Sunday, August 24, 2014

Rekindling the fire for 1/600 ACW Naval games

Ten years ago I was obsessed with naval actions of the American Civil War. I'd written rules for campaign games (Anaconda) and tabletop games (Iron Thunder) and collected a ridorkulously large collection of 1/600 scale ship models. But for the past eight years, ACW naval got pushed to the back burner while other interests took priority.

But in the past few weeks, I've rediscovered my interest in ACW naval. I've had some great conversations with people like Stephen Taylor at Bay Area Yards and the boys in my local gaming group. So, I pulled out some boxes and started dusting off the ships. I mean literally dusting off the ships. They had like 8 years of dust accumulated on them.

One of the big changes since I'd put there away is the ease of sharing stuff on the through this blog!  So as I'm pulling them out, I thought it would be fun to post pictures of some of the models so you get a feel for my skill level (or lack thereof) in modeling and painting 1/600 scales ships. And without further delay...on to some of the ships!

USS Galena. This was the first or second attempt I made at scratchbuilding a ship model.

USS Galena  was a steamship converted into an ironclad. Not a stunning success, but the ship appears in a handful of important naval engagements and at the time, you could not find a model anywhere in 1/600. Forunately, this is a relatively easy ship to model. Which is good as I managed to produce a decent gaming piece that no one will mistake for a contest quality model. I captured the important features that identify the ship. In hindsight, I wish I'd worked on the stern a bit more.

The ship has a balsa wood core which is covered is sheets of Evergreen styrene. The bowsprit is styrene as are the railings, stack, mast and the flying bridge. The standing rigging is fine steel wire. The base is my standard - styrene with Woodland Scenics flexpaste applied and painted in layers of brown tan and light green. 

Pulled back to show the whole model
And a view of the port side.
USS Rhode Island. This is a Bay Area Yards model.
Another shot of Rhode Island. She was the towing ship when USS Monitor sank.
Another Bay Area Yards model - USS Ossipee. This uses one of thet mast kits from BAY.

USS Ossipee is a great kit of one of the smaller blue water steamers in the Union Navy. 
I rigged the kit using thin steel wire. This actually serves as functional standing rigging and provides additional strength and rigidity to all the masts.The masts don't have a stiff core and need the rigging to keep them straight.

Another BAY kit. USS Minnesota. An early effort of mine. I recycled the masts from a very old TCS blockade runner kit and added a minimal amount of rigging. She's srtipped down for combat with the upper masts and sails struck below.
Here's a Peter Pig USS Monitor next to the Minnesota for comparison.
What's the Monitor without USS Congress?
USS Congress again. I scratchbuilt all the masts on this and USS Cumberland out of styrene. Even the standing rigging is styrene. The ratlines are from a window screen material.  They are not perfect, but for a gaming model they get the point across.
Monitor, Minnesota, Congress (on the left) and Cumberland (rear)
A side by side shot. The Peter Pig monitor is a nice easy kit and true to its prototype.
Another Peter Pig model - the mortar schooner. 

Again, the ratlines are from window screen material. If I remember correctly I scratch built the masts and the shaft of the bowsprit. The base is styrene with Flexpaste applied and painted in suitable 'riverine' colors. 
A Thoroughbred armed ferryboat steams past a mortar schooner.
I'll print the name on paper that matches the table top and tape the name to the ship. 


  1. Hello Ray! I see you have an interest in ACW Naval. Years back I made the master of the USS Cumberland for Steve along with several others. After a lapse of nearly a decade, I'm "in" again. I am currently building some BAY kits for a pal, "paint for lead" deal. Wouldn't you know it, one is the USS Cumberland and the other is a USS Congress. The Congress is getting more than a is getting REBUILT! If you'd like pics, do let me know--George Kettler

  2. Hi George! (I should really check the site more often as I just saw your comment today!) Would enjoy seeing pics of your rebuilds of Congress and Cumberland - you do fine work!