When Malle Hawking watched a documentary about the USS Harry S. Truman, something clicked. He’d built ships out of Lego as a child, so it occurred to him that he’d like to have a model of the American supercarrier. He found his old boxes of Lego in his basement in Munich, Germany, and started building.
After 14 months and countless shipments of parts, his creation was done. “I can’t think of anything else in my life that was so exhausting and challenging,” says Hawking, 38. “And for the costs, I could have had my own Volkswagen instead. But it wouldn’t give me that much fun.”
The ship’s 54 aircraft alone took a whole month to create. There are working lights, movable elevators and radar dishes, even a webcam mounted inside the hull to let viewers see the interior.
Getting the shape of the Truman’s superstructure right proved to be the biggest challenge, as Hawking had only one video and a couple dozen images from the internet.
More than 300,000 bricks were needed to complete the model, with its hull of light gray pieces, and internal, nonvisible elements made up of random colors. The ship is 16 feet long and weighs more than 350 pounds. It can be split into six sections for (relative) ease of transportation.
When completed in 2006, it set the world record for largest Lego boat. (It’s big!)
The biggest surprise for Hawking was the enthusiasm that the Truman met with as he began to show it off. It was blogged more than 200 times before he even finished the model. It’s been displayed in Munich, Cologne, Berlin, and the Lego Museum in Billund, Denmark, and this year it appeared in shopping malls around Germany.
Even the U.S. Navy has shown interest. Recently, a deal to ship the model to the United States for display fell through, but Hawking hopes it will happen soon.
Lego Aircraft Carrier: makezine.com/go/legoship