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Battle Axe 1/144 Monitor Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review February 2006 Manufacturer Battle Axe
Subject Monitor Scale 1/144
Kit Number 1141 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Very straightforward construction Cons
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $79.98

First Look


During the Civil War of the United States, the principal line of communications was over the waterways. While much of the TV and movie history of the Civil War tends to focus on the land battles, the US Navy was also hard at work to securing the northern ports, assaulting southern ports, interdicting supply ships and denying the Confederates access to the sea.

The Confederate Navy responded with a new class of warship dubbed the Virginia, designed to sink anything operated by the US Navy. In response, John Ericsson put forward a design for a radical new warship that would become the USS Monitor. Built in 100 days, the Monitor housed its crew quarters and machinery below the waterline leaving only 18 inches of exposed hull and its twin-cannon turret exposed to enemy fire. She was able to reach Hampton Roads on 9 March 1862 to clash with the newly commissioned CSS Virginia. While the battle was a tactical draw, it served as a strategic victory and prevented the Confederates from gaining the advantage.

The Monitor was lost at sea on 31 December 1862 while enroute to its next patrol assignment due to heavy seas overwhelming the Monitor's bilge pumps and sank. While most of her crew was rescued by the nearby USS Rhode Island, 16 of her 62-man crew were lost.

Battleaxe produces a line of limited run kits of subjects that would otherwise never see existence in styrene. Such is the case with the USS Monitor kit as well. Molded in off-white styrene, the first thing you'll notice are the huge attachments between the kit parts and the sprue trees. If you find a part loose in the box, you can know that it put up a heck of a fight to get free. Details are scribed, though the scribing is a bit heavy.

Straight from the box, the kit represents the USS Monitor as it was configured early in its short life, as it appeared when it tangled with the Virginia (previously referred to as the Merrimack). As would be expected from a simple ship design, construction of the kit is also simple and straightforward. As this is a limited run kit, an ample amount of dry fitting and tweaking will be required to achieve a good fit. For instance, the main deck is warped slightly in this review sample, so copious clamps and liquid cement will be required to achieve a good fit.

This is a kit of a unique and historic subject that should not take an experienced modeler long to build. While Battleaxe kits also tend to be a little pricey (remember the part about limited run kits?), this kit will make a nice addition to your scale naval collection.

My sincere thanks to Squadron Mail Order for this review sample!