I wish you would take the glass and have a look over there, Sir. I believe that thing is a-comin’ down at last.Quartermaster USS Congress to deck officer, March 8, 1862; (Iron Afloat, University of South Carolina Press , 1985, by William N. Still Jr. at page 29)

The duel between the CSS Virginia and USS Monitor on March 9, 1862 is a historically significant event in that it was the first engagement between armor clad warships. However, the idea of the ironclad had been around long before the keels of either of the two protagonists touched water. The French had built armor clad floating batteries for use in the Black Sea in the Crimean War. By the time of the American Civil War both France and Great Britain had built or were building ocean-going ironclads far stronger and seaworthy than any of the numerous ironclads produced by either blue or gray. Even with the USN the idea of an ironclad was old. In 1842 Congress made appropriations for an armored steam warship. The vessel, designed by Robert L. Stevens, was known as the Stevens Battery and was laid down at Hoboken , New Jersey . Work at proceeded at a glacial pace, was abandoned for several years and then resumed. When the American Civil War broke out it was still on the stocks in Hoboken . The adversaries were very unequal. The north had the navy, industrial base, ship-building infrastructure and nautical outlook, especially the New Englanders. The south lacked almost everything in these categories and did little to help themselves. Even what trained seamen that they had were conscripted by the army so that their unique training was wasted. The same criminal waste of specialized training happened to southern mechanics, ironworkers and shipbuilding craftsmen of every type. Idiotic southern politicians and generals threw away scarce and irreplaceable craftsmen simply to make them infantrymen to be mowed down in one bloody battle after another.

Innovation is normally a characteristic of a weaker power. Since France could not overtake Great Britain in the construction of wooden ships of the line, they opted to introduce La Gloire and the true age of the ironclad began. When France could not out-build Great Britain in ironclads in the second half of the 19th century, they produced masses of torpedo boats in an effort to counter expensive battleships with masses of cheap expendable torpedo craft. No power was more ill prepared for naval combat as was the Confederate States of America . After the first wave of states seceded a handful of armed vessels were seized. The Confederate Navy was established February 21, 1861 and until the secession of Virginia from the Union , the CSN consisted of a total of ten vessels amassing the whopping total of 15 guns combined. The Confederacy sent agents to Europe in an effort to purchase warships but initially they were met with little success. When a Navy Department was established the Secretary of the Navy was also established and the post given to Stephen Mallory. This short, fat ex-senator from Florida certainly didn’t look the part of a warrior but he did possess intelligence. He had served as chairman of the US Naval Affairs Committee, so he came to his post with a certain degree of experience. When Virginia left the Union , the state of the Confederate Navy made a dramatic change for the better. Gosport Navy Yard in Norfolk Virginia was one of the best-equipped navy yards in the United States when Virginia left and this glittering prize fell to the Confederacy. More than a 1,000 naval guns fell with the port but there was only one ship of any significant size at the yard that could not be moved. This was the big screw frigate USS Merrimack

USS Merrimack was launched in Boston in 1855. She was one of five large steam frigates ( Merrimack , Wabash , Minnesota , Roanoke and Colorado ) built right before the war and this class, plus the even heavier Niagra, provided the most powerful ships in the Federal Fleet. Merrimack was the lightest of the class and had a few less guns than her sisters. She was also the slowest at 8 ½ knots in that she was plagued with engine problems. She had been in the Pacific but at the end of 1859 was sent to the Atlantic for an engine overhaul at Gosport Yard. As Union troops retired from Norfolk the Merrimack was set afire as well as being scuttled. The Confederates took over a hulk. Some Confederate naval officers wanted to rebuild the Merrimack as a wooden hull frigate but Mallory knew that his navy had no chance against the far more powerful and numerous USN by simply aping Union ship types. He wanted the Merrimack rebuilt as an ironclad. He finally sold his idea to the Confederate legislature by simply pointing out that rebuilding her as an ironclad would only cost a third of the price needed to rebuild her as a wooden sided frigate. The order to build her as an ironclad was issued July 11,1861.  

