A lifetime's passion

DICK HOPPER'S  outstanding models

In May 1945 I sailed on the P&O liner Strathmore from Karachi to Glasgow, in a convoy when my dad was serving in the British Army of India in the Frontier Force Rifles. He sent me and my brother, together with our mother to England, primarily for us boys to be educated.

Some years later in 1955, I attested at Rhodesia House, London, to serve in the British South Africa Police, Southern Rhodesia, so sailed on the Pretoria Castle from Southampton to Cape Town, calling in en route at Las Palmas to taste the wine!

Ten years later, I immigrated to New Zealand, now with a South African wife and daughter, travelling from Durban to Auckland via Perth and Melbourne, on the Northern Star of the Shaw Savill line.

Twenty years later still, I obtained plans of these three liners and built them over the following ten years, at 1:96 scale, it all taking so long because I had a day job. All three were built from scratch, framed and built in wood throughout. Basswood deck planking was imported from the USA, that supplier still being in existence: www.northeasternscalelumber.com. I had retained a coloured picture menu from Pretoria’s restaurant and pasted the scene overlooking the pool area, discernible in one of the photos of the model.

My life seems to have rotated in decade-long stretches, but now am still in the same house after 47 years, having worked as the 'Man from the Pru' for 20 years and also celebrating 50 years of marriage.

In between the liners, I have built major units from Force H as at Gibraltar in 1943, these being HM Ships Illustrious, Duke of York, Dido, Sheffield and others. I have also built the New Zealand Navy Loch class frigates, Taupo, Pukaki and Rotoiti, followed by more recent warships such as the Leander class frigates Canterbury and Waikato, as well as the Rothesay class frigates, Otago and Taranaki.

Then came the Dido class cruisers Black Prince and Royalist, which at 1:48 scale, are 12 feet long. Slipped in, was the current HMS Illustrious as well!

Modern New Zealand Navy vessels are currently represented by the Anzac class frigate Te Mana and inshore patrol vessels including the current HMNZS Rotoiti. For your interest, a glimpse of four New Zealand Navy frigates at sea can be accessed at: http://youtu.be/bXOD1oNYwOo

So, in summary, no kits at all! Just one scratch build project after the other, and for me an immensely satisfying and creative hobby.

Dick Hopper - 2013