Last year, my wife gave me a plastic model of the super-dreadnought USS Arizona (BB-39).
For those of you who were educated in public school, the USS Arizona was attacked and sunk at battleship row in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 at a great loss of lives. 1,177 servicemen of her crew of 1,400 were killed. The attack on Pearl Harbor led to the United States actively joining the Allies in the Second World War.
Her demise came in form of an aerial bomb dropped from a Japanese “Kate” bomber. The bomb struck her between the two forward turrets and reached the forward magazine. The bomb ignited those cylindrical bags of black powder and set off a huge secondary explosion. The fiery inferno that followed ultimately sank and destroyed her.
Her wreckage is today a national tomb and memorial to the crew that lost their lives in the attack. There is no doubt her dramatic and tragic destruction is the reason for the vast number of model kits made of that fateful battleship.
As I wrote back in January, the USS New York (BB-34) was featured on a $2 bank note from 1918. It is safe to say that the “battleship” is on the top ten list of the most iconic United States paper money designs.
The 2 ships of this class carried ten 14″ guns in five twin turrets as their main armament, and New York and her sister ship, the USS Texas were veterans of both World Wars. One of the ships of this class (USS Texas) can be visited since she survives as a memorial ship just outside of Houston.
During my research for building the USS Arizona, I finally found the image of the USS New York that was used to create the large “horse-blanket” bank note.
Notice that this finally accounts for the discrepancy in anchor placement and other details. They wanted to show the battleship steaming toward the East, so they reversed the original image. In one description of this large-size note, they state:
it shows the battleship USS New York steaming from west to east (left to right) and gave a clear warning: The U.S. is ready, willing and able to defend Europe.
The USS Arizona was refitted from 1929-1931 with new superstructure and tripod masts, and featured in a 1935 movie called “Here Comes the Navy” starring James Cagney.
Here he is hauling those incredibly volatile bags of black powder. It is from this movie that we get the configuration of the Revell model, with biplanes on the catapults and no machine gun platform on the main mast.
I spent many hours alone in the garage, trying to complete it in time for Dec. 7th. I think it turned out pretty good. You know, working on a model really gets you acquainted with the details of something. I really feel like I know the ship now and it makes it much more personal to see the History channel documentary about BB-39 that I watched this week.
I just noticed upon comparison of the pictures that the antennae on the main mast and fore mast are switched. When I checked the instructions, it says to put them on wrong. Hmmm…not the best set of directions.
It was a fun project and I enjoyed getting to know better both this ship and the sacrifice of her men.