USS Hartford, 1858 (Aurora kit) completed photos

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USS Hartford, 1858 (Aurora kit) completed photos

  • 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 and Constitution.
    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:
































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  • There is some use for the Aroura kits after all! Looks good! Nice use of alternative parts! One of these days I'll have to get back to the "Wanderer" kit, it still needs some "reworking" of detail.

    Lead me not into temptation ..................I can find it myself

  • What a workf of art!

  • You sure put a lot of work and care into this one.

    I'm from the government and I'm here to help.

  • Twenty one gun salute to the USS Hartford!!! Fantastic build. I'm in the middle of Revell Kearsarge and really see the family resemblence between the ships. Did you spray the masts? I'm still touching up white, brush painted, and about to step (glue) masts permenantly so I can move to careful placement of the preformed ratlines which will definately not be perfect. I've glued a piece of stretched sprue to the bottoms of the "rats" and am attaching that to the outboard deadeyes while carefully rounting each of the upper shrouds to the crows nest or platform, whatever you call it. With the rats only having 2 attachments I can break off the middle deadeyes and line them up with the "drunken" Revell preformed shrouds. Less than half of them actually line up straight out of the kit and the rats are also not the same side for side. Hartford looks really great. You getting a display case for it? What's next?

    How does this work?

  • Very nice work!

    I've always wondered how those ships were operated. Did they ever sail, or just steam? 

    It's neat to see the differences and similarities between this ship and the USS Constellation, which also dates from the 1850s (1854), but was an all sail sloop of war rather than a steam sloop of war.

    Regards,

    -Drew

    Build what you like; like what you build.

  • If the Revell Kearsarge is any hint the ships like her must have been pretty limited in sail usage. On the upper sails the ratlines prevent the booms from swinging more than a few degrees and moreover in all the photos I've seen of her the booms are at right angles to the hull. I don't know anything about square rig sailing practice, but this would seem to indicate the counted on the sails for sailing downwind and that's about it.

    And to comment to JP further I hope you consider cases for your models along with the possability or "refitting" rigging as your modeling knowledge grows. Stuff is to nice to go the way of a "plastic model." I sure miss my Cutty Sark, lost in a move. I've raised the deadeyes on Revell Kearsarge about 1/4" based on photos of her in Kittery Maine. I think the rig changed on Kearsarge a lot over her long career. Model looks better to me and more like the photos with busier rigging above the rails. Paul

    How does this work?

  • You've done an outstanding job on that kit.

    Simply beautiful.

  • You did a terrific job on a fine ship!  I have an old USS Hartford that does not have all of its pieces; hence, I am really looking forward to the reissue.  I hope that I can do half the job you did!

    Bill Morrison

  • Thanks for the kind comments! This was definitely not the easiest of builds, and it got quite annoying at times, but I'm very glad I finally finished it, the finished model looks very good on the shelf. I hope to build another of its contemporaries, the paddle-wheel sloop USS Susquehanna (Imai kit) next year.

     Lufbery wrote:
    I've always wondered how those ships were operated. Did they ever sail, or just steam? 

    It's neat to see the differences and similarities between this ship and the USS Constellation, which also dates from the 1850s (1854), but was an all sail sloop of war rather than a steam sloop of war.

    Ships of this period used their sails extensively - the inefficiency of early steam engines meant they couldn't carry enough coal to run entirely under steam power for a voyage of any length. Coastal and riverine craft (such as tugs and ferries) were the only craft at this time with no auxiliary sail power.

    Many early steamships had both a funnel/stack which could be lowered, and a propellor which could be disconnected and raised out of the water, when running under sail. Not sure if Hartford had either of these (I suspect so) but the Revell CSS Alabama kit has a lifting propellor.

    Even around end of the 19th century, some warships designed for cruising and colonial patrol duties carried rigged masts, as regular supplies of coal weren't always available in their areas of operation!

    I think Constellation was the last all-sail warship built for the USA, but am not sure of this. 

    Hartford did actually have its upper masts and yards temporarily dismantled (down to the level of the tops, I think) when on blockading duty in the Civil War; I believe this was partly to lighten the ship and reduce its draught, allowing it to sail closer inshore. 

