Ironclads Available! 1/185 CSS Tennessee Card Model
Review by Felix Bustelo
The CSS Tennessee was a Confederate casemate ironclad that fought valiantly against a much larger Union flotilla of wooden ships and ironclad monitors at the Battle of Mobile Bay on August 5, 1864. After 4 hours of battle, the badly damaged Tennessee surrendered to the Union Navy. She was repaired and served in the Union fleet for the duration of the war.
The CSS Tennessee is one in a series of waterline American Civil War ironclads produced by Civil War Ironclads Available!. It is a very basic card model, as the line is really aimed at school children in a clever way to help teach American history with what is essentially a craft project. The attempt is to bring history alive with a model, which is why most of us got into the hobby in the first place.
I decided to take a break from my current project to give this kit a shot, as it is my first attempt at a card model. This kit comes in two 8.5" by 11" sheets. The first sheet, which contains 7 parts that make up the model's framework, is printed on very heavy cardboard. The second sheet, which comes in a thinner stock, has 12 parts that make up the decks, casemate, armor belt and stack. This sheet comes printed in full color. A sheet is included with the ship's history and other sheet contains the assembly instructions.
The instruction sheet has a basic overview of how to build a card model, reviewing tools and terminology used. Assembly is broken down into 4 steps, with full color photos accompanying each step. The instructions are easy to follow and straightforward, but please note that there is an error in step 3. This step has you gluing the forward casemate wall to the rear deck and the rear casemate wall to the forward deck. I realized the error only after gluing the rear wall to the forward deck.
Once assembled, which took about 5 hours and included some trimming, it builds into a nice, basic model. If you are looking for a complex card kit, like those produced by some of the German firms, this is not the kit for you. But, if you want a neat way to introduce a child to modeling or just want to give building a card model a try, then this is an excellent way to go. My thanks to William Mahmood, of Civil War Ironclads Available!, for this sample kit.