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CSS ALABAMA - REVELL - plastic 1/96 - kit bash

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Greetings to all;

This is my first post to this forum, but I have been enjoying following other peoples builds for some time now.

I am currently working towards finishing up a kit bash of the Revell USS Constitution and decided to go ahead and start on the CSS Alabama for a change of pace. (you can view my log on my Connie build here)


I will be correcting all the ports and sweeps and hopefully the mast rake and using a new veneer deck that John from scaledecks is working on. I will also be replacing the armaments with the gun set from Cottage Industries. I haven't decided yet whether or not to replace the masts and yards w/ wood. I haven't really checked out the kit pieces to see if they are going to be sturdy enough.


I know there is a lot of contention about this models incorrectness. I certainly can not do anything to fix the problem w/ its length, but I will do my best to correct what I can and hopefully end up w/ a fairly accurate representation of her.


I am using Bowcocks "CSS Alabama anatomy of a confederate raider" as a reference, and as BlueJacket has just released their own version of her, I will be using some of their plans which are also based on Bowcock's book. Al Ross at bluejacket says that there will be a PE sheet available as well which I may obtain at some point down the line.


So here goes.

First step is to lay out the correct locations for the gun and bollard ports. I started out by pulling the specs from Bowcock, but once I got the profile sheet from BlueJacket, I just went ahead and used their layout.

218335f2-c39b-491d-b9e6-7866210c88af_zpsYou can see how close it matches up, so I used the plan view and measured out from the gangway and plotted the measurements on the plan. I then ran tape along the hull and marked off the correct placements.


There is a slight margin of error in that the curve of the bulwarks causes the measurements to be off by about a millimeter. Since this is so small a difference I ignored it and plotted the ports according to my measurements. SGP stands for sweep gun port and BP for bollard port. Once laid out I cut out the areas for the ports as a guide for opening them up. I will rough cut them and then use a file to fine tune.

Once I have them done, and have filled in the port openings that don't belong I will post more pics. (maybe tomorrow?)

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I too will be following with interest Arnie. I also have this kit in the stash with the Cottage Industry guns set. I haven't found a Bowcock book that is affordable yet but I have kept looking. Looks good so far but if you do not mind, what plan are you using in the picture you posted? Is that Bowcock's or Blue Jacket's?



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The plans that I am using are from BlueJacket. Their version is in the same scale. The sheets are $10 each. I bought five of them, but you could probably cover your bases w/ just the profile sheet and the rigging sheets.  A word of caution on using the profile sheet. The BJ plans are to Bowcocks specs, which means that their model is laid out w/ the correct overall length.The Revell model is slightly shorter (one of the major gripes about its inaccuracy). This presents a problem with the placement for the ports, which I will expand upon in my next post, and hopefully save you some of the grief that I subsequently had to deal with. [this is what is known as a "cliff hanger" to get you to tune in for the next episode :P ] Hopefully, I will get that post up some time tomorrow.


PS you might try Abe Books. I was able to find a copy for $50 there. I don't think you will find it much cheaper.

Edited by arnie59
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Thanks for the info. I'll pick up the BJ plans and anxiously anticipate your next installment! Like waiting for the next installment of Commando Cody!


I have checked Abe Books, and have purchased from them before and got great deals, so I'll have to keep a lookout for Bowcock"s book.  Right now I have my hands full with the Nina, Catalan and Dreadnought builds so the Alabama will have to wait a bit.



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k. I'm a day later than I had planned on this post. meh.

I hinted in my last post that I had encountered some "difficulty" with the difference in the length of the Revell model compared to the BJ plans that I am using

I had everything laid out and had merrily begun carving away before I took this to mind. So I stopped and laid out the deck pieces from the kit on top of the plans.


You can see that there is almost exactly 5/8" or 16mm difference in the length, which is only about 5 scale feet difference but... The ports aft of the gangway fell into place the way that I measured them pretty precisely, but the measurements forward of the gangway just did not line up right, which of course I failed to check before eagerly chopping out some new holes. Ergo the grief I mentioned last post.


