|"At eleven o’clock two gangs of workmen began to drive ten-foot oak ‘ram’ wedges between the ship and her keel-blocks. The blocks were knocked out and the still-to-be-named ship rested in her cradle on greased ways. At this stage only friction kept her from gathering momentum and sliding into the East River. The rams were removed, and the gangs used block-and-tackle gear to get the ship underway. Alice Wilmerding quickly raised the bottle of champagne and crashed it against the bow: ‘I name thee Maine.’ And the Maine, glistening in a new coat of red paint, the largest ship ever built at a U.S. Navy yard, slid majestically down the ways into the water as a navy band played and the crowd cheered. The American flag placed on her bow carried forty-five stars. It seemed to go unnoticed, but Wilmerding had crashed the champagne bottle hard into the number ‘13’ painted on the vessel’s Plimsoll line." (A Ship to Remember, The Maine and the Spanish-American War 1992, by Michael Blow, at pages 74-75)|
The new American Steel Navy started modestly enough. In 1883 three protected cruisers and a dispatch vessel were ordered as the first modern warships ordered for the US Navy since the American Civil War. However, these vessels were just trial efforts, as the naval situation in the Western hemisphere concerned Congress. Several South American navies possessed warships much superior to the protected cruisers just ordered. What was needed for the reborn USN were warships superior to those in the Latin American navies. However, Congress was hesitant about building a first class battleship comparable to those being built by European navies. Large blue-water battleships were perceived as the tools of imperialism and an isolationist Congress did not want any ship that could be seen as an offensive threat. In 1886 the first two armored warships with belt armor were authorized by Congress. This was all well and good but America lacked infrastructure to build large warships and naval architects trained to design them. For the first two designs the USN needed shortcuts for their design. One method was to open competition for a design. This was done for the USS Texas and an Englishman won the design competition. The second design was indirectly British as well.
Brazil had ordered a modern armored cruiser designed and built in Great Britain. In 1883 this ship, the Riachuelo, was completed and instantly became the most formidable warship in the hemisphere. Displacing 5,700-tons and armed with four 9-inch guns and six 5.5-inch guns, it was the Riachelo that finally motivated Congress to spend the money for modern armored warships. In a report from the Congressional Naval Affairs Committee stated, "…we are not only at the mercy of foreign nations, but that our neighbor, Brazil, might exact tribute of any city along our Gulf or Atlantic coast while Chili could enforce similar demands on the shores of the Pacific." (American Battleships 1886-1923, 1980, by John C. Reilly, Jr. and Robert L. Scheina, at page 21) In addition to the Texas, designed as a 2nd Class Battleship from the start, on August 3, 1886 Congress authorized the construction of an armored cruiser to be built at the New York Navy Yard in Brooklyn, New York. The newly authorized armored cruiser was to become the USS Maine.
Although nominally of American design, any comparison of the Maine with the Riachuelo, clearly shows that the design of the Maine produced a larger, more powerful version of the Brazilian warship. The layout and appearance of the ships are almost identical but the design of the USS Maine edged the Riachuelo in every category. A comparison reflects the following: Length – Maine 319-feet Riachuelo 305-feet; Beam – Maine 57-feet Riachuelo 52-feet; Displacement – Maine 6,682-tons Riachuelo 5,700-tons; Armament – Maine four 10-inch six 6-inch Riachuelo four 9-inch six 5.5-inch; Armor – Maine 12-inches Riachuelo 11-inches; Maximum Speed – Maine 17-knots Riachuelo 16.7-knots. With the new armored cruiser Maine to safe-guard the US coast, the residents of New York City no longer had to worry about the Riachuelo shelling the city while lying off Coney Island.
Just because they had a design, that did not result in quick construction. In fact the Navy drug it’s collective heels in laying down the ship. It was larger than anything yet attempted by a Navy Yard and the delay in laying down the Maine was undoubtedly influenced by feelings that they had bitten off more than they could chew. Although authorized in August 1886, the Navy did a bit of on the job training in the design. Various things were tried in the design. One such item was a full set of sails. The United States lacked overseas coaling stations and it was thought that with an auxiliary set of sails, the Maine would be able to operate far beyond US territorial waters. However, when the protected cruiser Chicago was tested under sail it proved so slow and lubberly that almost any smaller and less powerful ship could use superior speed to attack the bow or stern. Under sail, the larger ship presented a very attractive target. With these discouraging results in mind the final draft of Maine, without sails, was done in November 1887.
