More ACW Ironclads for Blood Sweat & Iron.

I have been busy printing out new ships to add to my Confederate fleet, I have less Confederate ships than I do Union ships so when playing games of Blood Sweat & Iron I often have to go for less Union because the Confederate fleet is much smaller.

This sometimes adjust / alters the game I actually want to play because of the lack of ships.

So I decided print out about fourteen new Reb ships to build up the size of the Confederate fleet.

As you can see from the photo, I have started to base these ships up on plastic card, the next stage is the slowest and not my favorite, I have to make the ‘waves’ on the bases ready for painting.

This I normally do with GW Liquid Green Stuff as I find it is the right consistency to easily spread over the base and then ripple it to make small waves and the wash from the bow of the ships.

But this does take a long while to do… I have not found a quicker way yet that I like, the finished ripple on the water is I think just about right using the Liquid Green Stuff, I have tried Milliput but that just doesn’t flow right as it is spread over the base.

I use Milliput for lots of other things but it just doesn’t work right for the water effect that I want.

The other thing I have to do is try and fix the masts for the two sail boats, my printer ( although much better than my old one ) had a few problems handling the thin detail of some of the masts for these ships so I will have to replace the broken / missing sections with small pieces of wooden tooth picks.

These should be ok with a little bit of work… they will test my modelling skill.

Then of course I will have to attach the rolled-up sails!!!! This may push my poor modelling skill to the limits to try and get right, there could be lots of swearing and glued fingers while attempting this, but I will show some photos of any progress I make on these models.

So the ships I have printed out this time for the Confederates are from left to right –

CSS Savannah, CSS Richmond, CSS Selma, CSS Alabama, CSS Tennessee, CSS Missouri, CSS Chicora

Again from left to right –

CSS Louisiana, CSS Atlanta, CSS Muscogee, CSS Raleigh, CSS Fredericksburg, CSS Mississippi, CSS Virginia

After looking at all those Confederate ships I then realized I had printed too many so I then had to print a few more Union ships!!!

The Union ships are from left to right on the top row –

USS Unadilla, USS Puritan, USS Canonicus, USS Milwaukee, USS Passaic

Bottom row left to right –

Three small tugboats ( these I am guessing could be used for either side ) USS Lexington and the USS Tylor

I am not really convinced by the two Gun Boats I printed out… I am not an ACW buff and don’t know everything there is to know about the subject, I am really happy with how all of my ships look, but these just don’t look right.

I know most of the 3D models I have printed are basic and lack some detail which to be honest doesn’t worry me at all, I like them when they are based and painted, but after searching the internet for a while I found pictures of the USS Lexington which was a Union Gun Boat and well it does look a little like the prints but not as close as I would have liked, another one I found is the USS Tylor that is not as close as the Lexington.

I may try and adjust the length of the front and its thickness to try and get them to look a little more like the Gun Boats I found on online.

I did also find another Gun boat that saw action with the Tylor and the Lexington and that is the USS Conestoga, in the pictures this looks very similar to the other boats, so I could print another one and add that to my Union forces.

So I now have three possible Union Gun Boats to use in my games, I just may wait a little while before finishing them.

I do like the three little tug boats that I printed out, the detail came out nicely, they still need a little more of a clean-up but should look quite nice when based and painted… I will need to work out some rules for them though as I have nothing in the rules to cover them at the moment.

I will have to do some searching on the internet to get some details of these little tug boats so that I can also do some data-cards for them, the models show a small gun at the back and one at the front, I am guessing these will be classed as Light-Guns going by the size of these boats.

Well lots of modelling still to do and a load of painting, but I do like doing these ships so I am looking forward to starting on them.

I will post pictures as I start to work on these models.

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  1. David John Schaffner

    Terrific update here, and some great looking printed models!
    The USS Lexington and Tyler models (which as you mentioned could double for the Conestoga), look good to me too. These models can be used for scenarios based on actions along the upper Mississippi, down on the Yazoo River, and for the Red River expedition, etc. (some of the most active vessels engaged in the riverine war in fact).
    Fun stuff, and a great set of rules you’ve made in Blood, Sweat & Iron. Btw, after playing a few of my small “Lucas Bend” scenarios, there’s two gamers in the area who have bought the rules, and are proceeding with plans for their own collections……always the best endorsement for a rule set!

    • Mac

      Hi David,

      Yeah there are some nice ship amongst the prints, and I will enjoy finishing them off ( I will put up some photos when they are done )

      I am really glad you like the rules ( and the two gamers in your area ) as I don’t often get any feedback, so it is good to know at least a few people are playing Blood Sweat & Iron.

