WHEN Brian Turner's less-than- perfect vision shattered his boyhood dream of joining the Royal Navy, he turned his talents to creating his own fleet of ships.
Rejected by the RN as a teenager, the now retired decorator from Frodsham channelled his maritime passion into painting pictures of his favourite ships and designing and building a succession of intricate scale models of some of the finest vessels.
However, he saved his biggest and best creation until last, and this week Brian celebrated his 64th birthday by 'launching' his ultimate masterpiece - a 6ft model of HMS Superb, which has taken him 7,500 hours over the last 17 years to complete.
'It's taken so long because I only managed to get a couple of hours to spend on it every evening when I was working,' he said.
'It's been a big project, the ultimate of all my models over the years, but I have managed to spend more time on it since I retired.'
Each tiny handcrafted component of this amazing 1/8in: 1ft scale replica lives up to the name of the Royal Navy's last conventional gun cruiser on which it is based.
HMS Superb was completed by Swan Hunter in 1946, too late to see active service in the Second World War. However, she was flagship of the RN Second Cruiser Squadron, completing several commissions, and took part in the Coronation Review of Fleet in 1953.
The cruiser was broken up in 1960.
Brian said he chose HMS Superb as a subject for what may be his last model because 'to me, it's just the nicest-looking ship'.
'You've got to imagine this huge thing cutting through the water at speed,' he added. 'It can look tremendously graceful. To bring a thing like that down to small scale is a real challenge. Making each separate part is like making a little model in itself.'
Every feature of HMS Superb is replicated in minute detail, even down to the captain's chair and a storage locker on deck crammed with tiny flags.
Preparing to embark on his model, Brian acquired a set of original builder's plans from the National Maritime Museum and photo-graphs of the ship.
It is a plank on frame model, made from marine ply, 47 sheets of brass, 40 sheets of Plasticard, 265 lengths of brass wire, 128 lengths of brass tube, two packs of solder, 72 packs of glue, 36 tins of paint, 41 packets of scalpel blades, six razor saws - and four tins of plasters!
Brian said: 'My grandfather served on HMS King George V at the Battle of Jutland in the First World War and my uncle served on aircraft carriers during the Second World War, so I've always been interested in ships and tried to join the Royal Navy myself in 1956, but my eyes let me down.
'It hurt me a lot not being able to get in, so I decided to build my own navy!'