Even at this point, 15 months after authorization, the Navy bureaucrats still proceeded at a glacial pace. Navy Secretary William Whitney became increasingly irate at the failure of the New York Navy Yard to begin construction. He dispatched Commander Robley Evans, who later commanded the USS Iowa at Santiago and the Great White Fleet in the Around the World Cruise, to New York to poke the yard officials with a sharp stick. For Evans this was an additional assignment from his billet in Washington. He would take the train from Washington to New York every Monday, spend two days energizing yard management and return to Washington on Wednesday. Months went by but finally the yard laid down the Maine on October 11, 1888, twenty-six months after her authorization. It took two years to get her ready for launching and on November 18, 1890 20,000 spectators witnessed the launching of the largest warship ever constructed by a US Navy Yard.
With a project this large, every bit of machinery, every system and almost every fitting was a new construction experience. As designed, the Maine was to carry two 2nd class torpedo boats. Each of these 61-foot boats would be stored on Maine and then lowered into the water to provide additional offensive punch. Each carried a single 18-inch torpedo at the bow and a 1pdr QF. However, only one of the boats was built and instead of a designed speed of 18-knots, was only capable of 12-knots. Instead of equipping Maine, the boat became a training craft at the US Torpedo Boat School in Newport, Rhode Island. Since it was a Navy design the Maine was much slower in completing than the Texas. Although launched 17 months before Texas, the Maine was commissioned one month after USS Texas. On September 17, 1895 USS Maine was commissioned as a 2nd class battleship, instead of an armored cruiser. It took nine years from authorization to commissioning and by the time the USS Maine was commissioned, the far more formidable Indiana class battleships were all launched and the Indiana was only two months away from entering service. The Maine quickly earned the reputation as a "Jonah" ship. While under construction, she had caught fire. She had run aground in 1896 and again in 1897 and lost three sailors of Cape Hatteras in 1897.
In late December 1897 Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Theodore Roosevelt, received a letter from Lieutenant Commander Richard Wainwright. Wainwright was the executive officer of USS Maine. The Maine had arrived at Key West on December 15, 1898 and Wainwright expressed his wish that Maine might see some form of action. Roosevelt was perturbed at recent actions by the German fleet in the Caribbean and Pacific and with the Kaiser in mind replied, "I wish that there was a chance that the Maine was going to be used against some foreign power." Roosevelt added, "I’d take even Spain if nothing better offered." By January 1898 Roosevelt clearly thought that Spain looked like the most likely opponent for his new American steel navy. In a letter to Secretary of the Navy Long, Teddy confided, "Between ourselves, I have been hoping and working ardently to bring about our interference in Cuba. If we could get the seven Spanish ironclads together against our seven seagoing ironclads on this coast we would have a very pretty fight. " (A Ship to Remember, The Maine and the Spanish-American War 1992, by Michael Blow)
On January 12, 1898 there were riots in Havana and to protect American interests the Maine, only 2 ½ years old, was dispatched to Havana on January 24. Ostensibly, the reason for the visit was a friendly courtesy call but neither the Spanish government nor the press was deceived. The Maine’s visit was a show of force. President McKinley wrote, "In view of the possibility of danger to American life and property, some means of protection should be at hand." There were a great number of rumors that the bottom of Havana Harbor was filled with mines. Captain French Chadwick, commander of the New York warned Captain Sigsbee of the Maine, "Look out that those fellows over there don’t blow you up" Sigsbee replied that he was going to take special precautions. On the morning of January 25 the Maine entered Havana harbor. When the Spanish pilot came aboard, Sigsbee demanded the berth occupied by the Spanish warship Alfonso XII. He was told that was not possible as the Spanish ship was immobile. Instead the Maine was taken to a little used berth marked #5 on the charts but as the Maine pulled up to the buoy, the number 4 was seen on it. Sigsbee did take precautions. One fourth of the crew was kept ready to go to action stations at any time. QF guns were manned at night with ready ammunition stored on deck and steam was kept up to power the main gun turrets. Watertight doors were kept closed and lines were run to allow for the quick deployment of collision mats.
