The movie Ben Hur with Charleton Heston was Best Picture of 1959. I still remember my folks taking me to that movie at the Whiteburg Drive-In Theater. I liked the Whitesburg because it had a playground at the front right under the huge screen and kids could be counted upon to use the playground equipment, leaving their parents in peace to enjoy the movie. In the case of Ben-Hur, I didnít go to the playground. Instead, I watched the movie (Tough Luck Dad!) and like kids of all ages was fascinated in the chariot race. That Christmas some company came out with a Ben-Hur Play set. For those too young to remember play sets, they had various figures and equipment on a common topic. The only thing that I now remember about the Ben-Hur play set was that it had a lot of things, chief among them, a lot of chariots. The Ben-Hur set went to the top of my goodie wish list but like prudent parents, guarding against the unbridled avarice of kids, my folks also had my brother and me list alternates. One of my alternates was an American Civil War play set. Needless to say, I didnít get the Ben-Hur set but did get the ACW set. As my dreams of staging chariot races evaporated, I began a detailed examination of the components of the ACW set.

As I currently remember, it came with quite a number of soldiers, Union troops in light blue and Confederate troops in light gray with the federals using knap sacks and the rebels using bed rolls. The big item was the southern mansion made out of tin with a white plastic columned portico. It also came with a lot of equipment; a flag pole with the union flag, a stack of cannon balls, rifle stacks, a field piece but the piece of equipment that made the greatest impression was a big, squat, ugly thingÖ.a civil war mortar in dark brown plastic. Later, I learned of how widely used were these mortars. They were used on mortar boats in riverine warfare, such as the sieges of Island Number 10 and Vicksburg and in the ground siege warfare of 1864 and 1865. Now Flagship Models produces a hefty 1:32 scale model of a 13-Inch Seacoast Mortar.

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Flagship provides the resin parts for the mortar, as well as some of the equipment needed to service it. The large chunky mortar is cast as a separate piece. The casting sprue will need to be removed and the piece sanded where it connected to the casting sprue. The mortar casting has the inner barrel tube delineated at the muzzle. Other detail includes the touch hole, locator depressions for the elevated gear and lifting flange and pinion detail. One set of the parts is on a casting sheet with thee heavy solid side frames. The side frames exhibit the large rivets detail required for this heavy piece of ordnance, and the heavy side framing. Other parts on this sheet are the pinion top clamps, bottom cross brace, elevation plate, wheels and top of cleaning rammer. A resin runner has three mortar shells, the two steps that fit to the front of the frame, the lifting flange, the elevation gearing base plate and the tip of the gun hand spike. Two plastic rods are included for the hand spike, rammer, pry bars and spreader bar. Instructions are rather simple since the mortar has comparatively few parts. It is one page with plan and profile view, as well as from and back views. A module for actual assembly, as well as a parts-lay-down are included.

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Who needs chariots to reduce the rebs to submission when the Flagship 1:32 13-Inch Seacoast Mortar can do the job single handedly. With this heavy ordnance, you can quickly reduce any of those Confederate forts guarding a rebel port, seize the port and promptly end the nefarious blockade running. Jefferson Davis will be groveling in no time.

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