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1:123 La Couronne Ship Model Okumoto Catalogue # LC-SMO-K80 Available from Ship Model Okumotofor ¥ 51,840 Couronne (French for "crown") was an emblematic ship of the French Navy built by order of Richelieu. The Couronne was the first major warship to be designed and built by the French themselves in accordance with Richelieu's plans to renew the French Navy, after a series of warships had been built by the Dutch. The construction was supervised by Isaac de Launay Razilly (died in Arcadia 1635), and overseen by the famous carpenter Charles Morieu, from Dieppe. She was being constructed at La Roche-Bernard and was one of the most advanced units of her time. After launch in 1632 or 1633, she was moved to Brouage in September 1634 where she was completed around 1635 by Mathieu Casteau. She carried up to heavy guns, most on her two-deck broadside but also 8 firing forwards from the bow and 8 firing aft, an unusual feature until Dupuy de Lôme redesigned naval artillery. Couronne took part in the Battle of Guetaria on 22 August 1638, and another expedition to Spain in 1639 under Henri de Sourdis. The ship was disarmed in 1641 and scrapped between 1643-1645. Extract courtesy of Wikipedia The kit Ship Model Okumoto isn’t a name that you’re likely to have encountered much, if at all, during your exploration of this hobby. They are one of an extremely minor number of Japanese companies who are producing wooden ship kits. In fact, the only other company that I can think of is WoodyJoe, and they don’t sell these frame-style models that Okumoto are now selling. At the moment, Okumoto only produce three of these kits, with a fourth being released in the next weeks. Model Ship World has been sent all three current releases for review, so I thought we’d first take a look at this most famous of French ships. If you expect your model ship to be packaged into the typical cardboard box with glossy box art and other such niceties, then this might just surprise you. Okumoto has chosen a lockable, clear plastic case to package their kits into, and there is no box art. This simple approach has its identity defined by the set of instruction sheets that has a photo of the finished model sat on top of the timber parts. It’s as simple as that. Whilst unconventional, this approach is actually quite charming and certainly engaging. Opening the box reveals three stacks of laser-cut wood (Agathis), a small bundle of thin strip wood, short dowel sections and a packet with five bundles of toothpicks. The latter have quite ornate turning on their blunt end and have obviously been chosen for this purpose. I remember using the same thing when I built my Panart San Felipe. There are 26 sheets of accompanying plans and drawings, plus the colour laser-printed image of the finished vessel. I know that there are a number of modellers who aren’t fans of laser cut wood due to the scorched edges, but the heat from this laser seems to have been very localised and not caused as much as is seen on contemporary kits. Look at this photo to see what I mean. On the reverse of each sheet are a few lengths of sticky tape. This is designed to hold the parts in their respective places because with this kit, there is no reason to cut the parts from the sheets! Yes. They are completely cut out and ready to use! Removing the parts also shows that no sticky residues are left from the tape, so this isn’t a concern. As this model is going to be POF, it’s pretty important that there aren’t any unwanted nasties to overcome, such as numbering of the components. This is also correct as the part numbers for each sheet are supplied on the accompanying plans. Another feature of each laser-cut sheet is the thickness of the timber and sheet number, laser-engraved onto the end of each one, making identifying even easier. Most of the strip material is cut from the same timber and in the same fashion with the tape holding the strips in place. Dowel and separate strip wood is high quality too, but I’m unsure as the material used for the latter. Those bundles of toothpicks are very good too, with no low-quality material that splits and splinters. Underneath the colour print of the finished La Couronne, lurks a 6-page photo driven instruction manual. Now, here’s the rub…it’s all in Japanese! The various sizes etc. are understandable, so you will need to the aid of a mobile app, such as Google Translate, so scan and change the language into your own native brand. That app actually works pretty well on this sort of thing. Check out this screenshot comparison. Next up is an A2 sized plan, printed at actual scale to the model. All text and dimension on this is printed in English, and the drawings include an above elevation and a starboard side profile. A further six sheets show the parts plan for the laser-cut timber, simply for referencing purposes. Each frame is now shown on the next series of drawings, indicating joints and positions for the deck beams. There will be course need to be some tracing of positions from these to the timber parts. The remainder of the plans contain drawings which pertain to the fitting of rails, lodging knees and just about every other aspect of the model, in more precise detail that the previous plans. Whilst Japanese text is present, so is English text, so there shouldn’t be any confusion in what you are studying. All plans also show the specific part numbers for just about everything, whether you need to know them or not. Conclusion La Couronne is, according to Ken at Okumoto, one of the most popular model ship designs in Japan because the shape is very appealing to wooden ship builders. This kit, at time of writing, is their latest release, and Okumoto misjudged how popular it would be with customers and as a result, they quickly ran out of the first production batch. Whilst the model itself is superbly designed and produced with high quality, there are perhaps a couple of areas where artistic licence/vs simplicity might have crept in, but that really doesn’t detract from what is otherwise a highly attractive and authentic-looking POF build of this historical vessel. You could, if you wished, go even further with the model and add internal deck planking etc. For me, the model is perfect without any added embellishment and will provide the modeller with a challenge and a great introduction into the world of POF ships, and without any real compromise in the standard of the finished build. These aren’t cheap models by any stretch of the imagination, so I would ensure that you’ve a number of completions under your belt before diving into an Okumoto kit. I would say these are an excellent transition kit between POB and POF, if POF was what you really wanted to tackle, but didn’t have the tooling to do so. I think the only thing I would’ve liked to have seen included are the gratings. I don’t know how easy they would be to replicate in this scale, but may try to add them myself. There are two previous releases to this. These are Santa Maria and Endeavour, and I will be looking at these too over the next weeks. My sincere thanks to Ship Model Okumoto for kindly sending this sample out for review on Model Ship World. To purchase directly, click the link at the top of this article.