Saturday, December 31, 2011

ACW Riverine - Under Construction ... (Part IV)

At last, a couple of CSA ironclad gunboats under construction. First, CSS Tennessee.

Some details need to be added, such as coamings around what seem to be netted openings in the roof of the casemate fighting compartment (?). I presume these openings existed in order that there be a bit of light for the gun crews and others to work with. It seems reasonable that some kind of netting be drawn across these spaces as protection against shell fragments and shrapnel.

I also want to build up the bow and stern a bit, and add steering chains along the rear deck. Not sure what to use for chains, to be honest.

And, of course, the gun ports need guns and port lids. The latter were the swivel kind. As for the guns, although the Tennessee had ten ports, she carried 6 guns: a pivot Brooke Rifle fore and aft and two guns in each broadside. I'm planning on showing guns 'run out' through the fore and aft ports, and the middle two broadside ports, whilst the other broadside ports will be shown closed.

Now: the following is my 'first pass' attempt at constructing CSS Arkansas.

Not a success, as you can see. Part of the problem is a lack of information, though I have recently found out the vessel's dimensions - a big help! This ... erm ... model turns out to be too short by about a centimetre.

As it transpires, there is some disagreement as to what the boat looked like: one model maker depicting her as having vertical sides (which i suspect is a misunderstanding of the 'straight line' hull for at least the length of the casemated fighting compartment). Others show a distinct gap between the foremost broadside gunport and the other two. Here's an example from Stephen Lund and William Hathaway's downloadable PDF Modelling Civil War Ironclad Ships.There is no evidence that I can discover to suppose any arrangement different from what I have assumed here.
But clearly something has to be done about the the vessel forward and aft of the casemate. Can the thing be reconstructed, or do we start all over again?

Meanwhile, on a different note - introducing a third belligerent in the wars of Jono's World: Sideon IV: the Archepelago of Sarbia. Here is one of its three aircraft carriers...

... and a squadron of light tanks from the Sarbian Army.

These were got from packets of Army Men type soldiers that included an over scale jeep (which will become a light truck) and a slightly under scale tank (which, with its gun cut back, becomes a light tank). Tank #234 is actually a water pistol (yep: the thing can actually shoot!) that has been kicking around the house for x-teen years or more. It has become a close support tank with a rather large gun.
(The packet also contained small 'stealth' fighters that will be hard to find uses for...)

Cheers - and my best wishes to you all for the New Year.
Ion A. Dowman

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

ACW Riverine - Under Construction (Part III)

Every fleet needs support vessels by way of tenders and tugboats. Vessel #1 is a small unarmed tugboat that might be used to help with mooring larger vessels, or towing cargo barges.

Vessel #3 is slightly larger - large enough to carry a 32pr rifled cannon for self-defence. To be honest, I don't really know if such vessels did indeed carry ordnance, but it seemed a reasonable proposition.

Vessel #6 is another large tugboat or tender, slightly larger than #3. I don't think any future constructions of this type of vessel will be any larger than this...

Mortar barges. Crude looking they are, but they were constructed from an illustration in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. Three seemed a sufficient number for my purposes...

There remains a question about crewing these vessels. I do believe they might be a little over-scale anyway, but they look right. Maybe 10mm figures will have the right appearance...

Below are three views of a Kickapoo class monitor - two turrets, funnel and conning tower.

As yet, not a particularly convincing model at all. I'll probably add lifeboats and other gear to give it more of a lift, and scribe somehow the deck plates in the 'brick' pattern the Union seemed to favour for this type of vessel.

The hull will need reshaping as well into something more canoe-like. Then paint white around the tops of the turrets, funnel and conning tower... M'mmm, yes: it might look the business yet! I'll have a think about the turrets, too - possibly they are too tall.

To be concluded: CSS Tennessee and CSS Arkansas...

Monday, December 26, 2011

ACW Riverine -Under Construction... (Part II)

Above: the first of a number of Confederate steam rams/ gun boats. After all this time, I still haven't figured out how to build the 'walking beam' arrangement. It looks as though this vessel is missing a bowsprit, too. The masts could stand revisiting: the topmasts look rather too thick, as well.

