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Thoroughbred Models U.S.S. Essex
1/600 scale, white metal
essex title
U.S.S. Essex started life as the ferry New Era. At the outbreak of the Civil War she was ordered by the Union Army and served as a timberclad gunboat. Throughout the war she was extended over 40', armored, engines upgraded, and changed so many times that she bore no likeness to the ship she started as. She spent her entire wartime career on the Mississippi River mostly reducing forts and dueling with shore batteries, but she did engage the Confederate ironclad C.S.S. Arkansas twice. Sold shortly after the war ended, she laid forgotten on the banks near Cincinnati for over a year until being burned for scrap.
This was a quick project for me as it only took two weeks of free time during evenings and weekends to get it built. As you can see from the photo of the kit components below, there isn't a lot to this model. I did find the stacks to be lacking and a lot of trouble to clean up, so I cut lengths of telescoping brass rod to make them. The S and X decals on the stack were scavenged from my drawer of old decal sheets (from a space shuttle set, I do believe).

Paints Used

  • Mr. Surfacer 1200 primer
  • Vallejo Iraqi Sand with a English Uniform glaze for wood decks
  • Vallejo Buff for square deckhouse
  • Vallejo Neutral Gray for Casemate/Armor
  • Silver-Gray for light structure roofs
  • Pollyscale Flat for final sealing

The majority of the work was put towards masking and painting. I primed the model with Mr. Surfacer and then everything else was painted using Vallejo acrylic paints, including weathering done with glazes and dry brushing.

The "water" is Aves Apoxie Sculpt two-part putty, mixed, put between sheets of wax paper and rolled out with a rolling pin. After it started to harden I pressed the ship's hull into the putty, to give an impression of the hull for later mounting, and then removed it to allow the putty to dry. Afterwards I painted it various shades and layers and glazes of green and brown (Mississippi River colors), applied acrylic gel to hold the ship and form waves and wakes, and then sealed with several coats of red-brown tinted Future floor wax. The flag and nameplate were made in Photoshop and printed on an inkjet printer.


The wooden base is something I've had laying around for years; I distressed it by beating it with nuts and bolts wrapped up in a cloth (that's a lot of fun!) and then stained it with Driftwood stain.

A quick, fun build of a ship I'd love to have in a much larger scale.


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