Too many cooks spoil the broth is an old saying but yet it was true when it came to the rebuild of Merrimack as an ironclad. No one person was set up as in charge. Two individuals sent in designs for the ironclad and both claimed credit for the final ship. One was John Porter but his design had no forecastle or quarterdeck, as the casemate extended the total length of the ship. Based upon appearance, the true father of CSS Virginia was John Brooke. On June 23 there was a meeting on the proposed ironclad design. Porter brought a model of his design and Brooke brought drawings of his design. Brooke’s drawing was very close to the final appearance of CSS Virginia but as design, the low forecastle and quarterdeck were supposed to be submerged slightly below water level. Porter was appointed constructor of the ship and Brooke stayed in Richmond to look after the manufacturer of the armor and armament. Brooke was an ordnance expert and he created a whole series of rifled cannon for military and naval use that went by his name. The armor was to be produced by the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond . The original contract stipulated plates eight feet long, one inch in deep and of various widths. After tests this was changed to two layers of two-inch deep plates. This change, plus transportation difficulties, delayed the arrival of the plate to Norfolk . By July 1861 the rebuild of Merrimack was well underway with most of the burnt upper-works of the ship removed but through the fall lack of armor plate due to the change slowed construction. In November Lieutenant Catsby ap Jones was appointed Executive Officer of CSS Virginia with orders to speed up construction but there was little he could do without the armor plate. In Richmond Brooke selected the armament. Broadside guns would be six 8-inch Dahlgren smooth bore cannon, which was standard USN ordnance and had been captured along with the Gosport Yard. However, for the fore and aft cannons Brooke designed the cannon to his own specification. These were two 7-inch and two 6.4-inch Brooke rifled cannon with far greater penetration power than available smooth bore pieces, which arrived in Norfolk in late fall.  

Finding a crew provided another headache for Jones. The army had conscripted most experienced seamen and would not part with them for the navy. Further, there were few volunteers. By January 1862 construction crews went on a 7-day a week schedule but the ship was not launched until February. On February 17, 1862 CSS Virginia was commissioned. There had been a miscalculation on the draught of the ship, as the Virginia rode too high by a foot. Additional ballast had to be taken in to submerge the bottom of the armor plate. Even with that, the armor only extended 6-inches below water line. Any shot hitting at the waterline could easily deflect downwards and smash through the wooden hull bottom. No captain was appointed to the ship. Captain Franklin Buchanan was promoted to flag officer of the forces in the bay, so he commanded the Virginia without a captain and he arrived in Norfolk on February 25. Mallory wanted the aggressive Jones to command the ship but the Confederate seniority system precluded this. As soon as Buchanan arrived, the Virginia started taking on coal and ammunition. Coal was quickly loaded but the army had to supply the gunpowder. The last of that was not stored until March 7.

So far the CSS Virginia had not gone out for trials and still was an unknown commodity. The engines were weak and at best, her top speed was 6-knots. She was so unwieldy that it took more than half an hour just to reverse course. She had two layers of two-inch armor with the first course laid horizontally and the top course laid vertically. The conical pilothouse was of cast iron. The deck on top of the casemate was a two-inch thick grate. The weather was excellent as dawn broke on March 8, 1862. The ship had never been tested and the crew had never been drilled in any operations, since Virginia had yet to leave the yard. However, on that morning the ironclad was slated for a short test run down the Elizabeth River . At 11:00AM all workmen were ordered to leave the ship, the red ensign was hoisted and the Virginia slowly edged into the river. “At 11:00 a gun was fired at the Navy Yard, which appeared to be the signal for something. In an instant the whole city was in an uproar, women, children, men on horseback and on foot running down towards the river from every conceivable direction shouting ’the Merrimac is going down…” (Iron Afloat, University of South Carolina Press, 1985, by William N. Still Jr. at page 26) As the ship ponderously moved into Hampton Roads it became unmanageable at one point and had to be towed. Slowly it dawned upon the crew that their ship was not out for just a quick trial run. The Virginia ’s trials would be a trial of fire against the Federal blockading squadron.  
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Only five federal warships were in the Roads that afternoon but two of them were the Merrimack ’s former sisters, the big 50-gun steam frigates USS Minnesota and USS Roanoke. There were three sail-powered ships as well, the 44-gun frigates USS Congress and USS St. Lawrence and the 24-gun sloop USS Cumberland. Around 12:45PM lookouts from Congress and Cumberland both spotted Virginia coming out of the river. It still took Virginia more than an hour to close the gap. Although Congress had more guns, the Cumberland had heavier ones, which posed a greater threat to the Confederate ironclad. Virginia ignored the Congress at first and shrugged off the frigate’s broadsides as Virginia made for Cumberland . As Virginia closed it was clear that a new age had dawned. Shot from Cumberland bounced harmlessly of the casemate armor but Virginia ’s shot tore into Cumberland ’s wooden hull causing havoc within. Virginia raked the Cumberland with impunity and then closed in for the kill. The cast iron ram of Virginia stove in the starboard side of the sloop like an eggshell. The flooding and foundering of the sloop happened so quickly that Virginia was for a short time in danger  of going down with her victim. The ram was lodged in the sloop and the Virginia couldn’t break free from Cumberland until the ram broke off the bow of the ironclad. The only significant damage to Virginia from Cumberland ’s fire was to blow off one of the muzzles of a broadside gun. As long as Cumberland was still afloat, Virginia continued to fire into the doomed sloop. This torment finally came to an end at 3:30 PM as Cumberland ’s stern rose into the air as the ship sank bow first. Now it was time for Congress.