This was intended to be a fairly 'generic' sort of vessel.
More CSA gunboats, armed fore and aft with rifled ordnance. Well... they would be if I had got around to completing those guns...
Rather than build specific gunboats, often named for Confederate generals and which survived maybe one or two serious actions, I gave them other names. The letters on the funnels serve as aides-memoire for Atchafalaya, Pontchartrain and Maurepas.

Here we have a generic Union vessel that might be a troop transport or maybe one of Col. Ellet's steam rams. This was made on the basis of a wood engraving, I think from Battles and Leaders

Another steamboat that might serve as a transport or as a steam ram. I don't recall what the basis for this vessel was - I think it might have been a picture of someone else's model. At the time I was building these, information was very hard to come by as to dimensions, design - even colours. At that, even professional modellers apparently have to make guesses as to what these vessel really looked like...

I think a little touching up might be in order, such as railings around the decks, lifeboats, that sort of thing...

Next time: A monitor, and some auxiliary boats and barges...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

ACW Riverine - Under Construction... (Part I)

Once you get into a war period, you start to get interested in combined operations. The American Civil War is one that leads itself in my view very well to this kind of thing. The project I began (apart from one Union ironclad I built more than 10 years previous)some 16 or 18 years ago, making enough progress that several brown water naval actions were fought, and an interesting river and shore action tried out.

A friend having noticed one of my vessels, newly exhumed from the drawer in which it had sat for well over a decade and awaiting attention, I bethought myself to take a few pics of several of these craft. To begin, a 'Cairo' Class Union ironclad a picture of which heads this posting. Here are several more angles...

All these vessels were scratchbuilt from balsa, cardboard, ball-pen ink reservoirs, wire and any other likely-looking bits and pieces. Much of the paintwork was from my daughter's rather depleted water colours, with the armour and guns being painted with my favorite gloss black and silver mix.

I chose a 1:300 scale, for a number of reasons. My ACW armies are 20mm plastics: mostly Airfix, with a few ESCI units thrown in (including a small unit of Berdan's Sharpshooters). Because of the compromise between figure and ground scales in wargames, naval vessels the same scale as the figures would look plain wrong. The Arkansas, for instance, would have to be 30 inches long by about 5 wide - imagine what that means in terms of ground scale: something over half a mile in length!

So I opted what I was using as the ground scale for my naval forces.

That the two don't look completely out of place on the same table was about what I hoped and expected. I'll post some pics of them together in a later posting. Meanwhile, more Mississippi Eads gunboats...

Cairo and Carondelet steaming downriver. You can see my rather piecemeal approach to construction, one vessel receiving its full complement of lifeboats; the other its ... awning rail? I am tempted to give at least one of them an awning, even though they were taken down in action. Wargamers' licence: it would add, perhaps, a little colour...

This is the king of the Eads gunboats, the Benton: 200 ft long, 75 ft beam (yep!), 16 guns. Actually, this Benton is missing a couple of guns. Earthquake damage likely enough. The set of drawers in which these boats reside was thrown to the floor from a great height twice (in February, then in June) by earthquakes, but the ships came out of it not too badly, on the whole.

But I notice from Battles and Leaders that later in the war, the Eads gunboats had cut back on their ordnance, often carrying three or four guns only, instead of their full complement of thirteen. So some empty gunports are not altogether out of place.

Finally (for this posting) a look at the first Ironclad I attempted, the Watusi.

A bit rough, and, lacking much information on riverboat construction, I made a lot of guesses. It was never intended as anything more than a 'generic' ironclad river gunboat anyway. I seriously doubt that there was ever a Watusi (named for a dance craze of a century later) afloat upon American rivers in the 1860s...

I had some misgivings about the stern, but need not have worried. I believe the Essex was built on vaguely similar lines. I've never had the heart to 'retire' this vessel. It has served in a few fights, standing in nobly for Tyler and Lexington in a Shiloh refight in 1990. And I've always rather liked that laddery thing climbing the stern casemate...

To be continued...