"The turtle-back steamers were not a navy project; the admirals left such harebrained notions to the army. For the most part, even the sailors aboard the boats were soldiers, volunteers from Grant's command who had answered a call for river and seafaring men to transfer for gunboat service."

On July 21, 1861 the first major engagement between the citizen-soldier armies of the United States of America and the Confederate States of America occurred in Virginia and was called the Battle of Bull Run or Battle of Manassas. It had taken some time to reach this point as South Carolina started the avalanche of American disaster by succeeding from the Union on December 20, 1860 when the state legislature unanimously passed an ordnance dissolving the relationship between South Carolina and the United States of America. Some Carolinians protested, "South Carolina is too small for a republic and too big for a lunatic asylum." Fearing what the newly elected President, Abraham Lincoln, would do when he was sworn into office, other southern states followed the example of South Carolina. In February 8, 1861 six of the states formed the Confederate States of America at Montgomery, Alabama. The final spark to the powder keg was on April 12, 1861 when at 4:30 in the morning Confederate guns opened fire on Ft. Sumter. It took another three months before General McDowell, pushed by Lincoln, finally went on the offensive that ended at Bull Run. Both sides were learning on the job a new form of warfare, as the American Civil War can be classified as the first modern war. With massive use of railroads, factories in middle of the Industrial Revolution mass-produced arms. The war had far more in common with the First World War a half a century in the future than it did with the Napoleonic Wars a half a century in the past.

In the naval arena there were also experiments and events that looked forward to the future. With rumors abounding that the Rebels were building an ironclad at Norfolk, Virginia, the US Navy started a crash building program for its own ironclads. This was true not only in the East but also in the West. The invention of the steam engine had revolutionized river traffic. Now boats with suitable horsepower could steam up and down navigable rivers with minimal reference as to the wind. A plan was developed for the use of the Union fleet. Called the Anaconda Plan, after the snake, it envisioned a blockade of the south, preventing the importation of arms and other goods. This would maximize the massive industrial superiority enjoyed by the north. Part of this plan called for a descent down the Mississippi River to split the Confederacy in two and also to reopen the river to Union river traffic and cargo from the Northwestern states. However, steamboats alone were not sufficient. Those Rebs had forts guarding all of the major rivers. There were forts south of New Orleans, at Island No. 10 and Ft Pillow on the Mississippi, at Ft Henry on the Tennessee River and at Ft. Donelson on the Cumberland River. What was needed was armored gunboats for riverine warfare.

Several individuals looked at the problem and came up with solutions. John Lenthall looked at a ship with a propeller but discarded it. River depths could be too shallow for a screw-propelled ship with a traditional keel, any design would have to have paddlewheels with a flat bottom. His design was armed with four 8-inch guns, displaced 436 tons and drew only 4 ½-feet of water. Samuel Pook then looked over the Lenthall design and revised it to a design that drew six-feet of water but was armored with a slanting casemate and armed with 20 guns, 3 at bow and stern and 7 on each side. To regain the entire length of the Mississippi production of between 12 and 20 gunboats was contemplated.

A third individual came to the fore, James Eads. In May only a month after Ft Sumter was fired upon Eads, an industrialist from St. Louis, proposed to the army that a fortified base be built at Cairo, Illinois strategically located at the juncture of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers at the very southern tip of Illinois as a base upon which to implement the gunboat plan. After the Battle of Bull Run it was clear to the north that this was not going to be the short war forecast by so many. The US Army opened up bidding for the construction of river ironclads to wrest control of the Mississippi for the Union. Bidding was called for and opened on August 5, 1861. Eads was the low bidder with a price of $89,000 for each of the four to sixteen ironclads to be built. The army and Eads signed the contract on August 7 with Eads to receive partial payment as construction occurred with the final 25% withheld until after completion of the boats.