While the Virginia was going about the business of slapping around Cumberland , Congress raised sail and intentionally beached herself in shallow water. However, the current shifted the position of the Congress so that only two guns could bear on Virginia on her approach. Since the Congress drew less water than Virginia , the federal frigate was saved from being rammed but that didn’t stop Virginia from closing the range to 300 feet and just blast away. In a matter of minutes Congress had lost 100 crewmen to death or injury and was on fire. This punishment went on for an hour until Congress surrendered. The Congress burned until past midnight, when she blew up. While other confederate vessels were trying to remove the federal sailors from the frigate, a regiment of federal soldiers opened fire on the confederates. Buchanan was outraged and when he left the safety of the armor to climb on top of the casemate, he was hit in the leg by a bullet. Command had now devolved on Catesby Jones. The other three federal ships had all accidentally grounded. Roanoke and St. Lawrence worked themselves free and skee-daddled to under the protection of Fortress Monroe, however, Minnesota was still stuck. As Virginia went towards her former sistership, it was discovered that the ironclad could approach no closer than a mile because of the shallow water. At that range Virginia ’s fire was far less effective, so after a little bit Jones decided to call it a day. In five hours of battle the Virginia had sunk two heavy blockaders and a third was meat on the table. Minnesota wasn’t going anywhere and nothing prevented Virginia from coming back the next day. Things were rosy indeed for the CSN. Virginia had lost a gun and her ram, however, several armor plates had been loosened but none were penetrated. Jones might as well go back to Norfolk and fix up the old girl before a matinee on the 9th

In addition to being the first war in which the railroad played a significant railroad role,  the telegraph also was introduced in the American Civil War. Word quickly was flashed back to Washington of the federal disaster. President Lincoln rode over to the Washington Navy Yard to see if the CSS Virginia could next visit the capitol via the Potomac . However, of all of official Washington , there was one office holder who took the cake for being panic-stricken. Fire-breather Secretary of War Edward Stanton totally lost his nerve and went into a blue funk. As the Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles, recorded; "He was at times almost frantic…The Merrimac, he said, would destroy every vessel in the service, could lay every city on the coast under contribution, could take Fortress Monroe; McClellan’s mistaken purpose to advance by the Peninsula must be abandoned….Likely the first movement of the Merrimac would be to come up the Potomac and disperse Congress, destroy the Capitol and public buildings; or she might go to New York or Boston and destroy those cities….there was throughout the whole day something inexpessibly ludicrous in the …frantic talk, action and rage of Stanton as he ran from room to room, sat down and jumped up after writing a few words, swung his arms, scolded and raved.” (Iron Afloat, University of South Carolina Press, 1985, by William N. Still Jr. at page 32) Perhaps it was this experience with subsequent humiliation that made Stanton the leading advocate of punishment to the South after the Civil War.

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However, the US Navy had known about the conversion of the Merrimack into the Virginia for some time. A series of accurate intelligence reports had been smuggled out of Norfolk all during the rebuilding process. Virginia did achieve tactical surprise because it was assumed the ship would undergo trials before going into combat. When the North found out about the conversion, they hastily contracted with a number of sources to build their own ironclads. The most unusual design was submitted by Swedish inventor John Ericson, featuring a revolving turret. The turret would be turned to face away from the enemy when the guns were loaded and as a consequence, they were far less susceptible to battle damage. It was purely a matter of good fortune that the USS Monitor arrived at Hampton Roads on the night of March 8, 1862. Lieutenant John Taylor Wood had been given the agreeable duty of reporting the Virginia ’s victory to Jefferson Davis. In the early morning of March 9, he was returning to the Virginia . As he viewed the Roads he saw not only the stranded Minnesota but also a strange craft that resembled a cheesebox on a shingle or raft.

