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Soleil Royal by Hubac's Historian - Heller - An Extensive Modification and Partial Scratch-Build

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Good day Mark,

as I understood he used some kind of ?silk ?  name PONGE 5  https://www.silkcraft.co.uk/ponge-5-white-silk-90cm-wide


and special thermoactivating japanise paper which used for restorations purposes https://www.amazon.de/dp/B00LM7H9WC/?tag=phpprogramme


this silk layer placed between termoplast R layers - in this case we have still very very  thin material (like paper) which combines advantagies of modelspan tissue paper and fabrick material... as I understood from  Blue Ensign article about ModelSpan tissue, it is very fragile material and easily could be damaged by accident during assembling ...


Did You try site's "built in " option for automatic translation from German to English ?

this special button for choosing language is in the extreme left lower corner of the main site screen...

this option available in PC mode 

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I’ve heard varied reports on the durability of Modelspan, once it has been saturated with dilute glue.  Most seem to say that it is more resilient than expected, once dry.


I have purposefully over-built every aspect of this model so that it will stay together for the duration of my lifetime, and hopefully my childrens’ as well. Given that, it would probably make a lot of sense to go with Dafi’s method, which is almost certain to age better over time.


I’ll have to look for that translation button.  I use Apple devices, though, so that may not work for me.  Thank you, Kirill, for bringing this technique to the forum!

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Thank you, Gentlemen, for your kind words and likes, and to everyone who stops by now and again.


I have completed the quarter gallery window frames:



I, then, spent quite a lot of time deliberating how I wanted to represent the fact that these windows were likely all superficial.  There were probably removable panels, within the false windows, that could serve as either additional gun ports, or as ventilation, but they were not glazed windows, as on the stern.


On the following section of the original stern drawing, Berain indicates glass panes with square shadow boxes, within the leaded cames:



All contemporary evidence suggests that the six windows within the quarter galleries were actual windows.  This drawing device gave me an idea for a stylized, false window.


I used a semi-opaque grey enamel wash to paint-in those shadows, within my engraved lines:



After spraying the backs of the panes flat-black, the shadows show-up as a subtle indication of individual glass panes:


I decided to use yellow ocher for the cames, in order to draw attention to the fact that these false windows are different from the clear panes seen on the stern and quarter deck, admiral’s cabin.  The two stylized windows on the main deck level of the QGs will also be painted yellow and black.


So, before I can actually get busy constructing these windows, I must first finish painting the lower stern.  Let me tell you - I have made quite a difficult job for myself, here.


The overhang of the stern counter is such that finding a comfortable angle at which to reach the furthest corners and cut a straight line has proven to be the most difficult aspect of this build so far.  The hull is relatively large and so full of extra structural plastic that it is quite heavy and awkward to move around and hold steady as you paint your lines.  Even just brush-priming the surface so that it was reasonably tidy was very time-consuming.


Nevertheless, if the paint work is not impeccable, this has all been a waste of time.  This is obviously a work in progress, and the colors are very stark and garish without the eventual walnut ink wash, but these pics give a stronger sense for where this is all headed:



I didn’t really need to paint the top and bottom edges of the transom moulding, however, doing so conveys the full depth of its scantling:


There will be small touch-ups, yet, but the results were worth the extra time.


Last night, I completed all of the transitional mouldings of the QGs, and started cutting-in the chase ports:




As I’ve mentioned before, the use of ultra-marine will be relatively sparing.  I was going to leave the inset circles red, but I realized that there are oval monogram cartouches on the balcony railing above that will also be painted ultra-marine, thus balancing the composition.  All will become clearer as we go.


Today, I will re-pattern the transitional moulding plate that sits atop the QG windows, and serves as the base for the wrapping balcony.  It is identical in profile and depth to the denticulated transitional moulding beneath the windows.  The only difference is that this platform will extend aft, four scale feet in order to wrap to the stern balcony.  I am kicking myself for not tracing the original pattern that I had made 🤦‍♂️


Little by little, we are getting there!  As always - stay healthy and thank you for looking in.