At first the Spanish were furious. On February 6 a Spanish newspaper ran a cartoon portraying a crazed Uncle Sam and the Maine shelling Havana harbor. As ferry boats passed the Maine, passengers would jeer at the Americans. In the city of Havana handbills were circulated urging good Spaniards to kill the Yankee pigs. While ashore Sigsbee had seen a poster, which depicted the Maine blown up by a mine. Then events seemed to settle down as both sides withdrew from the brink. A disappointed Roosevelt did not think the small exchange of outrage would trigger a war but he still continued war preparations, "on the mere chance of having to strike."
Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross was 75 years old when she arrived at Havana Harbor on a mission of mercy to help Cuban sick and injured. She noted the "shining battleship Maine" riding at anchor. She was invited for lunch aboard the Maine on February 13. On the morning of February 15, 1898 Maine was near the end of her visit. Everything appeared quiet in Havana and the furor over Maine’s arrival had waned. Maine was scheduled to steam to New Orleans for Mardi Gras and officers and crew were eager to be rid of their three week idleness sitting in Havana Harbor. The evening of the 15th was hot and sultry in Havana. Clara Barton opened up the doors to her veranda, which overlooked the harbor. In the gathering dark the lights of Maine burned brightly in the darkness of the harbor. It seemed like it would be another warm tropic night and the crew of the Maine and American civilians in Havana went about their business.
Walter Meriwether, reporter for the New York Harold went to a local café to talk to friends. Aboard the American merchantman City of Washington, moored just aft of Maine, two tobacco dealers arranged deck chairs shortly after 9:30 PM to view the harbor and city of Havana past the Maine. Half a mile south of Maine, Frederick Teasdale, captain of the British bark Deva, was putting his charge in order for the night. Aboard Maine the watch had changed. Bugler, C.H. Newton, played taps at 9:00 and most of the crew strung out their hammocks for another effort to catch some sleep in another steamy night. Captain Sigsbee, commander of the Maine had been on the quarterdeck and enjoyed an excellent Havana cigar that had been a gift of Spanish Governor-General Blanco. He had retired to the Admiral’s cabin, which was a twin to his own cabin at the stern of Maine and written a letter to Teddy Roosevelt about the efficiency of mounting torpedo tubes on battleships. Lieutenant Commander Wainwright the XO had written his own letter and was in a conversation with Jonas Holden, a cadet. Next to the stern 10-inch gun turret, Officer of the Watch, Lieutenant John Blandin was in a conversation with another Lieutenant of Maine, John Hood. The ship’s bell chimed three bells, 9:30 PM, and the Maine had 10 minutes more of life.