"Eads, a native of Indiana and a man of industry, was one of those included in the southern sneer at the North as ‘a race of pasty-faced mechanics.’ When he arrived at St. Louis to start work on his contract, the trees from which he would hew timbers were still standing in the forests. Within two weeks he had 4000 men at work around the clock, Sundays not excepted. When he ran out of money he used his own, and when that gave out he borrowed more from friends. By the end of November he had launched eight gunboats, a formidable squadron aggregating 5000 tons, with a cruising speed of nine knots an hour and an armament of 107 guns. The government was less prompt in payment, though, than Eads was in delivery." The Eads design was somewhat of a compromise of the Lenthall and Pook designs. Displacing 888 tons it was twice as heavy as the Lenthall design and yet it mounted 13 guns, less than the Pook design. Armored with 2 ½-inches of armor on the casemate and 1 ½-inches on the pilot house, these gunboats were distinguished by their very long casemate ending in an armored turtle back hump, which protected the centerline paddle wheel. The casemates were much wider than the common Confederate casemate design. The seven Eads ironclads became the heart and soul of the Union naval effort on the rivers of the western Confederacy. No blue water Union warship ever experienced even a quarter of the action into which these ironclads became involved.

Eads set up two yards to produce his design. Hambleton, Collier & Company of Mound City, Illinois was to build three ironclads, USS Cairo, Cincinnati and Mound City, and Carondelet Marine Railway & Dry Dock Company of Carondelet, Missouri would build four, Carondelet, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Louisville. Eads displayed an extraordinary degree of organization in setting up his production sequence. Engines came from three sources. Close by in St. Louis were the Eagle Foundry and Fulton Foundry, which were each contracted to build five sets of engines and boilers. Two more sets came from Hartupee & Company of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania at the start of the Ohio River. This engine design was by Thomas Merritt and was clearly better than anything designed of the Confederates. Confederate design had notoriously poor engines and six knots would be considered blindly fast. The Eads ironclads at nine knots, were lightning bolts in comparison. Armor plate came from Gaylord, Son & Company, which produced the 13-inch wide plates in two lengths, eight and thirteen feet. Each ironclad received 75 tons of armored plate. Later another 45 tons of supplemental armor was added to protect against ramming. Additionally, the boats would commonly rig logs as side bumpers as more protection against ramming. Officers quarters were built around the upper paddle wheel arc on the upper deck, while the crew slept on the gun deck.


Casemate Profile, Plan & Quarter Views
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At first the US Navy wanted have nothing to do with these river craft and so it was an entirely Army operation. However, it became clear that these gunboats would be important for Union success. Unlike the boring duty on the blockading squadrons, service on river gunboats promised to be action packed, just right for young Union officers who wished to zip ahead of those geriatrics above them on the promotion list. When the USN saw that the Eads gunboats would be completed soon, it offered the Army naval commanders for each boat. In a rare showing of common sense instead of the more common inter-service rivalry, the Army accepted the offer. The Army was more concerned with results rather than feathering its own nest and it certainly made more sense to employ officers used to operations aboard steamships.

These boats were named after Mississippi and Ohio River ports and have been called the City Class. All were laid down and launched in 1861 but completion was delayed until January 1862. Because of constant changes by the government, the price of the ironclads doubled and this was undoubtedly one reason why the government was slow in paying. The boats were named Cairo, Carondelet, Cincinnati, Louisville, Mound City, Pittsburgh and St. Louis. As commissioned, they were still army vessels, even if commanded by naval officers. They were formally transferred to the USN on October 1, 1862. Along with individual boat commanders came a flag rank squadron commander. Commodore Andrew H. Foote was a tea totaller and would not allow alcoholic beverages aboard the vessels of his flotilla. Foote fervently hated slavery and whiskey and it is some irony that he now worked for a Union Brigadier General, who had no aversion to pulling the cork. Sam Grant.

Although the views of Foote and Grant on the curative powers of John Barleycorn might have been diametrically opposed to each other, the pair made an outstanding combination. They both believed deeply in the synergy of joint operations. The army and navy working together, could do far more than either service acting independently. Although the ironclads could bombard a position, it still took ground troops to occupy it. The guns aboard the ironclads were far heavier and certainly more mobile than field artillery. As long as the objective was on navigable water, ironclad gunnery could pin down Confederate gunners as army troops maneuvered for a ground attack. The pair made an instant winning combination. Action was not long in coming. Grant and Foote mounted an amphibious operation against Ft. Henry, which guarded the Tennessee River. Two divisions, totalling 15,000 men were embarked aboard steamers and with four ironclads, three City Class, St. Louis as flagship, Carondelet and Cincinnati, plus the Essex, a smaller ironclad converted by Eads into a gunboat, and in addition three wooden gunboats, steamed up the Ohio and then south down the Tennessee.


