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Gunboat Philadelphia by Joseph F. - Model Shipways - 1:24

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I got this kit a couple months ago, intrigued because it seemed an obscure subject. (I didn’t realize how many had built this kit before, and that the real vessel still exists in the Smithsonian.) Reading the short and unfortunate history of the gunboat, I have become very excited to start this project.




The kit is in 1/24 scale, or 1/2” = 1’. The completed vessel should be a little over 2 feet long, and I’m glad to be working at a large scale again, since my last two projects have been much smaller.



The kit comes with 7 or 8 sheets of plans which are a great compliment to the instruction manual, 11 sheets of laser cut wooden parts, as well as a decent sized bag of planks and dowels.




I have sorted all the rigging blocks and hardware in a container and will soon start working on the keel.

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Have been working on assembling the frame. Lots of sanding and cutting here but it has come together really well and quickly.



Working on the Stem and Transom, most of it is sandpaper work but an sharp angled carver is necessary for cutting the rabbet.



A laser cut line in the frames show you exactly how much needs to be shaved off, while the frames in the middle just need a little sanding.



Using every heavy flat object I have to get the frames glued evenly. 



I’m going to let that sit for a couple

hours, and then it’ll be time to start planking! 

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The battle of Valcour Island was pivotal in the success of the American Revolutionary War stopping the British forces from coming down lake Champlain in 1776. This stopped the invasion that year which allowed the colonials another year to organize and when the British strike came next year they were defeated at Saratoga. Although Benedict Arnold and his hastily built fleet were defeated they quite possibly saved the American Revolution. While the Philadelphia may have had a short life and unfortunately was sunk she is a truly historic vessel. Good luck on her build.

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  • 2 weeks later...



Have glued the first three rows of exterior planking.





I am consulting this 3D model from the Smithsonian as I go along, which shows the present state of the real vessel.



Adding planking at the lowest parts of the deck is the latest thing I have done.

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  • 4 weeks later...



Exterior planking using the “spiling” method was difficult, and there are many gaps. But I plan on filling and sanding them.




Interior planking went very smoothly.



Another angle of the interior planking.



Finished the interior planking. Deck pieces are not glued down yet, since they don’t fit perfectly, but working on that.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Finally glued the decking pieces down, had to use wood shims in the forward and middle sections. The gaps in the aft decking will be covered by the storage lockers.


Using my handy new nail pusher to fix the knees. 



The port side storage chest. Finally was able to use my Tamiya scribing tool to simulate the hinge.



The unpainted boat with decking, chests, knees, and gun carriages.




After adding the shot garlands and dry fitting the mast partner, I painted the interior of the boat in the light grey that comes with the kit. I have only seen one other builder use a grey stain on the interior, but I thought it would provide a good contrast with the honey exterior and the espresso bean gun carriages. Going to paint the gun quoins bright red.


NEED HELP: How do you paint Britannia metal? Acrylic won’t stick to it. Have considered getting a blackening solution, what would other builders recommend?

Edited by Joseph F.
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There are about as many ways to blacken brass as there are model builders.   If you look on MSW logs, lots of folks have various ways to do it, with mixed results.  Some successful and some not so successful.  I have found (not that I am anywhere near an expert)  that Novacan works great for blackening etched brass.   See my post on my Philadelphia, it shows some results.   You can use it full strength to get a really rustic brown/black look or use it 1/2 strength to get a more even blackening.   



Edited by John Gummersall
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Small update on solutions to blackening Britannia metal:


Tried two products on each of the 9 pounder cannons for the gunboat. Novacan black patina on the left, and Jax pewter black on the right. Both did the job well, Jax I feel gave a slightly more consistent finish, but both are good products and can be found on Amazon.


I also have got some brass black solution I will be trying soon.

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