Promptly at 6:00 AM on March 9 Virginia , accompanied by three wooden gunboats got underway to finish the job so promisingly begun the previous day. As Virginia approached Minnesota , ranging shots were fired through the Minnesota ’s rigging. Monitor quickly interposed herself between the Virginia and her intended victim. For the next four hours the two ships engaged in a furious close-in engagement. The significance of this fight was instantly recognized throughout the world as the wave of the future, as the first ironclad to ironclad engagement. The Monitor had only two guns but they were heavier than any mounted on Virginia . The 11-inch Dahlgrens, although smooth bored, still had tremendous smashing power, especially considering that the range of the engagement was 100 yards to point blank. Additionally, the turret allowed them to be trained towards specific points on the more conservative confederate design. The Virginia had more guns and more importantly, the fore and aft guns were rifled but with the fixed casemate design, the guns would sometimes not bear on target. The Monitor, commanded by Lieutenant John Worden, hoped to use the brute smashing power of his 11-inch guns to loosen and then smash through the casemate armor of Virginia . If he had known that the armor of the Virginia only extended 6-inches below waterline, he could have more profitably employed the smashing power of those guns for waterline shots. With Buchanan wounded the day before, the Virginia was under the command of Catsby Jones. His game plan was to ram the Monitor and hopefully board her.

  In spite of being far slower and with the maneuverability of a haystack, the Virginia was able to ram the Monitor once. However, with her cast iron ram lost in the wreck of the Cumberland, this ramming glanced off the Monitor and only succeeded in opening some leaks in Virginia’s bow. More attempts to ram were made but the far quicker Monitor easily avoided the attempts. Finally Virginia , tired of the inconclusive game with Monitor, chose to renew her assault on the Minnesota . Some damage was caused to the frigate before Monitor managed to again interpose herself between the Virginia and Minnesota . Then Virginia ran aground in the shallow water. Fixed on the mud, her armor was pounded by the guns of Monitor and Minnesota . The Monitor was moving in closer towards the stranded Virginia when the confederates received a bit of luck. A shell from Virginia exploded against the armored pilothouse of Monitor and Lieutenant Worden, who was peering through the vision slit, was temporarily blinded by gunpowder particles. The executive officer took over and luckily for the Virginia , he was not aggressive like Worden. The orders for Monitor were to protect the Minnesota not sink the Virginia , so the XO followed out those orders. He withdrew from Virginia and moved the ship next to Minnesota . After an hour the Virginia worked herself free. Catsby Jones was still in favor of going after the two federal warships but the pilots on the ship pointed out that the tide was ebbing and that Virginia was already drawing more water because of her leaks. The odds of another grounding were increasing by the minute. Catsby Jones finally acknowledged the logic of their arguments and ordered Virginia to steer south across the Roads back to Norfolk . It is interesting to note that both ships fought with a handicap to their gunnery. Virginia had prepared for battle with wooden ships and carried only explosive shells for her rifles. Therefore her most powerful guns lacked solid shot, which may have done the greatest damage to Monitor. For the Monitor, her new 11-inch Dahlgren’s were not fired with a full powder charge, as they were a new design, larger than the previous standard, the 9-inch Dahlgren.

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The Virginia immediately went into dry dock. The leaks had be fixed, a new ram installed, two new guns installed, lose plates riveted back, an additional two inches of armor for the hull installed, plus fixing up all of the minor damage. When Virginia destroyed Cumberland and Congress and met Monitor two of her guns had been damaged by federal fire. In that engagement the muzzles of Virginia were not protected. For the forward and aft guns the gun openings at the corners were closed with only the centerline ports opened for the guns. Only after the battle with Monitor were armored shutters added to the gun ports of Virginia . All of this kept the ship in the dock until a new flag officer appeared to replace Buchanan on March 29. This was Joseph Tattnall and he was eager to have a go at the Yankees. The Virginia came out of dock on April 4 but bad weather kept the ship from going out. On April 10 the Virginia and the wooden gunboats moved out. They steamed to Craney Island where the Elizabeth River empties into the Roads to await the morning for an early attack on the Federal ships near Fortress Monroe. The only vessels sighted were three transports and the Monitor further east. The transports were captured but Monitor would not advance on Virginia .  

