Confederation Marine Modellers
The C.S.S. Atlanta was a Confederate States casement ironclad converted in early 1862 from the hull of a British steam blockade runner named Fingal. She was built on the cut down hull of the Fingal, and used 2 layers of railway track rolled into 7” wide plates fastened onto 18” of wood backing to form her armour plating. The Atlanta was commissioned on November 22, 1862. Measuring 204’ long with a beam of 41’ and draft of 15’9”, she displaced 1006 tons and was manned by a crew of 145. She was armed with two 7” and two 6.4” Brooke rifled cannons.
She was sold to Haiti in December of 1869 and vanished en route off Cape Hatteras or the Delaware Capes.
The U.S.S. Weehawken was one of 10 Passiac Class second -generation monitors built in late 1862, after the world’s first monitor, the U.S.S. Monitor, was tested in battle against the C.S.S. Merrimac (Virginia) at Hampton Roads. She was built by Zeno Secor & Company, launched in November of 1862 at Jersey City, New Jersey and commissioned on January 18, 1863. Measuring 200’ long with a beam of 46’ and a draft of 10’6”, she displaced 1192 tons and was manned by a crew of 75. She was armed with one 15” and one 11” Dahlgren smooth bore cannon. Weehawken was lost in a gale while on blockade duty in December 1863. Her loss was attributed to incorrectly trimmed ammunition loading, which left her down by the bow and unable to use her aft pumps when she started taking on water during the gale.
The presence of Union blockading naval forces, and physical obstacles blocking many of the waterway channels, limited the offensive options open to the Confederate Navy units at Savannah until the spring of 1863.
On June 17, 1863 the Atlanta engaged the USS Weehawken and Nahant at Wassaw Sound, Georgia (near Savannah) and was defeated after running aground and being subjected to a short range engagement without being able to bring a gun to bear against her opponents. She was repaired and joined the Union navy as the USS Atlanta, and remained in service in Richmond, Virginia, until the end of the Civil War.
Both of Steve’s models are built to 1/72nd scale, and use 25mm wargaming white metal figures as crewmen and officers. The Atlanta model was built in Winnipeg about 1995, and the Weehawken was started a number of years ago, but only completed in 2015. Both models employ a balsa plank-on-frame construction for the hull, heavily fibreglassed inside and out. Standard practice. Nothing different or out of the ordinary.
Both hulls have a sheet of styrene epoxied to the wood hull, to use as a starting point to finishing off the upper surfaces exposed above the waterline. All deck and upperworks are styrene.
The Atlanta is ballasted so that the deck is about ¼” above the surface of the water (18” full scale) which is the same as the prototype. Steve crafted a styrene deck, finished to look like wood planking, and a 1.5” high coaming inset from the edge of the deckline, that duplicates the size of the ‘roof’ of the casement. The casement is styrene as well, finished to look like the rolled RR track, with shutter style port covers and cannon where appropriate. The casement sits down over the coaming very nicely, and is sealed to the extent that I have never had water gain access to the hull. It sits in place without any need for any further fastening devices. Good thing since there is only a ¼” freeboard! The Weehawken was a tougher build, as the lower hull (built plank on frame with balsa) would have to be able to completely submerge and remain watertight, and have the upper ‘raft’ portion of the ship firmly fastened to the lower portion. The lower portion contains all the drive gear, batteries, radio gear, receiver, rudder servo and pushrod, etc. It is ballasted to the point that it does not float, but rather sinks if not held firmly in place by the raft which is completely sealed and supplies all of the needed buoyancy for both hull parts. The lower hull actually causes the upper raft to float with about a ½” freeboard, with half of the height of the raft submerged. The raft is made up completely from styrene, with an ‘egg-crate’ style of subdividing, to provide strength and a ‘Titanic’ like subdivision. The theory is that if water does penetrate the raft, it will only flood out one cell. There are over 30 cells built into the raft. The delay in the build was due to uncertainty on Steve’s part as to how best to achieve a reliable fastening process while allowing reasonable access to the lower hull for servicing, battery replacements, and even just turning the drive system on and off. Steve’s Solution: the raft is fastened to the lower hull with four threaded metal rods epoxied into the lower hull, which extend through watertight apertures in the upper raft, exposing about ¼”of each of the rods. Plastic cowl vents, that have been drilled out and threaded, are used as fasteners to pin the raft to the lower hull, using the 4 threaded rods projecting just above the deckline. So far, so good! The turret on the Weehawken is a slice of sanitary drain pipe that had just about the right diameter, and styrene detail added, with two 25mm ACW wargaming cannon added to the interior of the turret to represent the Dahlgren cannons used.
Steve used two different painting techniques to represent the iron armour on each model, and he’s equally pleased with the effect on both models.
Using 75MHz radios meant that fairly long antennae had to be accommodated. The Atlanta has a 4” brass wire flagstaff forming the end of the antenna, the receiver wire being shortened by the same amount. On the Weehawken the antenna is strung around the inside of the lower hull, and has worked fine.