At about 9:40 it happened. Aboard the City of Washington, the two tobacco dealers heard the explosion and saw the bow of Maine rise out of the water and the center part of the battleship went up in fire and smoke. A black mass went over the heads and debris rained down upon them. Captain Frank Stevens of the City of Washington thought he heard two explosions. The first was muffled, like it was coming from under-water and then it was followed the eardrum splitting second eruption. He ran to the deck and saw the Maine was gone. Instantly he ordered his ship’s boats launched to rescue survivors but two boats had been holed by debris from Maine. Captain Teasdale of the Deva felt the blast and thought that his ship had been rammed by a steamer. He felt his head to see if he had been injured and rushed to the deck. He saw boiling gray clouds of smoke, debris and light sparkles like fireworks in the smoke, where the Maine had been at anchor only moments before. In the café in Havana, Walter Meriwether heard the explosion and covered his head as shattered glass and plaster went flying inside the café. His first thought was that Cuban insurgents had blown up the Spanish governor’s palace. Clara Barton was working on her records. "And then suddenly her writing table shivered and there was ‘a burst of thunder’ followed by the sound of breaking glass. The big door to the veranda overlooking the bay smashed open. Horrified, she looked up and sensed everything in the room moving. Then she looked through the door, across the harbor, and saw ‘the air was filled with a blaze of light, and this in turn filled with black specks like huge splinters flying in all directions." (A Ship to Remember, The Maine and the Spanish-American War 1992, by Michael Blow, at page 93)
Aboard the Maine Lieutenant Blandin thought he heard two roaring explosions from port side forward. All sorts of debris rained down upon him and Lieutenant Hood. Blandin was knocked off his feet by a piece and as he got up the deck was already awash. Blandin followed Hood up the inclined ladder to the raised quarterdeck to launch the ship’s boats found there. Captain Sigsbee heard the roar and felt his command dip violently forward and lurch crookedly to port. The lights went out and smoke filled his cabin. His first impulse was to go out through one of the square portholes but he mastered this sudden feeling and went upwards to the quarterdeck. Commander Wainwright heard a single long crash and felt impacts on the deck above his head. His first thought was that the Maine had been blown up by a mine and now was under fire from the Alfonso XII. He too went upwards to the quarterdeck. The scene that greeted all four officers now on the intact quarterdeck, showed them that the Maine was now just wreckage. Both stacks had been knocked over and the forward part of the ship, which could only be glimpsed through the flames amidships was just a twisted form. Damage control parties were only able to reach the aft end of the central superstructure, as everything forward seemed on fire. As officers were quartered aft and ratings forward, officers had to work the davits for the aft mounted boats, as few enlisted men made it to the quarterdeck. Of a crew of 350, the explosion of Maine killed 260, either from the initial explosion or in hospital from fatal injuries sustained in the explosion.
Of course the burning question was what had caused the explosion. Clearly the explosion of the forward magazines was primarily responsible for the catastrophic damage to and immediate sinking of the ship but what had touched off the magazines? Captain Sigsbee and most of the rest of the naval hierarchy immediately thought that it was caused by a Spanish command detonated mine. Indeed, before leaving for Havana, Sigsbee had been warned about Spanish mines in the port. Sigsbee had asked for the mooring occupied by the Spanish cruiser Alfonso XII but was told that he could not have that berth because the Alfonso XII was incapacitated. Instead the Maine was taken to a little used berth marked #5 on the charts and yet the buoy at that position was painted with the #4. The pilot had no explanation for the discrepancy and the buoy had disappeared after the loss of Maine. When the USS Fern pulled into Havana Harbor, the "immobile" Alfonso XII had been moved to another berth and Fern was given Alfonso XII’s old spot, marked #4 on the harbor chart. The Spaniards wanted to take back that mooring for the Spanish ship but Captain Sigsbee insisted on that mooring for the cruiser, USS Montgomery. Sigsbee was convinced that his command had been blown up by a mine and figured that the anchorage that had been used by the Alfonso XII was the most likely place in the harbor to be free from mines. When Montgomery arrived, Sigsbee transferred himself to the cruiser.
Secretary Long had lunch with President McKinley the day after the loss of Maine and noted that conservatives thought the explosion was an accident, while the excitable jingoists thought Spanish were behind it. Long expressed his opinion that the loss of the ship was the result of an accident. Oddly, for someone that was champing at the bit for war a month earlier, Teddy Roosevelt exercised some caution in the aftermath of the loss of the Maine. Before the explosion on Maine Roosevelt had written a report warning of the dangers of spontaneous combustion in coal bunkers in USN warships. On February 18, 1898 Roosevelt wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Navy in which he stated, "A great nation must have a great navy; and this means that it must accept without undue hysterical excitement the fact that accidents will from time to time befall the ships of its navy." (A Ship to Remember, The Maine and the Spanish-American War 1992, by Michael Blow, at page 106) However, that seems to have just been Teddy’s official position, given the President’s and Secretary Long’s caution in the matter. In a letter to a friend, Teddy wrote, "Being a Jingo…I would give anything if President McKinley would order the fleet to Havana tomorrow. This Cuban business ought to stop. The Maine was sunk by an act of dirty treachery on the part of the Spaniards I believe; though we shall never find out definitely, and officially it will go down as an accident." However, as facts of the loss filtered north to Washington, Teddy became less convinced that the Spanish were behind the loss of Maine.