I had to think about this one long and hard. First I retaped and did a new layout taking 8 mm off the longer dimensions figuring to account for the 16mm difference in length. Still not right. Well... i was just not willing to do the math to rescale everything accounting for that gap, so I went and measured backwards from the forward most port opening that already exists from the kit [as it just looked to be in the right place, and other than the height, the dimensions were about 4mm less than the width than what is called for on the BJ plans which I left to help account for the gap.] This layout "looked" right and lined up pretty well with the BJ plans, so I went w/ my gut instead of my head. Maybel someone more ambitous than me will do the rescaling (which of course would change all the dimensions)


Anyway. This is how it came out. Of course I have a bit of fine tuning to do yet. In the course of filling and patching and scraping off the moulded on port hole covers, I ended up sanding down virtually all the planking detail since it was raised rather than recessed. Not sure I care that much to go and try to scribe it all in. The detail wasn't that sharp to begin with and it will be a flat black which tends to hide things more.


All in all it was a pretty labour intensive modification, but not an odious task by any means. K... port side good, now on to the starboard half.

Until that time...

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I know it's in german, but you may be interested to have a look at what I consider to be a very nice build of the Revell Kearsarge (much modified as well):http://www.wettringer-modellbauforum.de/forum/index.php?page=Thread&threadID=36813.

 love to see how you manage to reqt

As far as the Alabama is concerned,  I have had this unbuilt kit on a shelf for decades, but never started it, because I found the built up model rather clumsy:  silly, drooping stem, impossible open stern, masts too short.  I really will love to see if you can restore her in her former beauty.


If that should prove impossible, I read that Bluejacket is issuing a kit of her...


Happy modelling.  I'm looking forward to your progress!



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Thanks for the link. That is definitely one very, very impressive build.[Google translate made for a rather amusing read] I don't know whether to be inspired or crestfallen as I doubt my skills are quite up to that that level, but I do intend to try achieve something at least close to that. Fortunately, the deck details on the Alabama are not as complex. I know about the discrepancy with the rake on the masts, but I was unaware that there was (is) a discrepancy with the height of the masts. I will have to look into that.



Blue Jacket has indeed come out w/ their own model, and as mentioned, I am using their plans for it. They will be releasing one of the Kearsarge in the near future as well. Both are limited editions. I lucked out and found my kit on Evil-Bay for around $100 (can't remember precisely, and now that I think about it, I am a bit astounded that I was willing to pay that much for it. I doubt you will find it for less. Good luck)

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Thanks Gunther, but that did not work either. I read through the Q and A on notifications, and it seems others are  (were) having the same problem, but nobody seemed to have a solution. I sent an email to the moderators regarding this and was told that my ISP is probably blocking them. I went and checked to make sure that the settings for my email were allowing virtually all emails to come through, and also double checked the notification settings and email address for this site were correct, but still no luck. I post on FSM and do not have this problem and get notifications even if it's my own thread. If any one has a solution, I would greatly appreciate your sharing it w/ me.

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By ISP, it might take a phone call or visit to their website.   There's so many blacklists out there it's just not practical for an admin to contact them.


If they say "no we're not blocking", then get an email account from Yahoo, or G-Mail....  not many options here I'm afraid.  The internet is coming a rather cluttered place these days.

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I decided to go ahead and add the hammock netting before I moved on to doing the port side changes. Glad I did, as you will see.

I forgot to mention that I am also using an article from Fine Scale Modeling's July and September 2012 issues which showcase a very nicely done kit bash/modification of the Alabama by Joseph Bossert from which I took to copy his addition of the hammock netting which I took to be correct as he said he was using Bowcock as well. I took a slightly different approach than he did and used a 4.8mm x 4.8 mm 90 strip of styrene which would be attached just out board of the cap rail.

The first hurdle was to deal with the inward curve of the bow and trying to get a 90 degree L to wrap around it. The solution was to use an old carpenters trick called kerfing, where you make a series of close blade width (the kerf) cuts along the area that needs to bend, which I could then correct w/ putty.

0068cca7-f550-442f-a667-ecd77375d40d_zps  1275ce2e-0581-43f1-9730-d86bd3e1ec18_zps  7d26ca2a-69d6-46bf-8900-761e206e868f_zps  1c7b9f76-c3e0-4525-b01c-c82be4e04bf9_zps

I added thwarts (for lack of a better term) for attachment points then attached the channel with an overall good outcome. And of course It is all totally WRONG!


