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The Purpose-Built Confederate

Blockade Runner HOPE, 1864

Text and Plans by Vincent McCullough

Text and Model by Gilbert (Gib) McArdle

Distributed by: SeaWatch Books, LLC, 2019

8 1/2” x 11” format, hardcover with jacket, 128 pages,

8 page color section, bibliography, 10 sheets of detailed plans

CD w/printable templates

ISBN 978-1-7320162-3-1



   This latest offering from Seawatch Books, authored by Vincent McCullough and Gilbert (Gib) McArdle, starts out with a brief, yet concise, comparison of the North and South in the American Civil War.  The primary focus is on the economic and industrial capabilities of both combatants.


   The South’s reliance on cotton, and its ability to supply European markets, particularly Great Britain, was especially crucial to its chances for independence.  As the war dragged on, the increasing effectiveness of the Northern blockade seriously impacted the South’s ability to wage war.  Thus, the purpose built blockade runner was developed.  At the time, these vessels represented cutting edge maritime technology.

   When launched, the Hope was larger than average.  In spite of her remarkable speed, she would not have a long career as she fell prey to a Northern blockader during her second attempt at entering a Confederate port.

   The Purpose-built Confederate Blockade Runner, Hope, 1864, is a well researched book that comes with 10 sheets of detailed plans.  Although not true “primary” documents, photographic copies of a set of engravings of the body, half breadth, sheer plans, inboard profile view, and sail plan were obtained from the Archives at the Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool.  (The Hope was an English-built vessel.)  The author explains how these documents were used to develop a set of CAD generated drawings to the desired scale of 1:96.

   Almost half this treatise is devoted to the aforementioned plans, and subsequent details on various deck structures.  This latter information was obtained from Shipbuilding, Theoretical and Practical, a book that was published in 1869, only 3 years after the Hope was launched.  This is an intriguing segment of The Purpose-built Confederate Blockade Runner Hope—1864 since it discusses many of the more complex structures found on the vessel.  They include the paddle wheels, paddle wheel box, and the uniquely raked funnels.  For scaling purposes, there are notations in the drawings indicating, in inches, the true dimensions on the actual ship.  The authors provide detailed information on how the feathering paddle wheels functioned.

   The segment of the book on plans concludes with a discussion of the Hope’s spars, rigging, sails, and belaying points.  Since information on these items was sketchy at best, the author admits that some of what appears on the plans is conjectural.  However, the best references available were utilized while researching this model.  This applied to the belaying plan in particular.  Being fore and aft rigged, with the two masts so widely separated, the Hope should not present much of a problem during the rigging stage of the model.

      The construction phase of this treatise begins with a discussion on the templates found on the CD that accompanies this book.  There are three types provided.  Individual station templates enable the modeler to check for the outside shape on a solid hull model, or a hull being made with lifts.  Note that stem and stern profile templates are also provided.

   Bulkhead templates are similar to the previous type, but  have one important difference.  They allow for a layer of  planking on the hull and deck.  One nice touch is the inclusion of a notch for a spine, which is also derived from a provided template.  The spine serves as the keel, stem and stern pieces, and helps maintain correct positioning and alignment of the bulkheads.

   Lift templates are the third version, which can be used to construct a “bread and butter” style hull.  Hole locations are provided in each template that allow dowels to be inserted for proper alignment of the lifts.  The model featured in this book was built utilizing this last method, which eliminates the need for hull planking.  Hope had a steel hull, and some great tips for simulating the hull plating are offered.

   The paddle boxes and paddle wheels are probably the most intriguing and challenging assemblies on the Hope, and would most likely preclude this model from being attempted by a novice.  McArdle provides ample information and a fair number of photos that outline the construction sequence for the paddle boxes, but the same cannot be said for the paddle wheels, which employ silver soldering and brass etching techniques.  The text that describes this assembly is somewhat brief, and could leave modelers relying on their own resourcefulness.

   Next to the previously mentioned assemblies, the smokestacks are probably the most striking feature on the model.  With their 76-degree rake they are surprisingly complex.  Yet, the author makes quick work of these while offering numerous hints and tips for their construction.

   By now it should be evident that constructing the Hope will require some techniques that may be foreign to many of us.  Another such challenge is vacuum forming the “Turtle Back” deck located at the bow.  McArdle realized this, and tries to be as concise as possible when outlining how he created this piece.  He was especially proud of this part since it was also his first attempt at this procedure!

   The Hope had decorative carvings at the stern and on the paddle boxes.  Sketches of this artwork are provided in one of the files on the CD.  McArdle opted to use the photo etch process to duplicate these decorations.

   This book concludes with the installation of the masts, rigging, flags, and ship’s boats.  An Appendix is also provided that gives a partial transcription of the original purchase agreement for the Hope.  This document includes all specifications that were relevant to the construction of the ship itself.

   The CD Rom that accompanies The Purpose-built Confederate Blockade Runner, Hope, 1864, contains material not found in the book.  There are two directories on the disk.  Measured Drawings contains information on virtually every structure found on the deck of the Hope, as well as the paddle decks, paddle boxes and paddle wheels.  The Templates directory contains 8.5”x11” drawings intended to assist in the construction of the 36.5” hull.

   If you are looking for a well researched, unique project that will challenge your abilities, and help you develop new skills, The Purpose-built Confederate Blockade Runner, Hope, 1864, would certainly be worth considering.

      Reviewed by BobF



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