Building the
USS Sangamon CVE-26 in 1/72 scale
"Queen of the CVE´s

by René Hieronymus
Here is the story behind this modell:

Did you ever had a dream about a certain model, you always wanted to build but whenever you started the planing you finally had to realize that this kind of model would be impossible and would remain an everlasting dream? Well here is my story behind this model which finally is getting more and more reality!

I started to build models when I was about 9 years old. My first models were what I call today “MK I Models”, that is: 1 Model, 1 tube of cement, 1 hour of work, You can easily expand this term, because most models lasted only about 1 week, Aircrafts had some serious crash landings, Ships were frequently sunk in a nearby lake, Tanks and Trucks had some close encounter with an airpowered rifle. If somewhere some kind of Scientist is going to search in this lake in a couple of thousand years from now, he will have some trouble of figuring out what kind of human beings have lived here and what strange rituals they practised.

But this is how I started to build models and believe me, there is some hope for me, because a few models have survived those days and are now part of my ever growing collection. When I turned about 17, I specialized myself on US-Navy Airplanes and as a logical reason, somewhere at this point it became a dream for me to build an aircraft carrier in the same scale as my airplanes. (Thank god 1:48 was never a challlenge to me) My first choice for an aircraft carrier was an Essex Class Carrier, the USS Intrepid CV-11. The reason behind this is simple, because there are a lot of books, thousands of photos and even a couple of good plans available. So I started the planing for this model but pretty soon I was in serious trouble, when I realized the size of this model, so I dropped the plan. Years later the Idea came up again, the planing started again and was dropped again, because of the same problem, the model would still become to big. But I never dropped the idea completely and it seemed as if this would become a dream which will never-ever become reality. In 2001 I met a guy at a model-show in Munich/Germany, who is actually living only a few miles from my hometown . He was a US-Navy Fighter Pilot, flying F-8 Crusaders during the Vietnam War off the deck of an Essex-Class Carrier. Over the time we became friends and he came up with the idea to build an Essex-Class Carrier in Vietnam War outfit. (Tom, if you read this, you´ll never know how close I was at this time to start with this project) but you know the story of this project, it was once again the same problem, the size of such a model is simply overwhelming, the number of details and all the small and big parts you have to build by yourself ….! Couple of month after this happened I finished the Kaibokan Model and that was the moment when I decided to build the Carrier Model, no matter what size it was going to have! At the same time I started some searching for additonal informations about Aircraft Carrier, when I found a couple of good photos of different Escort-Aircraft Carrier. It hit me like a hammer, because all of a sudden all (well maybe some) of my problems were gone. This was it! Those CVE´s were much smaller (Sure, only about 9ft. long!) and it still was an Aircraft Carrier. The next thing that I started was a research about the different Classes of CVE´s and which one of those would be the most interesting for me. At the end I came up with 3 Classes for which at least some plans would be available, but not a specific ship. Unfortunately my research turned up only very, very few photos. That´s when I found on the Interent the website of the ECSAA (Escort Carrier Sailor and Airman Association) Sure enough there were a couple of Email-addresses and one of the first I found was the one of a man responsible for the USS Sangamon. I contacted him first in the hope to receive an answer and maybe some information where I could get additional informations about this ship. The very next day I received 2 Emails, one from the man I had contacted (Hank Milan) and a second one from a man who introduced himself as their group historian, Donald Schroeder. To my biggest surprise he not only told me that he could provide me with any informations I was looking for, he even send me some photos and told me to ask whatever I needed. Within the next days I received dozen of photos and other documents about the Sangamon and that was the moment when I decided to build this ship, most of all, because what better information could someone ask for, than first-handed experiences from former crewmembers. Some weeks later I received the plans of the ship from Floating Drydock and that’s when I started to work on the model in earnest.

Sofar I never regretted my decision to build a CVE instead of a full size CV. As a fact, the more I researched about this type of Carrier, the more I got interested in them, because there is so less known about them and there are only a few books about their most important service in WW II. So by building a model of the USS Sangamon I can give some off the well deserved respect to those sailors and airmen who served aboard those ships.
Besides of that for me as modelbuilder the not so well known aircrafts and ships have always been much more attractive than the popular and well documented one.

click images
to enlarge
The work on the model started with drawing the frames directly to some plywood, after that the frames were cut from the wood and a wooden skeleton was build. because of the still very big size of this model I decided to build the whole model in 2 sections, which could later be connected. The sidewalls of the ship were made of cardboard and later covered with plastic sheets for better detail work. The stern and bow were cut and carved from solid wood and by using a lot (and I mean a real lot!) of putty fixed to the hull and blended in. This is the first time I used rather unusual big maschines on a model! But the work was going according to my plan and pretty soon I was able to bring the forward section to my normal hobby room for further work. The first words of my wife about this model are still in my mind and since that time some of my closest friends are using rather unusual words when talking about me! But as modeler you should be used to such things, so I simply ingnore them and hope to bring this model to a final end…….some time in the future! During the following month Donald came up with more and more informations and photos. Even a couple of original interior plans turned up and could be used for the myriad of tiny details all around the ship. Useless to say, that all parts had to be build entirely scratch, so I use everything which even looks as if it could be used for this project, no matter which scale it normally should be used! because of the 2 sections I decided to fully detail the inside of the hangar deck (I´m planing about 3-4 years of work for this model so another few month simply do not count) All the structures on the outside of the hull were made of plastic sheet, the stanchions and railing is made of solid brass, as well as the portholes and some other white metal parts which I found through Floating Drydock. Off course there are still a lot of problems which I have not decided how to do, so if anyone gots some ideas about figures, whale boats, airplane tugs and some other details, your input would be greatly appreciated! I´m not going to write about how I did certain things on the model, not because I would be afraid, that someone else would “steal” this trick from me but simply, because I prefer to build on the model instead of writing on the computer. So if anyone wants to know how I did certain things, just let me know and I will gladly give away any hints about techniques and certain ways how to build such a model.
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