Task Force 72 Scale Model Ship Association

Scott Rice reports from their 20th Anniversary Regatta

HMAS Vendetta at speed

A Brief History of Task Force 72 will be useful before getting started. In 1994 two gentleman got this group started. One was Russ French who at the time was a Senior NCO in the Royal Australian Navy and he had been building models of warships for some time, and the other was Allan Pew, a master pattern maker who was producing GRP hulls and resin fittings for various model ships. These two men did not know each other until a chance meeting at the Maritime Model Club of New South Wales where Russ had put his model of HMAS Adelaide, a guided missile frigate next to Allan’s HMAS Torrens, a River class destroyer escort.

At this point they had both looked at each other and said '1:72 scale'? They discussed the pros and cons of this scale and found they had similar reasons for building such models and from this chance meeting have been mates ever since. Still in 1994, Allan asked Russ if he could help with a display of models for a major reunion of Royal Australian Navy members who had served in the Vietnam conflict and while having a great time talking with everybody, the two started talking about how many models were being built at that time and how good it would be to see all of them on display at the same place. Over a few beers, they talked about the lack of a scale based themed clubs and that it could be an idea to start an association solely for this 1:72 scale. With the drink still flowing, the name Task Force 72 came about with a suitable logo as naval vessels sail in groups known as Task Groups and even larger groups are known as Task Forces.

With a fixed scale of 1:72, this all made perfect sense, so by February 1995 Task Force 72 had their first gathering at a lake in Wentworth Falls with about 20 models on that day, together with a BBQ lunch and the group deciding that this gathering should happen again. So, with much planning the first regatta was set for the 25th/26th November 1995, again at Wentworth Falls in the picturesque Blue Mountains of New South Wales. A couple of reviewing officers attended, the first being the Governor of NSW, Rear-Admiral Peter Sinclair RAN, Rtd. and the other was Rear Admiral David Campbell RAN. These officers would review the models and pick a craft that they thought deserved to be the 'Best Model of the Regatta'. This award was based on the Gloucester Cup which is awarded to the best RAN vessel each year, but our version is known as the Wentworth Shield named after our home sailing water. In 1997 it was decided to officially form the group and it was registered as an Incorporated Association, this meaning that it needed a proper constitution and office bearers including a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and committee members.

Eighteen years later in 2015, the club has evolved to now having around 150 members and approximately 450 models between them. The membership now have 'Fleet Bases' around Australia in each State. For example there is Fleet Base Perth; Fleet Base Greater Sydney, Fleet Base Gulf Waters and so on, all sharing the burden of running this growing national association. These bases (groups of members) have representatives who are part of the committee and help members with any questions that may arise. Task Force 72 have also introduced some different awards, one being the Bravo Zulu Award (also known as 'BZ Award', this meaning 'well done' as a naval signal. The best Newbie Award (first time model), Best Non-Warship Award and the Homer Award (given to an individual for an incident that may have occurred throughout the day) are also now the global prizes we present.

As these regattas have now been running for 20 years or so, this is an achievement that I’m sure most of the guys didn’t think could happen at that initial regatta in 1995.

2015 20th Anniversary Regatta

Being the 20th year of the club, Russ French thought it would be a great opportunity to have Rear-Admiral David Campbell RAN Rtd. to be the reviewing officer once again. So members travelled from all over Australia to be part of this very special event on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th November 2015. Saturday started foggy and wet, at times there being steady rain and this was on and off most of the morning with heavier showers terminating the sailing in the afternoon, but around 40 models hit the water and braved the conditions with another 40 models or so under cover. Sadly, as a net result of this adverse weather, the Fleet Review did not take place on this day, but the Task Force 72 crew did later head to a local hotel for food and drink. Sunday was a better day and the majority of pictures are from then.


After everybody had recharged their batteries with, food, drink and a good sleep, it was time for the Sunday sailing with the weather being much better and low winds, sunshine and smooth water. A lot of members took advantage of this with numerous models taking to the water. Bearing in mind the huge distances that some members have to travel, inevitably as the day wore on many of them started to pack for their long drive home.


The Bravo Zulu Award was given to Bruce Stevens for his model of USS Long Beach CGN9 and he also took the Homer Award, for a incident that had happened with his model that day. The Best Warship Award was won by Herbert Hamson with his scratch built model of IJN Yamato as well as the Newbie Award for the Best First Model and the Best Non-Warship Award went to Rob Lee for his tug Respond. The major prize, the Wentworth Shield, was awarded to Mark Buttsworth for his outstanding model of HMAS Melbourne FFG 05. He has had this model for quite some time, but this highly detailed example of an Australian FFG has be one of the best in the country, so well deserving of the Wentworth Shield.

Russ French presented Michael Brown with life membership. He is our long-serving treasurer (actually from the association's conception) and something that was much appreciated.


A big THANK YOU to Dave and Karen Pearce, plus Craig Taylor for all their efforts running the BBQ for two days and a big thanks to everyone that gave a helping hand over the weekend and to those that travelled long and far to make this 20th Anniversary Regatta a great weekend of companionable sailing. The 2016 event is planned for Naracoorte in South Australia, over the weekend of 19/20th November.