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I am finally ready to get stuck in on the Dusek La Real build. This is a very interesting build and one im very excited to document. My first build was the 1/48 scale HMS Surprise, whicjh was a monumental overreach for a first build, but it turned out better than i ever imagined, and i learned a ton along the way. My second build was a model airways Wright Flyer, a model that was fun but much less intensive. Now im ready and excited for more planking and rigging lol. The Real is a row galley famous for the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.
1:72 La Real Dusek Ship Kits Catalogue # D015 Available from Dusek Ship Kits for 409€ La Real was a Spanish galley and the flagship of Don John of Austria in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, the largest battle between galleys in history. She was built in Barcelona at the Royal Shipyard and was the largest galley of its time. Real was usually the designation of the flagship in a particular Spanish fleet and was not necessarily the actual name of the ship. Almirante was the designation of the ship of the 2nd in command, others with a specific command function were patrona/padrona and lanterna. The galley was 60 metres (200 ft) long and 6.2 metres (20 ft) wide, had two masts, and weighed 237 tons empty. It was equipped with three heavy and six light artillery pieces, was propelled by a total of 290 rowers and, in addition, carried some 400 sailors and soldiers at Lepanto. 50 men were posted on the upper deck of the forecastle, 50 on the midships ramp, another 50 each along the sides at the bow, 50 each on the skiff and oven platforms, 50 on the firing steps along the sides near the stern, and 50 more on the stern platform behind the huge battle flag. To help move and manoeuvre the huge ship, it was pushed from the rear during the battle by two other galleys. As befitting a royal flagship, it was luxuriously ornamented and painted in the red and gold colours of Spain. Its poop was elaborately carved and painted with numerous sculptures, bas-reliefs, paintings and other embellishments, most of them evoking religious and humanistic inspirational themes. Photo by author, Barcelona, 2006 The Battle of Lepanto in 1571 saw Juan of Austria's fleet of the Holy League, an alliance of Christian powers of the Mediterranean, decisively defeat an Ottoman fleet under Grand Admiral ("Kaptan-ı Derya") Müezzinzade Ali Pasha. La Real and the Turkish galley Sultana, flagship of Ali Pacha, engaged in direct deck-to-deck combat very soon after the start of the battle. Sultana was boarded and after about one hour of bloody fighting, with reinforcements being supplied to both ships by supporting galleys of the two respective fleets, captured. Ali Pacha was wounded by musket fire, fell to the deck, and was beheaded by a Spanish soldier. His head was displayed on a pike, severely affecting the morale of his troops. Real captured the "Great Flag of the Caliphs" and became a symbol of the victory at Lepanto. The kit Dusek’s La Real is packaged into a long, very sturdy and attractive box with a nice glossy-finish lid which depicts a completed model of this famous galley, along with finished dimensions. The side panels also contain a further four smaller detail shots of the finished model. Lifting the lid reveals a clear plastic compartmented tray containing rigging cord, resin and fittings etc. Also seen at first look are the bundles of strip-wood and dowel, sailcloth pack, bundle of plans with a flag sheet, and lurking underneath are the timber sheets, wrapped in white plastic sheet. The hull of La Real is double-planked, and our first bundle of timber is for the first planking layer and deck planking, with there being 50 lengths of 2mm x 5mm limewood. Material quality is first rate, with nice, clean cutting, no split or frayed edges and all material being uniform. Also, all timber bundles are held together with elastic bands and these aren’t too tight as to deform the timber. A smaller bundle contains various diameters of Ramin dowel. The material is uniform, straight and again of a high quality. A few lengths of loose dowel are also found within the box, of varying lengths, and also machined from the same quality of Ramin as the previous bundle. Whilst on the subject of dowel, take a look at this little bundle! Here we have 61 lengths of 3mm Ramin dowel. These are for the 60 oars, so a spare piece is given. You will need to taper and shape each of these parts identically, so you could ideally make use of a lathe, if possible. This bundle of timber strip is produced from walnut and caters to the second planking layer for the hull. Colour is mostly uniform, but not all due to the nature of timber, so lay these accordingly. As with the first planking, these are beautifully cut with no fluffy or broken edges. With all other materials removed from the box, you’ll note the rest of the sheet material is wrapped in a sort of thick, white clingfilm material which needs to be peeled open to reveal the contents. Inside this wrap we have all of the laser-cut timber sheets including those manufactured from ply, walnut and pearwood. A real joy to see the latter included in an off-the-shelf kit. Here we see sections for the keel, laser-cut in walnut, along with some fine laser-etched details which are quite common to this release. This sheet is either Ramin or limewood and contains a lot of parts pertaining to the rower areas, as well as the hoops which form the covered section at the stern of the galley, plus the small launch. All parts are packed in very tightly on this sheet, to the point where there are practically touching each other. Save to say there will be little material waste here! Of course, you will need to remove char from all laser-cut parts, and there are some minimal, localised heat-affected areas which should be easy to sand from the surface before you begin to remove parts. It’s worth mentioning at this stage that no parts have numbers on or adjacent to them. There are two sheets of illustrations which map out the parts