SCHERBAK SHIP MODELS

GUNBOAT NUMBER 5, US Navy 1803 wooden handmade toy model

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Gunboat Number 5, two versions
Gunboat 5 US Navy wooden  toy  ship model.jpg
Email for more pictures

Gunboat No5 (right on the picture)
Price: $255 delivered to continental US address
           $265 to Hawaii, Alaska, Canada
           $290 to other countries
 
Gunboat No5 simplified version (left on the picture)
Price: $195 delivered to continental US address
            $205 to Hawaii, Alaska, Canada
            $230 to other countries
Orders, questions, pictures - email sansim555@msn.com

Toy model description:

- Great historical and educational toy for kids and adults.

- Based on real plans of Gunboat number 5, built in 1803.

- Scale 1:100 with enlarged details for playing or using in naval war-games with 15 or 25 mm figures.

- Toy length overall 6.1/4 inches (16.5cm)

- Quality hardwoods for hull and parts: maple, mahogany, birch, walnut.

- Sailor is 1"(25 mm) high with movable arms. Made from strong and beautiful American holly wood, - whitest wood in the World. Additional sailors can be purchased separately.

- The yard can be lowered/ raised and angled in any position with the help of strong sliding block made from boxwood.

- Cannon rotates 360 degrees and fires wooden pegs for up to 12 feet. Additional pegs can be purchased separetely

- 15 stars flag (and comission pennant on more detailed version)  of the period.

- Finished with AP approved none toxic India inks or acrylics and food oil, safe for children from 6 to 100. Not for small children! (Be aware of choking hazard with loose small parts).

- Very small production run.

- Handmade in USA by marine artist Alexander Scherbak.

US Navy toy model gunboat Barbary Wars, detail.jpg

Historical Notes:
Gunboat number 5 was designed by Fox built in Baltimore in the small group of identical vessels in 1803. In 1805 she crossed the Atlantic on the way to the Mediterannian! Her crew consisted of a commander, a second officer, a steward, 15 able seamen, a corporal of marines and four privates. She sailed for the Mediterannian May 15th, 1805, and reached Gibraltar June 17th.
 She entered Syracuse July 8th. During August she operated  with the American squadron offTunis and then wintered at Syracuse. She returned home the next summer.
 
 
US President Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) believed that a suitable naval force would consist of small gunboats that could defend the home waters of the United States. To create this defensive force, Jefferson ordered cutbacks in major ships and the construction of a fleet of small gunboats. He had seen proof of the effectiveness of gunboats in the defense of Tripoli. These small ships were typically about fifty-sixty feet long and eighteen feet wide, with a shallow draft for use in the shoal waters of America's harbors. They were variously rigged, with oars, sails, and a crew of about twenty. If the wind failed or if they were engaged in close combat, they could be propelled by oars. Each carried two to three guns: 18- to 24-pound swivel-mounted guns or 32-pounders on traversing carriages. Each gun could weigh as much as seven thousand pounds, which meant that a shallow-drafted gunboat would not fare well in heavy seas.

By February 1805, fifteen gunboats had been built. These small vessels were favored by the Republicans, who saw a $302,000 ship like the Constitution as an unnecessary drain on the nation. First estimates put a gunboat's cost at $5,000; in actuality, costs totaled over $10,000. Nevertheless, Congress authorized 25 in 1805, 50 in 1806, and 188 in 1807.

They were to be built at various ports around the nation. Jefferson and other Republicans knew that gunboats posed no threat to the British navy and thus would not provoke a preemptive strike. Gunboats could be distributed to many American ports and provide defense to a larger territory for less money than a frigate navy. Jefferson envisioned gunboats used in conjunction with land batteries, movable fortifications, and floating batteries to repulse attacks. In time of peace gunboats could be laid up in sheds, which would cut down on maintenance and personnel. But there were weaknesses in the Republican plan. A passive defense was useless against an invader with a strong navy like Britain. One frigate had the gun power of forty gunboats, and with their thin planking and low decks exposed to gunfire, gunboats stood little chance of survival. Invasion points were never known, and the few gunboats stationed at various American ports could provide only minimal defense.

Furthermore, a gunboat was useless at sea and thus could not defend U.S. commerce. Jefferson's theory of naval defense would lead to the loss of much of the naval strength the United States had gained since the Barbary War of 1805, leaving the nation with an inadequate naval force when it needed it most.

Following the inauguration of James Madison in March 1809, the United States began to move away from its gunboat policy. One hundred gunboats already authorized for construction were never built. Most of the existing boats were put "in ordinary," and by December 1811 only sixty-three gunboats remained in service. By the spring of 1812, war was imminent. War hawks in Congress finally forced Madison's hand, and war was declared on June 15, 1812. The U.S. Navy had seven frigates, four schooners, four ketches, and 170 gunboats to pit against the greatest naval power the world had ever seen.