Edited by Hubac's Historian
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Hi Marc -


Looks great.  Wish I could see her in person, but I guess I will have to wait a bit more.

I was going to suggest that you work on the transom and counter by turning the piece upside down so it faces you, but I see from the last two photos that you figured that out.


Are you thinking of muting the colors in any way to mimic the atmospheric effects of distance and haze?



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Hi Dan - more optimistic times await, but we will still have to wait a while longer before we can have our club meetings again.  I’m really hoping the Joint Clubs meeting happens, as planned.


I won’t be muting the colors for distance and haze, in particular, but I will mute them with walnut ink to approximate the daily dinge of mooring in the polluted waters off the Port of Brest arsenal.


I will make some visual allusion to distance by representing the parapet walls of the arsenal at a greatly reduced scale.

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Good day Marc,

Your job Looks very impressive!!!

And in some aspects is unusual for me, I meant this colors combination and in my imagination it should be more suitable for...vessel of  Vasa period for example...

Before I thought for SR period was used less  palitra?

Lets say blue and " gold" or red and "gold"...

Marc , please remind  me where / when in your build You mentioned or start discussed the reasons for choosing such painting scheme but not plain two colors ?

Sorry ,it looks like I missed this moment


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Hello Kirill!


Yes, I suppose this presentation of Soleil Royal is maybe a little jarring, as we are all so accustomed to thinking about French capitol ships as being almost entirely "royal" blue and gold leaf.


I've been ruminating over color choices for the entirety of the build.  Lemineur's research and work on the St. Philippe has had much to do with my choices, here.  It seems pretty clear that true ultra-marine was cost-prohibitive for use beyond the national coat of arms, the King's coat of arms, and a few other select areas, like the tafferal.  Other blues were likely significantly lighter and the product of copper oxides.  By the dawn of the early second marine, concurrent with Soleil Royal's rebuild in 1688/89, the liberal use of gold leaf would have been greatly reduced.  This was particularly so, as the re-build survey of the ship had so drastically underestimated the extent of rot.  While the ship would certainly have been lavishly ornamented, it is much more likely that much of the rails and moldings would have been painted in yellow ocher, in order to keep costs down.  In fact, SR went off to Beveziers without even having completed the new ornamental program;  her stern carvings were merely primed in pearlescent grey paint, according to Winfield and Roberts.


What will eventually become apparent, when I get to painting the upper bulwarks, is that this lighter blue will predominate, above the main deck guns.  By treating it with the walnut ink, it loses it's cerulean brightness, and instead, takes on a slight brown/green cast that is more period-appropriate.  I have chosen to use red vermillion as a prominent unifying color, throughout the ship, for several reasons.


Firstly, and not least important, I am bored with seeing essentially the same representation of the ship, over and over again.  Also, as I discuss somewhere earlier, the recent discovery of Vasa's true colors only seems surprising to us because we had  become conditioned to think of her as only being painted in blue and gold.  In the high baroque period, it seems perfectly fitting to me that vivid colors would be used to further embellish the carved works of the ship.  Hyatt's description of the Royal Louis certainly seems to support this possibility, and the French palace interiors re-enforce this idea.


I have read a very brief description of Soleil Royal's colors from the Intendant at Brest, D'Infreville (if I remember correctly), who lists her primary colors: white, black, ventre-de-biche and blue, with gold throughout.  Presumably, this is a banded description from the waterline, up, but there is nothing of any great specificity, there.  On that basis, alone, the popular scheme for Soleil Royal could never be said to be "wrong."  As I say, though, I no longer find it interesting to look at.


On the other hand, Berain's drawing of the stern has a red wash applied to the "ground" areas for the starboard side of the drawing.  There does appear to be historic precedent for painting both the stern and beakhead bulkhead in a red vermillion.  My idea is to unify these areas, along the band of main deck guns with this red vermillion color.  It is a superb backdrop for the yellow ocher, and the monogram cartouches between the guns will show more impressively in a combination of yellow ocher, ultra-marine and gold.


