British resident Edward L. Wyatt has devoted research with the oil giant Texaco in New York and over 2,000 hours of painstaking work on a model of the wartime tanker Ohio in an effort to raise money for the Association of Abandoned Animals.

Mr Wyatt, who together with his wife Carmen is a dog lover, is appealing to a company or organisation to come forward and obtain the 1:96 scale model and in return give an animal ambulance to the association which is run by Freddie Fenech.

The 5'8" long model shows the Ohio as a Texaco tanker before she was handed to the British on June 25, 1942.

The Ohio, which was subsequently painted in Navy grey, limped into Grand Harbour on August 15, 1942, in the Operation Pedestal convoy, which came also to be known as the Santa Maria Convoy, having made it into port on the feast day.

The tanker had brought much needed provisions to starving Malta, which was on the point of surrendering.

The heavily bombed Ohio was towed into Grand Harbour with HMS Penn and HMS Bramham strapped to her sides as the steering was jammed. The tanker was captained by Dudley Mason, who was later awarded the George Cross, and was towed out to sea on September 19, 1946, to be scuttled by gunfire.

Mr Wyatt worked on the model of the Ohio from 1996 to 1999.

"My new model was built mainly out of wood and gives a good idea of how the Ohio looked like without guns, before she was deployed on Operation Pedestal," the former member of the Royal Air Force said.

Mr Wyatt said he found a huge amount of assistance from the Malta Maritime Museum, which helped him with details, and from Texaco in New York, which first sent pictures of the tanker and then invited him to New York to inspect a 1939 model of the Ohio .

He has already built another two scale models of the Ohio - complete with guns - for the Maritime Museum and the War Museum.

"But this time I wanted to utilise the fruit of my labour to help our four-legged friends.

"I thought if would be a good idea if a bank or some corporation obtained the Ohio and then donated a vehicle to be used as an ambulance for animals.

The Ohio (9,263 tons) was built in the US on the River Delaware at Wilmington and launched on April 20, 1940. She was 515 feet long, had a capacity of 107,000 barrels of oil and a crew of 77. She was the first tanker ever to be welded.

After she was handed to the British at Greenock on the river Clyde in Scotland and painted grey, the Ohio was fitted with 40 mm Bofors, among other guns on her bow.

Mr Wyatt, who came to live in Malta in 1988, has also made a one-metre scale (1:96) model of air sea rescue launch 107 which used to be deployed to save pilots when they baled out of their aircraft.

He intends to present the model to the Aviation Museum.

Mr Wyatt may be contacted on tel. 2143 6109 or 7905 7603.