In-Box Review
Minicraft Model Kits Tall Ships Series, US Coast Guard Training Ship
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by: Dariush [ DR_WHO2 ]


For those interested into the full story of this ship please consult the Wikipedia entry at:

Edit Note:
There is a walk around on MSW as well.
Eagle Walkaround

The basic data goes as follows:

Shipyard - Blohm&Voss Hamburg, Germany
Date of commissioning - 13th June 1936
Class - Gorch Fock Class
Original Name - Horst Wessel
Length - 295 feet, 231 feet at waterline
Beam, greatest - 39.1 feet
Freeboard - 9.1 feet
Draft, fully loaded - 16 feet
Displacement - 1824 tons
Ballast (lead) - 380 tons
Fuel oil - 23,402 gallons
Anchors - 3,500 lbs. port, 4,400 lbs. starboard
Rigging - 6 miles, standing and running
Height of mainmast - 147.3 feet
Height of foremast - 147.3 feet
Height of mizzenmast - 132.0 feet
Wood planking on the steel decks - Teak
Fore and main yard - 78.8 feet
Speed under power - 10 knots
Speed under full sail - 17 knots
Sail area - 22,300 square feet
Engine - 1,000 horsepower diesel Caterpillar D399 engine
Generators - two-320 kilowatt Caterpillar 3406 generators
Training complement - 6 officers, 54 crew, 20 temporary active duty crew, 140 cadets avg.
Maximum capacity - 239 people
Major missions - Training vessel for Coast Guard Academy cadets and officer candidates
Complement - 19 officers, 56 crew, 175 cadets and instructors

The original ships Name

Declared under the reign of the Versailles treaties as a training vessel in 1936 and named after Horst Wessel. Horst Wessel was the person who wrote the hymn for the NSDAP party while being SA-Sturmführer at SA-Sturm 5 of Berlin. He was shot down on 14th January 1930 and even though there is an official statement about the whom and why of this attack, the truth remains unclear up until today.
The "SA" meaning in German would be "Sturmabteilung" and it is hard to give an exact translation into the English language. However one could translate it as "Stormtroopers" or "Storm Department". Never the less, this translation is confusing since we are talking about a paramilitary organization of the NSDAP which prepared and enforced the rise of the party up until the point Adolf Hitler succeeded. At the end of WWII the SA/SS as well as the NSDAP were forbidden and disintegrated.

The training purpose
Coming back to the ship itself, the engine room setup and frame of the ship "Horst Wessel" were exactly done as those used in the German U-Boats. By the time WWII started a lot of U-Boat machinists and officers had finished their training aboard this ship.

WWII specific
The ship "Horst Wessel" received two antiaircraft guns within the war period and transported cargo, men and supplies throughout the Baltic Sea.

After WWII
At the end of WWII the "Horst Wessel" was given to the USA as part of the war reparation. She sailed to New London, Connecticut partly with the original German crew. On 15th May 1946 she was commissioned to the United States Coast Guard and renamed as the Coast Guard Cutter "Eagle". The ship was refitted several times including replacement of the original machinery. Also, due to an accident one of the main masts was repaired and shortened.

The Box

The USCGC Eagle kit comes in a sturdy box showing a painting with her from the port side sailing all alone. There are some small pictures of a finished kit on one side of the box. The parts do have some little room to swim inside the packaging but not as much as there would be the chance the sprues could get hurt.

... and what is inside ...

The Model…

Minicraft depicts the USCGC Eagle some time on/after 1976. This is true since the red/blue "racing lines" on the hull were applied in that year. Before 1976 the hull was white over all. I have read this is a reissue of a waterline IMAI kit but can neither confirm nor deny it.

The Hull…

The hull of the ship comes in 3 parts. Firstly there is the part of the hull above the construction waterline. it is molded in one piece. The major hull elements like the port holes and a major weld line are molded on. The port holes are not open. The hull material is a little thick so opening the portholes -if one considers this option- will give some little workload. Beside the one major weld line the other, more subtle hull plating lines are totally missing. I guess some precise masking and adding carefully a thin amount of filler might fix this easily.

The inner hull is strengthened by design with the lower deck already molded in. The lower deck has some plating for the wood decks. As always, molded on wood planking does not qualify to be true to scale but on the other hand it is there at least. Also, the inclined ladders to the forecastle and stern are molded on. They do not look very convincing though but I guess nowadays it will not be much of a problem to replace those with PE parts in 1/350 scale.