After spending so much time to create the ornamental program from scratch, I do not want the details to disappear in a sea of gold.  The choices I am making are stylized, yet they exist within the realm of plausible deniability.'


Lastly, I recently found again these pictures of a model of the Royal Louis.  I will post a link to them, as I can't re-publish them here.  If you scroll down the page, you will find an image of what appears to be a contemporary model of her from the starboard quarter.  It is most definitely a first-marine representation.  I don't know who made the model, or when exactly.  It is somewhat primitive, but the use of red vermillion, throughout is instructive.




and here:





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Even unfinished your work is stunning Marc.


While I did build my S.R. in the traditional color scheme, I can fully appreciate being "bored" with seeing the same paint job over and over, especially on a ship that we do not have a well known, specific paint scheme, Constitution & Victory for examples and even those have been altered over time. Right or wrong, this will be a spectacular model that highlights the grandeur of ships in the 17th century.

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Good Day Marc!:)


Thank You very much for detailed answer!

Now I fully understood You choice and it seems to me You ' ve made  very stable and solid  foundation for such color scheme !!!:)

As seems to me ,

no seems, I belive I  will follow Your choice and findings in this area when I will reach my SR kit somewhere in the future.

I like very much how it looks like in this color and consider it doesn't contrudict barocco style of that period!...

Agree with opinion to be "bored" with seeing the same only blue-gold paint job over and over... :)))!!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

HI Marc.

What a visual feast! A model one could spend a long time really appreciating.

I can understand why Kirill asked the question. We've all got used to seeing French ships in blue, and my own switch to red was partly motivated by not using the same scheme as my 74, then confirmed by the St Philippe book. As several have pointed out, the beauty of this ship is that we really can't be sure about the colours, so we can each be happy with what we are able to achieve within our own limits. I just feel very pleased to have found this site and its helpful and skilled members from whom I am learning so much.

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To the three Marks of distinction - thank you very much - and a big thanks to you, as well, John and Bossman.  I am always in pursuit of a model that will withstand close scrutiny, despite having numerous flaws and compromises in construction.  I am equally indebted to everyone here for all that they have shared with me on this project and their own.

Edited by Hubac's Historian
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With the construction of the framework of the QGs underway, I was searching for a small-work project to take to work with me for my down-times.


There was no immediate need for anything that didn’t require very specific and concrete measurements to work from; parameters I don’t yet have because I haven’t gotten that far.


So, I decided to focus on detailing the ship’s boats.  I started with the grand chaloupe - the larger of the two.


I am using the St. Philippe plans as a reference for their detailing.  I won’t go all-in, but I will add frames to the interior, floor planking, a mast step, bowsprit brace hardware, bench braces, oar locks, and a small aft sheer step.  A few pics of the framing process that includes floors and futtock top timbers:


The plan shows some 27 frames.  At 1/8” spacing, I managed 26.  Interestingly, at a point just forward of midships, the top timber futtock placement runs forward toward the bow, and aft toward the transom.  I’m not really sure why that is, but that’s what the plan shows, so that is what I did.


To establish the floor spans of each frame, I simply sketched in a line midway through the turn of the bilge.  I did it by eye.  It is reasonably symmetrical.  The floor timbers will be mostly covered by the floor planking.



Once the floors were in, I trimmed their ends for a fair run, fore and aft.  Then, I started with the top timbers:




I had traced a line one heavy 1/32” below the sheer.  I trimmed my top timbers to this line  because the kit bench framing has a glue lip that requires clearance here.


These glueing operations are inherently messy.  The frames are cut from .011 x .033 styrene strip stock, and one must apply a liberal amount of cement to afford enough open time that the small pieces can be tweaked into position.  After the floors were all in place, and the glue had cured overnight, I came back and scraped away the excess glue with my 1/8” chisel, scraping on a skewed angle between frames.  This is tedious, but it works well enough, and ensures that distracting glue ghosts won’t telegraph through the paint.


