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  1. Hello, Model Ship World! My name is Marc and I hail from NYC. While I am new to the site, I am not a novice to the hobby. Owing to the early growth of my two children, and the development of my career in woodworking, it has been some time since I built a ship model. About sixteen years, in fact! Most of my hobby time, in the evenings, has been devoted to a series of woodworking and furniture projects, which fall under the umbrella of something I refer to as the Heirloom Furniture Project - a legacy project for my kids to inherit sometime far down the road, I hope! Despite my interest in that, and my role as an active and involved Dad, I never stopped reading and acquiring books about my particular interest in ships and ship modeling: the 17th C. ship-of-the-line, and particularly French naval architecture of that period. My recent discovery of Pinterest has really accelerated my understanding of the unique design differences in the stern architecture of the French first and second rates. For anyone who's curious, my Pinterest page titled French Vaisseaus can be found under my member name Tafferal. The imagery I have been able to compile, there, has made it possible for me to begin designing a build that I have long been grappling with. Here's the link: https://www.pinterest.com/tafferal/french-vaisseaus/ This will not be a fully-framed scratch build, but rather an extensive modification of Heller's Soleil Royal. I plan to test out my "Theory of the Ship," in plastic, so that I might re-create the ship, in wood, with all the scratch-built bells and whistles, when I eventually retire. This will be my second build of the Heller kit. The first was begun at the age of eight; very cautiously, I proceeded to the main deck level where I stopped the build, understandably, until I had developed enough skill to competently complete the upper works. As a teenager, I completed everything up to the masting and rigging. After college, I finally finished the model and had a very nice case made to house it. I have been transporting it from apartment to apartment for the past twenty years. It is, in my opinion, a very carefully fit and assembled model (no injection marks, gaps or flash lines) that is impeccably painted. It is not, however, a realistic depiction of the ship, or of a sailing ship, in general. That notwithstanding, I, like many others before me have become completely captivated by the conjectural splendor of what the actual vessel must have been like. The short-comings of the Heller kit have been thoroughly documented on a number of forums. I'm assuming that most who come to read this thread are already well acquainted with the inherent omissions and short-comings of the plastic kit. Unlike so many others, though, I believe that there lies within the kit, great potential to build an accurate scale model of a French first-rate ship from the 1660s. Now, it bears mentioning that I have read the forum moderator's post on overly ambitious build threads, and I can certainly appreciate and agree with the thinking, there. This is going to be an ambitious build! I expect it to go on for quite a number of years. This is not, however, a passing fancy. I am a devotee of incremental progress: whatever little can be accomplished, most evenings of the week, gradually adds up to a thing taking shape. My main obstacle, until now, had been the difficulty in fully visualizing what I believe the original intent of Jean Berain's well known drafts of the SR's stern and quarter galleries to be. I will expound on my theory of the ship in a moment, however, I'd like to say a word or two about why this project has legs for me. The kit I am using for this build is one of the early pressings from the 70's, by Heller. It, initially, belonged to my next door neighbor who was a kind of mentor to me when I was young. Mark Hansen was an outstanding modeler of all kinds of military craft, but he especially loved the sailing ships. He gave me a pretty solid foundation on what was and was not appropriate to incorporate on a sailing ship model. It was his SR that I first spied on the top shelf of his hobby room. I was instantly captivated, and from that point forward perennially obsessed with this single vessel, in a way that I still don't fully comprehend. Mark helped me build my first SR. He intended to tackle the kit in his retirement, but he never made it. Cancer took him in his late 50s. I have never known a person to be more generous with his time, and his memory remains dear. I'm dedicating this build to him, as it is quite possible I would never have found fulfillment in the trades, if not for his influence. MY THEORY OF THE SHIP Soleil Royal's keel was laid down at Brest shipyards in 1666, as part of Minister to the Navy, Colbert's, aggressive reconstruction and restructuring of Louis XIV's navy. She was launched in 1668, and completed a year later in 1669. Her length on deck is listed as 164.5 antiquated French pieds, with a breadth of 44.5 FP. Using a conversion factor of 1.066, this translates to 175 modern, English feet by 47' 5" in breadth, at the main beam. She displaced 2,400 tons, and her draft measured 23.5 FP, or 25 EF. As a side note, I must mention that I am in the process of establishing a point person at the Musee de la Marine, so that I might ask specific questions about my source material. So far, I have not received any reply to my inquiries. For the moment, though, I'm assuming that these L.O.D. dimensions I am giving are, indeed, the L.O.D., and not some other specific measurement. This will, for the sake of scholarship and my future build in wood, be clarified. However, for the purpose of this build, it doesn't really matter; the kit hull halves are what they are, and in fact, the kit L.O.D. pretty exactly corresponds with 175 EF. In the end, though, the requirements of this particular build will necessitate a certain degree of fudgery to create the impression I am after. There will be small additions and subtractions - all to be explained in the next few posts. Her designer and builder was Laurent Hubac, and her initial armament is listed