The story of "wonderweapons" usually goes as follows:
>Country behind in war throws loads of resources into wacky idea that will surely turn the tide of the war
>Boring technological growing pains gimp them, and in the end the side that didn't bother with doing anything interesting is better off.
Not with ironclads, though. CSS Virginia was cobbled together to break the United States' blockade, and while it failed, it didn't fail because of it being too early technologically. It failed because the Union also made one of these wonderweapons and slammed it against the Confederates.
What else can compare to this? Ships are the perfect medium for wonderweapons, because they're just about the most expensive single thing. When else has naval tech jumped forward so much in one or two ships?