A few years ago, I posted on another modeling site the airwing portion of an USS Nimitz build.  I received feedback from a guy who had been on deck, between cats 1 & 2 on the day I was modeling (Apr 24, 1980).  He and I have become good friends, and he asked me to make a model of one of the other ships he was on, the USS Saipan.

This has been my first 1/700 kit and its liable to be one of the last.  If I build a ship, its normally 1/350.  I thought the fit and finish was great, not much filler was used.  The devil was in the details.  The small, small details. 

After discussing the well deck equipment, I had to scratch build 2 LSM mk 8's.  Of course, I can now buy a set.  I found line drawings for a mk8 and shrunk it down to 1/700 printed it and cut the parts out of the paper and glued them to sheet plastic.  I then cut out along the lines and glued the sides and bottoms and tops together.... VIOLA, a mk8.  02
As a surprise for my friend, I made the LSM's removable.  I glued each loaded LSM to a strip of plastic that has a bit of a "handle" to allow one to pull it out of the well deck.  To keep the LSM from going all the way in, I glued a "wall" in the well area just far back enough to allow the LSM to be completely inside.  11
I chose to paint the helo spotting lines, and the dotted lines down the middle.  There were no decaling issues, I even think I got the foul line pretty straight (I cheated and used a piece of fly fishing line as a guide).  04
The antenna in the middle of the bridge was fun to build.  I used a single strand of wire from #12 stranded to make the middle shaft, the outer "wires" are fly fishing lines.  That one was a challenge and a half. 06
 I don’t know what possessed me, but I painted the bridge windows.  It was actually quite easy.  I painted the black, then went back and hit the frames with a stiff brush.  Since the frames stand proud of the windows, all I had to do was go along perpendicular to the windows. 07
This is the finished island, with all its radars and railings. 08
Forward flight deck before the helos arrived. 09
The brass PE was from WEM, highly recommended.  There are 2 strips along this walkway.  One is the rails, the other is the support for the flight deck.  Very cool looking. 10
Since my love is aircraft, I couldn't wait to get on the air wing.  My friend requested what was on deck, and so I went hunting for the proper helo's and harriers.  I went aftermarket for all of them, the kit parts were.... let’s go with less than desirable.  I must admit, for being 1/700, those are some outstanding models!  I was hoping to not have to paint the air wing all the same scheme, and sure enough, when my friend was on the Saipan, the Marines were trying out some cammo.  It sure breaks up the monotony on the flight deck. 13
I chose WEM for the CH-53's and AH-1's.  These were very nice too.  16
For the CH-46's, I went with JAG.  Very detailed without any resin flash. 15
The UH-1's are L'Arsenal, converted to the N version. The UH-1 on a landing point is the ships Angel flight helo.  It has a slightly different scheme than the airwing that is attached to the Saipan.  That UH-1 is done in OD with a yellow band on the tail.  That UH-1 was a requirement. 17
The Orange Hobby AV-8B's are some of the most detailed "kits" I've worked with.  Weapons pylons on a 1/700?  Suuuurrrreeee….. why not. 14
One other aircraft that was a requirement was OV-10's on the fantail.  Since no broncos exist commercially (anymore), I employed my scratch building techniques.  I used the same method I had developed for the LSM's.  However, I needed to deal with props and legs.  The props are left over brass rotors from the CH-46's with a cut down 1/700 fuel tank for the spinner.  The landing gear was taken from some other 1/700 aircraft.  I have no idea which one, I just went looking for some that looked the right height. 18
The "water" is a piece of stained glass.  Its the same type that I had used years ago on another ship build.  The frame is a picture frame laid on its back.  Its made of custom parts that were purchased at Hobby Lobby.  You go in and buy 4 pieces (they have many lengths) and a hardware kit, and your good to go.
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That seems to be about it.  All in all not so bad, but whew, what a work out.

More of Douglas Conrady 's work.
Updated 8/13/2015

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