Verlindenís 1:200 scale USS Monitor is cast as a waterline-only model of the Union Navyís revolutionary ĎCheesebox on a Raftí. The model represents the appearance of the Monitor during the summer of 1862 James Peninsula campaign, with the extended funnels and uptakes and the pyramid shaped conning station sides. At the time of the Battle of Hampton Roads in March 1862 with the CSS Virginia, the conning station sides were vertical. A shot hit on the conning station temporarily blinded the Monitorís captain. The sloping sides were added to the conning station after the battle to help deflect such shots. Contemporary engravings of the Monitor at the time of her loss in December 1862 show that the exhaust funnels were trunked together into one tall stack.
On the model, the vents, funnels, and conning station are all integrally cast on the hull. These must be cut away and rebuilt should you choose to build the kit as she appeared during the Battle of Hampton Roads. The hull deck is very well detailed with riveted hull plating. The turret is cast separately and has very nice details including Dahlgren cannon, roof beams, and roof beam supports. The exterior of the turret has subtle rivet detailing. The kit also comes with muzzle shutters and a solid planked turret roof. I chose not to add these detail items to allow the ability to see the details in the turret.
My kit had some rather heavy resin overpour on the bottom of the hull. I roughed sanded the overpour with a 4-inch belt sander and some 120 grit paper to obtain a flat and level hull bottom. I finish-sanded the hull bottom to the desired finished height using some wet-n-dry sandpaper glued to a sheet of Plexiglas. In the process of sanding the hull bottom smooth I opened some bubbles on the underside of the casting. Since these were not going to be seen, I figured who cares and didnít bother to fill them. I treated the turret similarly to remove it from the casting wafer.
I painted the hull and turret exterior with Testor's Model Master Engine Gray. The turret floor was painted with Testor's Wood. When that was dry I masked the floor and painted the interior walls white, along with the other interior structures. The Dahlgren barrels were painted metallic bronze and the gun carriages done in Model Master British Scarlet.
Scattered over the deck were several round depressions that I recognized as deadlight locations. Deadlights are glass inserts in decks that allow some amount of sunlight into an otherwise enclosed space. I chose to represent the deadlights with small Coke-bottle green rhinestones from the craft store. After they were cemented in place I airbrushed a coat of Future overall to protect the paint from the solvents that I planned on using to weather the ship.
Some very dilute washes of raw umber oil paints were mixed with turpentine. Using a fine-pointed brush, the wash was applied to the grooves between the deck armor plates. Capillary action drew the paint along the plates. Some additional washes were applied around the deadlights and at the various access plates and hatches on the deck. Once the turpentine wash was dry I went back and dry-brushed with Engine Gray to mute some of the weathering and pop-out the details. Once I was satisfied with the wash-weathering I shot a diluted coat of Testor's flat to seal it. I topped off the wash-weathering with some powdered pastel chalk, primarily black for engine soot and coal dust, and watercolor pencil. A final shot of flat sealed the hull and allowed it to be handled without affecting the weathering.
I treated the turret interior similarly, except I used some white oil paint as my wash color to represent the caulking between the deck planks in the turret. The details were picked out using Engine Gray and flat black. The turret walls were dusted with some dark gray pastel powder before sealing with a flat overspray.
I didnít want to enclose the turret with the kit-provided solid turret roof. I wanted to retain the ability to see the details of the turret. I chose to build a roof grating using Evergreen strip stock. I cut a pair of rings sized to the inner diameter of the turret and cemented strips to them, leaving a small gap between each strip. I framed the access hatches and added them from small pieces of photo-etched perforated stock. I cemented some Tomís Modelworks 1:192 scale railing around the top grating disc and extended the stanchions for canopy supports using brass wire. The outside of the turret roof was painted the same Engine Gray used before while the underside was painted white. The extended canopy supports were trimmed to the same height and a spare vacu-formed canopy from a Lone Star Models iron clad was cemented to them. The canopy was painted with raw linen colored craft paints.
The kit provided paper flag was cemented to a piece of shim brass, timed to size and folded to give a realistic appearance. I chose to add some crewmen to give some life to the model as well as a representation of its size. I used some 1:200 scale Plastruct architectural figures. Their heads were filed flat, and a small punch of 5 thousandths Evergreen was cemented in place to make period flat hats. They were painted in Testor's Navy Blue with some Salmon Buff flesh. They were cemented in place and an overall dusting of Testor's Flat was applied to kill any residual shine.
Out of the box, this is a very quick build, easily done over a weekend. Adding some of the details I have described will add some time, but it is still a quick and easy build of a historically important ship.