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USS Choctaw by Canute - CARD - Heinkel Models - 1/200 scale

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I have a long time interest in the American Civil War. One particular subject is the Brown Water ships used by both sides on the Mississippi and its feeder rivers. I've spotted a few kits I like and they lured me off the Bounty launch for a while.


Some of the Union ships were initially started by the US Army, but eventually ended up under USN control. The Choctaw was originally a commercial ship launched in 1856, purchased by the US Army in September 1862, converted into an ironclad ram and finally commissioned in the USN in March 1863. Choctaw was a 260' (79m) long side paddle wheel steamer, with a beam of 45' (14m). She carried 1 x 100 lb rifle, 3 x 9" Dahlgren smoothbores and 2 x 30 lb Parrott rifles. Choctaw took part in operations along the lower Mississippi around Haynes Bluff, MS, up the Yazoo River and participated in the Red River expedition, up to Alexandria in Louisiana in 1864. She was decommissioned in New Orleans in July 1865.


This model is a card kit I purchased from ECardmodels.com. There are 8 pages of parts and 4 of instructions. It's a download only, so the purchaser has to print out the pages. Since Heinkel Models is located in Spain, his designs are done on A4 paper (8.3" by 11.3" or so). I got some 110 lb paper in that size, along with a small pack of heavier card. You'll end up laminating a number of parts to about a 1 mm thick card backing for this model. Here's the cover sheet. The model is almost 18" (40cm) long. The instructions say there are over 350 parts in this beast.



I reread Chris Coyle's card tutorials a time or three, then made sure I has appropriate card stock and glue. I glued up enough heavy card stock for 3 letter size pages of 1 mm backing. Instead of using3M spray-on cement for laminations, I used some 3M Positionable Mounting Adhesive. No warping of the card stock. I let it sit overnight and laid out the appropriate parts, as marked in the kit, that should be mounted on the 1 mm backing. And there are a few more parts going on another sheet of .5 mm backing.


Then the fun began. Make sure you have a good supply of sharp cutting tools. The 110 lb card on top of 1mm backing was murder on blades. Not too bad cutting the straight edges, but the curved parts (bow and stern, paddle wheel covers) were challenging. :huh: I felt like I had regressed to the '70s or early '80s in model railroad structures. Multiple slices and retouching any interior corners with a file/sanding device. Many of the parts need to have cutouts so that the superstructure parts interlock. And the hull has a keel and bulkheads. I'll get some pictures of the parts I've got cut out so far next time.

Thanks for reading this. :)

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Gentlemen, please do follow along. And thanks for all the "likes". The more the merrier. :)


I took some photos to give you an idea of what's happening, so here goes:


These are some of the thick parts I've been cutting out. They represent the under pinning of the superstructure and paddle wheel housings. The elongated pieces on the right middle have slots cut into them. The brown and white part in the lower righthand corner fits into the slots, for what believe is called the texas deck. This will sit between the paddle wheel housings.

post-15839-0-46019000-1438872095_thumb.jpg The stern sections

post-15839-0-94768400-1438872120_thumb.jpg The bow sections and hull bulkheads.

This is a full hull build. Remember, this boat had a draft of about 8 feet.


A selection of the parts not needing to be glued to thicker backing card. The overall color is a dark blue gray. Looks like some of the WW II colors used by the USN and RN.

I have to sand down the bows and sterns to "sweeten" up the curves, The front "turret" will also be fun to cut as something approaching a circle. Time to go off to my volunteer job, with the County Sheriff.

Edited by Canute
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Jack, thanks. Come on along. I haven't done this much cutting and pasting since I stopped flying fighters. :huh:


Cut out the keel and formers/bulkheads. Some of the bow and stern bulkheads will need a little work with some sanding tools to impart the appropriate compound curves. And the deck sections are in need of some improvements to the bow and stern areas. Who said those ironclads were boxes on rafts. :o  One quick picture of the keel parts. Starting to look like an egg crate, eh? ;)


I'm going to need a number of corner blocks to keep the frames square when I attach them to the decking. These pieces are each about 1.2 mm thick and they're the heavy stuff. Hope to get the 4 deck parts sanded and glued up tomorrow.


Thanks for reading. :)

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Lads, come on along. Thanks for the likes and kind words.

I'm having fun whittling away on these paper/card parts. It works like wood and I need to engage the gray matter making up these parts in their correct shapes and configurations. I could have picked a subject with a simpler model, but I don't think I'm ready for a sailing ship - yet.

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I've never seen the early stages of a card model, so this is quite interesting.  All the card builds I've seen before seemed to just skip over the bulkhead and keel formers and start with a mostly complete hull.  Thanks for posting this!




I'm tellin' ya, I get no respect!

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I'm tellin' ya, I get no respect!


To be fair, that log started over a year before I started building model ships, and there is simply no way that I could go through and read every single build log posted since this site began if I ever actually wanted to do anything except read (I do have a full time job).


Thanks for the link though, I'll have to look through that one now.