The other two parts for the hull build together the lower hull. They are molded in green plastic. I am honestly unsure why that is. I looked up a photo of the "Eagle" dry docked and it shows a red hull with a black line right on the waterline level.

Despite the hull above the waterline these kit parts show no indication of the steel plating at all. They are -unfortunately- smooth as smooth can be.

The Sprues…

The whole kit is to be called a rather simple model kit with 65 parts on the sprues and additional 20 parts for the canvas, soft vinyl, if you opt to use them. We get 5 Sprues over all.
One sprue holding the major parts that do come in a white color, the superstructure parts, 3 sprues that come in a brown color and holding pieces that are supposed to be out of wood and one assistant sprue in chrome for the model stand.

The molded parts are all in good shape and crisp with no obvious sinkholes whatsoever in the visible areas. The windows of the superstructure are not open but molded a way one could consider opening them with a sharp knife/drill. If one opts to do so the inner part will be visible demanding for some detailing inside. Most of the parts that are provided are simplistic. Looking at the molded on parts of the deck made me wonder what those square boxes are supposed to portray.

The over all level of detail is lacking and comparing the kit parts with actual photos reveals all those tiny bitsy and pieces that give a sailing ship its unique appearance are missing.

Disregarding the lack of detail one has to admit that the given pieces resemble quiet precisely shape and size of the original ship. The guardrails are missing totally however.

The Decals…

The small decal sheet consists of the racing lines for the hull, the ships name and one decal for the stern hull section. The decals are spot on with no color failure. However, the decal for the stern hull section is not accurate when compared to the real ship. In fact it should show at the end of the rope line a fish embedded. I am not sure what Minicraft provided there but it is not what it should be.

Beside the decal there comes a piece of paper with printed on flags titled "Titanic".

Also some thread is provided for the rigging and to manufacture the shrouds.

The Stand…

The Stand consists of molded parts in chrome and a black base. The base has a structure as to imitate wood. It is not a breathtaking stand but at least supporting an acceptable result OOB.

The Painting Guide…

Actually there is little information on how to paint the kit. Some minor hints are included in the instructions. Over all one is advised to have a close look at the pictures of a finished model kit on the side of the box.

The Instructions…

The instructions guide the modeler through 9 steps. Each steps is clearly laid out and leaving no question. One is given two options within
1. Building a waterline model and/or
2. Using the soft vinyl canvas.

Last but not least a rough rigging diagram is given at step 7. This qualifies for a rather simple rigging. Even though it is more or less visible where to attach the rig regarding the masts it remains unclear where on the deck the other end will have to go.


This is a really nice kit and a must have for any maritime enthusiast. It qualifies easily for any beginner or someone who just wants to have once a quick build of a sailing ship.
The kit builds OOB into just an average result. You will receive OOB a rough representation of the Eagle with no highlights included.
All right, there are details missing as pointed out but from my observation this kit is spot on regarding over all size and shape. It gives a really good start to build a respectable model of the USCGC Eagle as she appears nowadays. In all unfortunate there is no specific PE set at avail I am aware of.
IF one of the many PE manufacturers reads this: Pretty please release a specific PE set for this kit as the subject and the kit honestly deserve to receive the best possible support.

Adding some accuracy and skill in enhancing the hull will add even further. Populating the vessel with some sailors -as shown on the box painting- won´t hurt either and give a sense of scale.
Highs: A nice ship with an interesting history. Over all shape and size are spot on. The given scale fits like perfect into any 1/350 scale fleet. The details given are crisp and show no obvious errors.
Lows: A lot of detail is missing and some parts are molded just too simple. The hull is missing any indication of its steel plating beside one major weld line. The guardrails are missing as well.
Verdict: An interesting kit dealing with a very interesting organization - The United States Coast Guard! The kit resembles only the major parts of the Eagle and the details are not living up to the expectations. The hull plating is almost missing. The given detai
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:350
  Mfg. ID: 11303
  Suggested Retail: 17.00
  PUBLISHED: Apr 09, 2009
  NATIONALITY: United States

About Dariush (Dr_Who2)

... being father of two lovely children brought me back what was a hobby of mine in my own childhood. I guess everyone with at least one child in the household can figure what I am talking about. Despite what I have built in my younger years (most of them blew up or sank in a pond) I learned to lov...

Copyright ©2021 text by Dariush [ DR_WHO2 ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Model Shipwrights. All rights reserved.


thanks for the review! wish they had more/better plastic sail kits available
APR 09, 2009 - 05:23 AM

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