Ship design, both naval and civilian, has evolved over the centuries and inevitably some oddities have turned up in the natural course of events. Some like the John Ericssonís USS Monitor were arguably successful and lead to other innovations. Others like Isambard Kingdom Brunelís Great Eastern were considered flops but lessons were learned. Somewhere in between these two examples lies Fordís Eagle Boats. While Fordís ambitious construction schedule was quite simply too ambitious and did not meet initial contractual obligations, the Eagle Boat could be considered the forerunner of such mass produced ships as the Higgins LCVPs and PT Boats and the modular Liberty Ships.

The Kit
About the same time that Steve "The Crimson King" Backer received his test run copy of the Iron Shipwrightís Eagle Boat, I received a small box from Jon "Berserker" Warneke. After my team of trained bomb and narcotics sniffing dachshunds completed their check without incident, I opened it up to find a pre-production run of the Eagle Boat. At this point I will not get into the details of the kitís resin parts, since Steve already covered this in his kit preview (Click for ISW Eagle Boat Preview). I did get the photo-etched brass from Ted "Music Man" Paris about a week or so later, which was not available at the time of Steveís preview. The small photo-etch brass set is well done and provides a variety of pre-measured railings, 3 inclined ladders (2 needed + 1 extra), vertical ladder stock, the amidships tower and platform, 5 boat davits (4 needed + 1 extra), anchor handling boom, funnel cap, shipís wheels, mast aerial, rigging with spreaders, and what looks like a wind vane.

With the resin and photo-etch parts provided you could build one of the 60 Eagle Boats constructed in almost any fit. Based on the excellent selection of photos on Navsource, the pre-WW2 fits did not have the rafts fitted so I omitted those from my build. They were fitted on one if not all of the 8 that served in WW2. However, if you want to build the model in a wartime fit you will probably need a hedgehog launcher, which replaced the 4-in gun in the #1 position on at least one ship, and depth-charge racks both of which are not provided with the kit. Since this was a pre-production version of the kit, I did not receive a set of instructions, so I will now make the requisite disclaimer: I cannot comment on the quality or content of the instructions.

The Build
Armed with a set of photos I downloaded from Navsource and the detailed profile drawing from Friedmanís U.S. Small Combatants, I decided to model Eagle Boat 49 in a 1920ís fit. It would be a very straightforward build and I wanted to build another ship in interwar USN colors. First thing I did was to breakout my trusty Dremel with a cutting disk, my biohazard gear and went into my garage to cut the hull down into a waterline version. This is what I normally do with models of this size. After washing the converted hull and smaller parts I gave them all a coat of white Krylon spray can primer. Like I mentioned above, the model was a very straightforward with only a few changes/additions which I will cover. The model was a pair of molded on chocks on the focísle which I did not find usable. Based on photos, the anchor stocks are threaded through them but the resin versions were too small and the openings were not cast clean through. I removed them and substituted a pair of photo-etch closed chocks from a White Ensign Models set left over from their Ton Class mine hunter kit. I also added one to the stern raised up on a bit of plastic stock, again based on the photos.

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The kitís funnel was slightly but stubbornly warped. I tried my best to straighten it out but to no avail. So I scratch built a replacement using plastic tubing, strip and a punched disk. I added a bit of brass tube for the galley exhaust that was fitted on most of the Eagle Boats. The kit comes with loads of cowl vents in a variety of sizes and styles. For the 7 vents fitted on the stern deck, I had to cut the resin parts down quite a bit to make them the correct height. Otherwise they would be too tall in get in the way of the 3-in gun fitted on the stern. The photo-etched tower platform was the railings included to make one piece. While this is helpful, I found that the rails were a little too short in length to meet at the corners properly once folded up. You could replace them but since I was going to simulate a canvas covering I keep them as is and applied Krystal Klear to fill in the railings. I also found that the pre-measured bow railings were too long, so I trimmed them down accordingly. I scratch built the mast using the kitís resin version as a pattern and I added some spare photo-etch to make the cage around the platform. I also scratch built the awning frames at the shipís stern using plastic strip and thin brass wire.

Finishing Touches
I painted my model using WEM Colourcoats Prewar #5 Standard Navy Gray (US01) and Prewar #20 Standard Deck Gray (US02). The hull numbers and name of the transom are from a Microscale alphanumeric decal set and the U.S. flag is from the Gold Medal Models set. I added four resin crew members from the great LíArsenal set. I gave the model a light weathering using pastel dust and the lifeboat restraints are unwaxed dental floss painted tan. The seascape was made from artistís acrylic gel and painted with acrylic paints.

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This model was a very enjoyable build of, letís face it, a very ugly ship. The Eagle Boats are the naval equivalent of "a face only a mother could love". Yet, somehow this adds to its appeal and makes for an interesting addition to your ship model collection. I like subjects that are off the beaten path and this certainly qualifies. With a few minor tweaks it is a great little kit. I tip my hat to Ed Grune for building the master and to Iron Shipwright for tackling this esoteric subject.

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