more than a year before the model would be put on permanent display.
On November 21, 2013, the Canadian Naval Aviation Group (CNAG) held their annual meeting -- a wine and cheese evening -- at the museum. Here the model was officially accepted. I gave a short speach, thanks to Paul Baiden, CNAG's National Chairman, seen in picture 35. I gave special thanks to Robert St. Pierre who started the whole process, and to my wife Susie for putting up with my modeling and the messes it often produces. Picture 36 below shows Robert St.-Pierre at the left, then myself, my wife Susie, and then on the right is Robert's wife Jocelyn. Jocelyn is the sister of Richard Ouellette who, it is sad to relate, passed away on August 10, 2013. One of the Trackers on the model carries the number of the aircraft he flew.
One of the guests at the wine and cheese was Richard Lawrence, a professional photographer (www.richardlawrencephotography.ca) who tooks scores of pictures at the wine and cheese and the next day came back to the museum and took more pictures of the model. The pictures here are presented with his permission.
The final picture that ends this article shows the model in its case, with a restored Banshee in the background that actually flew off HMCS Bonaventure. I feel gratedful for this honour and I hope the model helps visitors to the museum give honour and respect for those that served on HMCS Bonaventure.
Photos and text © 2014 by Dan Linton
January 27, 2014