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Quonset Point NAS Diorama: Childhood Memories

I was raised in RI and was always in the water with my brother sailing in his boat. Maybe 8 to 10 years old. This was in the early 70's. Quonset Point NAS was part of a large, industrial Naval Base in existence since before WW2. It was on Narragansett bay, the same bay we sailed in. I recall seeing these large, dark grey ships moored at the station. As we grew close we would be dwarfed by these huge floating behemoths which turned out to be aircraft carriers. I would in awe of these ships while at the same time a bit frightened by its mass relative to our little 26ft boat. Back then you could get right up close. These experiences were short lived as the based closed permanently by 1975, shortly after these voyages.

When Dragon released its 1/700 aircraft carrier the I needed to have it. This is because as I researched her history I discovered that this ship was one of the carriers that would dock at Quonset Carrier pier. The other thing I discovered was this was an early Essex class carrier designed during WW2 but then had the angle deck added to it at a latter date to accommodate fast moving jets. In fact I believe it was the 1st US Navy carrier that had the angle deck permanently added to the ship. I thought wouldn't it be cool to build this ship model and then build a depicting what I saw as a child while floating in the bay. So I did. The pictures depict what I came up with. It is not historically perfect, with a few planes shown out of place from a time perspective but I wanted to really make it busy so I took a little artistic license. I had a lot of fun doing this.

11 additional images. Click to enlarge.

26 responses

  1. WoW! How long did this take to complete, Paul?

    This is a beautiful diorama! The detailing is outstanding.

  2. Great effort, Paul. Clearly, a lot of thought has gone into ‘making your memories’.

  3. Paul, marvelous!

  4. VERY NICE! The only thing missing is a 26ft boat with two brothers in it! :o)


  5. A very nice rival for our Asian ship-diorama friends here on iModeler! But I agree with Ralph - I were are the brothers?!

  6. An excellent build!

  7. WOW. great diorama!

  8. Absolutely what they said, Paul... I love it!

  9. Lots of fun. Anything that hold a memory like that is gold. I feel the way about the USS Ranger which I witnessed in port at North Island in San Diego. Nice work.

  10. For my money, Paul, you have gotten to the very heart of modeling. Recreating a memory, something the resonates emotionally and builds a little bridge to our past. In my humble opinion this is a masterpiece.

  11. Awesome, must have been a lot of work...

  12. Hello Paul,
    Beautiful diorama. Lots of details. In the year 1967, I did visit the base with a Shell tanker. Loaded with jet fuel (NO SMOKING). To my knowledge, there was directly behind the Naval base a large Naval Air Station. Is my memory correct, or am I wrong?
    Another thing that comes to mind is a large prison, located on small island, on the approach to the inner coastal waters.
    Regards, Dirk / The Netherlands.

    • Hi Dirk:

      Yes a fairly large Naval Air Station,, home to many Atlantic based squadrons. It also had large re-furbishing plants which repaired and rebuilt many of the Navy aircraft so there would be many many aircraft flying in, rebuilt, then re-assigned. It was home to many training squadrons. The hangers still have markings on them from WW2, like big letters that say "Naval Torpedo Squadron" worn but readable. I am not aware of a prison on the channel islands but there was a Torpedo factory and test facility on those islands, shore batteries, etc. The Famous Quonset Hut was designed and built there by the Naval Sea Bees. Home base of the Sea Bees. Lots of history!

  13. Nice job Paul, bet you had lots of fun recreating those memories.

  14. I was stationed at the Coast Guard base in Bristol RI in the late 50s. I remember seeing those big carriers come into Narragansett Bay...quiet a sight.

  15. Jack's post reminds me - can anyone make a connection between this (beautiful) build and the movie 'Jaws'?

    • Hmmmm! I cannot but now u have me thinking? JAWS was filmed not far from this site off Martha's Vineyard, MA. I was there during the filming of the 1st and 2nd movie. My cousins worked with the film crew so I visited them during those summers.

  16. Must have been a great couple of summers, Paul. I'm a bit of a movie buff and the thought of running around when this piece of history was made makes me so jealous. You' probably enjoy this...

    Rammed with photos from the 'Vineyard, bring back some memories.

    But that all said, nope, that's not the connection I was thinking of.

    • Come on your killing me...please tell? How about the buoys floating in the water?

      BTW the job my two cousins had was working as drivers (they were Teamster members which is how they got those summer jobs) and they transported everyone, and every thing, including all the actors from the hotel to the shoots. I will never forget one day the caterer showed up with lunch, and I was invited over to the picnic table Roy Schneider was sitting at to have lunch. I spent more time during JAWS II then the 1st movie.

  17. It was a nice detail of the movie that promoted a rather tasty local business. The short but famous scene where Quint crushes his beer, followed by Hooper crushing his paper cup.

    Became a big thing in Narraganset.

  18. Hi Paul,
    Thanks for your response. Especially interesting was your remark regarding the Quonset hut.
    Here in the rural farmers area, there are just a few left. Constructed by Canadians during WWII.
    So you see Paul, your diorama gave a lot of inspiration and memories to many of us.
    In a nearby city I bought my first "made in America" jeans.
    That Island prison keeps puzzling me?
    Regards, Dirk / The Netherlands.

  19. Paul,
    What can I say.. It looks just like the Bon Home looked when I went aboard it in 1957 at Hunters Point. It was in port for some refurbishing before heading out to West Pac. It was tied up next to Intrepid. I came back from liberty, at night, by mistake, I went aboard Intrepid and as I moved about I found very soon that I was on the wrong ship. Lets hear it for a novice. This is a beautiful rendition of a ship tied up in port. Great work

  20. Very nice work, particularly in 1/700. I can't even SEE 1/700.

    The only "anachronisms" are the Cutlasses (which would have come aboard a year after the Corsairs were gone) and the P-3, which is mid-sixties. A blue P-2 Neptune would hit it if there was one available. As you say, they all add to the look, so historical accuracy isn't as dominant as one might expect.

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