William Tompkins built 307 different model ships at a scale of 1/600. Mr. Tompkins started building his massive collection when he was in his early teens, and he continued to make highly detailed models throughout his lifetime. The fleet of model ships includes a wide array of models that span several decades, if not more, so the collection offers an insightful view of naval evolution over time. A portion of William Tompkins’ fleet of 1/600 scale model ships is on display in the Miniature Engineering Craftsmanship Museum in Carlsbad, CA.

Launched in 1914, the USS Nevada (BB-36, 1939) was a big leap forward in dreadnought technology. Three new features would be included on almost every subsequent US battleship: triple gun turrets, oil in place of coal for fuel, geared steam turbines for greater range, and the “all or nothing” armor principle. These features made the Nevada the first US Navy “super-dreadnought.” Unfortunately, the Nevada was caught in Pearl Harbor during the Japanese attack in 1941. It was the only battleship to get under way during the attack, but was hit with bombs and torpedos and had to be beached. The ship was repaired and returned to service in the Atlantic, taking part in the assault on Normandy.

At the end of WWII, the Navy decided that the ship was too old to be retained, so they assigned it as a target ship in Operation Crossroads. After being hit by the blast from the first atomic bomb, the Nevada was still afloat, but heavily damaged and radioactive. The ship was decommissioned in August 1946, and then sank during naval gunfire practice on July 31, 1948.

Exhibit added: May 6, 2014 - Last modified: January 25, 2024

Presented by The Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional Craftsmanship