Dimensions: Length -
324-feet 4-inches; Beam - 57-feet; Draught - 22-feet
6-inches; Displacement - 6,682-tons normal:
Armor: Belt- 12-inches to
7-inches; Turrets 8-inches; Barbettes - 12-inches to
10-inches; Conning Tower 10-inches; Armored Deck -
2-inches flat and 3-inches on sloping sides: Machinery:
Two Vertical Triple Expansion (VTE) Engines (9,293ihp): Eight Scotch
Boilers; Two Shafts; Speed on Trials -16.45-knots: Complement
It was not Teddy Roosevelt that pushed the United States towards war with Spain, it was William Randolph Hearst, the publishing magnate. From the first edition after the loss of Maine, Hearst newspapers trumpeted Spanish treachery. Headlines in his papers kept up the tempo. "Growing Belief in Spanish Treachery", "Destruction of the Warship Maine Was the Work of an Enemy", "An Enemy’s Secret Infernal Machine", "War! Sure! Maine Destroyed by Spanish: This Proved Absolutely by Discovery of the Torpedo Hole" An official Court of Inquiry was quickly appointed to determine the cause of the loss. With Captain William Sampson of the Iowa as the head of the court, along with Captain French Chadwick of the New York and two Lieutenant Commanders, the court sailed for Havana on February 20. The Spanish authorities wished for a joint investigation, which was denied by the State Department. The independent Spanish investigation quickly issued a verdict that the loss of Maine was due to internal causes. This was based on the observations made by three officers who had paddled around the wreck of Maine in a rowboat. In Spain, General Weyler, whose treatment of the Cubans had helped to aggravate the crisis in the preceding years, stated that the Maine had blown up due "to the indolence of the vessel’s crew". Divers were brought in and the wreck was investigated but it was difficult due to the murky conditions at the harbor’s bottom.
The Court of Inquiry did not restrict itself to the Rules of Evidence commonly used in American courtrooms. All sorts of odd and suspect testimony and evidence was allowed in to the proceedings. One diver found a hole in the bottom of Maine’s port side and the plates appeared to be bent inward, as if from an external explosion. Ensign Wilfrid Van Nest Powelson was called as a witness. He was a line officer and not an expert but was called to testify because he had taken a six-month course on ship construction at Glasgow, Scotland. More divers reported that hull plates were bent inward and Powelson prepared sketches based on their assertions. A secret mystery witness was called, who spoke only Spanish and reported that on the morning of February 15 he was aboard a ferry and overheard a conversation among three Spanish officers and a civilian. The gist of the conversation among these unidentified officers was that it had been planned to blow up the Maine. In the end the unanimous opinion of the Court of Inquiry was that the USS Maine had been blown up by external forces, planted by parties unknown. By March 28 newspapers had picked up the content of the report. President McKinley and his administration, other than Teddy Roosevelt, had been trying to avoid war and cool things down, hoping the escalation of the crisis could be diffused with Spanish reparations. By now it was too late, newspapers, Congress and the public were clamoring for war, which was not slow in following. When the stern of Maine was refloated in 1912, assertions that her loss was from external sources was again made. The hulk of the Maine was towed to deep water and sunk. However, in 1974 Admiral Hyman Rickover appointed experts to review the earlier findings. These experts came to a far different conclusion. They viewed spontaneous combustion of soft coal in bunker A-16 had ignited a fire. This bunker was adjacent to a six-inch gun magazine in two places. Their view was that the coal fire cooked off at least one round in the adjacent magazine, which in turn ignited the magazine.
