Ship of Bricks
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.
Photograph courtesy of Malle Hawking
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. —John Baichtal
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