A very interesting kit that has been available on the market for quite some time is a wooden model kit that is not really a ship, but an American gunboat from the early 1800s. It is Jeffersonian-era gunboat.
During this time, the United States had limited resources to protect it’s vast coastline, and there was a lot of debate over the necessity and usefulness of a sea-going navy. As war loomed, the country invested in large numbers of gunboats – small war boats that were lightly armed, and could be powered by sail or oar. The boats made for small targets and were extremely maneuverable and could operate in waters too shallow for larger sailing ships.
There were many gunboats built and many designs appeared. Generally, they were shallow draught, had a simple rig, and carried one or two medium-sized carriage guns or carronades. Unique innovations appeared, with some mounting two guns facing opposite directions on a single circular turntable, so that after one cannon fired, the whole turntable was rotated to bring the second cannon to bear on the target while the other was reloaded.
One design featured a long and narrow hull with a gun at each end, each on its own pivot mount. The vessel showed a mediterranean influence with the use of a pair of lateen sails, each on separate masts. This particular design became the subject of Amati’s “Arrow” Gunboat kit. Here we take another look at this popular Amait kit.
Amati’s “Arrow” is a 1:55-scale wooden model kit of one of these gunboat designs. The specific design can be find in the book The History of the American Sailing Navy, by Howard I Chapelle. By the way, though long out of print, this is an interesting book and a good reference, and used copies in good condition can easily be had for about $10.
Amati’s kit measures kit measures about 18.5″ long and features a double-planked hull on a framework of laser-cut bulkheads. Bronzed metal barrels are included for one long gun and one carronade. Printed sailcloth is included for the two lateen sails. Three sheets of plans are included, as is a step-by-step instruction guide. The instruction guide is printed in Italian, but an insert includes all the text in english.
This kit makes for an interesting build of a unique type of craft that formed an important part of American history. The completed model’s graceful lines are certain to draw attention. The model is ideal for those who want to build something attractive that doesn’t require as much time as it takes to build a square rigger or any of the larger warships with their rows of gunports and cannons. But, with the large, detailed long gun and carronade in their swivel mounts, it carries just enough armament to make it stand out.
There is enough challenge here, and a surprising amount of rigging for a small vessel with only two lateen sails. This model kit sells for $108.99 and includes a launch ways style base.
Order yours today at Ages of Sail here.
For some interesting info on one of the Jeffersonian gunboats, check out this Wikipedia entry on HMS Ambush here. HMS Ambush was formerly American Gunboat No. 5, captured by the British in 1814 during the Battle of Lake Burgoyne.