Casemate Details
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Shortly before the attack Grant and Foote got to see another invention that would come of age in the American Civil War, the naval mine, or the torpedo as it was called at the time. Grant, the two army division commanders and Foote were in a conference on Foote’s flagship on February 5 when it was announced that the sailors had recovered a Confederate torpedo from the river. Both commanders were eager to see it. As they looked at the five foot metal cylinder Grant wanted to know how it worked. The ship’s armorer was asked to open it up. "Suddenly, as he was loosening a nut, the device emitted an ominous hissing sound, which seemed to be mounting swiftly toward a climax. The reaction of the watchers was immediate. Some ran, exploding outward from the semicircular cluster, while others threw themselves face-downward on the deck. Rank had no precedent; it was each man for himself. Foote sprang for the ship’s ladder, and Grant, perhaps reasoning that in naval matters the commodore knew best, was right behind him. If he lacked a seaman’s agility in climbing a rope ladder, he made up for it with what one witness called ‘commendable enthusiasm.’ At the top, the commodore looked back over his shoulder and found Grant closing rapidly upon him. The hissing had stopped. Whatever danger there had been was past. Foote smiled. ‘General, why this haste?’ He asked, and his words, though calmly spoken, were loud against the silence. ‘That the navy may not get ahead of us,’ Grant replied." (The Civil War, A Narrative, Volume I, Shelby Foote, 1958, at pages 186-187) This would not be the last time that the City class ironclads encountered Confederate torpedoes.

The ironclads approached the fort first on February 6, 1862 to test the range and accuracy of the guns at Ft. Henry. When their range was established, Grant landed his troops just to the north of their range. As it turned out the weather conditions made it optimal for the ironclads to attack. Ft. Henry was built on low ground and the Tennessee River was at flood stage because of heavy rain. As a consequence part of the fort was flooded and the gunboats fire was particularly effective. All firing was done by the gunboats and the army never got into action. The river was still rising and the last of the Confederate guns were about to be flooded when Ft. Henry quickly surrendered to the navy. Because of the flooding, the gunboat’s cutter rowed the Union surrender party into the fort through the flooded sally port. The gunboats lost 12 killed and missing and 27 wounded with the Confederates losing 10 killed and missing and 12 wounded. St. Louis was struck 32 times but Essex suffered the worst. A shot through her boiler left her powerless and she drifted down river with the current. Tennessee River was open to Union river traffic as far south as northern Alabama. The three wooden gunboats were sent speeding southward all the way to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the head of navigation of the river. In the course of this raid they destroyed or captured six vessels, including a steamboat that was being converted into an ironclad.

Ft Donelson was a short distance to the east. The Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers flow northward and empty into the Ohio within ten miles of each other with the Tennessee to the west. Instead of re-embarking his troops, Grant had them move to the east to take Ft. Donelson from the west. Foote and the gunboats were dispatched back up the Tennessee to the Ohio and then eastwards until they reached the mouth of the Cumberland. Then they steamed south to engage the Ft. Donelson from the north. The Confederates reinforced the fort with an additional 15,000 troops. Also, Ft Donelson was much better situated than Ft Henry. Foot’s squadron now had St. Louis (flag), Carondelet, Pittsburgh and Louisville. The Carondelet had been sent on in advance to reconnoiter the Confederate positions. As soon as she saw the fort she opened fire to signal to Grant’s troops that the navy had arrived and also to draw Confederate fire to see where their cannons were located. She fired 139 rounds and was only hit twice. However, one round was a 128-pound shot from a cannon high on a bluff, which punched right through her armor and ricocheted around the engine room, "like a wild beast pursing its prey." Ft. Donelson would not be a repeat of Ft. Henry.