In the end the report indicated that although an internal accident was the most likely cause, an external mine could not be completely ruled out. On February 16, 1898 Teddy Roosevelt had written, "It may be impossible to ever settle definitely whether or not the Maine was destroyed through some treachery…" Teddy was right. Although the USS Maine was a 2nd rate design and a 2nd rate ship, her loss was the catalyst for the huge expansion of the US Navy into a world class seapower. Before her loss isolationism and an aversion to battleship building was prevalent in Congress. All hesitation disappeared in the late winter/ early spring of 1898 with the loss of Maine. (History from : American Battleships 1886-1923, 1980, by John C. Reilly, Jr. and Robert L. Scheina; A Ship to Remember, The Maine and the Spanish-American War 1992, by Michael Blow)
The Combrig Maine
These photographs show the resin and photo-etch components to the Combrig 1:700 scale USS Maine. Not shown are the box art and instructions, which were not ready when this sample was sent. However, as you can see the components for this kit are loaded with detail. The hull of Maine was a throwback design with sponson mounted turrets placed on a fairly low freeboard and a higher superstructure divided into three parts running along the centerline. In many respects it not only is almost a larger copy of the Brazilian cruiser but also has many features of the overall design of HMS Inflexible, which had the divided superstructure on centerline. It is not odd that there is a resemblance because the design emphasis of maximum end on fire in an era when the ram was considered an essential weapon required that any superstructure be narrow and on the centerline so as to minimize blast interference. To allow maximum broadside fire there had to be breaks in the superstructure to allow cross deck fire. Of course all of these design features rebound to the benefit of the modeler as the Combrig Maine oozes character.
On each side the hull is dominated by the very prominent overhang of the 10-inch gun turret sponson. These are well outboard from the hull and their asymmetrical placement is another strong feature of the original ship and the model. One row of scuttles adds additional detail for the lower hull. However, it is in the area of the upper hull and superstructure sides where there is an abundance of detail. The breakwater is very high in that it sweeps past the main deck to end with a raised solid bulkhead at the raised forecastle. On each side are two elliptical anchor hawse. The Maine employed the old style stocked anchors so at main deck level are two billboards projecting outboard from the deck which were used to secure the anchors. Immediately aft of the cuwater the forecastle superstructure has a casemate gun position on each side. These positions are extremely well detailed with readily discernable hinges. Also found on each are four square windows with round portholes in the center. This was another common design feature of the time in that the large square port could be opened to allow light and ventilation when weather allowed or closed in inclement weather. A locker is found at the rear end of the forecastle superstructure on each side. There are two rear faces for this level with the port face flat and the starboard face curved to allow traverse of the starboard mounted forward 10-inch guns.
The central superstructure is the longest of the three raised decks. It has two inclined ladder openings at the forward end and one at the aft end. Two gun positions are placed asymmetrically and indented from the superstructure sides. These positions are interesting features in that they display a glacis design to their front, which could also be found in some of the early USN protected cruiser designs. A solid bulkhead runs the length of each deck, interrupted only by the gun positions and openings for inclined ladders. At the forward end is the armored conning tower. Seven square windows and three lockers are also found on each side of the central superstructure. The aft raised quarterdeck is almost as long as the central superstructure but like all three sections of superstructure, is asymmetrical. The quarterdeck starts with a mirror image of the end of the forecastle with two bulkheads joining in a V. However, here the port bulkhead is curved to allow traverse of the port mounted aft 10-inch guns and the starboard bulkhead is flat. Near the stern are two more gun casemates with the same high level of detail found in those same positions in the forecastle. Maybe because it was Officers Country but here are found the most square windows with eight such ports per side. Oddly there appear two more anchor hawse at the stern. An additional locker is found on each side of the quarterdeck superstructure. Other than a short bulkhead on each side of the top of the cutwater, neither forecastle nor quarterdeck has the solid bulkheads found in the central superstructure.
The main deck as well as the three raised decks also have plenty of lovely detail. Smooth circular coal scuttle ports are scattered throughout the wooden planking of the main deck. My guess is that they would be painted hull buff and would stand out somewhat from the holystoned wood of the deck. Two raised skylights are also found at main deck level. The forecastle has three sets of inclined ladders descending into the ship and a large circular metal plate for a forward gun position. There is a raised coaming forward and two flat metal plates flanking the centerline gun position. Also found there is the locator hull for the foremast. Other fittings include two open chocks at the edge of each side of the deck and two large sets of bollards more inboard. The raised central deck is almost encircled by solid bulkheads. In addition to the two asymmetrical gun positions, there are a number of raised houses running down the centerline. Two are thin stack-houses that bulge outward at the widest point of the stacks and two are for ventilator cowlings. Two square structures are the bases for the boat cranes. Lastly there are two small coamings at the rear, one on centerline and one offset to port. On the short raised quarterdeck are three large coamings/skylights with individual panels and a large skylight at the forward end. Three inclined ladders descend into the ship, which are really nicely detailed with treads, considering the small ladder wells. There are also two sets of bollards and three locator holes for other fixtures.
