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1/72 HMS Vanguard 1787 - Victory Models/Amati

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1/72 HMS Vanguard 1787
Victory Models/Amati

Catalogue # 1300/04




HMS Vanguard was a 74-gun, third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 6 March 1787 at Deptford. She was the sixth vessel to bear the name. Vanguard was built as an Arrogant Class vessel. Arrogant-class ships of the line were a class of twelve 74-gun third rate ships designed by Sir Thomas Slade for the Royal Navy and were designed as a development of Slade's previous Bellona class, sharing the same basic dimensions. During this period, the original armament was the same across all the ships of the common class, of which the Arrogant-class ships were members. The first of the twelve ships of this class were HMS Arrogant and HMS Cornwall, both completed in April and September of 1761, respectively. 


The kit


I apologise if we seem a little late to the show with this release, with the kit originally being release around 2007, give or take a year or three.. However, unlike the world of plastic modelling that I usually frequent, these sorts of kits are pretty timeless and stand the test of time far, far better. It’s also a pretty premium product and it really does make sense to be able to see a full review of it before you shell out not an insignificant amount of money on it. There are numerous builds of this online, with a good number here on Model Ship World, but there are no actual reviews that I can see anywhere, so I thought I’d try to redress that here. If you order this kit, you really need to make sure that you have bench space for it. Sounds obvious, but this is a very large box and weighs in the region of 14-15kg (30lbs+).




Thankfully, the box is also of a pretty rigid construction to hold all the weight contained therein. Amati/Victory Models’ presentation is flawless with a port side profile of the completed ship on the lid, adjacent to a bow and stern image of the same model. Text says that the model can be finished as either Vanguard, Bellerophon, or Elephant. More colour images adorn the sides, plus some small captures of some of the plans. Lifting the lid off shows that this is merely a decorative lid and the actual corrugated box has a built-in lid that’s locked into place with three large tabs. At least if you sit another kit or two on this one whilst in stash, it shouldn’t crumple under the weight. 





Inside the box we have all of the strip and dowel timber that is bundled together and bound with small lengths of elastic string, three large boxes of components, one smaller box of components, several packs of various flat timbers with laser-cut parts, king-size instruction manual, and a whopping 20-plan pack with a heavy gauge photo-etch fret of embellishments for the stern quarters etc. 





The first and smallest of the boxes I come to contains some thick rope for the anchors, a bag of grating pieces, a sheet of what appears to be thick tin foil, and a large bag of cast metal gun carriages that have an antique finish to them. I find the inclusion of the latter quite a puzzle as kits of this standard would normally have these parts given in timer, which would be my preference. Detail on the carriages is actually quite nice, but they also have staggered sides, and I’m not 100% sure how accurate these would be. I think I’ll replace these when my build begins. 





Onto the next box. I know it’s not the done thing, as we say, to add sails to this sort of model, although many do and make a superb job. If you do wish to go down that avenue, then a large piece of sail cloth is included for you, as are two sheets of plans which pertain to adding these. We have two laser-cut pieces of timber in this box, notably with parts for the masts and bitts. I’m sure all will become clearer when it comes time to build this. Of course, there are no parts numbers on any wooden components, and you will need to refer to the five sheets of plans that identify what these elements are numbered as so you may locate them to the construction sequence. ELEVEN sheets of brass photo-etch parts are included too, with everything apart from the stern decoration and quarter details. Notice that the launch oars are provided as photo-etch too, but you may want to replace the oar bodies with something less flat in appearance, such as dowel. 








Two sheets have the ships name included, as well as other décor, and the ships stove that will be mostly hidden below deck. These sheets also include the stern and quarter windows, lanterns etc. Many hundreds of parts are included here, such as the cannon port hinges, hammock frames, channel brackets, chain plates, boom irons et al. 





