CharlieZardoz

Ship model kits which may or may not be based historical vessels

69 posts in this topic

There is wisdom in your words. I've always seen kits as just a practice tool for learning. Wooden ship model building is largely a scratch hobby though many of the newer kits offer much more precision then the old kit companies like sergal or dikar. Just today looking through the Peregrine galley and Royal Caroline kits realizing they are represented at wierd/incorrect scales and I think they even used the same hull frames. :P I will definitely look up those resources which will surely help me understand more of the history and yes I do understand sailing ships were not regimented like modern day ship classes are so even a "type" of vessel had many variations though I do believe researching those uniquenesses is very much part of the fun. Again appreciate the guidance :)

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Does anyone know if the old Marine Models kit for the bomb ketch is based on an actual ship? I think it was labeled as HMS Lion.

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Wow look at that thing! lol  It looks to me very generic, I couldn't even tell you what century that was supposed to be.  The British had tons of bomber ketch's and while it's possible that a plan was used as a reference, doesn't look like they followed it too closely.  My advice if feeling the need to build this one would be to use the Granado and Convulsion as a reference and also see if you can locate a book on British ketch's, find one that looks similar enough then modify the kit to that ship and call it a day. :) 

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Regarding the HMS Shine kit, I think I figured that one out. The Mantua "Jamaica" kit is most definitely based on the Bermuda Sloop plans.  Looking at the Jamaica and the Shine I realized that they were essentially the same model, just in different scale and an extra mast added. I realized that when I looked at the stern decorations on both (the left is Shine right is Jamaica) they are pretty much the same as are the deck fittings and layout. The Shine is touted as 1:45 scale at 26.5" but most likely it is closer to 1:64th since Jamaica is 32" at 1:50 scale. Probably tons of Bermuda style sloops sailing around in the early 18th century with all sorts of mast arrangements. If I ever build one probably best to go off the original plans :)

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One I am curious about as of today is this Virginia Schooner of 1819 by AL. Looks similar to the Swift with one pivot cannon. A nice looking schooner but none of the plans of schooners from Chappelle's books or Footner's Tidewater Triumph that look quite like her but not exactly.  Anyone have any thoughts?

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It may look similar to AL's Swift but it's not - I have built both models by AL and the hulls and decks are different. Can't speak to historical accuracy tho.  I just built them because I liked their appearance and they were a moderate challenge.

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I'd imagine not but appreciate the confirmation there regardless thank you.  Swift I know has a plan that survives, this Virginia schooner however not sure what it was modeled after.

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I am relatively new to MSW but have a longtime love of ship modeling. Unfortunately life's needs took me in other directions so I have been an "armchair" modeler for some 25 years, I relate that as I bought a Corel kit of the HMS Unicorn somewhere back in the 80's but never pursued the build for reasons related. Recently we formed a model ship forum/club in Rochester NY and I joined. It is an august group of active modelers so I had to "up my game". I pulled out the HMS Unicorn and began critically looking at the model. The Unicorn threads on this web site was a good place to start.  I down loaded the Chapman plate that may have been the genesis for the Corel kit. Using witness marks, that appear to be the waterline reference, I had the digital image magnified to the same dimensions of the HMS Unicorn drawing at a professional imaging/printing house. I then overlaid the false keel of the kit onto the resultant drawing. I traced the bulkhead positions, the mast positions and the gun port locations onto the enlarged Chapman plate. The magnified plate and the false keel have a reasonable similarity save the following: the false keel stern has a slightly sharper rise from "skeg" to the stern counter, the false keel stem area does not match the reference, the gun ports are not in agreement with the reference and finally the mast spacing do not match. The reference mast spacing compared to the kit are as follows; fore to main 31 mm difference, main to mizzen 11 mm difference. Dimensional differences indicate wider spacing on the reference drawing.

