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USS Monitor


Battle Axe

S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number: BX1141
Scale: 1/144
Contents and Media: 57 parts in low-pressure injection-moulded plastic; 2 x photo-etched parts ; printed US flag
Price: USD$67.47 from Squadron.com
Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: Fascinating and historically significant subject; fairly simple parts breakdown; good size in this scale; includes photo-etch for anchor chain and ladder.
Disadvantages: Significant clean-up required prior to assembly; surfaces will benefit from light sanding before assembly
Recommendation: Recommended to experienced modellers


Reviewed by Brett Green

Battle Axe's 1/144 scale USS Monitor is available online from Squadron.com




USS Monitor was one of the first two steam powered, armoured warships dubbed “Ironclads”.  In 1862, at Hampton Roads, Virginia, USS Monitor and CSS Virginia made history by engaging in the first modern battle between armoured warships. The result was a tactical draw, although CSS Virginia was scuttled two months later when Confederate forces withdrew from the area. 

Monitor was 987 tons and carried two 11 inch guns in a rotating turret. The vessel sat low in the water and, apart from the larger turret, the deck was relatively featureless. 

Battle Axe has now released a 1/144 scale kit of the USS Monitor. In this scale, the model measures an impressive 38cm (15 inches) long. The kit comprises 57 parts in low-pressure injection-moulded plastic, photo-etched parts for the anchor chain and ladder, plus a printed US flag. 

Anyone familiar with Battle Axe’s aircraft releases will not be surprised at the plastic parts. The plastic is formed by low-pressure injection. This process results in large sprue attachments and plenty of flash, but the quality of the parts is good after a few minuted attention with a sharp knife and a sanding stick. There is also an alarming number of raised ejector pin marks, but virtually all of these are hidden after construction and will not interfere with fit. In common with any limited run kit though, test fitting is absolutely essential to ensure that all the parts mate without interference.

The main parts feature engraved surface detail combined with raised rivets where appropriate. The planking texture on the turret floor is also consistent and good quality

One quirky aspect of construction is the method of forming the hull sides. Flat strips of plastic, scored with vertical panel lines, are supplied for each hull side. The flat plastic is then bent to the correct profile using the deck and lower hull as a guide. Although this may seem to be a primitive technique, it works perfectly well, and is reinforced with two bulkheads inside the hull

The model depicts Monitor as she appeared on the day of her historic battle. Apart from the guns and flags, the deck is bare and businesslike. However, contemporary photographs and renderings show that the deck on top of the turret was sometimes covered with a cloth marquee. Considering the exposed deck, and having personally experienced the heat of a Hampton Roads summer last year, I can understand why the crew would crave a little shade. The kit does not include the marquee but it will be a very simple matter to fabricate the poles from brass rod or plastic strip, with tissue or foil representing the material cover.





Battle Axe's 1/144 scale USS Monitor will be an interesting and almost certainly unique addition to the model display cabinet. With time allowed for preparing the parts and care taken with test-fitting, this should be a real conversation starter!

Recommended to modellers with some experience building limited-run kits.

Thanks to Squadron for the review sample

Text and Images Copyright © 2003 by Brett Green
Page Created 14 April, 2003
Last updated 17 December, 2003

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