    To answer a few of Publius's questions, the masts (and the rest of the ship) are brush-painted, but I use acrylic paints which give a much better finish than enamels when brushed. Most of the paints used on the model are Revell acrylics which unfortunately I don't think are available in the USA.

    The deadeye assemblies in the Revell Kearsarge kit are definitely awful - they're what's putting me off re-rigging my model (if I attempt to remove the shrouds, the deadeyes will likely all snap off). Your method of reinforcing them from the back with styrene strip sounds like it would help; I'll probably try this when/if I get round to building Revell's Alabama which I also have, unbuilt!

    I don't currently have the space or budget for display cases, but the room my models are in does not get a lot of dust, and the models are treated with a lot of care! My "Sovereign of the Seas" is on the shelf next to Hartford and has sustained no damage, and very little dust, in the last 3 years. 

  • I'm halfway through Donald Canney's The Old Steam Navy and Canney states the propeller of the Hartford was of the hoisting design. She also used iron turnbuckles instead of deadeyes.

    I would like to add, if I may, that the Aurora Hartford has the bilge keel included, which was not added to the real Hartford until refits made during the 1880's. To be accurate, if you want a Civil War period Hartford, you will have to lose the bilge keels. Otherwise re-gun her in her 1880's livery.

    All this information is from Canney's The Old Steam Navy. I got mine thru the inter-library loan system.

    Jim

  •  EPinniger wrote:

     Lufbery wrote:
    I've always wondered how those ships were operated. Did they ever sail, or just steam? 

    It's neat to see the differences and similarities between this ship and the USS Constellation, which also dates from the 1850s (1854), but was an all sail sloop of war rather than a steam sloop of war.

    Ships of this period used their sails extensively - the inefficiency of early steam engines meant they couldn't carry enough coal to run entirely under steam power for a voyage of any length. Coastal and riverine craft (such as tugs and ferries) were the only craft at this time with no auxiliary sail power.

    Many early steamships had both a funnel/stack which could be lowered, and a propellor which could be disconnected and raised out of the water, when running under sail. Not sure if Hartford had either of these (I suspect so) but the Revell CSS Alabama kit has a lifting propellor.

    Even around end of the 19th century, some warships designed for cruising and colonial patrol duties carried rigged masts, as regular supplies of coal weren't always available in their areas of operation!

    I think Constellation was the last all-sail warship built for the USA, but am not sure of this. 

    Hartford did actually have its upper masts and yards temporarily dismantled (down to the level of the tops, I think) when on blockading duty in the Civil War; I believe this was partly to lighten the ship and reduce its draught, allowing it to sail closer inshore.

    Great! Thanks for the information. I've done a bunch of reading about life and operations of ships during the age of sail, and then again in the early 20th Century, but my knowledge of the era inbetween is scanty at best.

    And I'll say again: great job on the Hartford

    Regards,

    -Drew

    Build what you like; like what you build.

  •        Snapping deadeyes has occored a lot on my Kearsarge. From the beginning when I got the kit with small parts, including presnapped off deadeyes, happily being dumped in the trash by a department store employee preparing the kit for sale, to me clumsily beheading some while doing fire bucket placement, it's been a deadeye project all the way. The kit had obveously been fooled with a lot and had the instructions missing. No matter, I was in a euphoric daze.  I'd waited 49 years for the moment. Since the kit was possibly the only one in SE Asia, I didn't care about anything. "I'll take it now thank you."  Go sprue.                     

           I'm using Mr. Color glue I think, the prominent brand sold here in Bangkok, and I'm gratified by it's very good tacking strength. It's more viscose than the earlier cappilary action glues I've enjoyed. I'm still planning on snapping off all the deadeyes that don't line up and moving them over to properly allign with shrouds. I'm also thinking of thickening the Revell ratline shrouds with undiluted black paint. In defense of these items, for the guy new to kits or not ready for the large subproject of perfect ratlines from scratch, I'm glad to have them. I just dusted my Revell Victory and can see they make a huge contribution to the look of the ship even if the front ratlines don't allign perfectly. On Victory I'm going to bevel the tops of the forward deadeye assemblies to get a better forward lean for the ratlines. Refitting is fun.

         Sail on Hartford.

    How does this work?

  • That looks awesome!  Well done!