As RMS Queen Elizabeth sat in the slipway at John Brown's in Clydebank on September 27, 1938, the Queen talked of peace rather than conflict, hope and not despair. Despite her optimism, history tells a different story. Less than a year later, Hitler's troops had marched into Poland and Britain was drawn into the Second World War.
It was an ignominious start for the new Cunard Queen, designed and built to run a transatlantic service as the sister ship of the mighty Blue Riband-holding Queen Mary. With fitting out still to be completed and German bombing raids getting ever-closer, the Clydeside shipyard had suddenly become one of the biggest targets in the country.
"She didn't have the life intended for her for the first five years," explains Ian Johnstone, author of Ships for a Nation: The History of John Brown & Co, Clydebank. "Because war broke out they didn't know what to do with her.
"Clearly the Queen Elizabeth wasn't going to begin transatlantic operation. The biggest ship in the world was sitting in Clydebank and it stood out. The concern was the Luftwaffe would bomb it and sink this prestigious ship before it had even got to sea."
The Cunard colours of red and black were repainted battleship grey and for a while the ship offered refuge to the thousands working on her when enemy planes were spotted overhead.
"When air raids started they used the ship as an air raid shelter," says Johnstone. "She was such a large structure, you were reasonably safe deep within it. They made the decision that all 3500 men on the dayshift working on the Queen Elizabeth were to be accommodated in the lower decks, while space for an additional 1000 men employed elsewhere on the yard could also be provided for in an air raid."
In the early years of the war Cunard and John Brown's were keen to move the Queen Elizabeth away from the Clyde as quickly as possible. If she was bombed the dock would be blocked and inaccessible to warships needing urgent repairs.
"At one point they considered converting her into an aircraft carrier. It would have been a big job but it could have been done. They'd have had to strip the superstructure off and build the flight deck," says Johnstone.
"Instead, they decided to complete the ship as it was and the next problem was deciding what to do with it; how to get it out of the Clyde before the Luftwaffe discovered it."
As many as 300,000 people lined the banks of the Clyde and millions listened to the radio broadcast around the world when the Queen Elizabeth was launched. But few witnessed the ship slip down the Clyde on a February afternoon in 1940.
The next day the crew were told Churchill had ordered the ship to leave British waters and she set sail on her maiden voyage across the Atlantic. There was no time for sea trials and the untested ship reached New York a few days later, dodging U-boats and mines along the way.
Johnstone said: "The fact nothing went wrong is a genuine tribute to the skills of the engineers at John Brown."
After the war, during which she covered 500,000 miles and transported more than 750,000 men, the Queen Elizabeth returned to Gourock to be refitted for a more leisurely life as a transatlantic liner and then a cruise ship, sailing from New York to the Caribbean islands.
Despite the glamorous image and star-studded guest list, she was often considered Cunard's forgotten Queen, always in the shadow of the Queen Mary.
Her ending was to be as undignified as her beginning. The Queen Elizabeth was sold to Hong Kong shipping magnate CY Tung who intended to turn her into a university but, before the conversion was finished, the ship caught fire and sank in Hong Kong harbour.
Many suspected arson and Queen Elizabeth remained the largest passenger shipwreck until the Costa Concordia disaster off the coast of Tuscany last year.
Rescuers salvaged what they could of Cunard's Queen. The rest lay, stuck in mud, at the bottom of the harbour, buried under landfill, never to see open water again.