Going to Fleet Week NYC 2022
Three years. Three full years. It has been three pandemic-interrupted years since New York City hosted visiting ships from the US Navy and its partners. Between the fond memories of visiting ships as a kid, or the weather turning towards summer, this has always, and will always be, my favorite time of year in the city.
And now that I'm a modeler again, there is yet another reason to love the last weekend in May: the 1/35, 1/48, and 1/700 scale subjects that grace my bench are here in their high fidelity 1/1 scale form.
It was time for reference photos. Lots of them!
Editor's note: Fleet Week in NYC is usually timed to coincide with Memorial Day. So while this is an exciting weekend for the reasons mentioned above, it is also a somber one. Part of my attendance at Fleet Week is to pay my respects to the fallen. I also believe it is equally important to let the current servicemen and servicewomen know that people support them and are grateful for their service and sacrifices. If you have a Fleet Week in a city near you, I strongly encourage attending.
What to expect at Fleet Week in New York City
No two Fleet Weeks are alike. The fluid nature of global events and the associated ship deployments ensure that different classes of vessels will be on hand at any given time. This is to say nothing of ship commissionings and retirements. Because each ship has a unique crew, fighting spirit, and history, be sure to visit if and when your favorite ship comes to town. You might not get another chance.
Fleet Week in New York usually features a headline amphibious landing ship of the Wasp-class or San Antonio-class and an assortment of surface escorts like littoral combat ships, destroyers, and cruisers. The US Coast Guard, partner navies and auxiliary vessels also make strong appearances. Sometimes we are even treated to tall ships that have sailed thousands of miles to get here!
Ships will dock throughout the city. The center of events usually takes place at a pier next to the museum ships USS Intrepid (CV-11) and USS Growler (SSG-577) of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. But ships may also dock at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, USS The Sullivans Homeport Pier, Kings Point US Merchant Marine Academy, and the SUNY Maritime College.
Festivities kick off with the Parade of ships where participants sail up the Hudson River. Static displays, concerts, aerial rescue, and aerial assault demonstrations all follow at various locations throughout the city. And of course, there are the ship tours where you can actually set foot on and step inside select vessels. It’s an impressive set of events that you won't want to miss.
Fleet Week 2022 participants and their small-scale companions
The Parade of Ships at this year's Fleet Week took place bright and early in the morning on the Hudson River due to tide conditions. Fortunately, the weather was great. See for yourself!
USS Bataan (LHD-5) - As a member of the Wasp-class, scale models are readily available in 1/700 or 1/350. HobbyBoss even released a 1/700 Bataan in 2013. I have her sister ship, USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7), in my stash. A number of aftermarket photoetch detailing sets are also available.
USS Milwaukee (LCS-5) - One of 16 planned Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ships, sister ships to Milwaukee are available in 1/350 and 1/700 scales from a combination of Dragon/Cyber Hobby, Trumpeter and Bronco. Here is my USS Fort Worth (LCS-3) build!
*USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116) - Thomas Hudner is a Flight IIA Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. They are the workhorses of the US Navy. Ships of this class are also readily available in 1/350 and 1/700 scales with plenty of aftermarket accessories. Sister ship USS Forrest Sherman (DDG-98) in 1/700 by HobbyBoss is in my stash.
HMS Protector (A173) - A one-of-a-kind ship, Protector is an ice patrol ship originally built by Norway and sailed as a charter vessel before being sold to the United Kingdom. Currently she sails to enforce fishery law, conduct oceanography, support scientific research, and most importantly to igluemodels, monitor penguin colonies! Unfortunately I couldn't find any scale models of her, but maybe one day she will grace my shelf as a scratch-build.
USCG Dependable (WMEC-626) - An Endurance-class cutter, Dependable has a primary mission of drug interdiction and general patrol for the Coast Guard. Despite being an old design, I am unable to find scale model kits of this class.
USCG Sycamore (WLB-209) - Named for the tree, Sycamore is a Juniper-class ocean going buoy tender. Her primary mission is to ensure trouble-free navigation off the northeast coast. She is an interesting ship and would make for a great subject, but unfortunately I cannot find any scale model kits of her design.
US Naval Academy Yard Patrol Craft - Yard Patrol boats are training aids for the cadets at the US Naval Academy. They are a sturdy platform to practice the basics of seafaring and navigation.
*Unfortunately Thomas Hudner was a last minute no-show. This happens. Again, these are active warships and DDGs are some of the most in-demand assets in the US Navy.
