Title: Gallery Models USS Makin Island LHD-8

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Title: Yankee Modelworks USS Boston

Introduction: USS Makin Island (LHD-8) in 1/350 scale

Prototype At-a-Glance

Keel laid:14 FEB 04Displacement:41,649 tons full2 × rolling airframe missile launchers
Christened:19 AUG 06Length:847 ft (258 m)2 × Sea Sparrow launchers
Launched:22 SEP 06Beam:118 ft (36 m)2 × 20mm Phalanx mounts
Acquired:16 APR 09Draught:27 ft (8.2 m)4 × 0.50in. machine guns
Commissioned:24 OCT 09Speed:25+ knots (46 km/h)3 × 25mm Mk38 machine guns
Motto:Gung HoComplement:102 officers, 1102 enlistedEmbarked marines - ~1600
Homeport:San Diego, CASpeed:25+ knots (46 km/h)Airwing

In late 2009, a friend asked if I'd be interested in spending the weekend watching him race at the Coronado Speed Festival, an island suburb across the bay from San Diego. This is an annual event hosted by Naval Airstation North Island, and comprises Trans Am racing sponsored by the Historic Motorsports Association. My friend races pedigreed BMWs (most people have no idea BMW fielded competitive Trans Am-class cars... go figure), and of course I agreed. At the end of the three day event, we all headed over to a newly-arrived ship for the Admiral's Dinner. As we were shown aboard Pre-Commissioning Unit Makin Island (MKI), I was struck by how new she was (we later learned she would be commissioned the following month). As we walked up and down various ramps into and out of cavernous spaces, I realized this was a very unique class of ship.

After the dinner, I approached the Commanding Officer - CAPT Bob Kopas - and asked him some questions about his ship. He told me Makin Island was unique in the LHD class in that she was the first to be equipped with gas turbines and an all-electric auxilliary plant. I thanked him for his time, looked around the ship for awhile, then the weekend was over.

The following year when Gallery Models announced the release of USS Wasp (LHD-1), I was reminded of my brief experience aboard Makin Island, and decided she would be a great subject to model. I picked up Wasp from Great Models Webstore and began scouring the Net for information and images of Makin Island. One of the major differences between MKI and other ships in the class are her unique stacks. All the more reason to build her (continues below).

Title: Gallery Models USS Iwo Jima

1/350 Project At-a-Glance

Base kit:Gallery Models USS Iwo Jima, #64002Accurized and detailed interior/exterior spaces
Add-on kits:JAG LHA Deck Vehicles set, #303Prototypical multi-color lighting in all visible interior spaces
Bronco Models MV-22B Osprey, #NB5032Operating well-deck transom doors
Bronco Models AV8B Harrier, #NB5030Modifications to Makin Island specification: Stacks, pri-fly, etc.
Aftermarket detail sets:KA Models LHD-7 Iwo Jima, #MS-35035
Various other components from parts bin
Styrene, brass stock

As I was busy at the time on other projects, I tucked my copy of USS Wasp aside but continued to collect information on Makin Island. Then about a year later - now mid/late 2011, two interesting events occurred. First, Gallery Models released USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7). This is important because Iwo Jima more-closely resembles Makin Island in certain areas (though she of course carries the standard stack arrangement). Next, Bob Kopas retired from the US Navy, and by pure coincidence (and great luck) we managed to snap him up to run our Military Programs. Bob is the plankowner CO of Makin Island: he first reported aboard before the keel was even laid in early 2004, and saw the ship through construction (including damage from Hurricane Katrina), delivery, and commissioning. Uncharacteristically for the Navy, he was the ship's CO for a full six years. I attended a recent Change of Command with Bob aboard Makin Island, where he is now ceremoniously referred to as "Raider One." Not only is he a Great Guy: he's an incredible source of information on Makin Island and the general operational nature of these hugely-capable ships.

With all these resources available - not to mention the ship herself is homeported here - I decided it was time to get started. I purchased a copy of USS Iwo Jima (which in turn meant my Wasp would likely remain unbuilt), assuming my current project would complete on schedule. Fast forward to early 2013 (see section on USS Boston for reason), and I was - finally - ready to begin.

I'll try to record much of this build, but to be honest I'd rather spend what precious modeling time I have actually modeling, so... we'll see how it goes.

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