The Bonhomme Richard
reissue thread reminded me that I really ought to post some photos of my own build of another classic Aurora ship kit! This has been one of my longest-running builds yet - I started it in mid 2007 and completed it around the same time this year - partly due to distraction from other projects and partly because I couldn't decide what to do about the sail/yard problem (see below).
A bit of info on the actual ship - USS Hartford
was a steam sloop-of-war built in 1858. It had a displacement of 2900 tons and a crew of 300. Armament, as built, consisted of 20 9" Dahlgren smoothbore guns in broadside mounts, one 20-pounder Parrott rifled gun on the quarterdeck, and two 12-pounder rifled guns on the forecastle. USS Hartford
saw quite a bit of action in the US Civil War, as the flagship of Admiral Farragut, most notably at the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864.The ship actually survived as long as 1956 but by that date was in such poor condition as to be unsalvageable (a great loss, as no other USN wooden warships from this era have survived). However, numerous relics of the ship were preserved - including the ship's wheel, one of the anchors, and several guns - and are on display in various locations around the US.
For more information, see this link:http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/sloops/hartford.txt
Aurora's USS Hartford kit was issued in the early 1960s and was part of a range of large-scale sailing ships which also included the clipper Sea Witch
, whaler Wanderer
, and Bonhomme Richard
(see the recent post on the Revell reissue). All of these kits were quite good considering their age - certainly light-years ahead of virtually all the non-sail plastic ship models of the time - though not up to the standard of Revell's best efforts, such as the 1/96 Cutty Sark
Their main drawback (a fairly big one) is the sails, which are injection-moulded integrally with the yards - they look very overscale and unconvincing (and are so heavy when assembled that they tend to bend the masts out of shape), and to build the model without sails you'll either have to scratchbuild new yards or somehow remove the sails from the ones in the kit!
The Aurora kit measures about 65cm/26" long (including bowsprit) when completed, giving a scale of around 1/130 - very close to Pyro's Harriet Lane
and Imai's Susquehanna
, 1/144 and 1/150 respectively. There are some omissions and inaccuracies but overall the model appears quite accurate compared to museum models. Photos of a 1/48 scale museum model were my main source of reference for detailing and painting the model, along with a few photos of surviving relics.
I've always been a great fan of warships from this "transitional" era and have just about all the plastic kits available - I've already built Revell's 1/96 USS Kearsarge
and Pyro/Lindberg's USS Harriet Lane
and also have the Imai USS Susquehanna
and Revell CSS Alabama
in the stash.
My model of Hartford
represents the ship in pre-Civil War fit and paint scheme. During the war it was painted grey and had a number of modifications to fit and armament, including the removal of the upper masts and yards.
I've made many small additions and modifications to my model, but 90% of the basic parts on my model are from the kit - for a 50-year old moulding it certainly isn't bad! The rigging is simplified - especially the running rigging - though I put a lot more work into this stage of the build than any of my previous models. I didn't use any blocks, as I couldn't find any small enough to not look too conspicuously overscale.
Some of the changes I made were:
- Replaced the smaller upper yards with spares-box parts (some from a cheap SMER 1/200 Cutty Sark kit, others from an old Airfix HMS Victory). The larger lower yards are the original kit parts with the sails cut off, and carefully trimmed + sanded to shape.
- Made new stern gallery windows from styrene strip (after cutting out the old solid windows) and a nameplate on the stern, made from Slaters styrene lettering.
- Added traversing rails for the aft Parrott gun made from styrene strip.
- Added the 2 12pdr rifled guns (and their traversing rails) to the forecastle. These are made from heavily modified Heller 1/150 guns + carriages. I used "modeller's license" for the exact appearance and locations of the guns as I couldn't find any reference material.
- Modified the funnel/stack and added a scratchbuilt whistle and steam pipe.
- Cut off all the moulded "pin rails" on the bulwarks and replaced with spares-box parts (from Heller kits)
- Replaced the amidships davits with spares-box parts.
- Replaced all eyebolts with copper wire ones (available from Caldercraft in the UK)
I also made a new nameplate for the stand, using Slater's lettering, as I didn't really like the moulded "sea" on the kit nameplate, and most of the text was too small and moulded too shallow to paint neatly.
Here are the photos: