Thursday, 8 April 2021

The Vexing Subject of Confederate Ironclads

The two newest additions to the Confederate ironclad cause - currently a ‘WIP’ as are the metal trees you see at the top of the picture. These are 1:300th scale and are, I believe, from Heroics and Ros and yes, I want to get some more of them!

When I have completed the Confederate fleet for my ACW project there will be a round dozen casemate ironclads of various types. Half of these will be ‘historical’ ships whilst the remainder are ‘based on’ types. I have not included the pair of C.S.S. Stonewalls in this - just the casemate ironclads.

Available from the Wargames Vault and anyone with an interest in naval warfare during the American Civil War should DEFINITELY read this!

If I have learned anything about the ships of the period it is that a substantial amount number of them we have no real idea of what they actually looked like. For sure there are many period photographs of some of the more well known types but an awful lot of the lithographs that appeared in the press were inaccurate and in many cases simply made up. John Wallis in his book on the subject has details of the actual ships that served - in many cases looking quite different from the original design - as well as those that were ordered and designed but not built or those that were started and not finished. It is a fascinating read about what might have been, much the same as using Z plan warships for the Kriegsmarine in WW2. 

The six models that are not based on anything particular are more indicative of the overall type rather than specific ships. I have no problem with this as it means that the models can be used for a variety of historical ships. I have opted for the following combinations and for each pair there are two models - a larger version and a smaller one.

2 x octagonal casemate - both with a 1 1/4” beam

2 x rectangular casemate - both with a 1 1/4” beam

2 x rectangular casemate - both with a 1” beam

The two narrow versions of the rectangular option have a single gunport fore and aft and four or three broadside gunports for the larger and smaller version respectively. For the 1 1/4” beam the four or three applies again on the broadside whilst fore and aft have two gunports in each case. All will be clearer once the two models you see above have been refurbished - rather promoted from being potential floating batteries - and the final octagonal casemate ironclad had been built. The largest on my Confederate casemates will be converted into something else manning there is room for one final model - and I am torn on this between two ships - The C.S.S. Baltic or the C.S.S. Virginia (meaning I would be obliged to make a U.S.S. Monitor....).

As it stands the ‘historical’ part of the collection consists of the following ships:

C.S.S. Arkansas

C.S.S. Manassas

C.S.S. Missouri

C.S.S. Georgia

I now have a clearer view of what the final composition of the Confederate fleet will look like as aside from the dozen casemate ironclads there will also be ten side wheel paddle steamers, a blockade runner, a commerce raider and of course the pair of C.S.S. Stonewalls. I am looking at a few small gunboat types as well which will make the final total heading towards 30 models.

Can somebody PLEASE tell me what this curious phenomena known as ‘project creep’ is?


Charles Litka said...

Whatever it is, you got it, Dave. And bad.

David Crook said...

Hello there Charles,

You are certainly right on that score! Originally there were only going to be around 12 to 15 models all in....

Hey ho....

All the best,


David Manley said...

Project creep is a myth put about by those wishing to spread negativity and angst.

Spectrum broadening on the other hand.....

David Crook said...

Hello there Mr Manley,

It has certainly gone well beyond my original intention! I am happy with it all though as I believe that once these final models are built I will be able to draw a line under the ships and get the terrain built. I have a sufficient variety of models for most types of action which is a big advance over my original river based collection.

Still undecided about the C.S.S. Baltic and the C.S.S. Virginia which means I will probably end up building both!

Spectrum broadening? That has a certain whimsical charm!

All the best,


Chris Kemp said...

The group of 4 trees on the right look as if they would make good explosion markers.

No such thing as project creep; it ends when you're dead :-)

Regards, Chris.

p.s I say this in fond memory of Dave Atkinson, known to his friends as "Atkinswine",

David Crook said...

Hi Chris,

I must confess that I had not thought of them as explosion markers but now you have mentioned can see what you mean! I will stick with them as trees though methinks.

I consider myself to be quite restrained in respect of the ACW collection as the original version was around 50 odd models devoted solely to the rivers. The current version is more rounded in that I can tackle the coast and high seas but could readily add to the numbers if I wanted to. I am going to stick with what I have although the odd one off may make an appearance occasionally!

I suspect there is a tale to tell about Dave Atkinson in fond memory!

All the best,