      I am going through all the ship cards in the rules at the moment as I have had a few errors pointed out to me, this may take a while though as there is about 80 ships in the main book.
      Any way I will post any new cards that I do in the FAQ’s section on this site.


  2. Ken

    Hi Mac,
    I think the ships look great. Looks like you are using an FDM printer. That’s really nice quality for that. I print a lot but struggle with getting good prints for the finer smaller detail.

    What files are you using for the ship?

    • Mac

      Hi Ken,

      Thanks they are great models.

      My printer is an AnyCubic Mega S and so far I am really pleased with the model quality, although it did struggle with a few of the smaller details on these ships, including a couple of the mast sections and a couple of the ship funnels.

      The files I am using are from Thingiverse and the guy that produced them has done some great models.
      I only use the models with no bases, but he has files for the ships with their own bases as well ( although for some of my earlier prints I did use a 3D program and simply removed the bases )

      The files are here for the Union ships –

      and here for the Confederate ships –


    • Mac

      Hi Bruce,

      These ships are 1/600 which is the same as my other Peter Pig Ironclads.

      1/1200 would be smaller ( half 1/600? ) sorry not great with scales, so the ships would have to be reduced in a 3D editor or in a 3D printer program ( I use Ultimaker Cura )

      I am not sure how a FDM printer would handle models that small, the funnels would not print well as my printer struggles printing them at 1/600


      • Hi, talked with you on TMP about the rules and your ships. I have printed up a bunch of cottonclads and a few ironclads on my FDM at 1/1200 with no issues. Printed about 30+ ships. I just sliced up the files you linked to and plan on using my Elegoo Saturn. Again at 1/1200. We’ll see how that goes. I really have enjoyed reading your Blog and all the ACW riverine posts.



        • Mac

          Hi John,

          Thanks, I am glad you have enjoyed reading my waffling on this site.
          What rules will you be using with your ships? – edit – ok just read your last post on TMP I have just seen that you are using “Gibbon’s Warships and Naval Battles of the US Civil War” never seen those rules before.

          I am still trying to get through all the painting of the last lot of Confederate ships that I printed, once they are all done I will then base up and paint the rest of the Union ships.
          I will put up some pictures on here when they are finished.

          I have been looking around for other STL files for ACW ships to fill in some of the gaps I have in both forces.


          • John Leahy

            Hi, the Gibbon’s book is a book about the ships of the ACW. Lots of color prints of the ships in it. Lots of info. Ruleswise, I own Dawn of Iron, Hammerin Iron, David Manley’s By Sea and by River and a couple of other sets. Been thinking about picking up your rules and the rules by the guy who created all the ACW 3D files for Free at Thingaverse (R.A.T) and on Wargaming 3D. I am looking for a set that plays pretty quickly, is fun, easy to pickup and can have several players running a few ships each. Just finished painting 17 of the 30 ships I printed. My first batch in 1/1200 I decided were too small. I redid them in 1/600. Scary Biscuits Studios (makes the Dawn of Iron rules) has some painting info on their site under articles. I used them, your site and the pics of the ships on Wargaming 3D as a guide.

            Still not sure of what to do with my black Union ironclads. Primed them black. Painted a graphite gray (almost black) on them. Not sure what to do now. My wife suggested I put a rust wash on them in places. Not sure what to do actually.

          • Mac

            Hi John,

            You say that you are looking for a set that plays pretty quickly, is fun, easy to pickup and can have several players running a few ships each, well Blood Sweat & Iron maybe what you are looking for.

            The game I had the other night at my club ( battle report on this site – Blood Sweat & Iron “Find the Lady…” ) had four of us playing, two of whom had never played before and they picked up most of the rules by the end of the first turn!
            We all had three ships each but could have easily managed another one or two each in the time we had for the game.
            And they all had fun playing the simple scenario, the rules are not meant to be a historical simulation they have been written for to give a fun game.

            I have had similar problems with the heavy black Ironclads, I decided to go for an unpainted look for most of mine, but don’t forget that a lot of the Ironclads were painted different colours, often their smoke stacks were painted as well ( I believe it was to help with identification )

            I was scared to paint mine a colour, so I did mine as basic unpainted iron, so black base coat followed by a dry brush of gunmetal then hit with a wash to dull the dry brush down a little.
            I may eventually paint a few Ironclads different colours one day just to see if I can make it look right, blue or green maybe.


  3. John Leahy

    Hi, I went with black primer, gray drybrush and washed them after. They look decent. Need to finish the other 13 and print a few more up. Need to get some more Gunboats printed too.



    • Mac

      Sounds good John, I still have about 20 to paint, when they are done I also need to print out some more, just a few odd ships that I don’t have.


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