A modeler can never have enough reference photos. I took so many (over 600) that I'm sure igluemodels is now on several government watch-lists! But even with so many photos, it is impossible to capture every nook and cranny or box and doohickey. The ships are too big and time is too limited. Rather than share everything, I wish to share photos that have value to me as a modeler and that I hope inspire you to capture unique details from your own 1/1 scale encounters.
Vertical surfaces are this gray, that gray, and other gray
Haze Gray. That's the color on vertical surfaces of the US Navy ships. Usually. But as you will see, there is a ton of variation:
Photo 1 - Older paint on the lower left side? What is that door to nowhere? And is it painted?
Photo 2 - The boat has several different colors of gray. The walkways and suspensions arms appear to be different grays as well.
Photo 3 - Certain walls of the island appear to be different colors of gray. Notice the different gray between the dome and its sponson.
Photo 4 - Milwaukee's hull is painted gray, but the aluminum superstructure is not painted at all.
Photo 5 - A striking patina, and some rust to boot. Some of the pipes and accessories are gray.
Photo 6 - The 57mm Gun is painted.
Horizontal surfaces are also this gray, that gray, and other gray
Now that we've looked at the vertical surfaces. What about the horizontal ones? Ships have flight decks, weather decks, and in the case of LHDs like the Bataan, vehicle stowage decks and well decks. Most of these surfaces are covered in different types of anti-skid coatings. Generally, these surfaces fade over time. But they also accumulate a lot of dirt and grime. Let's see what they look like!
Photo 1 - Here is the entry ramp to one of Bataan's cargo decks. Notice the anti-skid gray surface contrasted against the plain gray painted surfaces. Also note the red primer.
Photo 2 - The flight deck on Bataan has its own anti-skid color. It also has patched up areas. Note the darker gray tie-down paint.
Photo 3 - Oil, grease, and grime on the flight deck will create an uneven finish.
Photo 4 - Close up of other oil, grease, and grime on the Bataan flight deck.
Photo 5 - The flight deck on Milwaukee is interspersed by darker tie-downs. Wear to the T-line and T-ball lines can also be seen. Interestingly, it looks like a grid pattern outlining the subsurface structural supports is visible in the faded deck.
Photo 6 - Mooring areas are painted. Again, note the red primer.
Photo 7 - The forward deck on Milwaukee looks freshly coted in non-skid. But older applications remain.
I’m not going to pretend to know what all the communications and radar gear is on these ships. But what I do know is that masts on models add a lot of character. Sadly, photographing masts is not easy because from half the angles you are shooting straight into the sun. Therefore, colors have a tendency to look different between two otherwise similar photos.
Photo 1 - In addition to masts, we can see refueling hoses.
Photo 2 - Lots of subtle color differences.
Photo 3 - Most of this looks unpainted.
Photo 4 - A great example of how colors change when shooting into the sun.
Photo 5 - A lot of ships have black masting. I think this has to do with radio wave reflection.
Photo 6 - The antenna on Protector is mostly the same yellow. Not too much color variation.
Each ship has a unique personality and pictures can only tell part of the story. That said, I think some of these are the ones the readers are looking for. Weapons stations, splashes of color, or potential photoetch nightmares (looking at you, Bataan elevator).
Photo 1 - RIM-7 Sea Sparrow with factory finish?
Photo 2 - 20mm Phalanx CIWS.
Photo 3 - RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile. Also note the crooked lettering on the left garage door.
Photo 4 - A splash of color on Bataan's island.
Photo 5 - The aircraft don't move themselves. Here's a flight deck tractor.
Photo 6 - Ever wonder what's beneath the elevator? And look at all that safety netting.
Photo 7 - A light and life rafts. Notice the grey colors on the metalworks.
Photo 8 - Anchor's away!
Photo 9 - Compare this netting on Bataan (more wire-like)...
Photo 10 - ...to this netting on Milwaukee (more net-like).
Photo 11 - Service ribbons on Milwaukee, and lots of extra gear.
Fleet Week provides the public with an unusual level of access to engage with the armed forces. Over the week-long festivities, modelers are given a unique way to capture their own reference photos. After all, nothing can compare to being onboard an active warship. I hope that the photos I have shared will give you a different perspective for your own Fleet Week visits.
The clock is ticking for Fleet Week 2023. I know where igluemodels will be, what about you?
Thanks for reading,
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