Confederate Steam Sloop CSS Alabama 1862 - 1864

Confederate Steam Sloop CSS Alabama 1862 - 1864
July 17, 2018

The "CSS Alabama" was placed in commission with the Confederate Navy, having been constructed at Birkenhead , England. She left the shipyard disguised as a merchantman but was converted to a combat vessel and was commissioned on August 24 1862.

CSS Alabama

The "CSS Alabama" was placed in commission with the Confederate Navy, having been constructed at Birkenhead , England.   She left the shipyard disguised as a merchantman but was converted to a combat vessel and was commissioned on August 24 1862.

Under the command of Captain Raphael Semmes, she captured and sank over 24 Union merchant ships during the first year, as she plied the North Atlantic and West Indies. In 1863 she welcomed in the New Year by sinking the “USS Hatteras" off Galveston on 11th January and then went down to Cape Town (South Africa) and thence onwards to the East Indies where she destroyed almost 40 more merchantmen.  After calling in at Singapore in December 1863, she continued her plunderous ways but eventually had to proceed to Cherbourg (France) for an overhaul on June 11th 1864.  On June 19th, a Union steam sloop, the "USS Kearsage" arrived outside the port and during the ensuing battle, caused intense damage and the "Alabama" sank.  The surviving crew members were rescued by the victor and an English yacht,  the "Deerhound".   The wreck of the "Alabama" was eventually discovered by the French Navy in the 1980’s

css alabama model ship kit

General specifications of the "Alabama":  Length 67 metres - Beam 9.65 metres - Draft 5.38 metres - Displacement 1050 tons - Motive power 2 x 300 HP horizontal steam engines - single screw - 13 knots - Complement: 145 officers and crew - Armament 6x15 kg cannons, 1x50 kg & 1x31 kg cannons.

THE MODEL SHIP KIT

The "CSS Alabama" had a very short life but was quite unique in her design and firepower as explained above.  This particular kit was from Mamoli of Italy and the instructions were fairly complex and had to be carefully studied.   It would not be suitable for an inexperienced person as it required a fair amount of personal skill and adaptation to reach a polished finish.

Mamoli-mv53-CSS-Alabama

 The hull is double planked but the kit also supplied minute sections of green coloured timbers to emulate copper plating.  I chose not to use these but settled for a metallic copper painted boot topping.  The stern section, including the rudder and propeller, were complex in design with frame for the rudder having a rope connection to a winch on the afterdeck.  The gunwales were unusual in design having an inner and outer component with a sizeable gap between them. As no chain plates were supplied, these were fashioned from brass wire which worked well and looked authentic.  The overall size of the model precluded too much detail on deck.  Similarly, the size of the rigging blocks required a very steady hand and a pair of tweezers to thread.  The lifeboats and falls together with the davits worked well as did the fitting of the masts, yards and bowsprit.  Tapering of these was done by hand due to their small dimensions which made them susceptible to breakage.

This article was originally published by Sydney Model Shipbuilders Club. The copyright remains with the club and contributor.

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