Suffolk Scale Model Club: IPMS Francis Gabreski

Helping hobbyists improve their modeling skills, one kit at a time...

The USS Intrepid Air Group Rebuild Project.

The USS Intrepid Air Group Rebuild Project, is a joint effort between two local IPMS clubs, to restore and improve an exhibit, at the American Air Power Museum.

The Suffolk Scale Model Club: IPMS Gabreski working together with the Long Island Scale Model Society have taken on the project to replace and repair a 1:72 scale model of USS Intrepid.  While the model itself is a fine representation of the Intrepid, The models used for the ship's air group are not.  This project will concern itself with replacing those models with new and correctly marked aircraft.  

The period being depicted will be Intrepid's part in the Battle of Leyte, during October 1944.  Intrepid, steaming with USS Bunker Hill, USS Cabot and USS Independence as part of Task Force 38.2 under Adm. Gerald F Bogan has received word of a large Japanese surface force steaming through the Sibuyan Sea.  Their exact position has been confirmed and the first of many air strikes against this formidable force are in the process of being launched.  The first of the Grumman F6F "Hellcat" escort is being launched, and the scene will depict one of the fighters hurtling down the deck while the rest of the strike awaits their turn to get airborne.

Work on the many models needed for this project has been started by the membership of both clubs and should be completed by the end of May, 2012.  The idea, is to have the exhibit finished for Memorial Day, and will help to tie in the 100th anniversary of Naval Aviation.

The Work Begins....

A group of us, "Intrepid" modlers, (Pardon the pun there) braved the elements and assembled at the American Air power Museum to lift the plexiglass case off and move the carrier into the work room where we would refit the carrier, and correct the air group that was aboard by replacing the models.

 Here four of us lifted the heavy plexi cover out of the way while others moved the carrier, (which was on wheels).  Robert Demaio, Allan Buttrick, Bill Koppos, George DeFronzo, Steve Martens, Mike Moreno, myself, and Mr. Jim Vocell of the American Airpower Museum, all played a part getting this exhibit on the move.


This, what we're fixing.....

Copy and paste the link below into your browser and you'll get idea of what we are doing, and why. 

Overall, the ship model in 1:72 scale is pretty good.  As far as the ship is concerned, we may have to re-sand and repaint the flight deck, repairing damage that will happen when we remove the old models.

As the pictures will show, folding wings on a "Dauntless"?  What's going on with those "Hellcats"?  There are a few things that need to be corrected, and that is where we come in.  Enjoy the pics!

Some pictures of the carrier as she sits today in the museum.  The last two pictures are of some of the replacement aircraft.  One is of a SB2C "Helldiver" built by Steve Adler, Others will be posted as soon as I can take more pictures.  Great job!!

The Aircraft....

During 1944, Intrepid carried Grumman F6F-5 "Hellcats", Curtiss SB2C-4 "Helldivers" and Grumman TBF-1c "Avengers".  Here are some of the models that were built by the guys, that will replace what has was on the ship.  Enjoy!

 George 'Details' DeFronzo's SB2C "Helldiver"

 John Young'sF6F-5 "Hellcat", his exhaust weathering is fantastic!!

 Bobby DeMaio's "Hellcat" is positioned at the edge of the flight deck at the moment of lift off.  Bobby was one of the guys who built more than one model, and did so on short notice.  The quality of how these guys build is incredible.

 Three Grumman TBF-1c "Avengers" on deck....


 Waiting for the flag to drop....



"Out with the old..."

The old models that had been on the carrier have been removed and placed in a box where they will be used to scrounge parts from.  This would pay off very well in the days ahead as many parts needed to be 'borrowed' in order to fix some of the NEW models that were going aboard.  Here are some of the boys sanding off and resurfacing the flight deck so that we can repaint it later on.

 Bobby is having WAY too much fun sanding.  Do you think he like fixing panel lines too?

 Slowly things start to come together.  The guys would get together on weekends and occasionally during the week after work to hit the little things that needed to be done.  Big Mike, Matt Stahl, George and Bobby are removing the ships crew so that we can re-do them as well and place them back on board when the aircraft have been put back on.

 As with all projects, sometimes there are problems that come up that need to be fixed.  Some of the new models, good as they were, needed to be tweaked in order to make them acceptable to go back on the carrier.  While Bobby, George and crew were hard at work fixing the flight deck, Allan Buttrick and Bill Koppos led the effort to correct the models as they came in from all the guys who were working on them.  Here, Allan is giving the once over to an F6F "Hellcat". 

 Bill Koppos here has his mits on a TBF "Avenger" .  These two guys cut and added the spinning props for over twenty five models.  They corrected mistakes in painting, decals, weathering and other small issues we encountered.  Two kits needed total and complete repaints, and without their help, this project would have taken a LOT longer to get done.  Allan and Bill really stepped up and handled the little things which REALLY made a difference in the finished product.

  The "Holding Pen", where models were inventoried, and summed up as to what was needed to make each ready to go aboard. So far a mix of F6F-5 "Hellcats" and SB2C "Helldivers", with a lone TBF "Avenger".

 While everybody was busy fixing and sanding either the ship or the air group, we also had to deal with Bobby breaking pieces off the ship.   As if we didn't already have enough to do.  Here he is, caught on film, repairing what he broke....again.  Seriously, these antenna were in a really bad place and there was NO way, this would get project would get done without something getting broken.

  George, "Details" DeFronzo in action!  While Bill and Steve Martens are working with pastels around the hull, George is re-fitting all the AA guns on the ship.  He scratch built gun shields and added flash suppressors to all the 40mm weapons.  The man is amazing, and it's all those little things you don't notice individually, that come together collectively, and really made this an outstanding project to be involved with. 

 After the flight deck was sanded and re painted, Bobby is marking out where the hash marks will go for us to repaint them on deck.  Bobby and I stopped in at the museum one Tuesday night and knocked this out to save time for other stuff that needed to be done for the coming weekend.