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Naval Seapower in Miniature

Fri 28 Jun, 2019 - Mon 1 Jul, 2019

Naval Seapower in Miniature
28 June – 1 July 2019
WA Shipwrecks Museum
Naval Seapower in Miniature

I was born in 1957 in Perth Western Australia and started
modelling mainly aircraft interspersed with ships when I was
5. When I was 16, I wanted to build a model of HMAS Perth
and decided to attack an Airfix 1/600 scale model of HMS
Ajax. When completed, if you closed both eyes and squinted,
it almost looked like HMAS Perth. I became a little more
adept at remodelling Airfix kits until the day I discovered
balsa wood! I started building warships to the 1/600 scale
when I was in my early teens and then one day purchased a
set of plans for the modified Leander Class cruiser HMAS
Perth (I) that were drawn to 1/192 scale. This combined with
the discovery of balsa wood set me on the path of accurate
scale model scratch building that has seen me build well
over 100 ships curing my career as a ship modeller. I have
always kept to the same scale which has had its good and bad
points. The scale is large enough to provide the opportunity
for detail but small enough that I don’t have to house them
in a huge shed. If building a ship from a class of ships, I will
(where applicable) try and choose one that sank, this being
my way of paying tribute to those who went down with the
ship. Unfortunately, this can be quite challenging, as there is
usually a dearth of photographs that I can use as a reference.
I use photos as much as I can, as I have found over the years
that many plans are drawn incorrectly and this is usually only
discovered when you are half way through the build.
My passion is mainly for British and Australian warships, but
I also enjoy building ships that take my fancy, for example,
I have a Roman bireme, RMS Queen Mary, Raleigh’s ship
the Revenge and the two Dutch cruisers De Ruyter and Java
involved in the Battle of the Java Sea. The largest ship in my
collection is the RMS Queen Mary, with the smallest being
HMAS Acute. I also have HMS Victoria, a pre-dreadnought,
HMS Fife, a County class destroyer, Kinabalu, a coastal trader
from Borneo, HMAS Sydney (III), the aircraft carrier HMS
Eagle, HMS Monmouth sunk in WWI to name but a few. My
most challenging model has been that of the wreck of HMAS
Sydney (II) depicted on 20th November 1941 a few days after
she sank. Building this model and seeing the utter destruction
of the ship made me realise how much punishment she
received and how heroic the crew must have been to almost
get the battered wreck home to Fremantle. I would also like
to thank my long-suffering wife, Jill, for putting up with the
loss of more and more wall space. Whenever I finish another
model, she looks at it, smiles, makes some nice comment
about the model and asks “Where is that one going to go?”,
although sometimes she doesn’t ask, but gives me that look.
Gerry Westenberg


Fri 28 Jun, 2019
Mon 1 Jul, 2019
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