For the rest of the day the ships played a naval version of “I dare you to knock the chip off of my shoulder!” Each ship would steam up and down parallel to each other but out of gun range. The Monitor wanted to lure the Virginia into deeper water and then engage her in order to allow fast steamers converted into rams the chance to ram her. Virginia refused to participate in that game, while Monitor refused a one on one game. Throughout March and April, the mere presence of the Virginia had made a major impact upon George McClellan’s Peninsular campaign. The Army of the Potomac was supposed to advance up the peninsula boarded on the north by the James River and on the south by the York River . Gunboats were supposed to supply and support the flanks along the two rivers. However, with Virginia at Norfolk , McClellan abandoned the idea of using the James River . McClellan was poleaxed by the mere presence of the ironclad but then Little Mac could be poleaxed by a polecat 300 yards away. The next month the federals were closing in on Norfolk . Tattnall was assured by the army that he would have enough time to lighten Virginia sufficiently to get her over shallow water and up the James. Of course the army didn’t live up to their word and bugged out early on May 10. Virginia still drew too much water to go too far up the James and with some weight already removed, could engage federal ships because her wooden hull was now above the waterline. Since she couldn’t fight or flee, it was decided to destroy her. That night she made her last sortie and steamed again to Craney Island where she was fired.

  She burned for four hours and was observed by thousands of Union soldiers and sailors. “It was a beautiful sight to us in more senses than one. She had been a thorn in our side for a long time, and we were glad to have her well out the way. I remained on deck for the rest of the night watching her burning. Gradually the casemate grew hotter and hotter, until finally it grew red hot, so that we could distinctly mark its outlines, and remained in this condition for fully half an hour, when, with a tremendous explosion, the Merrimac went into the air and was seen no more. ” The CSS Virginia had a life span of two months but in that short time did more damage to the Union than any other confederate ironclad. She sank two large federal warships, captured three merchantmen and had a major strategic impact upon the Army of the Potomac ’s Peninsular Campaign. All things considered, it was a pretty good return on the investment. History from Iron Afloat, University of South Carolina Press, 1985, by William N. Still Jr.   

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Flagship Virginia
This is one big honker! The first five ironclads ordered by the Confederacy were all big vessels, nominally intended for ocean use. In reality with their nonexistent freeboard, all five would probably have foundered in any sort of storm in the open ocean. Of the five, four were laid down in the west and Virginia converted in the east. Only two, the Arkansas and Tennessee laid down at Memphis , were of the same design. Only two were completed and saw action. Arkansas was towed up the Yazoo and completed while Tennessee was prematurely burned on the slip. At New Orleans , the incomplete Louisiana was towed to the forts below the city and served as an immobile battery when Farragut ran the forts, while Mississippi was also burned by the confederates. Mallory had suggested to Buchanan that he take the Virginia up the Atlantic coast to attack federal ports but Buchanan had accurately responded that the ship would probably founder in open water. Nonetheless, based on the hull of a six-year-old big steam frigate, the Virginia was the largest of the confederate ironclads and it shows in this model.

In addition to sheer size, the Virginia also differed in the appearance of the armored casemate. The ends were rounded rather than angular as in the other designs. The hull is cast in to parts, upper and lower hulls, which allows it to be built in waterline format but only in a light condition. As shown in the instructions during the March battles the fantail was submerged and only the forward bulkheads were above water on the forecastle. As a consequence there would be a fair amount of sanding to do for a waterline appearance. For full hull there is some debris from the resin pour that must be sanded smooth from the lower face of the upper hull and upper face of the lower hull to get a nice smooth fit between the two hull halves. The tip of the bow does not have the ram cast as part of the hull. The ram is a separate white metal part, which therefore allows a build of the ship in her ram-less confrontation with Monitor. The forecastle is an armored deck with the armor plates running across the width of the deck. Set inboard from deck edge is a heavy timber bulkhead heavily reinforced on the inner face with support gussets. Outboard of the bulkhead on the lower forward face of the casemate are anchor hawse on each side where the anchor chain runs into the casemate. The anchor chain runs from these hawse to fittings at deck edge of the forecastle. The chain runs through these fittings before passing downward through triangular hawse pipe chocks, which are smaller resin parts attached to hull.

At the corners of the curved forward casemate face, the gun ports at the angles are plated over, as they were not open for the engagements in March. The conical cast iron pilothouse also makes Virginia different from other confederate ironclads, which used square or rectangular pilothouses. All around the casemate is depicted the narrow strips of armor plate running upwards. Gun ports are staggered on each side so the gun layout has an asymmetrical pattern. One of the strongest features of the Virginia is the very long casemate, which gives the model extreme mass compared to other confederate ironclads. The curving aft face has two hawse for tiller chains near the bottom edge, as well as the centerline gun port. A long narrow casemate deck is at the top, which features three sets of access or ventilator coamings. The first two sets have two coamings and the rearmost set has three coamings. All of the coamings have hinge detail. On the short quarterdeck there are chain rollers and recessed tiller channels where the tiller chains run to the stern. However, this deck will be covered by another deck. The lower hull piece is rather nondescript, as it was of wooden construction but it does feature a heavy keel.  