I have decided that I will not be placing these boats on the main deck, over the gratings.  I spent too much time adding camber to those gratings to cover them up.  Instead, they will be set into the sea and tethered to the ship through the stern chase ports, as is often shown in VDV battle portraits.  In light of their less prominent placement, all of this detailing is probably excessive, but I am a man of excesses, afterall.


In the evenings, I have been building the underlying structure of the QGs.  It made sense to me that the logical starting point would be the aft-facing window, working forward.  I will try not to, but I could write a book about this aft corner.


Let me post this much, and then I will continue in a second post.  Cliffhanger alert: my so carefully rendered plans were not as carefully considered as they should have been 😱 

Edited by Hubac's Historian
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One of my first revelations was that the aft-facing window must also follow the continuation of the stern round-up.  If I were to position that window square with the ship’s side, then it would create an awkward angle along where the window bottom edge meets the transitional moulding that it sits upon.


The other thing that quickly crystallized in my mind is the difference between drawing something in the one-dimensional plane and the practical application of that drawing to a space that requires compound angles and elegant transitions between curved and flat surfaces.


To begin with, the outboard edge of this aft-facing QG window has a subtle curved profile:


I very much wanted to include this detail because it is one of the many small details that would be glaring, in its absence.   The difficulty is that the three windows of the side QG exist in a flat vertical plane, angled-in towards the ship side, while also conforming to a elegantly bowed horizontal plane (more on that later!😤).


First, I decided to provide myself with a pair of glue cleats that would help position these aft windows on their back-raking angle, while also conforming to the round-up:


Forward of those cleats are a series of reference lines drawn at a right angle to the ship sides.  These lines delineate the aft window backing-block and the window pilaster framing gussets.


Next, I needed to make the backing-block.  I had some 3/8 stock left over from the making of the lower finishing.  This was exactly the right width (according to my flat 1-D drawing that neither accounted for round-up or outboard bowing 😭), to provide room for the aft-most pilaster, the crossed diamond ornament, as well as a 1/16” landing ledge for the aft edge of the window plate to recess into.


So, I first cut the back-raking angle onto a piece of this 3/8” stock, and then I scribed it to the tumblehome.


With that much established, I could then lay-out the outboard angles and profiles.  A photo montage that I hope will explain this better than I can:



Here is the fore-face of the block.  That shadow-line on the side is the transition from the flat vertical plane of the side windows to the curved pilaster of the stern profile.


The aft face of the block has a small styrene spacer strip that abuts the aft-window glue cleat:


The aft-window held in place - I am riding pretty high and feeling really good about myself, at this point.


I had established the interior depth of the pilaster gussets and made the first of those:



Initially, I had cut the height of this gusset too short because I was foolishly thinking that it sat perpendicular to the transitional moulding: it does not, obviously (after finally seeing the reality of it), because the windows have a back-raking angle.


No biggie!  I simply glued strips of styrene to the top and bottom edges of the gusset, and then beveled them, accordingly.


I went to bed feeling accomplished - like “a million bucks!”


I woke up, though, to a horrible realization.  My window plate - drawn in a flat, one-dimensional plane - has straight and parallel top and bottom edges:


In order to conform to this space, that billows outward in a gentle curve, while tipping in, toward the hull, this window plate must actually be shaped like this:


Well, that is a bit of a set-back!  There remains the small possibility that I may be able to extract and still use the frames that I spent so many hours making.


I won’t really know, however, until I complete the underlying framing, as well as the forward block, and can make a cardboard template that fits this space.


Maybe the plate I made can be scribed without losing detail.  I sincerely doubt it though.  My preliminary quick test on a flat surface looks as though I’ll lose about a tapering 1/32” at the bottom ends - which might be doable - but, also, a probable 1/16” at the top middle, which is not doable.  I have zero margin at the top, or bottom, for that matter.


If that weren’t enough to chew on, I probably made the windows too tall, in the first place, which means that my window panes are probably also un-salvageable.


I won’t know for sure, though, until I have a working template to compare against.


And things were moving along so nicely😖


More to follow...