as 120 guns. As a shipwright, Monsieur Hubac was noted for building warships that were considerably wider than those of his contemporaries. This owed to his belief that the added width improved the handling characteristics of these large ships. Soleil Royal was, indeed, said to he a good sailing ship. One year earlier, another ship by M. Hubac was launched at Brest, and initially christened Le Royal Duc. With the establishment of the French rating system, in 1671, the ship was re-named La Reyne. Her listed dimensions are as follows: L.O.D., 155 FP, by 42 FP on the main beam. Using the above metric, this translates to a L.O.D. of 165' 3" in English feet and a maximum beam of a hair under 44' 9". She displaced 2,000 tons and her draft is listed as 22' 10" FP, or 24' 4" EF. Her initial armament was listed as 104 guns. The two ships are of a similar size, displacement and rating. However, unlike SR, there exist two highly detailed Van De Velde portraits of La Reyne, showing her from the starboard stern quarter, as well as, the port bow, broadside. It is immediately apparent that the design of La Reyne's stern and quarter galleries is markedly different from SR. Also, as is to be expected, the arrangement of her gunports is significantly different from what is known about SR, and the arrangement of her guns. The value of these Van De Velde portraits, for me, has to do with the wealth of hull detail that is apparent (and glaringly omitted in the Heller, and vis-a-vis, the incomplete Tanneron model upon which it is directly based), as well as the ship's sheer line and presence on the water. In pen and wash, one can see a significantly more stout vessel, in La Reyne, with a notably lower sheer line, as compared to Tanneron's interpretation of Berain's designs for SR. As a side note, there is a Belgian on another site who has outlined his build plans for converting Heller's SR into La Reyne of 1671. What he is proposing is absolutely attainable, as the VDV drawings are remarkably clear, especially when combined with another period drawing of La Reyne's stern that shows the ornament for what it is - if not, remotely, to scale. Like me, this gentleman sees the potential in Heller's kit for a sound scale model, although his build will necessitate re-configuring the armament. As am I, he is still in the research stage, but I will be following his build and posting links, as appropriate. I want to say, from the outset, that the question of SR's armament - whether 120 guns upon launching, or 104 at the time of her demise - is not one that I plan to resolve with this build. I will be using the moulded kit hull halves and upper bulwarks. I will be making extensive modifications to those parts, and completely scratch-building the entire stern and beakhead bulkhead. Heller's kit, like Tanneron's model, is pierced for 110 guns. I suppose I could omit the two lower bow chase ports, but that would only bring me down to 108. Leaving them out would be a largely arbitrary decision without any clear basis in fact. In the end, my ship will carry 110 guns. There are just certain constraints of working with the pre-established port locations of the plastic hull that I am not willing to overcome. This is the first and most glaring. I am recycling what I can of the kit because the essential lines of the hull and tumblehome are fairly representative of period practice, and of course, it is an enormous time saver to avoid the complete scratch-building of a hull. Ultimately, what I am aiming to achieve, is what I believe to be the correct interpretation of Berain's stern and quarter galleries, as well as the decorative frieze of the upper bulwarks. In the course of the build, I will also add correct period detail - correctly scaled - to the hull, head, decks and guns, while completely re-masting and rigging the ship, according to the guidance of Lees and Anderson. A few gunports, give or take, will not detract from the impression of a ship that sits slightly lower in the water, on a notably broader beam, with noticeably lower sheer; in other words, a ship that won't capsize from the recoil of her own broadside. My ship model will bear a resemblance to the Heller kit, but I hope to far exceed it in ornamental magnificence and correct period detail. What I'm going for is essentially this: This is a work from a twentieth century artist, I believe from the 1950's, who must have been similarly infatuated with SR. I believe that he correctly depicts the configuration of SR's stern. Although, I must say that even if it were the case that she were almost completely painted blue above the lower, main wales - I will not be depicting her, as such. More on that later. In future posts, I will outline what exactly my theory of the ship entails, as well as, my supporting documentary evidence. I will then discuss exactly what I intend to do with the Heller kit, in order to bring all of this about, and then I will share with you the drawings that I have been working on, that will serve as the basis of my modification plan. I've been corresponding with Dan Pariser quite a bit lately, and he has prevailed upon me that I would be much better served digitizing my hand-drawn images so that I could more easily develop them in Corel Draw, for example. He is right, and I will. After not hearing from me for such a long time, I have to credit Dan for being so generous with his knowledge and resources. He and Mark Hansen are two of a kind! So, I must first create a scale "field" - as opposed to a line and body plan (not necessary because I'm not framing) - upon which I can layer all of the new detail. There will be some learning there, naturally, but I will share what I've arrived at, so far, in future posts. Thank you all for taking an interest in this thread and I look forward to hearing whatever you might have to say on the subject. I have also read the moderator's post on forum etiquette, when commenting on a thread or post; I am not nearly as brittle as the plastic I will be working with, so please don't labor too much in your replies. Just tell me what's on your mind. All the best, Marc

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