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Smaller Parts
There are fourteen smaller resin parts provided with the Flagship Virginia. The largest of the smaller parts is the duck-billed deck that fits over the quarterdeck and provided protection for the tiller chains. It is somewhat odd that the Virginia had this protection while the subsequent CSS Tennessee lacked it. In the Battle of Mobile Bay it was the lack on protection for the tiller chains of Tennessee that proved her Achille’s heel.  The stack is the second largest piece. It features a thick reinforcing band at the base and three thin bands up the length to the top, as well as a steam pipe. The rudder features tiller post and rudder, reinforced by four hinged metal strips. There are two identical ship’s boats. These are one piece with rowing benches and thwarts provided on the brass fret. At 1:192 scale, the boats could have used a little bit more detail but nonetheless are very serviceable. The boats are cast on easily removed casting blocks. There are eleven even smaller resin parts. Five are for deck bollard fittings. The other six provide for two horizontal platforms, which project from the sides of the hull for running the anchor chain outboard of the hull, and four boat chocks for mounting the ships’ boats on the sides of the casemate. 

Flagship also supplies metal parts for the Virginia . Two white metal ventilator cowls are provided for the centerline cowls fore and aft of the funnel. These cowlings do have a good level of hollowness at their openings. Ten cannon muzzles are provided with slightly hollow muzzle ends. Two have a greater flare at the muzzle so have to be for the fore and aft centerline rifle positions. These need to be slightly smoothed to obtain true round as they appear ever so slightly elliptical. There is a galley-stove pipe with a 90-degree elbow, two anchors, the propeller and cast iron ram. Remember that the ram was present on March 8 in the engagement with Cumberland but was broken off in that ship and so was not present in the engagement with Monitor. All of the white metal parts require minor cleanup such as remove pour vents and smoothing seams. Also included is a metal chain for the anchor chain and brass rod for the two pole masts found at the forward and aft edge of the casemate deck. The chain will need to be cut into two pieces. These are for the chains running from the casemate through the chain channels and really present an intriguing appearance on each side of the rudder in a full hull build.

Brass Photo-Etch Fret
Flagship provides a large brass photo-etch fret in the CSS Virginia. This fret is different from the frets found in previous Flagship CSN ironclad kits. This Flagship fret provides a great deal of value added to this kit. The largest piece is a large rectangular open grid mesh for the casemate deck gratings. Each grate must be cut to shape but the quantity of mesh provided by Flagship provides more than enough material to protect against mistakes. Two thwarts are provided for the boats along with eight oars, which is an insufficient number but that is a minor quibble. Two inclined ladders with trainable foot treads are provided, however, there is no indication of where they are attached. These may have been added in her refit after engaging Monitor to allow ascent/descent to the forecastle and quarterdeck from the casemate deck. Four lengths of anchor chain are provided but I prefer the three-dimensional link chain also provided in the kit. There are two double-thickness anchor davits for catting the anchors. Flagship provides a full set of railing stanchions for the casemate deck with individual eyeholes for rigging the railing. Lastly there is a full set of block and tackle and turnbuckles for the stay wires for the stack and pole mast rigging. These railings will provide greatly enhanced detail for the
Virginia . The attachment of these stanchions is well worth the time expended with a pin vice in drilling small locator holes for the pieces. 

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Instructions
Flagship provides one back printed sheet of instructions. The main assembly drawing has a plan, profile and bow view of Virginia .  The front of the page has a profile, plan, front view and quarterdeck detail drawings. These serve as the main assembly instructions and because of the simplicity of the original design and limited number of parts, assembly should be easy. The rear side of the instructions has drawings for stanchions, anchor davits, ship’s boats and flag. Another optional item that is not included in the kit but can be fabricated is an awning for the casemate deck. All ironclads were poorly ventilated and stifling hot, so the rigging of awnings to keep sunlight from heating up the metal casemates and wooden decks was common on both sides. Flagship also includes a flag sheet with one US flag and the four different styles of flags and jack used by the Confederacy, as well as a scarlet commission pennant. 

Verdict
Not for the timid, the Flagship CSS Virginia is the biggest of the big. The kit provides the resin, white metal and brass parts to build into a truly impressive model. All you need now is to remember to bring your solid shot for your Brooke’s rifles to defeat those Yankee scalawags on the Monitor. 

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