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HMS Bellerophon by flyer - Victory Models - scale 1:72

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Build log HMS Bellerophon








A model of a ship of the line from the Napoleonic wars was something I wanted to build for a long time. From the range of kits available I ended up with 2 favourites. The selection of those two was because of kit quality (should be good), scale and size of the finished model. As my last 4 projects were all in 1/64 I tended towards the same scale.

Finally I had to choose between Caldercrafts Agamemnon (64) and Victory models Vanguard (74).


The decision for Vanguard was made because of the following points:

- the 74 is the classical ship of the line


-I can build the Bellerophon variant which I like for her direct connection with Napoleon (Here, in Switzerland, he had a much bigger influence (not all negative) than Nelson).


- copper plates are of better quality


- the scale is with 1/72 close enough to my favoured one and...


-  the overall size is 10% less.



As additional information source I will use Brian Laverys book 'The 74-gun ship Bellona' from the Anatomy of the Ship series.

After checking the available build logs and comparing them with the Bellona plans as well as with the Bellerophon plan in 'The Ships of Trafalgar' I think that I will check and perhaps alter a few points:


- The bulwark of the quarter deck must probably be lower in its forward part to be similar to Bellerophon plans in the internet or to Bellona's profile. I will have to find out if the heightened bulwark was an later alteration and if it was in place in 1805. However in the book 'The ships of Trafalgar' is a plan for the Bellerophon which shows the lower bulwark variant.



plan from the kit...





...and from the one available from NMM (on my wish list)



The rail on top of the foremost gun ports is here interrupted. On other plans it is running through in one piece. As Bellerophone's skipper I will install a continuous rail (looks smarter).


- The kit's gun carriages are very nicely cast and show a lot of details - but look different from all the examples available in books or the internet. I have no idea where they found a prototype like that. Replacing them would be a lot of work and money. I will try to rework them a bit.


- The dummy guns on the lower deck are not quite satisfactory. Possible solutions would be replacements by full guns (again expensive and requiring a lot of work for an mediocre improvement) or the installation of 'dummy carriages' similar to those used by Michael (md1400cs) on his fantastic Vasa.


- The stern should gain a bit more transparency. I could make lighter side galleries and leave a door to them open. I guess to change the whole stern construction to enlarge the visible part of cabin and wardroom would be too much work for a small and hardly visible gain. However the taffrail overhanging the skippers balcony seems to low - overshadowing the cabin windows. The Bellona model looks a bit different. I will try to cut back that overhang a bit.


- The question if any, how and what sails will be bent on will be decided when starting on the masts.


- I haven't decided yet if the colour scheme will be pre- or post-1800. The Nelson scheme has a dark elegance but hides the wood...

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The kit has arrived - all 13kg of it!


The first look at the parts was promising. From different logs here I knew about what to expect and I wasn't disappointed.


However a few minor points seem a bit debatable:


The stern decoration was unfortunately just for my version made as white metal casting instead of the nice, a bit flexible plastic parts for the other variants.


Some additional adjustment work will be needed here.


As mentioned in another log the guns, carriages and especially the carronade carriages may need a replacement or a rework to be up to the standard of e.g. Caldercraft gun kits. It's a pity, that a kit of this quality offers those very nicely made but also very strange parts.





The skeleton


Fitting keel and frames together went quite smoothly. While putting in the plywood strips which are the base for the dummy guns on the lower gun deck I decided to try to leave the upper gun deck open while putting on first and second planking. The idea is to have access to the inside of the hull to facilitate the installation of some dummy carriages for the dummy guns. After installing the first inner bulwark on the lower gun deck however I found that they constrict access to the dummy guns altogether due to the tumblehome of the hull. To find out how to install and what kind of dummy carriages I decided to build a simple test bed for dummies.



impressive size...







access to the lower gun ports from the inside is almost blocked



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Good morning Peter


following are both the Elephant and the Goliath that were built at the same time as the Bellerophon.

One has the railing over the gunports, albeit different from you post.

The other is open.

Both are somewhat different from your posts.

These are from the NMM.


J2683 Goliath.JPG

J2930 Elephant.JPG

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Hi Alan

Thanks for your input. I presume those plans in the NMM depict the situation as built. Any idea about the configuration at Trafalgar? I guess, I will have to decide quite soon depicting what time and in which configuration / colour scheme I want to build her.

I have noticed your scratch built Billy Ruffian before and admire you for that enormous task you took in hand. Being lazy, I'm glad to have a kit to tinker with.



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Alan's comments are interesting - I went through the same questions but I seem to be working from a different plan. These plans are a long time before Bellerophon was put into service and even longer before Trafalgar by which time she had the Nelson paint arrangement aligned to the gunports as opposed to the previous alignment to the wales.



The wording from NMM associated with this is:

Description Scale: 1:48. Plan showing the body plan, sheer lines, and longitudinal half-breadth for building Cornwall (1761), Arrogant (1761), and Kent (1762), and later for Defence (1763), Edgar (1779), Goliath (1781), Vanguard (1787), Excellent (1787), Saturn (1786), Elephant (1786), Illustrious (1789), Bellerophon (1786), Zealous (1785), and Audacious (1785), all 74-gun Third Rate, two-deckers.

