This waterline model of Queen Mary is built in the tradition of what were called “Studio Models” in the middle decades of the 20th century. They were designed to attract potential North Atlantic travelers and displayed in the windows of upscale travel agencies. In the late 50s, air travel had advanced to the ability to fly from New York to Europe in 11 hours or so. Before this time, ocean liners were literally “The Only Way to Go.” The Queen Mary was made a dinosaur nearly overnight by advances in technology gained during World War II and only dreamed of at the time of her maiden voyage in 1936. Not only was it cheaper to fly, but reaching the opposite ends of the Atlantic in hours rather than days was very much embraced by the traveling public. The jets spelled the end for great liners like Queen Mary. Cunard White Star tried to utilize her majesty as a cruise ship but she was so large, she couldn’t fit into the smaller ports. She was built for the North Atlantic to transport huge numbers of passengers at magnificent speed in unparalleled luxury. She was retired in 1967 and sailed on her last voyage to Long Beach, CA to be turned into a museum and hotel.
Nearly 6 feet long, one can see in the photographs that the studio models were quite impressive. Mine was built by Ered Mathews and it is quite detailed and built using original building plans. The specially-built table it rests upon is 32 inches tall, 18 inches wide, and 72 inches long. My collection is taking up more and more room in my house and I hope to one day live in a large house with a room specifically built for Queen Mary memorabilia with this table and model in the center with ceiling floodlights shedding light upon it. I have a 10 year-old nephew who informed me upon seeing it that all he wants from my estate when I die is this model!
A marketing friend suggested that I commission a video for distribution on YouTube. Videographer Keith Kingery did a splendid job – his first YouTube video! You will see a very few items from my extensive Queen Mary collection. I was a Communications minor in college and have been involved in many civic organization events by voice-overs, narration for videos, emceeing events, acting in community and college theatre, and voicing church programs. But I had never really heard myself. That Midwestern twang is embarrassing and awful. I had no idea I sounded like that! And snobby to boot!
Please view the link below. The background music played during the excerpt reading is from the soundtrack of the ABC TV series DARK SHADOWS entitled “The Secret Room”. I very much welcome your observations and comments!
During World War II, Queen Mary was requisitioned by the British government to serve as a troop transport. Her luxurious interiors were stripped and placed in storage in New York and Sydney, Australia and painted entirely in grey. Gone was the famous black and white hull with orange-red stacks. Since she was the fastest ship in the world, she could easily outrun any torpedo and deliver American soldiers to the European theater. She transported troops in excess of 10,000 to 16,000 on single voyages from New York to Gourock, Scotland. Hitler was infuriated. He placed a contract out on the liner that any submarine captain who sank her would receive half a million dollars and the prestigious Iron Cross. She sailed the Atlantic alone with lights out in a zigzag course to prevent a “wolf pack” of Nazi subs placing coordinates on her. Because of her speed, she was only escorted in and out of ports with battle cruisers at her bow.
The only disaster the superliner ever encountered in her career was in October of 1943 when she ran over a cruiser named Curacoa. To this day, no one knows which ship missed which zigzag but the Queen’s giant bow sliced through her escort when the armour-plated battle cruiser crossed directly in front of her. The severed sections of the cruiser sank alongside Port and Starboard and nearly 400 men lost their lives. The British Admiralty had ordered that the liner not stop for any reason lest she be a sitting target for Nazi subs and horrified soliders on the liner hurled life vests overboard for the drowning sailors. While the impact was the end of the world for Curacoa’s crew, the collision felt little more than running over a log on the liner. She suffered only a bent bow.
This life vest was still aboard the liner when she retired to Long Beach, California in 1967. As can be seen by the photos above, it is in remarkable condition.