U.S. Steam Picket Boat #1

Cottage Industry Models, Ltd. 1/96th scale
Reviewed by Devin Poore
photo of completed model above courtesy of Cottage Industry Models, Ltd.

The confederate ironclad C.S.S. Albemarle was completed in 1864 near Edwards Ferry, N.C. Designed with an extremely shallow draft of only 6 feet, she became a nuisance upon the inland waters. While she did participate in at least two naval battles and sank one union warship, her mere presence proved much more of an issue to the Union. Fear of what she might do outweighed her actual performance. Orders for shallow draft ironclads were rushed forward to counter Albemarle, but something much smaller and wooden would prove her undoing.

After acquiring two thirty foot steam launches at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Lt. W.B. Cushing modified the boats with howitzers and spar torpedoes. He and his crews set off for the south to undertake an audacious plan to destroy the southern ironclad. Along the way one of the launches broke down and had to be destroyed to avoid capture. On the night of October 27-28, 1864, Cushing and thirteen other men proceeded upriver, broached the torpedo booms around the Albemarle, and detonated the spar mounted torpedo against the ironclad's hull. Both the Albemarle and the launch were sunk in the attack. Cushing himself swam to safety after the attack, two of his crew drowned, another eleven were captured. The Albemarle sank in eight feet of water and was out of the war, left to be captured and raised by the Union in April 1865. 

Picket Boat #1 is a 1/96th scale resin and white metal kit from Cottage Industry Models, Ltd. Originally designed as part of the company's C.S.S. Albemarle kit (and still included with that ironclad model) Cottage Industry Models now sells the launch separately as well.

The kit comes in a small yet appropriately sized box, large enough to hold the entire kit, folded instructions, and ample packing to ensure safe shipping.

The hull is one piece, solid molded resin with detail inside and out. A cast runner/sprue running along the keel of the boat. Cutting with the back of a #11 blade and some light sanding should result in a little additional clean up. A slight mold seam line runs around the hull, so faint that I was able to remove a good portion of it on my sample with only a fingernail. The same goes for a few other instances of paper thin resin flash. In my opinion, the outer hull could have done with some planking detail, but it looks just fine smooth, too. The hull interior has well rendered and cleanly cast deck planking and internal bulkheads for the coal bins.

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Besides the resin hull, there is only one other sheet of resin in the kit, but it includes several of the major components. The boiler, cockpit seat, rudder, coal bunker and supply bin cover, and other small pieces are included on this sheet. Careful flush-sanding will remove the pieces from the backing resin.

The small resin parts are as well cast as the hull, showing little if any air holes. Details such as the piping on the boiler, hatches for the fire box, and rudder strapping are all well executed.

Much of the kit is rendered in cast white metal. Everything from the howitzer and its mounting platform to boat hooks and oars are included in this batch of parts. Again, all are well molded, with a little more flash than the resin parts, but there is no pitting or deformations that often occur in white metal castings.
The balance of the box contents is made up by scale rope and line, brass rods for scratch building masts, and even a small bag of coal for the coal bunkers. 
The instructions cover multiple pages, beginning with a check list of all parts included, a sheet of step by step written directions, and then several sheets of exploded view photos that clearly show the assembly sequences with annotations. 

What a cool little boat. Cottage Industry Models, Ltd. sells the kit for $29.95 plus shipping. Contact them via their website and ask for the kit directly, as they do not yet list it in their catalog.

If you've ever wanted to try a Civil War era kit, a first resin kit, or just want something different to build, this is the kit for you. With few parts, the large scale, and limited clean-up required, it should be a fast and fun build. I highly recommend it.

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