Casemate Details
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Chains, lumber and coal were placed on the decks in an effort to provide protection from plunging shot. Fortunately for Foote, the big 128-pound rifle was accidentally spiked by her own crew when the priming wire was left in the vent during loading. Because of the height of some guns, there shot was striking perpendicular to the armor, rather than at an angle as would shot fired at the same level as the ironclads. Even without the Confederate’s biggest gun, the ironclad attack was a disaster. St. Louis and then Pittsburgh had their tiller ropes shot away and drifted north up the river. Then Louisville started flooding and her steering shot away, to follow her two sisters down river. This left only Carondelet. Now at 200 yards from the fort, her forward compartment was starting to flood from holes punched in the bow. Wisely not wishing to continue the fight alone she came about and speed north after her three disabled sisters. The ironclads had 11 dead and 46 wounded, while the Confederates suffered no losses. With the gunboats damaged and Foote wounded, Ft. Donelson became an army affair. It took three days of action to force Ft Donelson’s surrender after the gunboats were roughed up and retired. It was here that General Grant earned his nickname of Unconditional Surrender Grant. When the Confederates asked what terms he would give them, Grant replied, "No terms except an immediate and unconditional surrender can be accepted." With the fall of Ft. Donelson, Confederate control of their second largest western city, Nashville, was no longer tenable.

This mauling at Ft. Donelson left a mark on Foote and the rest of the flotilla. Their next obstacle was Island Number 10 on the Mississippi River at the Tennessee/Kentucky boundary. Army engineers cut a canal through the neck of an Oxbow, which let the shallow draft transports take a short cut to a position south of the fort but the ironclads still drew too much water to use this very shallow channel. The army wanted at least two ironclads south of the fort to cover transportation of the troops across the river. Foote and all of his commanders except one were afraid that the gunboats could be easily sunk by the guns at Island Number 10. The sole exception was the commander of the Carondelet, Commander Henry Walke. He too was still unhappy about his ship’s performance at Ft. Donelson. Although his ship was left alone engaging the fort when her three sisters were disabled, he still hated the fact that he had his ship retreat from the enemy. He told Foote that he could take the Carondelet past the fort. It was decided to run past the fort at night and to that end, exhaust steam was redirected to escape underwater through the paddle-wheel housing, rather than through the stacks. Carondelet made her run in a thunderstorm and she was well along when the soot in the stacks caught fire and emitted five-foot flames at the top. Normally the steam exhaust would have kept this wet but with the steam directed underwater, the soot was dry. With a coal barge lashed to the engaged side, Carondelet pressed on. She made it past with two hits, one to the coal barge and one to a hay bale. As she moved into the Union army held landing down river army field artillery en cheered her arrival. Against Foote’s prohibition on alcohol in his squadron, Commander Walke had "grog, oh" sounded for his crew. In a following third night Pittsburgh duplicated Carondelet’s performance and with two ironclads down river of Island Number 10, the Union ground commander, John Pope, put troops ashore to the east bank and invested Island Number 10. Cut off, the garrison surrendered and the South lost 7,000 Confederate troops, as well as 100 pieces of artillery.

After Island Number 10 fell, the next objective and also the last significant fort before reaching Memphis was Ft Pillow. Within a week of the surrender of Island Number 10, Foote was bombarding Ft Pillow with mortar barges. He wanted to work with Pope in a replay of their actions, which had cut off Island Number 10 but Pope and most of his troops was called away by the District commander, Henry Halleck. Foote thought that to attempt to reduce the fort by gunboat only might mean a replay of Ft Donelson. Foote, still on crutches from his wound at Ft Donelson, thought that he was no longer up to the job and requested that he be relieved. Reluctantly, this was granted and Commodore Charles Henry Davis was appointed commander of the riverine fleet. As he assumed command, his flotilla was in its standard formation. All of the gunboats were anchored at Plum Run Bend, five miles above Ft Pillow with one ironclad stationed only two miles above the fort guarding a mortar barge, whose mission was to fire constant harassing fire at the fort. With seven ironclads, each gunboat had this duty once a week.





USS Cairo Vital Statistics


Dimensions: Length - 175 feet; Width - 51 feet 2 inches; Draught - 6 Feet; Displacement - 888 tons: Armament: Three 7 inch 42 pdr army rifles; three 8 inch 64 pdr smoothbores; six 32 pdr smoothbores; one 30-pdr Parrott rifle:

Armor: Casemate - 2 1/2 inches; Pilothouse - 1 1/2 inches: Machinery: Two reciprocating engines with a 22 foot paddle wheel; Maximum Speed: 9 knots

