GEORGE WASHINGTON PARKE CUSTIS (1861)
ship that hosted the world's first balloon
George Washington Parke Custis was purchased by
the Union Navy in August 1861 and fitted out with a
gas-generating apparatus developed by Thaddeus Sobieski
Constantine Lowe and modified by John A. Dahlgren at the
Washington Navy Yard for her service as a balloon ship.
On November 11, 1861, Mr. Lowe, accompanied by General
Daniel E. Sickles and others, ascended in his trial
balloon from the ship off Mattawomen Creek to observe
Confederate forces on the Virginia shore three
"We had a fine view of the enemy camp fires during the
evening and saw the rebels constructing batteries at
This very first balloon launch was a technological
leap in reconnaissance. It began the widespread
use of balloons during the Civil
War and foreshadowed the Navy's future use of the air to
extend its effective use of sea power.
Washington Parke Custis, born in 1781 at Mount Airy,
Md., was the son of John P. Custis, George Washington's
stepson, and the father-in-law of General Robert E. Lee.
Custis won fame as a writer and producer of plays. His
best known work was Pocahontas, or the Settlers of
Virginia. He died at Arlington in 1857.
USS George Washington Parke Custis ship model
has the following qualities:
hull construction, weighing less than 10 lbs (A solid hull of this model
would be over 20 lbs which feels like a heavy
toy rather than an art piece.)
- Hollow superstructure comprised of many individual
thin pieces of wood glued together, not few blocks stacking on top one
- >95% of parts are wood and metal.
This model has a large base which is ready for an
acrylic/glass top. The base's dimensions are
30.5" x 10" and the ship's length
and handling cost: for shipment in the USA:
$90, Canada and Hawaii $180, Europe, Middle
East and Africa $240, Australia and East
Asia $310. It will be added
automatically during the checkout process.
Model will arrive in about seven days.
Express 2-day service in the USA is also
available during the checkout process.
For display case, please
Model Ship Display Case