Date made January 1759

Place made Navy Office

Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London

Materials black ink; green ink; red ink; paper

Measurements Sheet: 574 mm x 1835 mm

Depending on the period you want to represent the poop railings were added later - I think that it would have been easy to fall overboard unless there were hammock rails fitted.

The second plan


seemed to show the railing continuing over the gunports.

I also worked from the plans of the Victory model to see if there was further clarification.

Peter - good luck with your project.




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Hi Tony


Thank you. Regarding the victory plans, I don't know for sure which of the 3 ships they are representing but as the basic variant is Vanguard it should be her. Some differences among the sister ships might show up during about 30 years after being built.


There is an oil painting in the NMM in Greenwich with the title 'Scene in Plymouth Sound in August 1815' (BHC3227) which was painted in 1816 and should be a quite reliable source. Unfortunately the small reproductions in the web don't show the exact details of the disputed area.


Your Bellerophon is a gem and I hope you will post more pictures.




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I just posted on the wrong forum... and deleted it.

will try again.


There is no way of know exactly how she looked as built.

I've looked at sketches and paintings, even as a prison hulk, and the detail is not there.

(edit: I should mention that sometimes the details disagree)

If you should find something please send me a copy or link to it.


The Elephant and Goliath were built in the same time frame as the Bellerophon.


I intend to build her with the railings as without them it seems incomplete and less graceful.


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I was told or read some time ago that artists of the time made their sketches on site with quite a bit of detail missing and finished the paintings back in their lofts adding details as they deemed fit or recalled.


Of course paintings now are done similarly with one difference.  The artists take dozens of digital photos to help them remember the details.

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test bed for dummies


Two leftover parts from the 5mm sheet with the frames were put together to simulate the profile of the ships side; a strip similar to the strips holding the dummy guns was installed and the whole thing roughly planked.

A first trial dummy carriage was put together from three simple parts and painted red.

The installation on the test bed went easily and the overall impression is quite acceptable and an definite improvement. The really tricky part was the installation of the (very rough) gun port frame in 4 separate pieces which showed that even a limited access to the inner sides was desirable. However after already having broken off two upper pieces of the frames I put in both inner walls on the lower gun deck before going on. This should add some stability and I will leave off the lower gun deck for the time being.


the test bed







Slightly reworked gun carriage for the upper gun deck and dummy carriage for the lower




gun port with dummy carriage added in the second picture


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  • 2 weeks later...



If you don't have it, get a copy of "The Billy Ruffian" by David Cordingly.   I think the photos of paintings alone will help you.  Plus there's a "reconstructed" set of plans by Norman Swales on page 12.   Unfortunately, I've not been able to find a hard copy of just plans alone.

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Hi Mark and Mort


Thanks for the hint about that book.


Couldn't order it via amazon.com in the US but could order it via amazon.de (shipped from the US!) for double price! Wondering what kind of strange politics are at play here. Well, we should keep politics off this forum but perhaps I'm nevertheless allowed say that the louder the politicians yell, the more I detest them.


In politics stupidity is not a handicap. Napoleon Bonaparte



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Hi Peter -- Glad to see you're back to work!  Trafalgar builds have always held a strong fascination (and, like you, I find myself a touch ambivalent about Nelson; and let me think, what was it Sam Johnson said was the last refuge of scoundrels?  Still, Nelson, like Napoleon, is nearly mythic in the romance he engenders, and Bellerophon was also a great heroic figure!).


I'll be following your progress avidly.







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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi Mark and Mort

Didn't' spend enough time in the yard lately - I had to read that book. While there is just some additional information in regard of building the model, the story is catching, interesting and a great motivation for the build and very well written - a page turner.

Thanks again for the hint.



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Lookin great Peter, somehow missed your start and already you've completed the first planking.  This looks like a great kit, shame its not 1:64.  Going back a little to the railing question.  I think you should feel free to go with what works for you.   When she was built I'm sure she would have had the open railings as that was prevalent, these seemed to go out of favour in the last part of the century and would have been built up.  I believe those ships where this was done would have simply followed the lines of the rail, i.e. a curved decorative shape at the front, but this was a relatively short lived fashion.  On the later ships (very early 19th century), and possibly those that had been rebuilt, these bulkheads would have lost the decorative flourish and simply been square which seems to have been prevalent from that time on until the end of the age of sail.

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Hi Martin


After soaking them in water for 1hour it went quite well. The correct placing of the gun ports in regard of decks and frames is a bit tricky and if I really was successful will show only when trying to place the gun port frames and the guns. However the necessary bending in two directions of the stripes produced some of those mentioned bumps and dents (visible in the third picture where the plywood joins the planked part).



Thank you, Mike



Hi Jason


Yes, 1/64 would be great but huuge! And 1/72 is almost the same - just imagine the original ship being only a bit farther away from you.

