Ship Model, Rum-Runner Launches Viola and Ruby, ca 1930

These two models represent launches, a type of motorboat used during Prohibition to smuggle liquor. Using crates filled with hay, liquor bottles were disguised as hams and stored in the holds of the launch. The Viola and Ruby smuggled goods from supply ships to the shore. Rumrunners were fast, with speeds up to 30 knots, and quiet, with movable exhaust pipes which could be lowered underwater to muffle the sound. The Viola and the Ruby were powered by single-screw Sterling Viking gasoline engines. Both launches were built in Essex, CT around 1930, and were 55 feet long and 11 feet wide. The models were built in 1962 from the designer’s plans by Major John W. Moroney of the U.S. Air Force.
Currently not on view
Object Name
launch, rigged model
date made
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Ship Models
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Work and Industry: Maritime
Ship Models
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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