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1:60 H.M.S. Beagle OcCre Catalogue # 12005 Available from Ages of Sail for $209.00USD HMS Beagle was a Cherokee-class 10-gun brig-sloop of the Royal Navy, one of more than 100 ships of this class. The vessel, constructed at a cost of £7,803 (£613,000 in today's currency), was launched on 11 May 1820 from the Woolwich Dockyard on the River Thames. In July of that year she took part in a fleet review celebrating the coronation of King George IV of the United Kingdom, and for that occasion is said to have been the first ship to sail completely under the old London Bridge. There was no immediate need for Beagle so she "lay in ordinary", moored afloat but without masts or rigging. She was then adapted as a survey barque and took part in three survey expeditions. The second voyage of HMS Beagle is notable for carrying the recently graduated naturalist Charles Darwin around the world. While the survey work was carried out, Darwin travelled and researched geology, natural history and ethnology onshore. He gained fame by publishing his diary journal, best known as The Voyage of the Beagle, and his findings played a pivotal role in the formation of his scientific theories on evolution and natural selection. The kit Hot on the heels of their H.M.S. Terror kit, reviewed HERE, OcCre have hit the ground running with H.M.S. Beagle, of Charles Darwin fame. Both Terror and Beagle are of course well-known for very different reasons, and their familiarity shows OcCre not straying too much from that comfort zone. As with Terror, Beagle is packaged into a standard-type OcCre box with a cut out to display the nice fittings box that is a feature of these kits. A large, printed product label is affixed to the lid, and the kit itself is packaged in shrink film to protect it. For your information, the finished model’s dimensions are given as: Length: 720 mm Width: 230 mm Height: 480 mm Lifting the robust lid reveals a protective lower box through which you can see the instructions, and this box then splits open to access the contents. One half of the box holds three substantial bundles of very nicely cut timber, held together gently with elastic bands. The most obvious bundle is the lime, which is used for the first layer of hull planking. This creamy-looking material is super sharp with no fuzzy or split edges and is consistent in size. Our next bundle holds all of the remaining strip wood of all persuasions and sizes. There is more lime here of course, but also the Tanganyika for the second layer of hull planking. Colour is consistent too. Lime is provided for the deck planking. The last bundle contains both strip and dowel. All of the remaining timber parts have been packaged onto a wrap of heat shrunk and sealed clear plastic. I do think this approach actually aids warpage as the boards have a curve induced in them due to the wrapping. Once the plastic is cut away and removed, we get to look at the false keel and assess it. This ply part does indeed have a warp along its length, so this will need to be steamed and left flat on a sheet of glass or similar. \ There is no warp in the next sheet. This one contains the fo'c'sle deck, main deck, poop deck, transom, windlass mount and various interlocking structural elements. All laser cutting on this kit is excellent, with only minimal scorching. This sheet is also, thankfully. Warp free, and it contains all of the hull bulkheads and bow profile parts. Three inserts are also included which fit perpendicularly to the false keel and provide mounting points for the masts. We have a mixed bag with this sheet, with parts from all over the ship, plus elements to help build the four wooden launches/supply boats. Note parts here for the mast tops, trestletrees, cannon carriages, forward cannon rotating ring, channels etc. As an aid to the modeller, the upper outside of the hull sides are produced as shaped ply parts, with the grain running short-ways to allow them to bend properly around the hull. These are cut with the cannon ports in situ, so there’s no awkward fumbling to try and locate the positions of these. The second planking will of course lay directly over these ply faces. This sheet seems to deal solely with parts needed for those timber launches, and contains jigs, false keels and bulkheads. Our last timber sheet is walnut-stained ply. Many parts on this are for the display base, but you’ll also find keep, stem and stern parts, as well as mast steps. My sample does have a slight warp in this sheet. A single fret of bare brass photo-etch (PE) is included with this release, containing such parts as chainwales etc. Manufacturing quality is excellent with good parts definition and small tabs to remove the various elements. If you like your models to be fitted out with sails, then you’ll be happy to know there are a full set included in this release. These already look a little antique in appearance and are quite neat. A little fuzziness can be seen on the edges in some places, but that is easily fixed with some trimming and dilute PVA. You will need to attach your own bolt ropes though. There’s plenty of rigging cord included, in both natural and brown, of various sizes. All is neatly spooled with the diameters clearly given. Cord quality is also very good with no fuzziness being apparent. All OcCre kits come with these snazzy fittings boxes which are well worth keeping even when the model is complete. They are a great way of keeping organised. Eleven compartments contain all kit fittings, plus four more spools of rigging cord that have been placed there to stop the metal fittings rolling around. The metal parts are made from a zinc alloy (Zamak) which gives the parts are real nice definition, as can be seen from the gear teeth on the windlass. There are some slight seams to remove, and a jeweller’s file will do that nicely. Note that the anchor stocks are also cast in metal instead of made from wood and these just slip over the anchor stem. There are also davits here for the launches, and a whole rake of brass wire in different diameters. A set of printed flags is also included. All belaying pins, deadeyes and rigging blocks are manufactured from a pale wood (box?) and are not at all shabby. A few of the blocks may need a drill passing through them to make a totally clean exit hole. The brass pins are fine, sharp and with no deformation. Quite happy with those. Here you see the parrel beads, closed heart blocks etc. Here we can see the various pintles, gudgeons, chain, rigging pins, all made from brass. As well as more blocks (this time single hole) and deadeyes, and more metal fittings, such as the cleats, figurehead, wheel, and strangely enough….the quarter galleries. An odd choice of material for a couple of things here, but they are manufactured with good definition. The last items here are also zinc alloy. Thee cannon do look excellent. Just a few minor seams to tackle. There are two sets of sheets that involve construction of Beagle. With the first, you see a series of drawings that concern the masting of the model, and there is also a comprehensive parts list. For the second set of sheets, a series of clear, colour photos take you through the build. These are pretty self-explanatory and shouldn’t provide any problem. Some drawings are interspersed with the photos. Thee last pages are taken over by rigging and masting illustrations, and also a deck plan for reference. Conclusion You get quite a lot of kit for your money with H.M.S. Beagle, and most certainly a lot of good quality material. My only real gripe is the packing of the ply parts and the ply they are specifically made from as there is warpage present. I know some modellers aren’t keen on MDF for these parts, but it sure doesn’t warp. Maybe they’ll consider this in future. Apart from that, there’s nothing really to criticise for a kit of this level. It’s also good to see that instead of packing white metal launches into this, all are made as separate projects in their own right. The use of zinc-based metal parts also lends itself to a far sharper end result, although the very minor seams will just take a little more work with a jeweller’s file. OcCre continue with their tradition of providing colour-photo driven instructions with accompanying text sheets, and these seem very simple to follow. All in all, this is a kit which could well provide an in-road for a modeller who wants to try their hand at wooden ships, or even as a nice subject for a more seasoned modeller. Another very nice release from OcCre. My sincere thanks to OcCre for the kit reviewed here on Model Ship World. To buy this kit from Ages of Sail, click the link at the top of the article.