NEW YORK - A scale model of the famed ocean liner Queen Mary, carved about 80 years ago from a 200-year-old white mahogany log and exact in every detail, will be the centerpiece of a new gallery on the ship that was the epitome of luxury travel in its heyday.
The 1/45th scale model, 21 feet long and weighing nearly 1,000 pounds (454 kg) includes a figure of Sir Winston Churchill on the afterdeck.
It will be moved on Wednesday from New York's South Street Seaport Museum, where is has been housed for decades, to the Queen Mary, now a hotel and tourist attraction, permanently docked in Long Beach, California.
"It is made exactly to scale from a set of blueprints," said Commodore Everette Hoard, the ship's historian. "Every arc, every angle, the graceful rake of the bow, the size and pitch of the propellers are all exact."
The replica will anchor a new gallery, set to open on Feb. 5, that will include 10 builder's models of ships including the Titanic, the Lusitania and the Poseidon that was used for the 1972 film "The Poseidon Adventure."
A crew of 10 craftsmen worked for two years to get everything right on the model that was used to market the liner, which actor Cary Grant described as the "eighth wonder of the world," according to Hoard.
When the ship, built in Scotland and featuring Art Deco interiors and an indoor swimming pool, made its maiden voyage in 1936 from Southampton, England, it launched a new age of travel, ferrying royalty, dignitaries and celebrities across the Atlantic.
"She was the first superliner ever created and put into service," said Hoard.
"The Queen Mary and her sister ship, the Queen Elizabeth, were so large and so fast that they could make the Atlantic crossing with just five days at sea with a day on each end for turnaround."
During World War Two, the ship had a second life as a military transport vessel before reverting back to a passenger service in 1947. The ship made its final voyage to Long Beach in 1967.
"She captured the minds and the hearts of the public. She was a natural from the start and a great earner, even in the late 30s," said Hoard.
The plan to move the massive scale model has been in the works for more than two years. It is expected to arrive in California on Sunday.