If that’s not enough metal for you in this box, then add to that the two packets of copper hull plates that are presented as sheets. These can easily be gently scored and snapped off before fitting. These contain the nail fastening details too. I believe there are around 2500 plates which are needed, and you should, in theory, have some to spare too. Two patterns are included, for port and starboard sides. You’ll need to consult with the plans to determine which is which. A sheet of black paper is also included. At the moment, I’m unsure as to what this is, but I’m thinking it could be something to do with the interior of the rear officer’s quarters. A sheet of acetate is included for the stern windows too.






Our second large box of fittings contains two trays of components. One tray contains some wooden components, deadeyes and rigging blocks, plus some small anchors and carronades. I believe the latter may be for use if you choose to build HMS Elephant as some weaponry was slightly different to Vanguard and Bellerophon. 


The next tray is given over exclusively to the many rigging cord spools you’ll need, in various sizes and in two colours. Some rope is also supplied. 









Onto the last box of components. The first tray of parts are all cast white metal, including the figureheads for all three versions of this model, plus some trim, main anchors and the stern decoration for Vanguard, cast in three pieces. Now, whilst Bellerophon is in white metal, Vanguard and Elephant are cast in grey resin and they look spectacular! I believe that initial kits had all of these in white metal but coaxing the parts to fit the curvature of the stern proved tricky, so resin was substituted. Strange that this wasn’t included for all three options though. My original intent was to build Bellerophon, but I think this will now be Elephant because firstly, I haven’t seen one yet done, and secondly, because I can use a resin stern décor and add some amazing colouration to it. Two stern fascias are supplied in this kit, with Vanguard being shallower than that of Elephant and Bellerophon, so as to accommodate the carvings.




The last tray contains PE parts, more rigging cord, brass nails, brass wire, cannon and gun carriages, cannon shot, and a number of other metal castings. All metal castings here are antique in finish. 





Being a large kit means you need plenty of strip wood stock, especially as this is a double-planked model. First planking timber is lest numerous that second because of the upper bulwarks being supplied as plywood parts. Timber quality is excellent with no stringy or split wood. Bundles are kept together with elastic string. I used a little extra tape on some of the thinner stock, to stop them bulging out in the middle. Various diameters of down are included and of different hues. As these will generally be painted, I think the colour is inconsequential. Again, quality is superb, with no splitting or roughness.



All of the various packages of flat sheet components are stored in thick plastic sleeves, and the first here contains three sheets. One of these is for the various keel parts, plus the rudder. Another of the same material is included with various rigging bitts and anchor stock parts etc. A ply sheet is also included with the strips to mount the false cannon on the lower deck and parts for the stern quarters. 


Moving onto the next packet, we are presented with a laser-cut sheet of MDF for the ship’s launches. Here we have the keels and bulkheads for these vessels, all cleanly cut and with minimal effort needed to remove. I’m a little surprised to see this material for this purpose, but the homogenous nature of it is perhaps better suited than plywood and should provide an excellent basis for these miniature builds. More sheets of thin ply provide the main deck components, stern fascias (two options), bow gratings, upper bulwarks with cannon openings, and formers for the quarter galleries. 








Moving onto heavy material, several sheets of MDF provide all of the ship’s bulkheads, false keel (broken down into two parts) etc. Another sheet of timber contains laser-cut channels, carved mouldings etc. Some of these would benefit from a little carving in themselves to profile them a little better. 







Flags? You definitely need them for a ship like this. A set of silk-screen printed flags is included and these appear to have a self-adhesive backing. 


Lastly, for parts, we have a relatively thick-gauge photo-etch sheet what holds all the parts for the stern and quarter decorations, including railings, arches and other ornamentation. Under a coat of primer and paint, these look  very good in place, as seen on numerous building logs on Model Ship World.




When it comes to paperwork, this kit won’t leave you wanting. Inside the box, as well as a large assembly manual, is that pack of 20 plans. Most of these are A1 in size with one plan being a whopping A0, so make sure you have some wall space to mount it to for reference. Out of these plans, 5 provide parts maps and identification for the materials supplied, 2 plans deal with the optional sails, at least three deal with rigging Vanguard, 3 concern masting, and the rest for the hull and details etc. 