Smaller Resin Parts
Although the mass of the detail on the Combrig Maine is found on the hull casting, there are still plenty of goodies found in the smaller resin parts. One note of caution concerns the two largest boats included in the kit. It appears that Combrig used the original plans of Maine for this kit, as the two largest boats are the two 61-foot 2nd class torpedo boats that were originally going to be included with the ship. They are quite lovely with separate twin stacks that are mounted side by side, an armored conning tower and bulging torpedo tube on the cutwater. However, as far as I know, Maine never carried these boats and although the first boat was completed and sent off as a training craft for the torpedo boat school, I don’t know if the second such craft was completed. A small resin film wafer has the lower bridge deck with pilothouse, upper bridge deck and two fighting tops for the masts. The pilothouse has excellent detail with square windows and doors and the wooden planking is done very finely on both bridge decks.
The circular pillbox turrets for the ten-inch guns are well formed and are pre-drilled to accept the gun barrels. Each turret has significant detail cast on the crown Each has a raised observation copula and two ventilator cowlings. Both the 10-inch and 6-inch gun barrels have the multi-banded architecture typical of the period. Four of the six-inch barrels are for the casemates found at the forecastle and quarterdeck superstructure. The other two six-inch guns are in open mounts with elliptical overhead shields and are mounted in the two center superstructure positions. Both stacks have a significant apron at the bottom and smaller cap lip at the top. Both tops are hollow to a significant degree. Although it is a pity that the Maine never carried the torpedo boats included in the kit, there are still some fine ship’s boats that can be used to decorate your model. Two are steam launches of different designs and six are oared boats. The two boat cranes are also excellent with weight saving voids found the length of each crane. There are a number of different ventilators of different sizes, including a very unique Y shaped ventilator fitting. Other smaller resin parts include anchors, boat cradles, anchor cranes, davits, searchlights, cable reel, binnacles, windlasses, masts, yards and QF gun barrels.
Brass Photo-Etch Fret
The Combrig Maine is one of their deluxe 1:700 scale kits with a full ship specific brass fret included. This fret is just loaded with naval architectural idiosyncrasies. Two are searchlight towers found on the forecastle and quarterdeck. Two very prominent items are raised catwalks. One was offset to starboard and connected the central superstructure with the forecastle and the other was centerline and connected the central superstructure to the quarterdeck. Both of these catwalk parts have railing and inclined ladders without railing. A lot of the parts are for various boat skids, which were placed in overhead positions amidships. Included is what appears to be an optional brass deck with scribed planking to be used in lieu of the resin version found on the resin wafer. Ten seven legged QF mountings are found on the fret. These may take a little work to get the legs down just right but are as fine as you can get in this scale. There is a relief-etched bow scroll with Union shield. Other parts that I could recognize are galley stacks, anchor chain, ship’s wheels, platform or fighting top supports but are a host of other features that I can’t identify without the instructions. You still will need some generic inclined ladders and railing for the forecastle, quarterdeck, main deck and bridge decks. Another photo-etch item that I would whole-heartedly recommend adding to this kit are ratlines for the masts. White Ensign Models does have 1:700 scale ratlines available in the Atlantic series designed by Mad Pete.
Top drawer in every regard. Although I have not seen the instructions, I anticipate the two sheet version that Combrig has started including in some of their more complex kits. The Combrig Maine is nowhere near as complex as the Combrig Dreadnought but has a tremendous amount of detail cast integral to the hull and major component castings and an excellent brass ship-specific photo-etch fret. With a little bit of extra photo-etch parts such as inclined ladders, railings and ratlines, the Combrig Maine will be a standout in any collection.