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Well, a bit of an experiment. I glued the upper and lower decks together with the Scotch Positionable Mounting Adhesive. This glue is one step more forgiving than contact cement. I used it because I wanted to keep the decking flat; wood glue may cause the parts to warp. And I don't have to spray on any aerosol glues. The deck is resting comfortably, under a manila envelope and a 15" section of 100 pound rail (anvil and occasional paperweight). I'll be able to start some assembly later.

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Mark, guess I better not drop it, eh? :o It was the first thing I spotted for weighting. All the heavy books were up in my library and the paint cans weren't heavy enough(?). If a little is good, more is better (fighter pilot philosophy 101).  :) 


 I'm finding the cardstock & paper absorbs some moisture out of the air (house is at about 45% humidity, air conditioning on). I sealed the heavy paper with Krylon Matt Finish, recommended by the Admiral, a former commercial artist. Having worked with Homasote, on model railroads, for years, I know the best way to keep paper products from warping is to paint all sides and then weigh it down. But, no matter what I do, it will warp a little. The keel and formers/bulkheads have some twist already. Getting them glued up, with my squaring devices, should get rid of most of that.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I finally had enough parts cut out to start assembling the base parts of the superstructure. I started with the area between the paddle wheels, towards the stern. There are 5 parts and as I glued the deck to one side piece I realized the assembly was going to be way out of square, if I didn't brace it. :huh:


The paper and cardboard absorbs some moisture, so the parts are a little wavy. Falling back on a resin kit trick, I ran two strips of wood down behind the lines where the deck house would sit. This will keep the structure square and centered on the hull.


I switched to the forward gun "turret" to start the base parts up forward. The "turret" really isn't a turret; it's a truncated cone but since it's round and will eventually have four cannon ports, I called it a turret. ;)


Here's where I am on the upper works. I have a few more intermediate decks to add to the paddle section and the  decking between the paddle wheels and the "turret". The model has you add additional thickening parts to add extra support around the paddle housings and the "turret, too. Wrapping the paddle wheel housing looks like it will be an experience.


The hull will come next. It consists of 9 thickened bulkheads and the keel, with a cardstock outer hull skin wrapped over them. Stay tuned.


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Hi Ken


Very nice progress! Card kits have always fascinated me and yours is no exception. I was especially interested to learn how the humidity in your house can affect the card stock, because that's something that'd never have occurred to me. I guess that's one of the best things about these logs. We just keep learning.


I'm looking forward to the next update.


Cheers and all the best!



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Mark, Patrick thank you for the comments. And thanks for the likes, folks. :)


Mark, most definitely wood and maybe styrene could be used. The flagstaffs and some other parts will be cut from wire and I'm looking at using wood for the masts. ^_^


The moisture effects may be mitigated by spraying the cardboard with the Krylon spray. I only did the heavy paper, since it was laser ink and figured I'd smear the ink somehow while doing all the handling. Oh well, it is my first card kit. :)

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Grant, thank you for following along. :dancetl6:


I plan to finish the base walls of the superstructure later and start on gluing up the hull bulkheads and the 2 part keel. The keel joint is a butt joint, but gets sandwiched between 2 pieces of laminated card.


Thank you all for following along. :cheers:

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As promised, the overall superstructure base:


Here's the front casement:


And the paddle wheel housing:


A little more detail on the aft end of the paddle house:

post-15839-0-30990100-1440363344_thumb.jpg Looks like one of those floating hotels. :)

I glued the formers/bulkheads to the underside of the hull. Not very many.


And a closeup of the bow formers



This ship was built as a ram, although they couldn't get going fast enough to be effective. So, after I skin the hull, I have to make up the ram. Some of these parts are pretty curvy, so I'll be having fun keeping on top of the cut lines.


Thanks for following along.

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Went to cut out the hull skins with my new scalpel with the curved blade, a #12 I believe. Worked really well cutting into the corners of these pieces. The skins appear to go on like shingles on a roof, since they have  uncolored tabs along the axis of the hull. Looks like I skin this boat from stern to bow. ;)


post-15839-0-71550600-1440460552_thumb.jpg Origami skills needed.

post-15839-0-59600800-1440460569_thumb.jpg Glue tab on the near side of the part.


I had laid the skin sheet on a light table so I could mark where the curves go in pencil, before I cut any of them out. You can see the lines in the top picture. B)


I did up four sections out of 10, so far. The stern piece will need some judicious molding to cover just above the rudder. each section's mounting tabs get folded inboard to glue the skin to the decking. I lightly scored the backside of each part so I could fold them. I used the backside of a #11 blade. Score it, don't cut it. :huh:


I got into one of the curvier parts and decided I could free hand the curve. Dug in too deep and pulled the blade back, mostly away from me. I did anoint the hull skin with some type O+, but no further bloodshed followed. :o Nipped up to the bathroom, pulled out the ointment and a Band-Aid and I was good to go. ^_^


Twas naught but a scratch, Ma! ;)


Thanks for reading.

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If there's a mistake made when cutting Ken, can the part be repaired some way, or is it one of those "I have to make a new part" things? I know scotch tape wouldn't be acceptable.  :rolleyes:  Oh and quite a few builds I've been following have DNA imprinted on them.  :P



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