Flagship Models CSS Chattahoochee

Confederate Gunboat in 1/192nd Scale


Reviewed February 2018
by Devin Poore

CSS Chattahoochee was contracted on October 14, 1861, launched in August 1862, and finally commissioned in January of 1863. A 130' long, wooden hulled, twin engined gunboat, she mounted an armament of 6 guns: four thirty-two pound smoothbores on broadside carriages, with two other guns -- a thirty-two pound rifle and a nine-inch Dahlgren smoothbore shell gun -- on pivot mounts. Her initial sortie in January of 1863 ended up in a tow after she experienced machinery malfunctions. In May of that same year a disagreement between the ship's engineers as to the water level in the boilers resulted in said boilers exploding, sinking the ship and killing 18 of the crew. Refloated, she later made an attempt to reach the Gulf of Mexico, but was unable to do so, likely due to Confederate obstructions placed in the river to keep the Union Navy from coming inland. With the advance of Union troops into Georgia in December of 1864, Chattahoochee was scuttled to prevent capture. There she lay for 99 years, until portions of her remains were found and raised in 1963. Sections of the hull and her engines now reside in Columbus, Georgia, near the site of her scuttling, at the National Civil War Naval Museum

History complied from the National Civil War Museum website; "The Confederate Steam Navy, 1861-1865" by Donald L. Canney; "CSS Chattahoochee: An Investigation of the Remains of a Confederate Gunboat", by The Program in Maritime History and Underwater Research of Greenville, North Carolina.

As with most ship kits, the biggest and main part of this kit is the hull. It's cast in one piece, full hull, and solid resin. 8 5/8" overall, the length between the forward point of the hull and the stern post is 8 1/8" inches, which scales out to 130', the contract-stated length requirement for the ship. This model is exactly on the mark for the assumed length of Chattahoochee. The hull is well cast, symmetrical, with good detail on the skylights, gun bases, and deck hatch openings. Wood deck planking is nicely replicated with grooves. There's a minimal seam between the deck and hull sides here and there, but easily filled with putty. The external hull has two pour gates at the stern, but the surface in that area is smooth enough that a little sawing and sanding will remove the small gates easily and not lose any detail. A slight irregular seam circles the hull, where the silicon mold halves joined, but it appears that most of it is raised and it should sand out easily. There is no planking detail on the hull. The keel looks good, with only minimal gaps and clean-up needed in a few places where it joins the hull. The prop shaft housings, likewise, look good and need little if any filling and sanding. Actually, overall this is the nicest of any of the Flagship Models hulls I've encountered.
One bag contains all of the resin small parts, on multiple resin casting runners. Overall the quality of the parts is good to very good, with only a couple of pieces that will need a lot of work or replacement. Everything will have to be cut from the runners, most of which won't be an issue. The mooring bitts, however, will take some work to get cleanly off, and the modeler may wish to simply scratch build new ones, or pull them from the spares box, as there are only four of these simple shapes. Gun carriages and guns look good; there are pinholes on a couple of the carriages but nothing major. The guns are cast with the barrels to the casting gate, which means after cutting them free the gun bore will need to be drilled out. The ship's stack looks good, with the whistle cast as part of it. The steam pipe going to the whistle on my copy is a little short cast, but that's a detail I'd replace with tubing anyway. Boat cranes and gun port covers are solidly cast and have little flash, as do the hatch covers and mast platforms. The small boats have good interior detail, but it does get a little soft up towards the top of the boats. This area, however, will likely be hidden by the photo etch inserts, so it shouldn't be an issue. The props are also cast in resin, and are honestly one of the weakest parts of the kit. The blades have excess resin and flash that need to be sanded smooth, but some of the blades are short-shot to the point of being translucent. I'm not sure they'll stand up to much handling, so they're also a good candidate for replacement from scratch building or the spares box. The most numerous resin castings are the deadeye assemblies. Casting the deadeyes and ropes between them as single pieces, to be used in conjunction with the photo etch ratlines, is a great idea that'll save tons of time. These assemblies look good for the scale, but will require careful clean up and removal from the casting runners. Finally, the sills that extend out perpendicular from the hull for mounting the deadeye and ratline assemblies, are also included as cast resin. There are no real indicators on the hull where they should mount, but it shouldn't be difficult to figure out from the drawing supplied. My only concern is that their thin edges glued to the hull won't likely be the strongest joint. Be sure to glue them on before primer and paint, and look into adding some brackets underneath to strengthen the join (real-life sills had such mounting brackets).
There are a lot of extra small parts in this kit. Brass wire, styrene rod. Chain for the anchors. Wood dowels for masts. These pieces will allow the modeler to do the various bits of scratch building that are called out in the kit's instructions.
A single photo etch fret supplies the intricate details for Chattahoochee, and as usual, the brass is where Flagship Models excels. The previously mentioned ratlines are very will done and detailed. Also included in brass are boat's oars and seats, ship's wheel, hatch gratings and other small parts. The most impressive part of the photo etch is the gun tackle for each of the gun mounts: coiled lines, blocks, deck mounts, etc. This will make rigging the block and tackle for the guns much easier, and it should look in-scale for this size model. All of the brass details are finely etched and look amazing.
The instructions come on a single, double-sided, 8.5 X 14" sheet. These instructions are not the step-by-step style one finds in a typical model kit. Instead you get an overall drawing showing the major assembly locations, and then each of those assemblies, be it the masts, boats, gun mounts, deadeyes, etc., are detailed in a single illustrated frame. They look a little sparse at first glance, but there's more than enough information to build the kit.


The Flagship Models' kit of CSS Chattahoochee is a good kit, and I can recommend it, but with caveats. This is a multi-media, short run kit. The instructions aren't like a Dragon or Revell kit, and the materials will take more work to remove and clean-up than your typical "snip it from the styrene sprue" that you get with a plastic model. Some of the parts will require some extra effort to make usable, and scratch building is required. That being said, anyone that's ever built a resin kit should be able to tackle this with no problems. Also, when it comes to warships from the American Civil War, there's not much to choose from, and on that count alone Flagship Models is to be commended for the subjects they produce. The resin casting still is not to the quality of Combrig or Niko Models, and I'd love to see the quality improved to be closer to those standards, but still this model is a marked improvement over previous Flagship kits. Hopefully they will continue to improve on production quality, and come out with even more unique subjects.

I can recommend this kit to any fan of American Civil War subjects who have experience with photo etch and resin kits.

The Flagship Models CSS Chattahoochee is now available from Flagship Models for $150.00. Thank you to Flagship Models for the review sample.

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