Cottage Industries 1/72
C.S.S. H. L. Hunley

By Jim Schubert

History

On the evening of February 17, 1864 the Confederate States Ship H. L. Hunley sank the United States Ship Housatonic, which was part of a Union force blockading the harbor at Charleston, South Carolina during the American Civil War. This was the first successful attack upon a surface vessel by a submarine. Something happened, we don't yet know what, to Hunley on its return to harbor and it sank with the loss of all hands - nine in total; the Captain, Lt. George Dixon, and eight crew whose main function was to be the sub's engine. The sub was driven by a screw at the end of an eight-throw crankshaft with a crewman seated at each trhow of the crank. Dixon controlled the rudder and the diving planes. Hunley sank Housatonic with a 135 pound explosive charge, which she attached to her victim's hull by driving a barbed lance attached to the charge (called a torpedo) into Housatonic's hull. The torpedo was at the end of a 22 foot long spar mounted on Hunley's bow. Dixon detonated the charge via a long lanyard that permitted the sub to back off to a safe distance before triggering the explosion.

Hunley lay lost on the ocean floor until an expedition funded by popular novelist Clive Cussler found her in the Spring of 1995. On August 9, 2000 she was raised and is now in the process of being preserved. The crew's remains have been removed and given proper military burials ashore.

The Kit

You've undoubtedly examined Revell AG's new 1/72 Type VII submarine and marvelled at its three foot length. The Hunley, to the same 1/72 scale, is not quite as big - it's only 12 3/4 inches overall; 7 inches being the vessel and 5 3/4 inches being the torpedo spar and lance. The hull with its hatch cupolas and ballast weights is a one piece resin casting of fair quality. 17 white metal castings of indifferent to poor quality are included along with two pieces of aluminum tubing and four lengths of brass rod. Three pages of history and instructions, which include an exploded
drawing, are included.

The main hull casting requires quite a bit of detail clean-up and local filling. Mine had bits of blue RTV mold rubber stuck in corners and crevices here and there indicating the life of the mold is about finished. There are many irregularities in the detail where mold rubber had previously torn away. RTV molds by their nature are fairly short lived.

The hull can be worked into a very nice piece with several hours of filling, filing, sanding and priming. The same is true of the white metal parts although I think it will be quicker and better to make replacements for most of these parts from styrene, tubing, &c. The screw is a total disappointment being thick, two-dimensional and having neither twist nor leading and trailing edges; I'll carve a new one from .040" brass sheet. No painting instructions or suggestions are given; you're on your own here. I'm inclined to paint it flat dark gray and finish this with graphite powder rubbed into it overall with lots of rust spots generously applied with pastel chalks.

Conclusion

It's a fun kit of an interesting and historically significant subject. It will be several years before the physical details of Hunley will be fully determined by the crew working on her so we are left to speculate about and imagineer some of them if we build a model now. The kit, for example, has the torpedo spar mounted low on the hull with a jib boom projecting from the upper part of the hull supporting it while a contemporary painting of Hunley, by Conrad Wise Chapman, shows the spar cantilevered from the upper surface of the hull. I'm inclined to think the kit has it right as 135 pounds is a lot of weight to hang on the end of a 22 foot long, unsupported, pole.

The kit cost $29.95 directly from the manufacturer at the recent IPMS-USA Nationals in Atlanta. You can order it from Cottage Industry Models' website. You can also see their other products there.

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