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The Turtle submersible. 1:35


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The Turtle

Mikr Mir 1:35



The Turtle (also called the American Turtle) was the world's first submersible with a documented record of use in combat. In 1776, during the Revolutionary War, the American submersible craft Turtle attempts to attach a time bomb to the hull of British Admiral Richard Howe’s flagship Eagle in New York Harbor. It was the first use of a submarine in warfare. David Bushnell, an American inventor, began building underwater mines while a student at Yale University. Deciding that a submarine would be the best means of delivering his mines in warfare, he built an eight-foot-long wooden submersible that was christened the Turtle for its shape. Large enough to accommodate one operator, the submarine was entirely hand-powered. Lead ballast kept the craft balanced.

Donated to the Patriot cause after the outbreak of war with Britain in 1775, Ezra Lee piloted the craft unnoticed out to the 64-gun HMS Eagle in New York Harbor on September 7, 1776. As Lee worked to anchor a time bomb to the hull, he could see British seamen on the deck above, but they failed to notice the strange craft below the surface. Lee had almost secured the bomb when his boring tools failed to penetrate a layer of iron sheathing. He retreated, and the bomb exploded nearby, causing no harm to either the Eagle or the Turtle.

During the next week, the Turtle made several more attempts to sink British ships on the Hudson River, but each time it failed, owing to the operator’s lack of skill. Only Bushnell was really able to competently execute the submarine’s complicated functions, but because of his physical frailty he was unable to pilot the Turtle in any of its combat missions. During the Battle of Fort Lee, the Turtle was lost when the American sloop transporting it was sunk by the British. Despite the failures of the Turtle, General George Washington gave Bushnell a commission as an Army engineer, and the drifting mines he constructed destroyed the British frigate Cerberus and wreaked havoc against other British ships. After the war, he became commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stationed at West Point.


The Model

As with the other kits reviewed recently, this one has been out for short while now and it has to be one of the strangest little kits I’ve come across in quite a while.  The standard Mikr Mir box, (although somewhat smaller than most), contains a single sprue of clear styrene and one of light grey, along with a sheet of etched brass. Strangely enough, the main body of the submersible is in clear, which begs the question, “WHY”, when there is nothing to go inside, no interior at all.  Still, it will give the scratch builders something to do in the winter months.  With the two halves joined together it’s just a matter of fitting the clear hatch ring and hatch into place, and gluing the PE window frames into position.  The explosive charge box is made from two halves and glued to what can be called the rear of the oval body, by the fact that the rudder is placed there as well. The normal styrene base is then fitted along with the top mounted air tubes drill upper propeller shaft and the front mounted propeller shaft, each of which are fitted with PE propellers. There is a small guard that goes around the rudder and that’s it, done, just a matter of painting to finish it off.









What a strange little submersible this si, but it must be remembered that it was the first to actually be used in action, albeit ineffectively.  The clear body does give the opportunity to custom build your own interior, and there is quite a bit of information and pictures of this on the internet to help the scratch builder out.  Whatever you do with the kit, it will make for a talking point within your collection, just a good job it was done in 1:35 rather than anything smaller.



Review sample courtesy of

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