 

Finally using reference marks drawn on the false keel I overlaid select bulkheads onto the contour portion of the reference drawing to compare the profiles. I did take into account the station differences of the reference to the false keel bulkheads as best as possible. The traces do not match up well I am sorry to say. I think I read somewhere else that the beam of the reference was wider and it doesn't seem to be that far off when one accounts that there is no planking on the bulkheads at this time. The contours amid ship seem pretty close.  However the bow and stern contours do not match up well. For the bow between the 1st and 3rd station and between the 14th and 16th bulkheads of the stern (kit bulkhead numbers) the contours are off above the waterline for the bow and below the waterline at the stern..

 

Regarding the gun port placement I have to assume that the differences in general are related to the designers preference to position the kit gun ports dead center between bulkheads.  In general they are mostly askew main mast to stern and slightly askew main mast forward. One notable difference is that the reference drawing has a gun port at the turn of the bow considerably forward of the fore mast. The kit does not.

 

Other differences have been duly noted by others so need to retrace those comments. The figure head on the reference plate is above the stem while the kit depicts the figurehead below. I only offer this input to add to the comments, corrections and modifications offered by others. Admittedly my kit is an older version of the model but as I look closely at what others have shown I suspect little has changed since my vintage of the kit.

 

I think my investigative approach has been sound and while empirical methodology can introduce error I think what I offer does not add "noise" to what others have submitted. I would like to hear back from others as i will build this model "finally" ! I still think it is a worthy subject. Yet, I will not submit to anyone that it is a replica!

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Hi Thistle, thanks for bringing up the Corel Unicorn.  Timely, as I'm close to the point of taking a break from my Pegasus to restart work on my Unicorn/Lyme build.  I had a nice trip down memory lane going through my build log.  Ian, John and others and myself have taken a close look at the kit relative to the Chapman plans, as well as the Lyme plans from the NMM - the Lyme was the sister ship of the Unicorn, and almost exactly the same except for the fact that the Unicorn has a beakhead bow.

 

Overall, the general shape of the hull is fairly accurate, but I think if you go through the various logs, you'll find a laundry list of inconsistencies between the kit and the various plans that are out there:

 

-- closed waist is wrong, layout of gratings, etc. also probably not correct

 

-- at the bow, the stem is too low, the figurehead is too low, the forward bulkheads flare out at top (which doesn't seem correct) and the cheeks don't match up

 

-- masts I think are slightly off

 

-- wales should be thicker by a full plank width

 

-- wrong lines for quarterdeck and upper deck, number of port holes doesn't match Chapman

 

-- the stern area is really off, with no stern post, wrong angle of stern post area, stern tuck is incorrect, flag locker not correct, Lyme plans show the tiller above the quarterdeck

 

 

A very good model of the Unicorn is this scratch 1:48 build - this model seems to be very accurate relative to the plans that are out there:

 

http://shipmodeling.net/photopost/showgallery.php?cat=1318&page=1

 

 

I give Corel some slack as this kit is an older kit that I don't believe has been updated in recent history.  It's reasonable for kit manufacturers to take shortcuts or not be completely precise.  The folks at Corel were very nice too in sending me additional port holes free of charge after I sent them an email asking if I could buy extras.  However, one thing that I think is unforgivable is the fact that the various plan sheets do not match up (at least mine don't)! .  At the very least, the plans should match up.

 

Anyway, I think the Unicorn kit will build into a very nice model, whether you kit bash it or build it straight from the box.  It's unique in that I don't think I've seen any other beakhead kits out there, and the Unicorn and Lyme have been said to be the first "true frigate."  I've kinda gone down the rabbit hole of trying to build an "accurate" model (whatever that means), but as you've seen on here, others have built very nice models without making many modifications.

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Thanks Mike for the great feedback and reference model web site. I will have to study the images provided on that web site and also take into account the points you have made. I will be back as I progress with comments. And as I said i will build this model albeit with a bit of caution and reserve when I speak to its authenticity.

