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1/80 Santa Maria - Ship Model Okumoto

James H

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1/80 Santa Maria
Ship Model Okumoto

Catalogue # SM-SMO-K80
Available from Ship Model Okumoto for ¥ 39,960





La Santa María de la Inmaculada Concepción (Spanish for: The Holy Mary of the Immaculate Conception), or La Santa María, originally La Gallega, was the largest of the three ships used by Christopher Columbus in his first voyage. Her master and owner was Juan de la Cosa. Santa María was built in Pontevedra, Galicia, in Spain's north-west region. Santa María was probably a medium-sized nau (carrack), about 58 ft (17.7 m) long on deck, and according to Juan Escalante de Mendoza in 1575, Santa Maria was "very little larger than 100 toneladas" (about 100 tons, or tuns) burthen, or burden, and was used as the flagship for the expedition. Santa María had a single deck and three small masts.


The other ships of the Columbus expedition were the smaller caravel-type ships Santa Clara; one particular ship sailed for 46 years and was remembered as La Niña ("The Girl"), and La Pinta ("The Painted"). All these ships were second-hand (if not third- or more) and were not intended for exploration. Niña, Pinta, and the Santa María were modest-sized merchant vessels comparable in size to a modern cruising yacht. The exact measurements of length and width of the three ships have not survived, but good estimates of their burden capacity can be judged from contemporary anecdotes written down by one or more of Columbus's crew members, and contemporary Spanish and Portuguese shipwrecks from the late 15th and early 16th centuries which are comparable in size to that of Santa María. These include the ballast piles and keel lengths of the Molasses Reef Wreck and Highborn Cay Wreck in the Bahamas. Both were caravel vessels 19 m (62 ft) in length overall, 12.6 m (41 ft) keel length and 5 to 5.7 m (16 to 19 ft) in width and rated between 100 and 150 tons burden. Santa María, being Columbus' largest ship, was only about this size, and Niña and Pinta were smaller, at only 50 to 75 tons burden and perhaps 15 to 18 metres (49 to 59 ft) on deck.
Extract courtesy of Wikipedia


The kit


This is the last of the first three ships that I have received for review here on MSW, until I receive the new release, Hannah, in the next week or so. Out of the initial three, this is the simplest of them all, and the least expensive, producing a nice rendition of a POF version of this legendary little ship. As with all Okumoto releases, this one again is packaged into a lockable, clear plastic box through which you can see the contents. 


Okumoto’s stats for this kit are as follows:


  • overall length:             378 mm
  • height:                       139 mm
  • Width:                        103 mm
  • Wood:                        Agathis
  • Build time:                  approx 120 hours, 
  • laser-cut parts:            173


This kit has notably fewer planks within, with there being a dozen sheets of laser-cut Agathis wood, compared to double that of the Endeavour kit that we recently reviewed here on MSW (see end of article for links). Fewer sheets of timber of course yield fewer parts, with there being less than a third of the Endeavour, and a total of just 173. The model, whilst of the same scale as Endeavour, has a total length of 378mm, so in itself, is still a very reasonable size for display in a cabinet or on a mantlepiece etc. 







Looking at the various sheets, it is obvious that any scorching that inevitably results from laser-cutting, is at an absolute minimum as there is very little local heat transfer shown on the wood, and this is clearly seen in the photographs. Indeed, releasing a small number of parts from the Endeavour kit showed that the edges of the parts only seem to be a slightly darker brown, and this will be very easy to sand back to the nice bright timber colour underneath.


Agathis wood can be cleanly cut with a knife when it comes to making any parts adjustments during construction, and the fine grain means that you shouldn’t experience anything untoward such as splitting or feathery edges when finishing the model. All parts are retained within their planks by the use of tape which holds things in position on the rear of the sheet. Removing the tape leaves no sticky residues either, and the parts will be ready for construction almost instantly. 


As no parts numbers etc. are etched to the sheets, for obvious reasons, you will need to reference the sheet against a paper parts plan. The sheet is easily recognised as each is etched with the sheet thickness and number. 


As per the real vessel, each frame is constructed from a number of timber parts, and these are built up over the frame plans which you should first smear with wax or cover with grease-proof paper so nothing unwanted sticks to your completed assemblies. You will note that not only are the regular frame parts etc. included, but also the strip wood, finely cut by laser. Be careful with these parts as they could well be fragile. 


To complete the timber contents, a small bundle of dowel is included for mast stubs etc.



A colour-printed sheet showing the completed Santa Maria sits on top of the kit’s paper contents and provides the box-artillustration for this release, seen through the clear plastic container. Underneath this an A3-size plan lurks, with starboard and top-down views of the ship, clearly showing the main timber placements. Annotation is in English.


Three pages are now included for the instruction/assembly sequence sheets. At the moment, these are supplied in Japanese only, but Okumoto tell me they will eventually provide these in English language text too, opening up their market possibilities. For the time though, you can use a phone app to translate in real time, such as Google Translate, that shows you the English equivalent when you hold the camera over the Japanese text.


Four sheets of paper now include a parts plan for all of the sheet timber, providing easily referenced information when you come to locate specific elements for your build.


The majority of the paperwork in this release provides plan layouts for the many frames in this ship. These are built directly over these sheets, and the frames are clearly numbered and identified. 




A handful of last sheets provides drawing data for specific elements of construction, with all annotation supplied in English. 


I feel that this kit could be an ideal first introduction to a POF model, as it’s definitely less complex than La Couronne or Endeavour, and with a lesser parts count. General assembly looks easier too, but still maintains the overall busy look of a more complicated model. You’ll note that Santa Maria only has single frames and not the double of the previous releases, of course cutting down in the required number of timber parts. Production is excellent with cleanly-cut laser parts with hardly any charring, and a clear set of plans. The only drawback, at the moment, are the Japanese instructions, but that is easily overcome if you purchase now, and then there will be the English sheets which Okumoto will add in the future. In all, a very pleasing looking model and one at a size that will nicely fit in a small display cabinet. Give it a go!




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