USS Missouri Model Ship – Washington, D.C. - Atlas Obscura
Free iron-on Atlas Obscura badge when you preorder our new kids’ book. Shop now.

Washington, D.C.

USS Missouri Model Ship

The U.S. Navy’s preposterously detailed mini battleship took 77,000 hours to complete.  

There are countless model warships on display at the U.S. Navy Museum, ranging from wooden paddlewheelers to World War II flattops, but none of these miniature marvels could trade broadsides with the 19-foot-long model of the USS Missouri.

The little “Big Mo” was produced by the Gibbs & Cox naval architecture firm and depicts the ship’s appearance on September 2, 1945, at 9:02 a.m., the moment of a Japanese surrender ceremony on its deck that brought World War II to an end. According to the Curator of Navy Ship Models, “Special attention was to be devoted to flags and to detailing the table and chairs with the surrender documents in place.”

Gibbs & Cox had a team of 16 expert model makers working on the Missouri and finished it in 23 months, well ahead of the three years required to build the full-sized, 887-foot-long battleship! They achieved a level of detail that in places verges on the preposterous, and even the thickness of the gray coat of paint is to scale.

Know Before You Go

The museum is located on an active military base at the Washington Navy Yard. It's open to non-DOD visitors Monday - Friday.