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Mike, there is one question I do wish to ask immediately, as some of the other discrepancies I can either live with or even ignore. The opening of the waist is puzzling to me for the following reasons/observations. Some have opened it up completely such as the reference you provided in your prior response. Others have opened it up somewhat. I have seen in the Chapman plates it depicted as in the kit. I have a pamphlet from a French museum of "The Venus", 1782 with the waist also as it is in the kit. What is the origin of all of the interpretation I am seeing? In observation I would think that completely cutting the spar/quarter deck in 2 with the exposed upper deck had to be inefficient to crew when trying to get from one end of the vessel to the other, not to mention soaking wet gun crews. Why would they have done this?

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You wrote:

What is the origin of all of the interpretation I am seeing?

---End of Quote---

Thistle, the earliest version (1740?) would have had no connection between quarterdeck and focs'l.  As you say, very inconvenient.  They introduced a narrow gangway with just a couple of planks to run back and forth.  In time, this got a bit wider and gained a rope railing.  They then realized it might be handy to get the boats out of the waist and put beams across the opening to hold boats, which got more substantial and with stronger supports.  The opening got smaller fore and aft as well, until you get to a 'spar-decked frigate' such as Constitution where the large opening in the waist has been reduced to a large hatch.

It's all a progression, over a period of more than 50 years, and the configuration of a particular ship depends where on that scale she falls, as well as the dictates of the designer or particular navy involved.

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The evolution of the eventual connection of the forecastle and quarter decks is tied directly to the evolution of the cannon.  In the early days of fighting sail the ship was more like a floating castle full of infantry.  Combat was mostly coming alongside, firing off volleys of arrows, the occasional shot from relatively weak cannons, and then boarding the enemy for hand to hand combat.  Hence the need for towering fore castles and stern castles, just like on land, to give a height advantage and additional fire power.  As cannons became more powerful and accurate, they came to be more the primary weapon.  Take a look at the Sovereign of the Seas.  Initially she had cannons mounted in her fore and stern castle pointing in every direction, even inboard towards the waist.  That is because the fighting tactics had not caught up to the technology.  They were still focused on closing and boarding more than gunnery.  But she was also one of the first ships to be a true ship of the line.  During her day line of battle tactics were developed and ships began to focus all of there fire power to the sides.  In fact, during one of her later rebuilds all of the Sovereigns armament was shifted to fire outboard as broadside batteries. As the guns got bigger they needed to be carried lower in the ship.  This obviated the need for the towering castles fore and aft and eventually they disappear altogether in favor of gun decks.  The logical next step was even more cannons so the covering over of the waist provides more room for cannons.

 

Regards,

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Frederick Henrik af Chapman was one of the first ship designers, if not the first, to base ship design on scientific principles. He is thought a great deal of, not only here in Sweden.

 

There are some beautiful models of some of his ships, many in large scale, in Stockholm Maritime Museum. Most of his ships were good sailers although that, unfortunately, couldn't have been said for the Royal yacht Amphion which he also designed and which by all accounts didn't live up to expectations. He was much better at warships. Amphion's stern and cabin are preserved and on display in the museum. Besides modernising Sweden's offshore fleet, he built her inshore galley fleet and also many of the dockyard buildings at Karlskrona naval base. These are still in existance, including the mast crane – a photo of which I seem to remember appeared on an MSW thread recently under, I think, 'Amazing Photographs'.

On that topic Corel's Amphion is based on the yacht on plate 44 in Architectura navalis. The mentioned museum has a model based on a drawing by Chapman that is believed to be the real Amphion.

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Thank you all for your replies. This dialog helps me understand and decision a direction to take. Since this kit did not include small boats I am more than likely headed in the direction to open the waist a bit and include the boat stack properly in that area.  I do find the research aspect of modeling as fascinating as the actual build. I always feel I am working from a more informed "datum" when I interact with you all. I must remind myself of the evolutionary nature of the real vessels from keel laid to launch to repair and retrofit can and did change these vessels even over their short lives and of course their successors. No different in today's Navies.