I was sitting back taking in the results and realizing that something just seemed off to me. Then it hit.....don't hammock cranes run atop the cap rail? Is this some innovation for ships of her ilk and time? Could Bossert have mislead me?Have I ever seen one that didn't run the cap?

So of course I finally did what I was supposed to to begin w/ and that was to dig out Bowcock, and of course they run atop, so I am going to have to pull it all off and go at it again. 


Now the big reason that I am glad I did this is it got me to looking at the gun and bollard ports again, and they just didn't seem totally right either, so I went back to the BJ profile plans and pulled some measurement off of key points on the keel of the plan and the same for the kit. My original measurements were off by half as much again. The difference in length is actually about 10 scale feet and not 5. Since I was going to have to make corrections, I figured I should go ahead and scale down all the dimensions like I should have to begin with.  The kit ends up being 95% of the actual length which I came up with from a ratio of two verifiable matching measurements, giving me a multiplier of 0.95 to correct all the dimensions on the kit. So... I am going to put the starboard half aside for now and start fresh (and correctly this time) on the port half and will post the results soon (I hope).


Axiom: if you invest a bundle on resource materials....use them!

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  • 3 weeks later...

C.S.S. FUBAR (Fu**** Up Beyond Accurate Restoration)



I will try to keep this brief, but I wanted to document some of the problems I have been having, hopefully to save anyone else who takes on this model from having to do as much work to figure out a fix. In a nut shell, what it comes down to is it can’t really be fixed. Ergo the FUBAR designation.



As I stated in an earlier post my first attempt at locating the ports went badly and I decided to go back and reduce all my measurement to fit the 95% of the Revell kit versus the BJ plans.  I went through several iterations and none of them were working. The big problem is the missing length. All the rest of the Revell dimensions are spot on for 1/96 scale, so I had to maintain the dimensions for the ports rather than reduce them. It also meant that the deck furniture had to remain the right size. [Although most of the kits furniture is completely wrong. But that’s for later.]



 My final solution was to place the forward deck piece on the BJ plans and line it up with the foremast, leaving a gap between mid-deck and fore deck and marking off where the ports would be and transferring that to the hull. All the ports aft of the gangway were laid out according to the correct dimensions. I will record the placements at the end of this post for anyone who wants to use them.


These are the results I have so far.


All the ports were made slightly larger so that I could line them w/ some 1/32 styrene to bring out the definition w/ some clean lines.


I put in the scuppers w/ too much opening height wise, so I backfilled w/ some more 1/32 styrene which also helped to give them better definition.


I filled in the indentations for the kits catheads. The kit has them as more traditional catheads like those found on the Victory or Constitution, when in fact the forward boat davit served the dual purpose.


The gangway was lengthened and new gangway boards added. I exercised some artistic license here and added a "threshold" support that is not called for in the plans.



The hammock netting was a bit of a compromise. Bowcock shows them as on the cap rail and extending outboard to a total width of 15”. The problem here is that the kits cap rail is at the same height as the top of the netting and spans 12 of the 15 inches in width. After scraping off the wales, I simply added a strip of 5/32 x 3/32 styrene flush w/ the kits cap rail and beveled the bottom edge to mimic the bevel indicated in the illustration [below] from Bowcock. My solution to dealing w/ the lack of depth will be to stage the hammock netting w/ their covers on. I already tried a mock up w/ good results. I haven’t decided yet what material to use for them though (open to suggestions). I will have to cut out a piece and build a “box” for the chain plates further down the line after I figure out just where they are going to go.








That’s about all for now. I will be finishing up the Starboard half of the hull and then going back and fixing my errors and finishing up the Port half.



Port placements:


All ports aft of the gangway should be put in according to spec.


Moving forward from the gangway and measuring between ports.


The first port is placed 7’ forward of the gangway.


Second forward is 16’ from the last port.


Third forward is 7.5’ from the second.


Fourth forward is 5’ from the third.


Fifth forward is 28.5’ from the fourth.


Sixth forward is 8’ from the fifth.


All ports are sized according to specs.


These dimensions are of my own devising based on the specifications in Bowcock and making a best effort to compensate for the loss of length in the kit.


*** NOTE: There is an error on the chart. 26.5' should be 28.5'

Edited by arnie59
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