The most useless warship in history?

By Rob Morgan

My 1/1200th-scale ACW fleets don’t get anything like the use they did 20 years ago. Now, I tend to use the 1/600th-scale models of Peter Pig with a few American-made Thoroughbreds thrown in, the latter for the more unusual types and one-offs, CSS Stonewall being a good example. Anyway, the old Navwar, Skytrex and Lizard’s Grin 1/1200ths came out of their trays recently, and this one stood out. I think I bought a pack or two of them — USS Casco monitors, or gunboats, depending on your perspective! That was in the early Nineties.

One I made up as the usual gunboat with an unprotected gun forward. The other sat there for a while. Quite why I turned the second one into a balloon vessel, I don’t know. But here it is. A half-inch diameter plastic ball cemented over the gun position, a small gun right aft, and a big anchor at the bow, The white ship’s boat is an add-on too. It looks all right and, though probably historically inaccurate, if I remember Cascos were seriously played around with to find something that a half-million-dollar warship could usefully provide for the river fleets — gunboats, torpedo boats, etc. So why not give one of these awash-decked boats to the intrepid Thaddeus Lowe to play around with and mount a balloon aboard?

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