Ouch! My fault entirely. The devastating combination of middle-aged eyes and senile brain missed the "1" in front of "96."
Revell has actually issued at least five kits labeled Constitution over the years, and their precise scales are somewhat in doubt. The one Kapudan is talking about is listed in Dr. Graham's book, Remembering Revell Model Kits, as being on 1/192 scale. As we've established in several other threads, little is to be gained from arguing over points like that. The truth seems to be that the people responsible for printing the scales on the boxes of plastic sailing ship kits are not the same people who design them. I suspect the folks working for Revell nowadays have little if any interest in the accuracy of such figures.
Anyway, this is the second-smallest of the five. (The smallest was a tiny "ship in a bottle" kit that Revell acquired from a company called Gowland, in the very early fifties. According to Dr. Graham it was never sold in a box with the Revell name on it, but was distributed by Revell for a couple of years. Ah, the delights of plastic kit trivia.) The 1/196 (or 1/192) kit was the very first sailing ship Revell produced. It was originally released in 1956, and caused quite a sensation. In my personal opinion it still holds up remarkably well - with some reservations.
It attempts to depict the ship as she appeared in the 1830s, with raised bulwarks and a figurehead representing Andrew Jackson. I think the designers actually worked from the set of plans for the ship that the Navy Department published in the 1920s, when the ship was undergoing a major restoration. The kit looks about like the ship did at the time the kit was released - with the exception of the figurehead.
In the 1950s such features as the molded "copper sheathing" on the hull and the intricate carvings on the bow and stern were considered the state of the art. The only competition in the sailing ship kit field came from companies like Model Shipways, A.J. Fisher, and Marine Models. The latter two made Constitution kits that were bigger and far more expensive than the Revell one (which cost $3.00) - and not as well detailed. The typical wood kit in those days had a machine-carved hull, which was solid up to the level of the highest full-length deck (in this case the spar deck). The "guns" on the main deck would be "dummies" - cast or turned metal replicas of the outer few feet of the barrel, with pins on their rear ends that plugged into holes the modeler had to drill in the hull. The Revell Constitution had little shelves cast into the inside of the hull under the gunports, and nicely-cast replicas of the guns, complete with carriages, sitting on the shelves and poking out through genuine open ports. Still pretty impressive.
The kit's biggest weakness, in my opinion, is the way Revell handled the big hatch in the spar deck amidships - the one under the stowed boat. The smooth, oblong areas are supposed to be a hatch, with some deck beams spanning it, opening onto the main deck below. That big, flat, smooth area just doesn't represent how the ship was built. (Apparently the Revell designers were conscious of the problem. Their H.M.S. Victory, originally released in 1959, has two full-length decks, so the viewer can look down under the boats and see the upper gun deck.)
Fixing that would be a bit of a project - but certainly possible. One could cut away the plastic in way of the "hatch" and build part of the main deck - perhaps using scribed styrene sheet. A complete main deck wouldn't be necessary - just enough of it to look convincing through the hatch.
Some modelers have criticized this kit because the windows in the stern are molded solid. I think that may in fact have been the best way to handle that particular detail. Painted glossy dark blue or black, with neatly-painted window frames, they wouldn't look bad.
Some of the other details don't quite come up to modern standards. The carriages of the carronades, for instance, are cast integrally with the spar deck. The masts and yards make inevitable compromises to the limitations of injection-molded plastic (though no more so than plenty of more recent kits). And this was Revell's first attempt at solving the Great Ratline Problem. In its first few incarnations the kit had those dreadful plastic-coated-thread "shroud and ratline assemblies." (That was, in fact, an invention that Revell introduced with this kit. May the person who came up with that idea - well, never mind.) More recent reissues have included injection-molded "shroud and ratline assemblies," which arguably are even worse. The deadeyes and the lanyards connecting them are also molded as styrene units; they don't really look like deadeyes connected by lanyards. (In all honesty, though, on such a small scale not many modelers rig deadeyes to scale.) The chain plates are also pretty crude.
The bottom line, though, is that, in my opinion, this was a great kit for 1956 and a pretty decent one for 2006. That problem with the main hatch really cries out to be fixed, but most of the other weaknesses of the kit are endemic to small-scale plastic sailing ships. It could, with a considerable amount of work, be made into a serious scale model. The basic material is certainly there.
In the late sixties and early seventies Revell issued a small series of sailing ship kits that were intended to attract beginners. They were about two feet long, and were labeled "Simplified" or "Quick Build." Most of them (there were a couple of exceptions) were scaled-down versions of larger kits. The "Simplified" Constitution appeared in 1969. Dr. Graham's book gives it a scale of 1/159, and adds that "this twenty-two inch model is midway between the original small Constitution and the large, three-foot Constitution." It was, in fact, a scaled-down and simplified version of the latter - with such features as gun carriages cast integrally with the main deck and highly simplified masts and yards. Like the big kit, it represented the ship's 1814 configuration. That may be the kit scottrc is talking about. On the other hand, I think the old 1956 kit also appeared with a "Quick Build" label at least once. So far as I know, the parts in that kit were identical to the originals (except for the "shroud and ratline assemblies"); the big difference was in the instructions, which suggested an extremely simplified rendition of the rigging.
Revell Constitution Number 5 was a strange thing called a "wall plaque" kit, issued in 1972 as part of a three-kit series that also included a Cutty Sark and a "Spanish Galleon." According to Dr. Graham, "these three wall plaques were based on development materials used for the old full-hull models, but were completely new molds. They are not just half-hulls, but project out from the plaque slightly. Authentic old maps for the backgrounds." Ugh.
Hope that helps a little. At least I'm talking about the right kit this time - I think.