During the many years I've been in this hobby, I've built, bought, rebuilt, and battled many different ships. Many battlers would attest that my abode has become a bit of a naval base. Since my humble beginnings, with the standard "rookie cruiser", I've battled a great variety of ships, including everything from destroyers, to cruisers, and battleships both large and small. And during that time, I've learned more than a few things about how to build ships, and how to battle them. So, without any further ado, let's have a look at them, shall we???
The USS Salt Lake City was the first ship I built. I began it in 1983, and finished it in 1985. (Back in the bad old days!) With her, I won Rookie of the Year, in 1985, largely by impressing the old salts with the quality of construction, and incidentally by sinking another rookie's Lutzow a couple of times... She was a good ship, and I gained a lot of experience with her, until she was sent to the breakers in 1989, due to a prematurely aged hull.
Back in 1986, I discovered that Tom Jass had an old "sub" laying around, the Surcouf, that he had no further use for. I had a spare radio laying around and felt like doing someting silly, so I persuaded him to part with it, and rebuilt it in time for the '86 Nats, where it sank in its first and only combat sortie. Seems that someone had no clue how small ships are supposed to be done. She now resides somewhere in North Carolina. Sadly, I have only this rather poor picture of her.
My third ship came about largely because of my being very busy as a college student, and not having time to replace the good, ol' Salt Lake City. Nathan, however, had a "slightly" used rookie Lutzow he'd built, which I acquired and (after chopping out some cheesy propellant tanks and uncured epoxy, etc...) turned into a fairly ferocious little cruiser. However, I wasn't terribly impressed with my experiences in the Axis fleet, so I traded it for Lief Goodson's rookie effort, the USS Houston, which was in even sorrier condition... (Unfortunately, I neglected to get any pictures of her.)
My fourth effort actually began in 1986, when I decided to build a battleship. Being new at the battleship business and not knowing what I was doing, I picked her because I could get plans, and because I thought she'd be easy to build. However, it wasn't until 1990 that I got cage masts figured out and finished the ship. At that time, this class of battleships had a severe speed handicap, and suffered in other ways. The Michigan was retired after the 1990 Nats, and currently resides somewhere else in North Carolina.
The Augusta began as Lief's old Houston. After the Spring 1990 NE Regionals, it became obvious that the Michigan was not competitive under the old speed rules. So, out came the Houston, and after a month, the renamed Augusta debuted as my primary ship at the 1990 Nats, where she sank Lief's lutzow (which used to be mine) in a one-on-one, and generally managed to inflict pain and suffering on the Axis. She was sold in 1991 to Chris Au, and now is part of the Au collection.
This HMS Sheffield is the same one of US Boat and Ship modeler fame. Tom Jass built this cruiser for his magazine article, and sold it to me when he was done. She was refit and debuted in 1991, and has appeared at various regionals and Nationals since. Her latest battle was the 2002 Nats, where she participated (successfully) in some small fleet battles on Wednesday...
Late in 1990, I found out that Bob Amend was selling his HMS Queen Elizabeth. This was a ship I'd been wanting to build since the mid '80s, and I jumped at the chance to pick up this excellently built ship. After I graduated from college in May, 1991, I had a couple of weeks before the NE Regionals, so I gutted the ship, built and installed new cannons, a new pump, etc. Since then, she earned a reputation as one of the toughest ships in the hobby. She became known for being tough to sink, and even tougher to go up against and survive. The Q.E. was my primary ship for many years, being retired after the 1995 Nats and sold to Bob Eakin. Bob got a couple of years of good use out of the ol' Q.E., and eventually she ended up in Michigan as part of Dave Au's ship collection.
The USS Andromeda is an Algol class attack cargo ship which I built in 1991 to contribute to the Allied Campaign effort. Winner of Best of Scale Convoy in 1994, she saw several years' service before being retired, and now is awaiting refit in Virginia by John Messere.