Two building instruction books are supplied. The first one deals with the main areas of construction using line drawings and text. This is quite a large book and has 32 pages. Accompanying this is a smaller A4 book of 20 pages which is generally text-driven and deals with construction in more detail, plus finishing etc. Some very nice history of Vanguard, Bellerophon and Elephant is included.








It must be 10 to 12 years since this kit first hit the shelves, and here we are a decade or more on, and I finally get to take a glimpse at Chris Watton’s masterpiece. I remember him designing this at the time and saw a few online photos, and I have to say that the contents of this kit are pretty much what I expected, save for the inclusion of the cast gun carriages. I really like the inclusion of MDF for the main structure (bulkheads, horizontal former and false keel) as this has almost zero tendency to warp. Indeed, mine are die-straight and will form the basis of an accurate and trouble-free build. All timber stock is first rate (for this third-rate ship!), and fixtures and fittings are high quality. Having the upper bulwarks as pre-cut parts with their jigsaw fit and pre-cut cannon port is also a time saver and a big help in ensuring that all guns will mount in their correct place and the correct height/elevation.


A comprehensive plan pack ensures that every constructional angle is covered, and with 20 plans, Amati haven’t cut any corners. This isn’t a beginner’s model, and I’m sure you’ve heard that phrase many times before, but in this case, you really must have a number of builds under your belt and be able to exercise a degree of project management and prerequisite modelling skills to cater to and overcome the challenges that a complex model like this will demand. In all, a super kit of a formidable class of ship and with all the bells and whistles to build any of three vessels. You can’t do better than that!


My sincere thanks to Amati for sending this kit for reviewing on Model Ship World. To purchase directly, check out your local Amati model stockist or online Amati retailer. 






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What you say is all true. Being about a year into the build of Belllerophon I  would like to share some additional impressions.

The big black mark on this kit are those cast carriages for guns and carronades. Very detailed made they fit no known prototype and I can only wonder that so much resources went into so obviously wrong and pretty useless parts. I still hope for a correction by Amati as it was done for the Fly/Pegasus kit although it would be too late for my build anyhow.

I didn't particularly like the dummy guns for the lower gun deck and I think with some slight alterations to the kit it would be possible to rise the false deck onto the level of the gun deck, provide some simplified carriages and have full guns on that deck.

Another problem is that the stern decorations for Bellerophon are still white metal. Nevertheless I will try to use them and I thrust Amati so far that I hope to find an acceptable solution with them although I will have to bend them even more as I increased the bulge of the stern.

Generally you should look at the plans somewhat critically as there are several questionable details. Not only details of the stern could be reworked. Another question is also why the upper gun deck and the deck part in front of the beakhead bulkhead are not on the same level. I left that open and built as instructed by the kit but I think this detail is wrong.

I'm sure there will be more questions as the build goes on. However I would like to confirm that this is a great kit offering the possibility to build wonderful models and I never regretted to have bought it - but please change the gun carriages.

Have fun!


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Thanks for the feedback Peter. I've started to look through the plans in more detail and acquaint myself with the basics. It really is a gorgeous kit and I look forward to getting the time to clear my bench and schedules, and then dive into this.


I'll probably continue to use the dummy barrels for the lower deck, or at least see how things look as a mock up and gauge my options, and yes, I'll also look at the main gun carriages too. It's a beautifully designed kit and I'm still pretty much in awe of it.

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Oh and the black cartridge paper is extremely useful if you want to make iron hoops or bands. Just cut a small stripe and you could use it in the raw or with an additional coat of metal black.

So far it was used  to make the iron bands which hold the yaws of a gaff to the boom or mast bandings or a spectacle plate... Wherever iron bands or plates are required you can make them with cartridge paper.