On May 10 USS Cincinnati had the duty. The gunboat tied up to the trees along the bank and had steam down as Mortar boat 10 fired indirect fire at the fort every half-hour. Suddenly the federal sailors were surprised to see eight Confederate steamers round the bend to the south. Cincinnati was rammed a glancing blow but it was still severe enough to open up the seams and flood the ironclad’s magazine. Two more Confederate rams ploughed into Cincinnati and she sank in shallow water with her pilothouse above water. The other six ironclads were alerted by the opening salvo of Cincinnati but they like their sistership were unprepared. They too were moored to the shore with low steam. USS Mound City was the first to get underway and took off to come to the aide of Cincinnati. She was too late to help her sistership and arrived without any support of her own. She was promptly rammed but made it to the bank before sinking with her bow out of water. As the remaining five ironclads, including Cairo, came down river, the Confederate rams steamed south to the protection of Ft Pillow. However, Ft Pillow was evacuated when it was outflanked by the Union Army in northern Mississippi. Memphis still had the eight gunboat rams that had won Plum Run Bend to protect the city.

Both sunken City class ironclads were raised and put back into service but three boats had to go back to the base at Cairo for repairs. In the meantime the Union flotilla received their own rams in the form of Colonel Charles Ellet’s nine rams. These craft relied on mass and speed. Capable of 15 knots, they were the speedboats of the time. Their sole mission was to ram the enemy. On June 6 four federal ironclads, including Cairo, rounded the bend above Memphis called Paddy’s Hen and Chickens. Tens of thousands of Memphis citizens turned out to see their eight gallant gunboats send the Yankees packing. After all, this same force had taken on seven ironclads and sunk two of them at Plum Run Bend. Now the Yankees were attacking with only four in line abreast. However, there were some odd boats behind the northern ironclads. As the four Eads’ gunboats opened fire, the Ellet rams darted between them and started ramming the ships of the Confederate flotilla. It was a completely one sided affair as the Confederates were routed. Seven of the eight rebel gunboats were lost and Ellet’s son landed at Memphis with two seamen, raised the flag over the post office and took the city back into the Union. The only Union casualty was Colonel Ellet. He suffered a minor wound but it became infected and he died on his way back north.

The last bastion on the Mississippi was the Gibraltar of the South, Vicksburg. If you have ever been to Vicksburg, you’ll understand the advantages that the Confederates had in having those high bluffs lined with artillery. The Eads gunboats had been repulsed and humiliated at Ft Donelson. Ft Donelson was nothing compared to the fortifications at Vicksburg. With the advantage of height, shots would plunge downward through decks. By July the river flotilla was just above Vicksburg. There were rumors, whispers, wisps, fragments of conversations that mentioned a Confederate ironclad that was under construction somewhere on the Yazoo, which emptied into the Mississippi just north of Vicksburg. Davis felt very uneasy about this spectral presence. Davis would rather have been safe than sorry and dispatched three ships to go up the Yazoo to find the truth. Early on July 15, 1862 City class ironclad USS Carondelet, wooden gunboat USS Tyler and Ellet steam ram, USS Queen of the West, made the turn to starboard and started up the sleepy Yazoo River. They didn’t go far when they encountered a strange red vessel steaming down the Yazoo towards them. It was the CSS Arkansas and she was looking for a fight.


Smaller Resin Parts
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The armor of Carondelet was pierced four times by the guns of Arkansas and so the Eads gunboat followed the two wooden Union Warships back towards the Mississippi, chased by Arkansas. The Carondelet was almost defenseless while being chased from the stern, as her thinnest armor was there. Just as the Arkansas was about to ram the stern of the Carondelet, the pilot discovered that the Arkansas was in shallow water. The Carondelet drew four feet less water and could go where Arkansas could not. Arkansas sheered off and depressed the muzzles of her port side battery, so that as they came right alongside the Carondelet, they could fire down through the casemate armor of Carondelet and through her bottom. The Carondelet had almost made it to the Mississippi but with this last broadside, she veered into the bank, "leaking steam and frantic survivors from all her ports." Queen of the West and then the Tyler had already made the turn to port into the Mississippi and were rushing to rejoin their gaggle of friends down river. Arkansas ran past the combined forces of the Davis river ironclads and Farragut’s blue water squadron to make to safety at Vicksburg.