for you and number them accordingly, so you will need to keep referring to this during construction. A walnut sheet contains further parts that are laser-etched. When you have sealed these, you will need to either paint them gold or, if you have the ability, gold-leaf them yourself. As with the previous sheet, many parts are quite tightly packed on this sheet. There are FOUR sheets of laser-cut and occasionally engraved pearwood here. These are very thin sheets, almost to the point of being veneer, and they are crisply cut with nice, minimal tags for removing the components. The long straight lengths you see are veneers for the deck planking. One large sheet of 3mm ply contains all of the bulkheads and false keel for this vessel. Note that the false keel is in two sections that are linked with a dovetail joint. Also, the bulkheads have two holes in them to accommodate the dowels that will pass through them and help to make the narrow hull all that more rigid. What is quite unusual here is that the bulkheads slip onto the false keel from underneath, defying convention. Like other contemporary kits, this one contains a clear plastic tray and a lid, used to house the smaller kit components. Extensive use of resin has been made here to produce the various rails and features that contain carvings. These look exquisite and underneath gold paint, will look simply superb and very indicative of the gilded ornamentation of La Real. All resin parts, including the anchors, will need to be carefully sawn from their respective casting blocks and then cleaned up before use. It’s also a good idea to wash resin before use, to clean off any residual mould-release agent that could stop paint adhering. Casting is excellent with no visible flaw or defect that I can see. Also in resin are come parts for the stern lanterns and cooking pots etc. Cast in white metal are the cannon, etc. The finish is very good with just minimal seams that will need to be filed away. A small fret of photo-etch metal is included for their embellishments. As well as a length of fine brass wire, here we see a pack containing chain, parrel beads and various eyelets. Looking at the rigging blocks, these look perfectly acceptable in terms of quality, with them looking uniform and having nicely drilled holes and machined slots. Four spools of rigging cord in three colours and three diameters, are supplied. Along with this is a thicker length of rope and a length of blue cord. As is de rigueur these days, a fret of photo-etch parts is included, with parts for the observation top, name plates, dead eye fittings, rudder hinges, to name but a few. Etch quality is excellent, but the connection tags are quite wide, so be careful when it comes to removing the parts, as there will undoubtedly be some clean-up required. A pack of sail cloth is included for you to make your own sails, and illustrations are included as to how these will be made, including sewing in a bolt rope to the edges. Whilst the sails on this model are quite large, there is ample material here to make them. Flags are supplied as prints on a sheet of a material which looks like cloth but is slightly plastic in feel. These just need to be cut out and draped to suit. They are very thin so making them look natural should be an absolute cinch. Print quality is very good too and they most certainly look very attractive. FIVE sheets of plans are included with a LOT of illustrative info supplied. You really will need to study these as La Real isn’t a model for a beginner and deciphering the various sectionals will be vital to get the most from your purchase. Every single facet of construction is shown in super detail, with key areas being shown as separate areas of detail. All rigging and masting is shown in detail, with the galley being relatively simple in comparison to a Man ‘o War of the same or later period. Sheets appear to be A0 in size, so you’ll need some bench space! Two double-sided A3 sheets show the parts maps for everything, including the photo-etch sheet. An instruction booklet takes each main step and gives some simple text to guide you on your way. A complete parts list is also included here. Conclusion La Real and her place in time, for me, have always conjured up an image of a quasi-obsolete military marine technology that had its heyday during classical Roman and Greek times. The juxtaposition it creates when you consider that the Battle of Lepanto took place whilst other European countries were sailing Galleons, really tends to put things into perspective, yet La Real and her contemporaries were fighting against an empire which was creating an existential crisis in Europe, and they won the day. This elegant vessel has been immaculately recreated first in Barcelona in 1971, and now in kit-form by Dusek Ship Kits. This is a kit of superbly high quality and with a refined excellence in design execution, using some of the finest timbers I’ve seen in an off-the-shelf kit, such as sheet pearwood, walnut etc. The pearwood sheets are almost veneer-like in how thin they are, yet still have that laser-engraved etch detail. Superb. I also very much like the resin castings for the anchors and sculptures/rails. I know that resin isn’t generally seen by model shipwrights as a legitimate material, but it works very well and provides the modeller with details that they either wouldn’t be able to recreate at all or would need to use a more 2D photo-etch to simulate. Remember, we saw resin in Amati’s HMS Vanguard that we reviewed HERE. I’m quite used to this material from my plastic modelling time and know how good it can look when used. Dusek Ship Kits’ La Real is an absolute gem of a kit and when complete, its intricacies with all of those rowing positions and the multitude of other small details in décor and fitments, will doubtless result in a really beautiful finished model of this famous vessel. My sincere thanks to Dusek Ship Kits for the review kit seen in this article. This model is available right now from Dusek, so click the link at the top of the article and remember to tell them you read about it on MSW.