Speed - the asset of high speed confers a great advantage for a warship. It provides the ability to run down a slower and weaker opponent and also confers the ability
to evade a stronger but slower opponent. Speed was the one thing conspicuously absent in the warships of the Confederate States Navy. With cobbled together
warships, most often using scavenged railroad boilers and engines. Confederate ironclads were lucky to have enough speed to go against the current. Some didn’t even
have that meager ability.
CSS Huntsville and CSS Tuscaloosa were built in the same Selma, Alabama yard as CSS Tennessee but were unable to join the Tennessee at
the Battle of Mobile Bay because of there pitiful speed or more accurately lack thereof.

Speed is the one asset a blockade raider must have. The Union Anaconda Plan to blockade Confederate ports to prevent the south from getting weapons and other
strategic supplies was very effective even if it took years to fully implement. As the blockade got tighter and tighter, only the fastest blockade runners could get
through. Confederate agents scoured European shipping markets in order to acquire ships that would fulfill Confederate needs. The primary supplier of ships was
Great Britain, although French built ships were also significant.
One such ship specifically purchased as a blockade runner due to her high speed was named Atlanta. Built by the British firm of J. & W. Dudgeon on the River
Thames, she was originally built as a high speed ferry for the Chatham & Dover Railway and could cross the English Channel from Calais to Dover in 77 minutes.
With a maximum speed of 17-knots, she was one of the fastest ships afloat. She was 220-feet in length, 24-feet in beam and had a drought of 14-feet. For her size
she surprisingly had a fairly low displacement of about 500-tons. She successfully ran the USN blockade and put into the port of Wilmington, North Carolina. It was
decided to convert the
Atlanta to an armed commerce raider in July 1864.

Renamed
CSS Tallahassee, she was armed with five guns, one 84-pound pivot gun, two 32-pound and two 24-pound broadside guns. Commander J. T. Wood was
given command and in early August 1864
CSS Tallahassee slipped by the blockading Union warships bottling up Wilmington. Unlike the cruising raiders like CSS
Alabama
and CSS Shenandoah, the Tallahassee was rather short legged, depending almost totally dependant on coal with a minimal sail rig. With her rudimentary
sailing rig,
Tallahassee could only sail at three-knots in good weather.  The CSN produced only seven commerce raiders that were successful during the American
Civil War and the
Tallahassee was one of the successful raiders, contributing to the shredding of the merchant marine of the USA from which it took decades to
recover. In nineteen days
Tallahassee cruised from Wilmington to Halifax, Nova Scotia.  In this brief cruise she took 33 merchants. Some were sent back to
southern ports and some were just burned.  Low on coal she put into Halifax to replenish. By the fall of 1864 Confederate fortunes were so obviously on the wane
that British/Canadian port authorities treated the
Tallahassee as a red-headed step child, limiting her stay in port to 24 hours, later extended to 40 hours. She was
only allowed enough coal in order to get her back to her home port of Wilmington. In the meantime, American merchants vacated the Atlantic to reach safe ports
and the USN flushed every warship available into Atlantic to end the threat.  Nonetheless
Tallahassee safely evaded the baying pack of northern warships and
docked back in Wilmington on August 26, 1864.
For some reason, probably an effort to deceive the Union, on the quantity of commerce raiders, CSS Tallahassee was renamed CSS Olustee for her second raid.
Two of her guns, presumably the 24-pounders were removed in November 1864.  In this raid she only took six prizes before being intercepted off Cape Charles by a
Union cruiser and chased for two days. Lack of fuel forced her back to Wilmington. Even so in the return to Wilmington she was intercepted by Union gunboats,
which she evaded in another chase.  Priorities shifted and the ship was converted back to an unarmed blockade runner under the name
Chameleon. Under the
command of Lt. John Wilkinson the ship made for Bermuda to pick up desperately needed military supplies. After loading the supplies
Chameleon tried to return to
Wilmington but by this time the port was completely sealed by the northern blockade. She tried to get into two more ports with the same fruitless results and finally
sailed to Liverpool. She was seized by the British government who eventually had to turn her over to the USA in 1866, which discarded it in 1868.                

