If you are a model ship builder working on a model of the USS Constitution, you may be looking for some model plans or blueprints of the historic ship.
There are a number of resources with all the necessary drawings, plans or photos you need to build a detailed model.
The following is a list of the best USS Constitution model plans:
(Disclaimer: purchases made through the links in this article help support the History of Massachusetts Blog)
♦ The Frigate Constitution and Other Historic Ships by Alexander Magoun
Originally published in 1928 but later updated and republished in 1987, this book by Alexander Magoun contains the history, detailed plans and measurements of the USS Constitution as well as numerous other historic ships like the Mayflower, Santa Maria, the clipper Flying Cloud and the schooner Bluenose. The book contains over 100 illustrations, text descriptions and photos of the ships.
Reviews for the book on Amazon seem to be a bit mixed. One reviewer stated that the book was personally recommended to him by the model builder at the USS Constitution Museum:
“I am currently building a model of the USS Constitution and recently visited the ship and adjacent Constitution museum. At the museum I had the opportunity to sit with the model builder for about 45 minutes and ‘talk shop.’ I asked him which book was the best reference for building a model, and he pulled this one off the shelf. The plans for the USS Constitution in the book were certified by the US Navy as the only authentic plans for model builders when the book was originally published in the 1920s. Some of the information on ships like the Viking ships, Santa Maria, and Mayflower has been changed by recent research, but overall it is an excellent reference, especially on the USS Constitution. The plans that came with the kit I am building are not the best, and I often have referred to this book to clarify things. One of my next projects is a clipper ship and I will be using this book for that one also.”
Yet another reviewer said this book is useful but is more for beginners so the drawings and information tends to be very general which will result in a model that lacks a lot of detail.
♦ Old Ironsides: The Rise, Decline, and Resurrection of the USS Constitution by Thomas Gilmer
Published in 1993, this book by Thomas Gilmer discusses the USS Constitution’s history, construction and various reconstructions. The book has numerous drawings, plans and photographs of the ship.
Reviews for the book on Amazon are very positive. One reviewer said the book was a valuable reference guide for anyone interested in learning more about the ship’s construction:
“The author was chosen by the US Navy to assess and report on the restoration of ‘Old Ironsides.’ Half the book is a fascinating history of the origins and designs of the new navy, the original six frigates including the USS Constitution, it’s construction, performance and battles, while the other half emphasizes the restoration process, drydocking, construction issues and politics of the times. There are over 50 original drawings and plans, approx. 25 b&w photos and over 30 lithographs, sketches and paintings. Great reference book.”
This CD is sold online on the USS Constitution Museum website and contains drawings of the ship during the 19th century, the 1927-1931 restoration, and the 2007-2010 restoration.
Also included are reports with additional information about all of the changes made to the ship since 1797.
Bluejacket Ship Crafters sells a plan book from their USS Constitution model kit. The model kit and the book are based on the ship’s appearance from 1812-1815.
The company says that the plan is highly accurate because it is based on three years of research of the ship’s deck logs and maintenance records.
Revell offers free downloads of their instruction booklets for their USS Constitution model kits. These instruction booklets are useful even if you aren’t using a Revell kit because they are so detailed and contain a lot drawings and step-by-step instructions.
The instructions Revell offers include:
1/96 USS Constitution (kit 80-5602) – includes a paint guide and instructions to assemble hull, gun deck and masts (the second half of the instructions are upside down so you may need to print them out)
1/96 U.S.S. Constitution – (kit 85-0398) – includes rigging instructions
1/96 U.S.S. Constitution (kit 85-0398) – includes a paint guide and instructions to assemble hull, gun deck and masts and sails
1/196 Frigate USS Constitution (kit 85-5404) – includes instructions to assemble parts of the deck, the masts and the rigging.
1/146 U.S.S. Constitution (kit 80-5472) – includes instructions to assemble the hull, deck, rigging and sails
♦ The USS Constitution, 1812-1815 : Step-by-Step Instructions and Plans to Model the Ship to her 1812 to 1815 Configuration
Published in 1988, this book written by Laurence Arnot and published by Bluejacket Shipcrafters provides detailed plans and step-by-step instructions on how to build a model of the USS Constitution.
The only problem is the book is out of print, is unavailable anywhere online and only seems to exist in one library in the entire country: the Museum of Fine Arts Library in Boston, Mass.
If you live in the Boston area, definitely take the opportunity to take a look at the book in the library. If you don’t live in the area, I seems you’re out of luck unless you can find a copy in a used bookstore.
The website Best Ship Models sells two different sets of USS Constitution plans. The two sets include 20 sheets with specifications, details and more.
The plans are high resolution so you can change the scale and build the model in any size you want. Default scales are 1:93 and 1:76.
There are also a few websites that are supposedly giving these plans away as a free download but I’m not sure how much I would trust a free download from an unfamiliar site so proceed with caution if you go that route.
“Instruction Plans.” Revell, www.revell.com/support/instructions.html
“Standard Rigging Plan for USS Constitution.” Fine Scale Modeler, Kalmbach Publishing Co, 11 Feb. 2005,
“Revell USS Constitution.” Fine Scale Modeler, Kalmbach Publishing Co, 27 Dec. 2013, cs.finescale.com/fsm/modeling_subjects/f/7/p/157663/1705069.aspx