Marine Models USS Philadelphia 32 pounder Carronade
by Glenn Estry
Marine Models USS Philadelphia 32 pounder Carronade. I won this kit (sight unseen) in an auction with a high bid of $20. The kit is from 1947, a 70 year old unassembled wood and cast metal kit. The base was a piece of plywood that the instructions said to draw lines to simulate deck planks. The bulwarks were were three pieces of mahogany which also were to have pencil lines to portray individual planks. Knowing that this would not produce a quality representation of a deck section, I raided my scrap wood collection and found 5/32″ x 1/32″ basswood and some 3/8″ x 1/16″ mahogany and scratch built the deck and bulwarks. Two of the 8 cast metal pieces used for hanging the tools were broken, so I made a RTV silicone mold of two intact pieces and made cast resin duplicates with dye added to the resin to make them match the others. The cannon and its platform were epoxied together and painted with Tamiya gunmetal from a rattle can. All other metal parts were painted flat black. The inside bulwarks were painted a dark red custom mix of Testor Acryl paints and the deck and bulwarks were stained using Minwax Golden Oak & Red Mahogany. The scale ropes are from Syren Ship Model Company. The handrail has no finish other than being sanded down with progressively finer sandpaper from 1,500 to 12,000 grit, giving it a nicely polished look and feel.
If you’d like, here is a brief history of what happened to the 2nd ship named USS Philadelphia (1799-1804).
During the First Barbary War Philadelphia cruised off Tripoli until October 31, 1803, while giving chase and firing upon a pirate ship she ran aground on an uncharted reef two miles off Tripoli Harbor. The Captain, William Bainbridge, tried to refloat her, first laying the sails back, and casting off three bow anchors and shifting the guns rear-ward. But a strong wind and rising waves drove her further aground. Next they dumped many of her cannons, barrels of water, and other heavy articles overboard in order to make her lighter but this too failed. They then sawed off the foremast in one last desperate attempt to lighten her. All of these attempts failed and Bainbridge, in order not to resupply the pirates, ordered holes drilled in the ship’s bottom, gunpowder dampened, sheets set afire and all other weapons thrown overboard before surrendering. Her officers and men were made slaves of the Pasha (or Bashaw).
Philadelphia, which had been refloated by her captors, was too great a prize to be allowed to remain in the hands of the Tripolitanians, so a decision was made to recapture or destroy her. The U.S. had captured the Tripolitanian ketch Mastico, renamed her Intrepid, and re-rigged the ship with short masts and triangular sails to look like a local ship.
On February 16, 1804, under the cover of night and in the guise of a ship in distress that had lost all anchors in a storm and needed a place to tie up, Intrepid was sailed by a volunteer assaulting party of officers and men under Lieutenant Stephen Decatur, Jr. next to Philadelphia. The assault party boarded Philadelphia, and after making sure that she was not seaworthy, burned the ship where she lay in Tripoli Harbor. Lord Horatio Nelson, known as a man of action and bravery, is said to have called this “the most bold and daring act of the Age.”
Her anchor was returned to the United States on April 7, 1871, when the Bashaw presented it to the captain of the visiting Guerriere.