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If you really want to build the Billy Ruffian, I suggest getting David Gordingly's "The Billy Ruffian".  There's a wealth of detail in it.  I'm guessing that the stern works weren't upgraded as there's still conjecture over what was there.  Seems the plan for the stern carvings was "lost" and there were changes made due to battle damage.  I've thought about this kit since it came out and it's great they've gone to PE for much of the decorations.  

"The shipwright is slow, but the wood is patient." - me

Current Build:                                                                                             
Past Builds:
 La Belle Poule 1765 - French Frigate from ANCRE plans - ON HOLD           Triton Cross-Section   

 NRG Hallf Hull Planking Kit                                                                            HMS Sphinx 1775 - Vanguard Models - 1:64               


Non-Ship Model:                                                                                         On hold, maybe forever:           

CH-53 Sikorsky - 1:48 - Revell - Completed                                                   Licorne - 1755 from Hahn Plans (Scratch) Version 2.0 (Abandoned)         



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I have finished the Vanguard version of the kit.  It's superb.  I agree with Peter's thoughts on the shipship's guns.   They are quite disappointing, though with a bit of fiddling they can be made presentable.  Have a look at Syren's gun kits.   They may be the answer, thought the scale may be a problem.


All the best


Bob (rmc)

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Great Review. It was so good, that I went out and took the plunge and purchased the kit. You can notify Amati that their decision to send you a kit for review bore some fruit.




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The MDF is dead straight with no warp. Not sure if initial kits were ply keels, but I'm happy with what's supplied as it will be easier to sand (with a mask!) and as for humidity, how much do you need before you get problems? I don't envisage any issue at all. The MDF in the kit appears to be better than the stuff I've seen previously, and even at work where the school kids use it for building curriculum projects.

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  • 3 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Also, for those scratchbuilders out there, the plans are available as a separate purchase. It is also possible to order P.E. fitting and castings sets specific to the kit. But, the kit has everything and is definitely one of those that make me drool...


Oh, and forgot to add that Ages of Sail should have the plans and kit available. Email or call about the availability of PE and castings sets.

Edited by catopower
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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...

I had the pleasure to build the Vanguard and just finished it about a year ago.

Here some of my coments for what is worth.

I built the model with sails but to keep scale I used a very thin high count thread swiss fabric called bearissima used mostly for hairloom clothing, great to work with.

I replaced the carriages using pictures of the canons from the HMS Victory museum and as a basis for scale used the proportions given by the almiranty for the construction of those carriages based on the weight of the cannon.

I used the provided canons although they needed detailing. Blackening the cannons did not work very well so I ended up priming and air brush painting them (as well as all photo etched parts) with very good results.

I was not pleased with the riging blocks provided, I recomend replacing them using blocks from Siren, wonderfully made.

For the windows  glass I did not used the acetate provided but used the white liquid that after drying becomes transparent. It is used for plastic models and can be found on modeling stores or websites. It gives a more true to reality look.

The PDF material is top quality and far superior to any plywood I have ever worked with before. In all respects it is better including resistance to warping, rigidity for a stright hull, sandeability (wear a mask), strenght and easy to glue. Liked it so much that I used some of the scraps to build some jigs to help in construction and alignment.

Finally I want to mention that in the rigging plans there are some missing belaying point references. Chris published a drawing including them, if you canot find it shoot me and email (jdieck@diesyst.com)

Also if you are interested I had a mahogany table and lighted case built for it and have some information about it if you need it.

Enjoy your built but be patient. You have your path set for the next three to five years with this kit



Edited by Jdieck
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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...
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  • 4 months later...

Hi Jose

What a marvellous build! I love sail ships with sails and your presentation is a masterpiece.

Would you mind telling me how you fixed that behemoth on those two small pillars? I'm planning to mount my Bellerophon on three but I still wonder if the PDF can take the strain although I doubled it up in the region where those 4mm woodscrews through the pillars should hold the ship.



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