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CSS Alabama Artillery Set

Cottage Industries Models 1/96 CSS Alabama Artillery Set First Look

By Cookie Sewell

Date of Review January 2011 Manufacturer Cottage Industries Models
Subject CSS Alabama Artillery Set Scale 1/96
Kit Number AS002 Primary Media 117 parts (32 in tan resin, 83 white metal, etched brass, scale rope)
Pros Corrects serious problems with the armament of the 49-year-old Revell kit; provides accurate models of the four types of ship's guns as well as missing items such as shot garlands, rammers, and water tubs Cons Wasn’t around first time I built the kit!
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $39.95

First Look

Anyone who has followed my reviews over the years will recall that I picked up the last re-release of the CSS Alabama in 2000 and then the newly remolded copy of the USS Kearsarge from Revell of Germany in 2005. Having been busy doing armor reviews and writing armor articles, I had not gotten around to building either one but was happy to have them in my “stash”.

But after reading recent articles about both kits, I found that where the kits were magnificent efforts for 1961-1962 they both left much to be desired from a historical standpoint. The CSS Alabama was unfortunately created by reworking the molds for the USS Kearsarge and as such left a lot to be desired, such as an incorrect deck plan and being about 1 3/8" too short in scale (but at over 37" few will note that detail!)

With this kit Revell’s kit designers simply left the sprues from the USS Kearsarge kit in the same box, which was totally wrong. The Alabama was armed with guns purchased from English companies and carriages to match, none of which were compatible with those made by the US and used to outfit northern warships.

Depending upon time frame, CSS Alabama was reported to have a single 7" Blakely rifled pivot gun, either a 68 pdr or 110 pdr smoothbore pivot gun, four long 32 pdr Fawcett-Preston guns, two elderly 32 pdr 52 cwt guns, and later two 24 pound rifled guns captured from one of their prizes. (No firm evidence as to where or if the last two weapons were used.)

Cottage Industries Models, who specializes in American Civil War naval subjects, now also offers a nice set to fix the poor Alabama’s gun problems. This set came out along with the Kearsarge set about four years ago and provides the correct size, shape and number of guns for the ship as well as the essential accessories left out of the original by Revell.

As the South used British design carriages, the resin carriages in the kit are completely different from those for the Dahlgrens in the Kearsarge kit. Each one comes with four basic parts and a large number of white metal parts – quoins, screw brakes, levers, friction brakes, brackets, etc. – to create neat little models of each gun in its own right. Note that the large smoothbore pivot gun (68 pound round shot, 110 pound shell) is shorter but chunkier than the similar 32 pound broadside guns; the parts come with cast tags on them but these may part during shipping.

While this kit came with cast white metal eyebolts, the directions note that some kit parts such as the plastic eyebolts and blocks are used to fit the traversing and recoil ropes to the guns. Note that none of these guns are designed to “drop fit” and do not use the pin system Revell had on the original to permit the guns to swivel.

Four of the side guns are now the long 32 pounders with four wheel truck carriages, whereas the other two are the stubby “light” 32 pounders which were the last of their type on British warships using the old 18th Century style of armament. They also come with white metal screw elevation accessories.

Like the Kearsarge set it also includes rammers, shot and shell garlands, and water tubs for each gun mount which are essential and which Revell left out of the original kit. These are nicely done and even the lifting rings on the shells can be discerned.

Directions are clear and straightforward and show when some kit items are to be used. Painting directions are also provided which differ from those in the Revell kit.

The kit also comes with a small fret of etched brass levers and wrenches and a length of CIM’s “scale rope” which is very clean, smooth and nicely finished. (It beats the fuzzy stuff which comes in the kits!)

Overall this set fixes the woeful armament of the CSS Alabama and gives it a totally unique appearance when compared to the USS Kearsarge. It’s worth the money and the effort to upgrade and separate these two Revell “twins!” Guns may be ordered separately (heavy guns are $14.95 and small broadside guns $4.95 each).

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Sprue Layout

  • ‒ 4x2 Alabama pivot carriage (resin)
  • ‒ 1x2 Fawcett-Preston 32 lb carriages (resin)
  • ‒ 1x2 32 lb 52 cwt carriages (resin)
  • ‒ 20 Shot and shell garlands, tubs
  • ‒ 8 Guns (1x7" Blakely rifle, 1 x 110 lb gun, 4 x 32 pdr Fawcett-Preston guns, 2 x 32 pdr 52 cwt)
  • ‒ 75 Miscellaneous white metal fittings (see text)
  • ‒ 1 Fret of etched brass
  • ‒ 1 Length of scale rope