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Thistle, sorry for not catching your posts.  I think the guys above have given you the answers you seek on whether the waist is open or closed.  As they say, short answer is that later in the 18th century, ships moved to more of a closed-waist set up.  Mid-18th century, the waist was much more open.  If you are looking for a more accurate Lyme class frigate, go with the approach taken by Ian and that scratch build I linked above.  Aside from historical accuracy, the benefit of the very open waist is that you open up the ship to a lot of really cool detail work.

 

Definitely post a build log on here when you get started and join our Unicorn crew :)

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I only just found this thread.  All rather depressing, really.

Seems to me that when kit manufacturers market a kit as representing a particular ship, and they plaster the box and the instruction leaflet with a potted history of said ship, they should have a responsibility to back up their marketing claims with details of where they got their plans from.  Of course they never do, and so the on-line advertisements for ship model kits simply add to the vast mass of false (or unverifiable) information that exists to confuse and confound those of us who sometimes make an amateurish attempt to gather reliable details of the historical ships we want to build.

Even if a kit gets the basic hull-shape and rig right (eg, from verifiable and contemporary plans, illustrations or written descriptions), I don't see how it can ever be possible to get the details accurate in a kit.  As has already been said, ships rarely keep to the same rig, deck arrangement, armament etc throughout their lives, so if you want "accuracy" you have to label your model not only with a name, but also with the stage of the original ship's life.

Kit parts are standardised.  F'rinstance, you don't get 1795 belaying pins or 1820 ditto; you just get belaying pins.  Pulley blocks are usually too big (or so it seems to me).  The stepladders that appear on models from 1500 to 1900 are all the same, regardless of scale, and they ignore different national shipbuilding norms.  Gratings always have holes big enough for a seaman to trap his feet in.  Cannons are just cannons. Carronades are all slender bits of turned brass that could be anything perched on a ship's rail.

So yes, I think we kit-builders realise we're not making models that would look exactly like the original, in every detail, were they to be be blown up (like a balloon) to full size.  BUT we do want the manufacturers to be honest with their claims about what their kits represent.  It grieves me to think (for example) that my carefully-detailed Constructo model of the 1795 Enterprise might not even have the hull shape right.

Admittedly I'm more of a builder than a looker-atter.  I got into this hobby, more because I liked the challenge of shipbuilding in miniature than because I wanted to litter my small residence with detailed examples of naval history.  But when one of my daughters visits, and I say "That's the ship that fought in the Mediterranean with the Libyan pirates back in the first few years of the nineteenth century", I do like to think I'm telling her a piece of real history instead of something that Constructo made up purely to sell a box of wood and brass bits.

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Next up is Corel's HMS Resolution which I can't find any info on anywhere.

 

 

 

Regarding your post about Corel Resolution, I can confirm that such cutter existed.

In the attached file there is a painting taken from the Greenwich maritime Museum, dated 1794.

But the Corel version is not hystorically correct.

They added a stern cabin with related access door, and made other modifications.

I think that they wanted to propose a kit different from the competitors ones....

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Yeah my point is that kit manufacturers take a kit that was designed by someone 50 plus years ago then market it with some sort of famousish name but offtimes the real ship looks nothing like the kit. Buuuuut that doesnt mean the kit is fictitious often it was based off of some plan or drawing like chapman. For example the jamaica kit shark and shine are all bermuda sloop variations as is that Virginia kit which is some sort of pilot schooner with a cannon added to it. That said the resolution kit is of special interest since that is a model of a sloop not a cutter and ive seen similar type ships so I imagine that model was based off of some plan but I dont have a resource book of small british ships to cross reference designs with. If anyone could recommend such a book that be great.

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Some years back, I built Occre's Apostol Felipe. The box blurb gave some obscure reference to it being a treasure ship built for King Philip IV of Spain. Although I didn't buy this kit based on any historical interest in the vessel, I have often wondered about its' actual historicity (if such exists). 

 

A quick internet search for 'APOSTOL FELIPE' reveals only (i) the Occre kit, (ii) St Philip, or (iii) the San Felipe (a completely different ship).

