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HMS Unicorn by Thistle17 - Corel - 1:75 Scale

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After too many years of arm chair ship modeling interest, I have rejoined the fold, in a more active roll, at the prompting of colleagues in our newly formed ship model forum in Rochester, NY. Having been away for so long I needed a project to reawaken my skills, I chose a Corel kit of HMS Unicorn dating back to the 1980's I acquired from the defunct Bliss Marine. I have had an off again, on again relationship with the kit as I came to realize there were flaws in its authentic nature. Research on MSW and through the internet made me aware of its flaws (something like that pretty girl you got to know that wasn't that pretty inside if you get my drift).


In the MSW section on"Model Ship Kits....Reviews" I documented observations I made regarding the hull comparison to the Chapman drawing in 'Architectura Navalis Mercatoria". In summary "I didn't think we could have a long term relationship" (in boy/girl parlance). As a result I stared to put it aside until I received from Campbell Ross, in Alberta Canada, some of the ship's log for the Unicorn of 1747! He was quite familiar with the vessel as he is from England and had lived close by the preservation site of the current Unicorn. That turned me around.


So as with anything in life I began breaking down what was troubling me about this vessel's authenticity. In a nut shell (and this relates to the hull only):

* The stem is a bit odd in shape by comparison (it has been modified to come closer to Chapman and it has been extended to enable placement of the figurehead on top of the stem reach (this should also allow a more realistic head-rail treatment))

* The stern is too steep by comparison it has been modified somewhat to address this. I may extend its upper width if I don't get in trouble with the counter.

* Chapman's depiction shows 26 guns on the upper deck, while Corel shows 24. To get to the 26 guns Chapman depicts a gun port just forward of the side gallery (starboard). Odd it should be that close to the gallery windows?? Secondly the Chapman plate shows a gun port forward of the fore mast. Corel does not.

* Lastly mast spacing is not the same (more on this later)

* An update (2/24): I over-layed the new keel over the Chapman drawing (at the same scale) before reattaching. Didn't think to do this earlier. Although modified as stated it does not match to my satisfaction. The Chapman plate depicts a more "bulbous" bow below the waterline. Hmmm, another compromise as it is much too difficult to modify the false keel and new keel at this point. Having the Chapman source is a two edged sword isn't it?

So in compromise I have redone the false keel by cutting "the keel" off at the bearding line (there is none on the kit) and rebuilding it as shown in the photo. I used cherry laminated to bass to achieve a "look" I am headed for.


In my next installment i will address the gun port solution (if there is one) and the assembly of the bulkheads onto the false keel. Over time the false keel has warped so I will have to address that as well.


Edited by Thistle17
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Looks interesting! Good luck!



Current build(s):

Continental Gunboat Philadelphia by Model Shipways



Completed build(s):

Model Shipways Phantom



Member of:

The Nautical Research Guild

N.R.M.S.S. (Nautical Research and Model Ship Society)

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Hello Thistle17 from another Unicorn builder.


As you have noted the Corel Unicorn makes a nice model but is not very accurate. The Corel history for this ship is dubious to put it mildly and seems to confuse the identity of a few ships called Unicorn.


I agree with your assessment of the hull.


I am working on the basis that the Chapman plans are of the 1748 Unicorn. Some info on this ship can be seen <here>.  This states that it had 24 off 9 pounder guns on the upper deck and 4 off 3 pounder guns on the quarter deck. It also had 12 swivel guns.


It is my view that Chapman did not design the Unicorn but simply documented it after it was decommissioned. The original plans are missing. It is a member of the Lyme class. The Lyme plans still exist in the NMM.


The layout of the quarter deck/fore deck does not look accurate to me. So I have modified mine to have an open waist area - which I believe looks a lot better.


There are a few Unicorns at various stages of construction with logs on this site. You will also find some completed models in the gallery.


Good luck with your build. I will be following it with interest.

Edited by ianmajor

Ian M.


Current build: HMS Unicorn  (1748) - Corel Kit


Advice from my Grandfather to me. The only people who don't make mistakes are those who stand back and watch. The trick is not to repeat the error. 

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Good luck with your build. I built Unicorn years ago, with some modifications. I'll look forward to seeing what you do with her. 

Joe Volz



Current build:

Model Shipways "Benjamin W. Latham"



Completed  builds on MSW:

Caldercraft HMS "Cruizer   Caldercraft HMBV "Granado"   Model Shipways "Prince De Neufchatel"





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I built Unicorn about 15 years ago, so my recollection of some of the modifications I made isn't great, particularly since I sold the model shortly after building. I didn't go by any plans at the time, just tried to improve some things that just didn't look right, such as the stern windows and the waist area.  


Here's a couple of pictures. 





Joe Volz



Current build:

Model Shipways "Benjamin W. Latham"



Completed  builds on MSW:

Caldercraft HMS "Cruizer   Caldercraft HMBV "Granado"   Model Shipways "Prince De Neufchatel"





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  • 10 months later...

Hey Thistle, you're not alone as I abandoned my Unicorn for similar reasons. You can certainly make a nice model from the kit, but once you start down the path of trying for historical accuracy, the kit will frustrate you to no end. Seems easier to build her from scratch than deal with the hull and other issues.


Have you decided on a next build yet?



Current Wooden builds:  Amati/Victory Pegasus  MS Charles W. Morgan  Euromodel La Renommèe  


Plastic builds:    SB2U-1 Vindicator 1/48  Five Star Yaeyama 1/700  Pit Road Asashio and Akashi 1/700 diorama  Walrus 1/48 and Albatross 1/700  Special Hobby Buffalo 1/32


Completed builds :  Caldercraft Brig Badger   Amati Hannah - Ship in Bottle  Pit Road Hatsuzakura 1/700   Hasegawa Shimakaze 1:350

F4B-4 and P-6E 1/72  Accurate Miniatures F3F-1/F3F-2 1/48  Tamiya F4F-4 Wildcat built as FM-1 1/48  Special Hobby Buffalo 1/48

Citroen 2CV 1/24 - Airfix and Tamiya  Entex Morgan 3-wheeler 1/16


Terminated build:  HMS Lyme (based on Corel Unicorn)  


On the shelf:  Euromodel Friedrich Wilhelm zu Pferde; Caldercraft Victory; too many plastic ship, plane and car kits


Future potential scratch builds:  HMS Lyme (from NMM plans); Le Gros Ventre (from Ancre monographs), Dutch ship from Ab Hoving book, HMS Sussex from McCardle book, Philadelphia gunboat (Smithsonian plans)

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