The HMS Vanguard was another Jass effort, which I bought partially completed, and finished for the 1992 Nats. She was an experiment to see what I could do with a big ship. While she proved effective, big ships require handling different than the smaller slugger ships, and I decided that I preferred the "slugger" style of battling associated with the smaller 5 unit class of ships. At the end of the '92 Nats, she was sold to Terry Keef, of Arkansas.
The HMCS Huron was a Canadian Tribal class destroyer, which participated in sinking a German DD during the actions around Normandy. I built her as an experiment, because I felt like it would be fun to build a small destroyer. However, 2.75 pounds is not much to work with, and I wasn't thrilled with some of the compromises I had to make in order to build her. (i.e. no pump!) I battled her once in the 1993 Nats, where in a one-on-one she beat James Foster's Ning Hai by a score of 25 to 20. (Small taters...) She has since been sent to North Carolina.
The Le Terrible came about in 1995 as a replacement for the Huron, and was the first (and best looking!) DD completed with Swampy's fiberglass hull. Being almost a pound heavier than the Huron, she is able to carry a pump, in addition to her 50 round cannon. The Le Terrible debuted in Campaign battle at the 1995 Nats, where she was able to inflict a good amount of damage, while taking almost none in return. She also battled in individual battles and the second Campaign that year, and has since battled locally, on occasion.
I acquired Lief Goodson's old SMS Von der Tann sometime in the mid-90's, and took my time refitting her, mostly because I couldn't decide if it was worth it or not. However, I got a bit bored in 1995 and she got a fast refit, and battled a few regionals and local battles before being sold. The Von der Tann currently resides in Michigan, and recently saw battle in the 1999 and 2000 Nats with Dave Au at the helm.
The North Carolina was my 1996 project, starting with the hull and superstructure of Willard Adams' Washington. She was rebuilt with completely new systems, and made her debut at the 1996 Nationals, where she followed in the footsteps of the venerable Q.E., sinking (and helping to sink) several Axis ships, and proving to be a very tough opponent. She continued her winning ways through the 1997 Nats, again sinking (and helping to sink) many an Axis ship. Since then, she has found a home in Arkansas, with Jay Edwards.
The USS Tennessee was another 1996 acquision, when a local battler, Jarrett Dorough, decided that he would rather have some money to help with a down payment for a new truck for college rather than his battleship. Being QE-less, I obliged him, and acquired a very robust 5.5 unit slugger. The Tennessee is not exactly a looker, as I have not had a chance to rebuild her superstructure yet (I've been busy working on North Carolinas), but she's a rough and tumble brawler, with the reliability and firepower to go the distance. Here, the Tennessee is seen duking it out side to side with Jim Pate's HMS Invincible.
This is my second USS North Carolina, which is the main reason why the Tennessee didn't receive much in the way of upgrades... She started life as an Andy Ray project, but after 1997 Nats, Andy decided he would rather build something else, and sold me the hull frame and a box of superstructure components and molds. After several months of work, the result is what you see here. She made her combat debut at the 1998 Nats, and performed very well there, as the Allies clinched their first ever three-peat. She has also been active locally and at regionals, and will be seen fairly regularly for many years in the future.
After the 1998 Nats, I decided it was probably about time that I switched sides and spent a few years on the Axis fleet. To further this end, I bought David Haynes's old IJN Nagato, and gave her a very thorough refit, which was completed just in time for the 1999 Nats (where she is seen here). Her battling debut was quite a splash, as she (and the rest of the Axis fleet) rolled to victory over the Allies, and sent many an Allied ship to the bottom. She was also my primary warship for the 2000 Nats, and will be seen again, soon...
The Baden is my latest ship, having been acquired from Pete Bac, in Michigan. Of all the ships I've bought from other battlers, she was the most complete, and all I had to do to get her ready for battle was build a new set of cannons, install one of my own pumps, and re-jigger the rudder servo arrangement a bit. She proved to be a tough battler at the 2002 Nats, but her lack of speed was somewhat of an impediment. I suspect that the Baden will become my favorite ship for battling in restricted waters.