The Cairo had been one of the lesser involved Eads’ ironclads. She had been at Plum Run Bend and Memphis and patrolled the Mississippi and Yazoo. On December 12, 1862 the Cairo, under the command of Lt. Cdr Thomas Selfridge, was again patrolling the Yazoo to attack rebel batteries and clear the river of mines. Unfortunately Cairo accomplished the mine clearing the hard way. Seven miles above Vicksburg two explosions erupted under Cairo. In twelve minutes the Cairo sank in 36 feet of water but with no personnel losses. USS Cairo earned her place in naval history by being the first victim of an electrically detonated mine. Her wreck was recovered and is now on display at Vicksburg. Although Cairo led the way in this dubious distinction, she was not the only City Class ironclad to suffer this fate. On July 13, 1863 the USS St Louis, then named USS Baron De Kalb, was on another patrol of the Yazoo when she too was sunk by a mine.

In April 1863 the river squadron ran past the guns of Vicksburg to participate in bombarding Grand Gulf, Mississippi. However, they were back to Vicksburg in May and participated with the army until Vicksburg surrendered on July 4, 1863. However, on May 27 Cincinnati had the unenviable privilege of being sunk a second time. At Plum Run Bend rams had sunk her but this time it was the Vicksburg artillery. Like a phoenix, she was raised a second time to fight again. With Vicksburg captured, the Mississippi was finally secured. However, in 1864 the Eads’ gunboats participated in another major operation. Worried about French involvement in Mexico, Lincoln wanted to mount an expedition into Texas. The Red River, which runs through Louisiana was selected as the route of march, since the river flotilla could support the troops. Carondelet, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Mound City were all involved in this operation. Admiral David Porter commanded the river flotilla and set up the Red River on March 12, 1864 in support of any operations. The plan was to steam all the way to Shreveport at the boundary of Texas. By April the flotilla had reached Alexandria, in the middle of Louisiana, and ran into a problem. The spring rains had not come that year and the Red River was falling. The Confederates had wrecked a large steamboat across the river to stop further progress westward. The ironclads and transports couldn’t go forward or backward. The Confederates were adding to the federal problems by diverting the water from the river to further lower the water level. Porter was stuck until LTC Joseph Bailey, Chief Engineer of XIX Corps, came up with the idea of using the lumberjacks of the army to cut logs and construct wing dams, closed by a sluice, to raise the water level by seven feet. This was started on May 2 and when the dam broke two ironclads and two wooden boats rode the crest like a surfboard down the river and past the shoals without damage. However, a second dam had to be constructed to free the rest of the flotilla, which was accomplished on May 13, 1864. Army troops boarded and the entire force steamed down the river and ended this fiasco. At the end of the war the five surviving City Class ironclads were sold for scrap, however, of all of the Union ironclads constructed during the war, the Eads’ ironclads provided more bang for the buck than any of the monitors. The USN really benefited when they took over the "harebrained" army project. (The Civil War, A Narrative, Volume I, Shelby Foote, 1958; Warships and Naval Battles of the Civil War, Tony Gibbons, 1989)


Resin Cannon Barrels & White Metal Parts
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 Flagship Models USS Cairo
This is the first 1:192 scale Union ironclad model that I have seen from Flagship Models and as I understand, it is completely new from Rusty White. Unlike the Confederate ironclads that I have seen, CSS Chicora (click for review), CSS Tennessee (click for review), and CSS Albemarle, the USS Cairo is a one piece, full hull, casting. You can use a sander to reduce it to waterline but it is easiest to build it full hull and the propulsion system of the boat provides an added benefit for you to do so. If you build the Cairo full hull, you should also plan out and build a stand. Although the Cairo is as flat-bottomed as any 1950s Revell model, the ship was a paddle wheeler. You can’t see the paddle wheels on top as they were covered by an arching armored cover. However, the working end of the paddle wheel underwater will be visible at the bottom of the hull, within a recess. Flagship provides the paddle wheel in brass photo-etch parts. The paddle wheel feature is so different from the common screw propeller, that it would be a shame not to use it. This a kit that will require some parts to be finished by the modeler, so if you demand that each and every part be supplied, ready to go, you may wish to reconsider this kit. Almost all of the parts are there but some details need to be fashioned from the plastic strip or brass rods included in the kit.