Edited by Hubac's Historian
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I feel your pain! Working with construction drawings daily, translating between flat paper and real life construction has become second nature. That being said, buildings are typically and simply, a series of cubes, right angles, parallel and perpendicular lines. As long as you can envision x,y & z dimensions, it is relatively simple to take a flat drawing and make it 3D. To my constant frustration, ship building is not as simple. Yes, the x,y&z dimensions still apply, but rarely is anything square, parallel or perpendicular to another item. Even when they are, the many curvatures of hull, and decks, varying angles of mast rakes, and often the reference picture we are using itself, is an artistic rendering of the ship at sea making the entire vessel angle in bizarre directions. Subtleties abound that frequently cannot be well portrait on flat surfaces therefore making us unaware of them until we try to fit that straight edge against a piece that is curving in three different directions. 


All of this places me in awe of the ship builders of the era. These men were nothing short of geniuses in their fields. Today, we cannot construct a rectangular box without dozens, sometimes hundreds of architectural and carefully engineered drawings, schematics and specs, where these people built towering ships often larger than some of the aforementioned buildings, that not only floated, they sailed in rough seas and withstood bombardment from enemy canon fire. All of that was without modern CAD programs and engineering. The plans used then, if any, were barely more that what we would call a cocktail napkin sketch. It begs the larger question of how much have we truly evolved...

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Exactly, EJ - these quarter galleries are quite a challenge with so much happening in a small space.


Work on the grand chaloupe continues:


Above and below, I’m laying out the floor on a 1/2” grid.


I simply took measurements to one side of the centerline, so that ultimately, the doubling of frames would still be visible:


I laid out tapering planks:


Although the chaloupe is some 30’ in length, I am not going to show any butt joints in the planking.


Below shows the series of shaping steps for making the bench corner braces:


From lower right to left:  the glued-in blocks; angled waste cut made with a triangular file; and final shaping with rounded files.  These pieces are too small to work without them being attached, so it is just easier to shape them, in place.


Note, also, the oar-lock blocks that have been added.


I added a mast step:




Note, also, the rub-rail that I added below the sheer.


French chaloupes always seem to have an elegantly tapered sheer step at the stern, so I patterned that, and gave the transom a nice rounded top profile:




As it stands, this is quite a lot of nice additional detail.  After finishing up the other sheer step, I will probably add a metal mast collar, at the bench level, as well as a bowsprit collar next to the stem.  The stem top will also be replaced so that it might more realistically buttress the sprit mast running right beside it; the little nub that the kit provides is not sufficient.


Work on the starboard QG continues.  I made and fit the forward block, and also attached the outer pilasters to these fore and aft blocks:




With all of this structure in place, I could begin leveling all of the tops.


One really fortunate bit of news: I realized that I could remove a 1/16” from each side of the window panel.  Even that small difference significantly reduced the amount of material I would need to remove from the bottom corners and top middle, in order to get the window plate to fit within this parallel space.



The pilasters will overlay and cover this join between the window plate and the end blocks.


I still have to fair the top edge, but even if I dip into the ornament topping the central window frame, I will probably be able to alter the carving a little to make it work.


The gap remaining at the bottom can be filled and faired with a strip of styrene, and the pilaster bottoms can also be filled-in and faired.  The bottom gap is only a heavy 1/64”.


Here’s the plate, resting in place, to give an impression of what it will look like:



Earlier, I made the transitional top mouldings that serve as the base of the walkable, wrapping  stern balcony.  It has yet to be reduced, in depth (from hull), or scribed to the hull side.  The extension, off the stern, is also over-length.




I am relieved that it now seems likely that I can use my window plates, after all.


Little by little, we are getting there!


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  • 2 weeks later...

Hy Marc, 

I was told by the chemistry doctor Kremer that the vermillion red was much too expensive for a hole hull so minum (lead oxyd) was in use - this was also available in several shadrs by adding black brown yellow or painting it over a whitened surface. Dr Kremes was responsible for the pigments of several Dutch reconstructions of sailing boats and is very well aware of the cost of colour for... hold your breath a moment... a hole SQUAREMILE of surface for a threedecker ship to be painted. 