Thanks for the information about the rail. So the Trafalgar configuration was probably as per kit. However as there is no definite information I will take the liberty to build as the plan in the book or those from Bellona show and pretend that the bulkheads were never heightened.




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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...


Preparations for the second planking


The raw hull was now treated repeatedly with filler and sanding to create smooth lines. To check those lines I relied on the plans of Bellona with cross references to Victory  using plans from the two books of the 'Anatomy of the ship' - series.


The platform in front of the beak head bulkhead was planked.


The plywood piece intended to cover the lower counter broke in two while I tried to fit it into the required concave form - despite the previous soaking in water. I then rebuilt the counter with some leftover planks and covered it with a second planking, leaving space for the two missing stern ports. Those were placed according to the Bellona plans.


While building the skeleton for the side galleries I made some alterations. First I decided to plank the hull fully and thus set the side galleries onto the second planking contrary to the manual. This follows the method used on the prototype and will need some adjustments of the  side gallery parts.

Those two side gallery frames which are directly below the windows were hollowed out into open frames in order to (hopefully) give some additional depth to the side galleries (and some space for the officers using them). I also doubled up the rips which will later determine the form of the gallery windows of the officers wardroom. The kits lower gallery is almost flat and I try to get a more convex form as seen on the Bellona. Similar adjustments will be necessary for the poop deck to form the upper part of the transom. Some problems will arise with the decorations, for the Bellerophon as they are made as three white metal pieces, which I will have to bend somehow...


All the gun ports without lids were framed because the second planking will run over the frames, finishing flush with the openings. Some of those frames were made up to three times because trials showed not enough headroom for the guns when placing the frames perpendicular to the planking. The frames were cut to give horizontal upper and lower sills.


Finally the keel and the stem where glued in place, leaving the sternpost off. It will be added after sanding the second planking.



first deck planking




lower counter first planking with marked stern ports




second planking on lower counter - altered side gallery frames also visible as well as the 3 lengthened rips which will determine the convex form of the transom





rough gun port frames in place

The wood strip was a bit too small even when setting it onto the inside planking. As the opening will later be painted I can use some filler to cover the gaps.




her nice lines are starting to showIMG_1407.jpg.526ea489a077860296771897a5806cae.jpgIMG_1412.jpg.92ab4a6ddfa3aa5cdc9dd084099d0f24.jpgIMG_1397.jpg.e31487feecba2dd853f7a5d4d4855bee.jpg










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Glad to see you're at it, Peter.  Bellerophon really is an impressive ship.  I think you might have mentioned this early on, but I can't remember:  is she similar to the Bellona?  I ask because I the Anatomy of the Ship book on Bellona, and thought I might look through it to get a sense of where you're headed.





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Hi Martin


Bellerophon is a ship of the Arrogant class which was designed as a development of the Bellona class, sharing the same basic dimensions. All were based on the lines of Sir Thomas Slade's designs. As he was also the designer of the Victory I use her plans for confirmation of his general ways.


The Bellona's plan - in the book you mentioned - is very similar to the plan of the arrogant class ship Edgar, published in 'The Billy Ruffian', but shows more details.

The convex, smooth form of the taffrail, for example, is visible in both and differs from the kits rather flat one.


I think that the kit is a great one but some simplifications, mistakes or misunderstandings may occur as well as financially motivated shortcuts. Therefore, if I am in doubt about the correctness of the kits instructions, I try to alter the model coinciding with my other sources. If in doubt I work towards what I think to be more pleasing to the eye because very often efficient war machines look quite elegant - a contradiction which is a little disturbing but nevertheless exists.

So far this is the theory behind my building attempts. What I then manage to tinker together is the practise...




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  • 1 month later...

Second planking

The first plank on each side, which determines the general run of the planks, was carefully put on with white glue. Thus I had enough time to correct. Then I tried to glue the next (soaked) planks with CA  as I did on the last 2 projects. However it was messy work, did hold too early or not good enough and used a lot of rather expensive stuff. When cutting away the part over the gun ports the planks sometimes fell off again. Therefore I reverted to PVA and rather tedious fixing with clamps. However the clamps reach only down to the lower gun ports and below I had to fix the new planks with nails - mostly just below the lower side, in order not to leave holes, and a large vice. When one plank holds, I lay the next one in its natural run along and over the previous and mark the edge with a pencil. The superfluous part of the fixed plank is cut away with a sharp scalpel and the edge smoothed with a file. While gluing on plank by plank I started to cut open the gun ports.


The blue line is a provisional waterline. Once below it I can freely use nails to fix the planks. The holes will be covered by the coppering.




Still looking quite good...but the side galleries will be tricky work, I think.




the lower corners of the lower counter are difficult terrain...




The lower planks are fixed with nails below and the end with a big vice. So far, it worked 3 times.

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I’m late to this party Peter, not quite sure how I missed it. :rolleyes:

You’ve taken on quite a beast, and made a lot of progress in what seems to me to me a very short time. 

Nice idea to use ‘false port’ gun carriages, will give a far more authentic look. I’m not a fan of dummy plug in gun barrels.




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