1/32 Sea Coast Monitor
Reviewed by Timothy Dike

The Blakely  rifles were British designed muzzle loading guns that found favor in the hands of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. The rifles came in several different sizes from 2.5" to 11". A 7" version was mounted on the CSS Alabama in the forward pivot position. The gun proved to be a formidable weapon and helped to send many Northern merchant ships to the bottom of the ocean. Alabama ranged all over the world in search of enemy shipping, but met her match when the Kearsarge caught her in the French port of Cherbourg. Even though she was in bad need of a refit and repairs Captain Semmes was determined to go out fighting. The newer Kearsarge was fresh and armor clad to protect most of her vitals. Alabama did score what could have been a game changer when the 7" gun hit her stern post binding the rudder. However the shot failed to explode and soon the initiative was lost. Kearsarge scored a crippling shots with her 11" gun that tore into the Alabama's midsection and flooded her boilers sending her to the bottom. 

Flagship Models is continues their line of Civil War era diorama kits with this 1/32 scale 7" Blakely Rifle. This kit is a slice of the CSS Alabama's top deck where the gun was mounted. The gun is the centerpiece with the base providing some background. 

From Rusty White

A Blakely rifle is one of a series of muzzle-loading rifled cannon design by British army officer, Captain Theophilus Alexander Blakely.  They were widely sold outside the British army, and were best known for their use by the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War.  The foundries manufactured Blakely rifles (cannons with rifled barrels) in a number of sizes.  The Blakely rifle became fondly known as the “Alabama gun” by the Confederates when the CSS Alabama was armed with 7" Blakelys.

The kit is all resin with some brass and plastic rods, and an assortment of scale rope. Curiously for Flagship Models, there is none of their signature photo etch! 

The base is a portion is designed to look like a portion of the deck and bulwarks of the CSS Alabama with wood planking on the deck and a window with shutters. The surface features a wood grain look with metal strapping for the gun to pivot on. The gun can be mounted stowed on the centerline or run out ready to fire. A set of shutters are provided to mount over the open window. The shutters can be cut into two halves if desired. 
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The gun assembly includes a large one piece cast barrel, a wooden appearing upper and lower carriage. The barrel is cast with a hollowed out muzzle and will only need a bit of cleanup around the casting gate on the opposite end. The carriage parts also have some casting gates to remove, but are relatively flash free. These parts have a rough hewn lumber look to them and fit together nicely. 
There are many parts to this kit that make up the smaller detail items. Metal straps to hold the gun in it's journals. Axle guide blocks for the axles, levers, elevation screw, and lots of shackles, and blocks. There are a pair of removable vent covers, and the elevation quoin and base. The latter carried the weight of the cannon barrel and was moved forward and backward to elevate the gun by means a leadscrew adjustment. 
Captain Raphael Semmes, Alabama's commanding officer is also included. He is cast in the same pose as the famous photo taken in August 1863. The figure does resemble the Captain and his hands are cast separately to allow for more detail. This is where your figure painting skills will really come in handy! Other details such as the barrel and grease bucket will help to make the scene more lifelike. The grease buckets look like they have been in service for a few years and look like they are actually made of thin wood strips with a strap of iron banding. 
Eye pins are included to simulate the eye bolts that the rigging runs through. Black beads are provided to represent the handles for the friction clamps. 
Three sizes of scale appearing rope are are included to do the rigging. Brass and plastic rod are provided for the axles and handles. 
The Instructions are a two pages with multiple views of the assembly. They are well drawn using CAD and clearly show where the parts locate. These are some of the best instructions in the industry and should provide everything you need to properly build this kit. It is clear the Rusty is one of the few manufacturers that actually builds his kits.

This is a great little diorama to showcase the Blakely Rifle. The resin parts look easy to work with and the larger scale should appeal to those of us who are finding the tiny parts harder to work with. I especially like the way all the hardware in the kit is designed to be built almost exactly like the real one was engineered. Captain Semmes would definitely approve. 

This is kit #FM13236 Confederate 7" Blakely Rifle with a list price of $95.00 as of January 2012. It is available now direct from Flagship via their website with online ordering. 

Flagship also has a line of How to CD's that will help you out in many topics. For this build  Making Realistic Ship Dioramas should be a big help.

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