Flagship’s release of the USS Monitor is a nice little kit with components that let you build the kit as she looked at Hampton Roads, or as she looked when she was lost. There is a photo-etch original-style pilothouse, and a replacement sloped resin-and-P/E pilothouse that was shipped later. There are photo-etch gratings for the early engine intakes and stacks, and later-style raised intakes and stacks. The hull is of one piece and is very nice, with deck plating, riveting, and various access covers that really look good after a little detailing. There is minimal flash to remove. A few minutes with a sanding stick, followed by a soapy wash, and the main hull was largely ready for painting. The bitts and chocks are resin and well-cast. Anchors and chain are included, and a P/E anchor davit. The anchor can be shown suspended from an anchor well in the bow (and is on mine). There are some larger boat davits aft of the turret, but no boats are provided. There are P/E stanchions for lifelines that add a nice touch. A white metal propeller, rudder and rudder braces are provided with the kit. The turret is a small model in itself. The deck grate that sits on top of the turret is very fine, and is best painted with an airbrush to avoid clogging up the grating if you want to be able to look down into the turret. The interior has a scribed deck with molded-in slides for the white metal guns and carriages. The photo-etch sheet includes the supports that angled up from the edges of the turret deck to meet over the guns, and the support posts for these braces can be made from the brass rod supplied with the kit.

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However, if you decide to go to town on the turret interior, you’ll need to make some stuff yourself. There are no gunport doors or associated tackle, although it would be simple to make a pair of doors from plastic stock (I did). There is no gun tackle provided. If you decide to use the provided turret stanchions and make an awning over the turret, you won’t be able to see inside anyway. I decided to go with the stanchions and awning, and since I had the later style pilot-house and stacks, I looked around for photos of the Monitor’s turret and used a dremel tool to engrave some cannonball dents in the proper places. Speaking of the awning, that was the single hardest part of the kit for me. A vacuum-formed awning would have made my day. I found a couple of suggestions for making awnings, but after several false starts, I was reminded of the old joke- "There are two theories of how to win an argument with a woman. Neither works." I finally used a piece of plain bond paper rolled into a shallow cone and stiffened with white glue, then painted flat white. I’m not terribly happy with it- it doesn’t have the right amount of ‘sag’- but it was the best I could do. An interesting ‘extra’ is a napoleon-style cannon, which in some reports was carried to repel boarding attacks. I am aware of no photographic evidence of this piece, but if you want to put it on, you can. I did, and thought it was a nice piece of photo-etch and white metal work. The instruction sheet is detailed and professionally done.

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The bottom line- a well-done kit of the most significant US Navy warship of the Civil War. You can do it in early or late fit. It could use ship’s boats and a vacuum-formed turret canopy, and perhaps some more turret interior details. An excellent kit for the builder who wants to try his hand at resin, and enough extra ‘goodies’ so that more experienced types can show off a bit.

Mark Leonard
Santa Rosa, CA