One Piece Full Hull Casting
Although the Cairo is an example of a casemate ironclad, it is so different from the Confederate casemate ironclads as to command attention. The gunboat has broad rounded bow and stern and a long, wide casemate. With 13 guns, the Cairo has lavish armament compared to the shoestring, ragbag, Confederate ironclads. In my opinion the Flagship USS Cairo, is the best kit yet in their 1:192 scale American Civil War series. Of course almost all of the character comes from the hull casting. The resin pour vent came in at the stern so there is a vestige of this vent that needs to be removed. Other than that and a few of easily filled pin hole voids, the casting is clean. Each 13-inch armor plate is clearly delineated. For the casemate the armor plates run horizontally, except amidships where an additional layer of armor protecting the stack trunking and machinery, runs vertically. One quick look at the period photograph of Cairo included in the review confirms this arrangement. Additionally the model includes railroad track railing added to the front sides of the casemate after completion of the ship. All gun doors are shown in a closed position with just the cannon barrels protruding from circular holes in the middle of the doors. The hinges on these doors appear slightly over-scale compared to the photograph of the actual ironclad, but not excessively so.

The front face of the casemate is equally impressive chiefly because of the three gun ports. Forecastle details include a deck hatch in front of each gun port, bow chocks and square posts next to the casemate. On the small quarterdeck are some single bollards, deck edge chocks and again those same square fittings as found on the forecastle. The large octagon pilothouse is also a refreshing change from those itsy-bitsy Confederate pilothouses. It also dominates the top of the model with its octagon top, top hatch and armored shutters. However, there are other upper deck goodies in the form of two windowpane skylights, one in front and one behind the pilot house, and the two funnel bases, which seam to have flanges at their rear. If you flip the model over, you’ll notice three flat keels as well as the flat-bottomed construction of the boat. The vertical side armor extends below the waterline. If you are going to waterline this casting, please study a photograph of the Cairo. The waterline is below the knuckle in the hull. At the stern of the lower hull, you’ll find another reason to build this full hull. There is a big box like recess into which the paddle wheel fits. According to the instructions the paddle wheel does not extend beyond the bottom of the boat.


Brass Photo-Etch Fret
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Smaller Resin Pieces
The second largest resin piece is the armored top of the paddle wheel. It extends beyond the upper deck in a graceful arc. Clustered around this housing are the various officer cabins. Unlike the ratings who sleep in hammocks with the guns, officer country is clearly defined with individual paned windows and doors. Two curving inclined ladders leading to the top of the cabins and wheel house are also cast integral to this part. This part must be trimmed to fit within the width of upper deck of the hull casting. Other small resin parts include two rudders, four ship’s boats and 13 cannon barrels. The cannon barrels could have been very well detailed but in my sample they had void problems at the muzzle. There were resin vents at the muzzle but still with this mold air bubbles can be trapped at the muzzle end. The two rudders are OK and the four boats acceptable, although featureless.

White Metal & Craftsman Parts
Included as metal parts are two anchors, four ventilator cowls, a stove chimney and anchor chain. Quality of these parts is good but not spectacular. A "Craftsman" kit has come to describe a kit in which only the basic form is provided and smaller parts had to be fashioned by the modeler. The Flagship Cairo is not a Craftsman kit. With photo-etch, white metal and resin detail parts, almost everything on the model can be assembled without sweating bullets. However, there are a few items where Flagship provides the basic ingredients, which must be further refined by the modeler. For instance there is just one length of hollow plastic tube. The modeler must cut this in two for the funnels and make sure they are of equal height. Flagship provides brass rod for mast but they must be further detailed by the modeler. Likewise a plastic strip is provided for a tarp/awning frame running along the top of the casemate.

Brass Photo-Etch Fret
This fret is dominated by the paddle wheel side frames. You won’t need these if you are building your Cairo as a waterline version, as they only appeared underwater. The actual paddle blades have incised lines showing where they fit within the frames. Four boat thwarts are provided that will add some detail to the ship’s boats, however, the individual paddles will add that extra level of detail. Davits with "Y" bracing add detail on the casemate sides aft of the gun ports. There are two runs of inclined ladder with positional treads. A high level of detail can be added with the rail stanchions with perforations through which the rails are rigged and by individual turnbuckles for safety stays and other rigging.


Box Art, Flag & Instructions
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Verdict
By Jiminey! These boats will route the Secsesh! Finally those valiant Billy Yanks in blue will have a worthy weapon to take on those skulking rebs. Not only is it an ironclad but it is one of the most important and active classes of ironclads in the war. Flagship Models has produced a worthy 1:192 scale model of the USS Cairo, one of the seven City Class Union casemate ironclads.

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