The Combat Air Museum acquired the aircraft carrier training model from the former Old Olathe Naval Air Museum in Gardner, Kansas in February 2004 after that museum closed. The flight deck had the number '34' painted on it and had a few 1/100 scale jet models on its deck. It was definitely a World War II ESSEX class carrier and, at some time, had been modified with an angled flight deck. The bow and stern of the hull were however never modified as a modern carrier, i.e. an open bow.
The model had originally been a training aide of some type. There was not much detail in its construction, but the model did incorporate some craftsmanship, especially for the brass fittings with moveable parts. There was a diagram on the bottom of one of its flight deck panels for rigging the arresting cable system, and the posts for barrier wires also worked. One elevator went up and down on a rack and pinion system. There was evidence inside the hull of electrical terminal blocks, but there were no lights when CAM acquired the model. There was a rough wood and metal island superstructure but no mast. Although CAM members have searched for information, there doesn't seem to be any record as to when the model was originally made or how the Olathe Museum got hold of it.
One of CAM's board members, Dick Trupp, became the key person who proposed reconstructing the model as the USS ORISKANY, as it already had the number 34 on the flight deck. Originally, CAM volunteers were just going to try to repair and improve on the existing model. As the project started Dick realized that there are probably more photos and data available from the Internet and other sources on the Oriskany for the period just before the 1966 fire, than for any other timeframe. He therefore decided to have the model reconstructed just as the USS ORISKANY had been in 1966.
Enter Ted Nolde, Larry Todd, and Darren Roberts.
- Ted has painstakingly built the new island superstructure from scratch (see Island Superstructure page).
- Larry is modifying the original training model hull to correct imperfections in its height and length specifications in order to conform to an exact 1/96 scale.
He is building a new flight deck, with individual deck planking, from scratch.
- Darren is building the air wing of 49 1/100 scale model aircraft, not only with the correct Squadron markings, but also with the correct Bureau Numbers of the aircraft aboard USS ORISKANY at that time. While most of the jets are from plastic model kits, the Skyraiders are die cast models that have to be re-marked and landing gear added.
All three are master modelers, and the Combat Air Museum is going to have something very special when it is all done.