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U.S. Army veteran creates wartime ship replicas

U.S. Army veteran creates wartime ship replicas
Posted at 6:01 PM, May 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-08 21:16:10-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Bob Mckinley knows all about fine classic and modern ship art.

"All my life, from 10 years old, I built model airplanes with the rubber band in them," said McKinley.

Throughout his life, he took on a career as a refinery engineer and US Army first sergeant. However, he never gave up his childhood hobby.

He began building classic vessels. His first replica was an 1846 ship called the Sea Witch. McKinley has also built a 1,000 AD Viking ship and a 3,000-pound battleship replica, which is on display aboard the USS Lexington Museum.

"I restored about 35, 40 foot replicas. It was built and put on the hanger deck," said McKinley, "It's boxed in and took me 12 or 13 years to restore it."

You'll also find some of his airplane models at Corpus Christi International Airport. But McKinley says his hardest piece was the HMS Bounty. It was considered the largest and tallest ship built in the 1700s for the British Navy. He says he used dental and surgical tools to create the deck openings and cabins.

"The ladder that's going up, it's very difficult to tie because if you've ever tried to tie something like that, you'd go in and out," said McKinley, "So I had to learn how to do it like a doctor does a stitch."

And it isn't just about creating art, Mr. McKinley says this has been a form of therapy for him. Of course, art like this has to be shared with the public.

McKinley's family has displayed his artwork at their home and so has Mirador Senior Living Community, where he and his wife, Betty, live.

For now, he's focusing on celebrating his upcoming birthday in August, when he will turn 92 years old.

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