Since packing away most of my models and building supplies preparatory to getting the house on the market and ready for moving to Colorado, I have been reading more and modeling less. I am keeping up somewhat with modeling activities through the internet and email, along with infrequent coffee sessions with Rick and Marty. For some reason I have lately become more interested in modeling Civil War ironclads and, most especially, the H.L. Hunley.
I downloaded through the Kindle application, the book Raising the Hunley: The Remarkable History and Recovery of the Lost Confederate Submarine, by Brian Hicks and Schuyler Kropf. A well written book using serious references and the data from the now recovered submarine. I have also spent considerable time on the internet researching the boat, the fish-boat as it was termed at the time, both as to it’s making, operations and recovery. Probably having lived in Charleston for two years while working in the submarine service with the US Navy has something to do with my deeper interest. At this stage of life, I can more appreciate the terror, courage and foolhardiness of the men who operated and died in the boat.
This finer edge of understanding comes with concentrated study and interest. For example, there was a made for TV film of the Hunley’s only operational mission which sunk the USS Housatonic and as authentic as it appeared, it is flawed. Not unusual for the cinema industry, but disappointing none the less, especially when the real boat is available for comparison. In one scene I have found on the internet, a rather stock actor, dressed in shirt, vest and coat is shown climbing down into the boat through one of it’s hatches. He seems to have only a little difficulty. If the movie boat had been rendered more accurately, he would probably not have been able to fit, the hatches being all of fifteen inches in diameter.
Consequent to this interest, I have, of course, been investigating available models of the Hunley. There are few. Cottage Industry makes two, one in 1/72 scale, another in 1/24 which features a completely detailed interior, visible by a cutaway section of the port side of the hull. The smaller model is made with a one piece hull. The owner advertises his models as the only accurate representations in the world, and from what I can tell after much research, he is correct. I am, of course, interested in the fully detailed model, but it is expensive and appears to be a lengthy project, which I will have time for after getting moved and settled. However, I ordered the smaller model today thinking to begin simple and work up to the larger one. Also, I intend to display it alongside my 1/72 U-Boot VII model when finished.
Cottage Industries also makes large and very detailed ironclad kits as well as the other lesser known Civil War submarines: the Pioneer, and the David. I am favoring the CSS Palmetto State as a Confederate Ironclad model, and one of the Monitor class for the Union vessel. They are both extremely well detailed, with cut away sections so that much of the inner works can be seen.
Today I received, from a used book seller associated with Amazon, Ironclad: The Epic Battle, Calamitous Loss, and Historic Recovery of the USS Monitor, by Paul Clancy. I have another more general history of Civil War ironclads also on order. I will see where this takes me in terms of focus and subsequent modeling interest.
An interesting observation is that there is much less material on the H.L. Hunley than one would suppose, at least so far in my internet based research. I will continue to see what I can find in terms of publications, papers, letters, etc. on the fish-boat. Although a couple of books on the Hunley have been published fairly recently, including the one I mentioned above, I am not sure a novel has been attempted. Perhaps, but time will tell. It’s a fascinating and somewhat horrifying story and might deserve a good telling, especially if one could be faithful to the times and sentiments of those involved.