So the kutcome may be the very same but the material input isn't that exclusive and luxurious only inside in the officer's and admiral's, he suggested the use of expensive materials for personal presentation.



As the beautiful made graphic parquet suggested in this direction very much. 




Her a side look from MODEL REDUIT de BATEAU B°289 1987 page 26 a picture from the MdlMPolish_20210222_125859750.thumb.jpg.ed5d7b0d5dcc811963369f75328952aa.jpg of the Tanneron model. It shows how well craved and sculpturic the horses were and how less care Heller put into a well done reproduction of this ship - adding two seperat casted horsesvwould give a completely better effect. Hope this helps a bit with the detailling of the complexity of the Apollo chariot in the Couronnament and it's sourrounding details.


Sorry for the bad quality I saw this at packing my removel boxes and took for Kirril and you two fast shots. 

Edited by Heinrich der Seefahrer
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Indeed, Chris, the Tanneron tafferal appears much more rounded than Heller’s version.  I like your idea to add an additional layer for the two forward-most horses.  That will probably create the illusion of depth that I am after.


It was a good week, tying up loose ends on the starboard side QG.


The windows are tacked in place with a little cyano before gluing-in the window plate.  As I did for the stern lights, I took a little extra care to back the window panes with stops; in the event that the cyano fails, at some point in the future, at least the stops will keep the windows in place, mechanically.  Empty eye-sockets are daunting repairs.



This overhead shot gives a sense for the multiplicity of rebates that were cut into the aft blocks - particularly, clearance had to be cut for the aft window pane, itself, effectively making a window stop of the block.



One can also get a sense for the asymmetry of the transom, which I described in earlier posts; this reality has made coping the whole thing together more challenging, but the variance is not apparent from the outside.  It is fortunate that the wrapping stern balcony happens at this level, rather than above, where this variance will increase, somewhat.


Having learned my lesson, I pre-painted the window plate, off the model.  The reality of what ends up being constructed is sometimes at odds with the one-dimensional plan I drew.  Initially, I thought I would book-end the three windows with these diamond-hatch motifs:




It looks well on paper, but in reality - the coved forward block feels too expansive for this to look good, while the space between pilasters, on the aft block, turned out to be much more narrow than I expected:



I’ll mock up the aft diamond-hatch in card, just to be sure, but I think it will look too cramped.  For the forward block, I decided to extract the radiant fleurs from the upper finishing of the stock QG plate:



I had to make these a little more oval, than round, to fit the available space.  When I paint these, I will pick out the rays in gold, silver and white, which I think will create the right impression, while mirroring a similar treatment to the backdrop of Apollo’s horse-drawn chariot on the tafferal.


Having worked out all of the problems on the starboard side, the port side is moving along much more quickly:



Soon, I’ll be coping together the base walkways of the wrapping balcony, which will then enable me to pattern and make all the pieces of the balcony railings.  At this level, these are very involved and will be time-consuming to make well.


So far, so good - a reasonable facsimile, up to this point:




Thank you all for the likes, and your gracious comments!

Edited by Hubac's Historian
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Looking through your build log is just jaw dropping!, utterly fantastic!, having gone through a similar experience back dating my Heller HMS Victory to 1765

over the course of 11years takes total commitment to reach the finish line. My hats off to you Marc and looking forward to your progress.

Michael D.

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Thanks, Michael!  I am likewise enjoying your Reale;  your paint effects and build-quality are outstanding.  I am in the intensive phase of it, right now.  Total commitment is the truth!


Did you do a build log for that 1765 Victory?  I have that kit in my stash and had the same idea - that it would not be crazy difficult to convert her to this earlier appearance.  If no build log, can you PM me some pics, please?  I would love to see that.

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Hi Marc,

Try this link, unfortunately I lost some of the earlier pics for the hull and deck modifications, but this should give an idea,now I'll admit this was my first attempt at kit bashing and totally green the knowledge of ships, so be easy on me..lol


Michael D.





Here's another link with additional pictures. Hopefully it works.


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