 

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PS: It did build into quite a nice model.

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That's another nice one, Spanish galleons are even harder since plans of them typically don't exist the best you can find is contemporary illustrations so I imagine that the best way to go would be to collect books on Spanish galleons and hope to find some sort of painting and sketch from that time period which shows something similar. Could also be an example of a kit company repurposing a model under a diff nationality like for example Soclaine Le Tonnant is really just the Rattlesnake with some extra swirly stuff to make it look Friench.

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That's another nice one, Spanish galleons are even harder since plans of them typically don't exist.

 

 

Well yes, we don't have good plans for much of anything prior to the 17th century, and even the 17th is highly spotty. So it's not just galleons, it's naos and race built galleons and carracks and cogs too. I recently bought the Victory Revenge. Is that exactly the ship Drake sailed in? Nope, of course not. But it's based on logical extrapolations of what hard info we do have, and I'm convinced that it is likely to be close enough that Drake would only need to make minor corrections to get it right.

 

And every kit manufacturer has a Santa Maria and usually Nina and Pinta too even though no one has any idea what the hell any of them looked like, we have even less info. Those models I wouldn't bother with since it's likely every single one of them is wildly wrong. Actually an amusing group build would be to collect every Santa Maria kit going back 40 years or so and have people build each of them and then compare.

 

I'm with whoever that was upthread who replied that kit manufacture falls in the toy and hobby industry and therefore bear no legal responsibility to get anything right, so when it comes to building kit's it's caveat emptor- you're responsible for doing some research to see if any particular kit represents a real ship and if so, whether it does so accurately.

 

Also remember that Absolute Historical Accuracy Disorder (AHAD), although very common among serious ship modelers, isn't universal. Lots of people just want to build something reasonably close that looks nice in a display case. It's not like your neighbor is likely to walk in and say hey those lift blocks are British style and totally wrong for your model, which is clearly a Temeraire-class French 74 built in the 1780s. 

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like for example Soclaine Le Tonnant is really just the Rattlesnake with some extra swirly stuff to make it look Friench.

 

Well, theoretically it was the last duty of the captured Rattlesnake.

It was captured by British and after few years sold to French and used by a corsair corvette and renamed "Le Tonnant".

 

That is theoretically the reason of those two twins models.

 

But I cannot demonstrate it, since I have found no real evidences.

 

Keep in mind that the original construction plans of the "Le Tonnant" were made by Vincenzo Lusci, which was the "Backbone" of the pioneer period of the wood kit manufacturers in Italy, more than 50 years ago.

It was their main source of construction plans.

So, since it was a "pioneer period" I cannot be sure of the level of research done for making some of the construction plans.

Some of those model originated by those construction plans are still in their catalogues.

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Well, theoretically it was the last duty of the captured Rattlesnake.

It was captured by British and after few years sold to French and used by a corsair corvette and renamed "Le Tonnant".

 

That is theoretically the reason of those two twins models.

 

But I cannot demonstrate it, since I have found no real evidences.

 

Keep in mind that the original construction plans of the "Le Tonnant" were made by Vincenzo Lusci, which was the "Backbone" of the pioneer period of the wood kit manufacturers in Italy, more than 50 years ago.

It was their main source of construction plans.

So, since it was a "pioneer period" I cannot be sure of the level of research done for making some of the construction plans.

Some of those model originated by those construction plans are still in their catalogues.

 

Here's the elevation of Le Tonnant as drawn by Lusci, compare it to Rattlesnake.  No idea whether it's the same or not, just providing reference.

 

1413.jpg

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Here's the elevation of Le Tonnant as drawn by Lusci, compare it to Rattlesnake.  No idea whether it's the same or not, just providing reference.

 

Thank you, but I explained myself badly.

 

I have not yet found historical sound evidences that the Rattlesnake really was renamed "Le Tonnant".

 

So I am making considerations regarding exclusively the history of the ship.

Regarding the construction plans, the ship is almost the same.

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