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Building the Peter Pig Mortar Schooner

Mortar Schooner
Product #
Suggested Retail Price
£2.50 GBP

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unknown member writes:

Some people dislike metal masts, due to the "bendy" factor.

Revision Log
21 December 2007page first published

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unknown member writes:

Schooners are a classic sailing ship design. The defining characteristic is they are two-masted vessels rigged fore-and-aft. They were popular in North America for their speed and maneuverability. During the American Civil War, 'mortar schooners' were private ships acquired by the United States Navy and converted to carry a 13" mortar. The ships came from many sources - an example being the Matthew Vassar, named after the future founder of Vassar College. Many ships carried additional guns, often two 32-pound smoothbores. Mortar schooners are the nautical equivalent of a siege train. When a fortress existed that was too well-positioned to be ignored and too strong to attack head-on, the mortar schooners were used to soften up the position with a lengthy bombardment.

During the American Civil War, mortar schooners were used in several battles, most famously at Fort Jackson during the New Orleans campaign. Under the command of David Porter, a squadron of mortar schooners was towed into position just south of Fort Jackson and anchored against the river bank. Many of the ship's crews cut tree branches and tied them to the masts in an effort to camouflage the ships' position. The schooners spent two days in a gunnery duel with Fort Jackson prior to David Farragut's fleet 'running the guns'.

Mortar schooner at night

The Model

Peter Pig has an extensive line of 1/600 scale models of Civil War warships. Peter Pig kits are designed with the wargamer in mind - tough, easy-to-handle pieces able to stand up to the rigors of the game table. These are kits tough enough to be picked up and have the occasional die bounced off their hulls. The Peter Pig Mortar Schooner is an excellent example of this philosophy. This is a great kit for me, as I tend to build kits for the game table more often than the display case.

Mortar schooner pack

The kit consists of the ship - a one-piece casting that includes the mortar and the deckhouse and two light guns. The guns include crew figures already cast on the base.

Mortar schooner components

What the kit is lacking is masts. For a model of a sailing ship that would normally be a problem, but in this case it's an opportunity. While they seem complex, masts can be very easy to build. In this case, having to build masts presented me with the opportunity to model the kit after an engraving of a mortar schooner stripped for combat as part of Porter's flotilla of schooners at Fort Jackson.