Rusty White, resident correspondent of tornado alley in Sooner Country, is sure to bring the unusual to modelers especially in terms of the American Civil War.
Flagship Models CSS Tallahassee in 1:192 scale is certainly one of these. The Flagship Tallahassee hull is cast one piece full hull. It will require substantial sanding
to waterline the hull for a flat base and it may be easier to use the technique of a foam base with a cutout for the lower hull, which also confers the advantage of
portraying the raider plowing into a wave or heeling in rough weather.
With a 9 to 1 length to beam to ratio the hull is long and thin but still is a good chunk of resin. There is a resin runner that runs the length of the keel that will have to
be removed but the casting runner is fairly thin and is easily removed. Other cleanup is necessary for the hull as there are some voids along the bottom of the hull and
shaft housings. Again, its no big deal and can be easily accomplished. The hull casting appears slightly hogged with a slight bow upwards amidship.  Lower hull detail
consists only of the propeller shaft housings but that is to be expected. Upper exterior hull detail includes what appears to be two horizontal hull strengthening strakes,
gun port detail with hinges and porthole fittings bow and stern. You can paint the portholes black but I think it would be better to drill them out. There are interesting
deck fittings as well, starting with a rounded funnel base. Flanking the funnel base on both sides are rows of four coal scuttles with hinge detail on the scuttles. Also
on the main deck are two detailed cargo coamings. The short raised forecastle has deck anchor hawse fittings as well as chain locker fittings. The bulkhead leading
from the main deck into the forecastle has a series of detailed doors, as well as portholes above them. The longer raised quarterdeck is dominated by the pivot gun
rails for the 84-pounder. There is a deck house at the stern and a smaller fitting at the deck break. The bulkhead at the break for the raised quarterdeck has a single
door flanked by a porthole on each side. The deck planking lacks butt end detail.

Three separate large deckhouses are found on a casting sheet. Two of these form a two story ridge structure amidship. These houses have porthole detail, doors and
solid square windows. There are pinhole voids present that need filling. Ten resin runners are devoted to the smaller parts. There are two thin funnels with aprons and
reinforcing bands. Gentle sanding with easily remove some light resin splash on the funnels. Another runner has the guns with a big coke bottle 84-pounder, two 32-
pdr with reinforcing bands and the two 24-pdr resembling War of 1812 deck guns. Also included on this runner are shaft supports, binnacle, and rudder. A third
runner has two four-bladed propellers, anchor capstan, two cargo winches, two fife rings fitted to the bottom of the masts and four mast caps. The next runner has
two gaff jaws for cargo booms, gun carriages for the 32-pdr and 24-pdr guns, and assorted pulleys. The fifth runner has the two rudders, stove pipes, wheel post
and more pulleys. The next runner has boat davits and pulleys. The top of each davit has a rigging opening to help in rigging the boats from the davits. Two runners
have two ship’s boats in two different styles and two runners with deck side bitt/bollard fittings with the correct hourglass shape.  For the most part the smaller resin
parts will require minor cleanup as most parts have resin flash.
Flagship also provides metal, wooden and brass parts as well. There are four white metal J-shape ventilation cowls. These also need cleanup and some shaping as
during casting the liquid metal did not fill the mold completely leaving small bites out of some of the cowlings. Metal anchor chain is provides. Wooden masts and yards
are provided as well as plastic rod. A comprehensive brass photo-etch fret is present. Large big ticket items include ratlines, multi-part ship’s wheel and steering cable,
anchor cat davits, and gun cables, bulkhead fittings and stops. More generic items are inclined ladders with trainable tread plates, rail stanchions, boat oars, thwarts and
boat gaffs, and coiled ropes. A decal sheet has a ship’s ensign.

The instructions are typical of
Flagship. It is one, back-printed, page. The front has an overall starboard view and overhead plan, Two modules are also on the first
page, one for the two-storey bridge and hurricane deck and the other for the ship’s wheel position. The back page has twelve construction modules, a deck railing
stanchion placement diagram and a parts list. The construction modules include diagrams of:  top mast detail; bottom mast detail; anchor and cat davits; boat davits; 24-
pdr gun; 32-pdr gun; 84-pdr pivot gun; railing detail; inclined ladder detail; tapering masts and yardarms; life boat details and propeller and shaft detail. The instructions
are competent but not spectacular.
Flagship Models has again perfectly hit their niche with CSS Tallahassee in 1:192 scale, one of the seven successful commerce raiders of the Confederate States
Navy. The kit can also be built as the raider
CSS Olustee with three guns or unarmed blockade runner Atlanta/Chameleon, as these were other names carried by this
ship.