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.

Bill’s 1/600 scale model of USS Saratoga (CV-3, 1928). The Saratoga’s keel was laid as a battle cruiser, but a treaty in 1922 restricted the construction of such ships. So the Saratoga was refitted as a carrier. The Lexington-class ship entered service in 1928, and operated in a number of major Pacific campaigns during WWII. While the Saratoga survived WWII, it was used as a target for atomic bomb testing after the war, and eventually sank. The vessel survived the first test, but not the second.

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

Presented by The Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional Craftsmanship