GUNBOAT PHILADELPHIA, 1776
Launched in August of 1776, the gunboat Philadelphia is the oldest American fighting vessel in existence. Part of the American fleet commanded by General Benedict Arnold, she sank on October 11, 1776 during the Battle of Valcour Island against the Royal Navy on Lake Champlain. She remained sitting upright in the cold waters of the lake until she was raised in 1935. Today, she’s on permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., complete with 24-pound ball that sent her to the bottom.
Benedict Arnold’s gunboats (gundalos or gondolas, as they were called at the time) were the perfect vessels for the defense of Lake Champlain. These flat-bottomed boats were around 53 ft. long with a 15-1/2 ft. beam and a shallow 2 ft. draft. Armament consisted of three carriage guns, one 12-pounder, two 9-pounders and eight swivel guns. Although equipped with a square sail and topsail on one mast, the gondola’s navigability depended on its sweeps or oars. Because of its small size and the ability to row, it could easily enter into the furthest reaches of the lake.
Model Shipways’ kit is relatively easy to build, thanks to CAD-assisted laser-cut basswood parts, which come in a variety of thicknesses from 3/32” to 1/8”. Fine basswood is also used for hull and deck planking. An unusual feature of this model is that the hull is planked inside and out.
A host of fittings ensures that the model you’ll build is authentic to the last detail. Masterfully cast Britannia metal guns are miniature versions of the original armament. Brass nails, eyebolts, belaying pins and split rings are correctly scaled, and a photo-etched sheet of detail parts adds the finishing touches. Deadeyes, blocks and bullseyes are ready-to-use hardwood. Six diameters of rigging line and ample sail material are also included. Six sheets of plans, parts list with parts identifier and clearly written instruction manual guarantee a great modeling experience.
Model Shipways Kit No. MS2263
Scale 1:24 (1/2” = 1 ft.)
Difficulty level: intermediate
Kit design, plans, instructions & prototype model by Bob Crane.
Note: Parts list item numbers are subject to change without notice