A number of years ago, I bought the first copy of a part works magazine on building a 1/96 HMS Victory. The reasons were, it was only £1.99 (starter price) and it had some nice colour pictures for reference, some nice pieces of thin plywood (always hard to find in the UK) to be used as bulkheads. It also had a gun kit comprising barrel, carriage (in 3 pieces), trucks, capsquares, a length of brass rod for axles and some small brass nails to hold the capsquares on with. This kit has been sculling around in the bottom of my toolbox for a while now, so I thought I’d have a bash at a bit of a diorama in a bottle as a side project.
This was just meant as a general ‘illustration’ of a gun station, no particular ship in mind, and I fully realise that some parts are not to scale or particularly accurate. A bit of fun really.
I used oak strip from www.stripwood.co.uk for the deck and hull, and the Salt Box. The Sponge Tub was made from 1mm wide strip cut from a piece of veneer (not sure what wood), coloured black on one side then stained Light Oak. Similarly the Match Tub, although this was easier as it has a solid wood former under the strips. The Handspikes were carved from dowel and stained. The Rammer was bamboo stick thinned down with the Rammer part turned and stained, similarly for the Sponge, however the head was painted white to simulate fleece. The Powder Scoop was bamboo stick with the scoop fashioned from pieces of styrene tubing and then painted; the Worm was bamboo with a coiled bit of wire painted black. I turned the Cartridge Case from a bit of Elm, as I believe the originals were.
The piece of Grating was made from some mahogany strip and some white wood strip, the cannonballs were self coloured air drying modelling clay, the rack was a bit of mahogany strip.
As to the gun itself, the carriage took a bit of rework to get the parts to fit and then be shaped so that it looked ok. The supplied trucks were enameled metal, so I used them to get dimensions, and used these to turn some new trucks from Elm, as this was used in the real thing.
Brass wire painted black was used to make the ringbolts on the gun carriage and for the lashing points on the hull. I carved the blocks from a length of mahogany strip, used some thin brass wire to strop them and used thin thread for the rope. Once in place I soaked the thread with dilute PVA glue to stiffen them in place. I showed the tackle loosened on the diorama.
The breeching rope was a thicker bit of thread; it was thick enough so that I could actually whip the eye (with a spot of glue just to make sure) after passing through the ringbolts.
The small brass nails supplied to put the capsquares on were far too big so were replaced with smaller ones.
The Capsquares were actually too big for the trunnions, (the barrel could fall out), so I shimmed them with some thin walled brass tube. All painted black.
The bottle is a small spirit bottle, probably quarter size, about 6 inches long overall. The inside is about 3 inches long, with a top to bottom taper that caused a bit of fettling to get the deck to fit. It then took a bit of trial and error to get the deck fixed in position. CA didn’t want to know, I tried UV cured glue, but that was curing too quickly in the bright daylight (it does happen in the UK sometimes) so I used a couple of bits of Milliput in the end – not the prettiest solution – I would rethink this bit if I ever try something like this again.
The stand is a piece of MDF covered in Oak Veneer, and the bottle supports are Oak strip.
Turks Head knot to finish off.
A work colleague suggested I name the pieces, so from left to right:
Salt Box - wooden box with leather hinges to hold a couple of cartridges - the salt soaked up any moisture
Cartridge container - lidded wooden container used to carry the cartridges up from the magazine - usually by the ships boys, the Powder Monkeys
Handspikes - resting against the cannon - substantial shaped levers used to train the gun carriage around
Sponge Tub - filled with water - used to sponge out the barrel after a shot to make sure no burning debris before putting in the next cartridge
Match Tub - conical, half filled with water. A fire precaution on ships. The burning ends of the match were fed over the top. If knocked over the water put out the match. The match was used if the flintlock on the gun failed.
Rammer, Sponge, Worm and Powder Scoop
All the Best
Trial fit with a pen for scale
The Bad Guy's View