As some of you may know, a new Royal Navy aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, is being assembled in Rosyth Dockyard. In February of this year the Royal Navy commissioned the Airfix model company to produce a one-off model ship to be ready for the naming of the ship by Her Majesty the Queen on July 4th. Airfix contacted me and asked me if I could produce a model for them and I said yes.
Over the years I have built many models for the Airfix company who then display the kits at modelling shows, toy fairs etc across the UK and Europe. However, this commission was very different because I did not have a kit to build but had to start from scratch as I had no drawings, photos, etc. I got in touch with the shipbuilders in Rosyth Dockyard (Babcock International) and they provided drawings to help me with the building of a 9 inch model which worked out at 1/1200 scale. However, halfway through the build, the Royal Navy decided they wanted a 1/350 scale ship which would be over two and a half feet long! So, I started again!
After hundreds of man-hours cutting and glueing polystyrene sheets and sanding bits of plastic, I finally finished the model two days before the Naming Ceremony and delivered it to Rosyth Dockyard that day. It was then displayed in the VVIP area for the Prime Minister, First Minister and other dignitaries to see. Once the ceremony was over, I brought the model back to Stow for safe-keeping and on September 3rd, I took the model back to Rosyth Dockyard where the Airfix company formally handed over the model to the ship. After the presentation, we were given a two-hour tour of the ship and the picture with this article shows me standing on the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth with the model. The model will be displayed permanently onboard the ship once she commissions in 2016.
Being a life-long Airfix fan and an ex-Royal Navy Petty Officer, the whole experience has been both memorable and very rewarding.