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ROYAL LOUIS 1668 by Heinrich der Seefahrer - a Heller-SR long-term kitbashing project

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Dear friends of the re-use of the Heller SR kit!



This writing was placed on the mizzen mast of her - and due to my honorable colleague @Hubac's Historian /Marc and it's distinguished work I am here with this second baroque project by pure curiosity to the overwhelming decor on the pick of the  luxurious splendour  -  untill the laws of nature and naval arcitecture vetoingly entered the stage of history.

Yours HdS,

Berlin in spring 2019



The first ROYAL LOUIS we do know about with data giving us the oportunity for modelbuilding is usualy the RL-1692 - a less decorated ship than her predecessor from 1668.  But our situation isn't as bad as we may think. This vessesl was called "Vaisseau du premier rang extraordinaire" designed and constructed by Rodolphe Gédéon and decorated by François Girardon at Toulon. Launched on the 1st Feb.1668 she was rebuilt in 1677, went out of service in Jan.1691, renamed ROYAL LOUIS VIEUX and was broken up in 1697 at Toulon.

Measuring data:

Length/pp: 163'0" p* (52,95m)

L/keel: 135'0" p (43,85m)

Breadth: 44'4" (14,40m)

Draft: 21'0" (6,82m)


Planed with 104 guns (1668):

Lower Deck:

12 x 36pfd**

16 x 24pfd

Middle Deck:

26 x 18pfd

Upper Deck:

26 x 12pfd


12 x 6pfd


8 x 6pfd


4 x 4pfd


(There are some other data like length of gundeck etc.)



Laid down in 1666 it was planed with the most possible amount of decor as Colbert ordered to praise the king by its ships.

The propaganda machinery of the sun king's army of artist still influenced our point of view making us to belief in "royal blue" (sic!!!) painted plankings. But only the cartushes with the three fleur-de-lys were painted in the expensive lapis lazuli blue of milled semi-precious  juwely stones coming to france over the silkroad. (This last two sentences are, what I want to show to  why something is as it is andwhat is the historical od te hnical reason for this.)


The RL-1668 is pictred on several prints,engravings or ink drawings.


Herrich de or was a permanent source of trouble, as LeBrun was used to add a rich decor the shipwrights get paniced (knowing the VASA case) about the additive wight ant the high metrecentic point. So the figures were craved empty inside and so fixed. That the decor was cut down on the open sea to safe wigth (as Mondfeld told us) is not clear. But patrs of the decoation elements werde reused at the RL of 1692 - so we have to be aware of this fact not to confuse this both ships! 


Due to this I can use the SR hull as a basis and adding some fancy decor I might come towards my goal to build a ship of full french baroque decor. This before with the 1670th years a more unpretentious kind of decoration took place as SOLEIL ROYAL shows to us.

There are some pictures, but no technical drawing.

So here we have got the possibility to reconstruct the ship - it is clear to me this is the hard road to travel. But an less boring one than the typical o.o.b. builds.


I really dpn't know where my journey will end - at the moment I hope to be able to use the Heller hull as a basis for the rebuild; but it may also be my purpose and my fate to end up with the transoms glory only as one a part model. As the basis is allways the Heller SR kit so it is a kit bashing how much may even be in there at the end.


The lowest battery own 14 openings as the Heller hullSR - but the drawings of the galion are not very easy to decipher. 

It will only be a hull model scaled in the 1/90th. 


B.t.w. the MONARQUE is in the row of pictures due to her equal structure and the clearness of the drawing. She also is a contemporary example of the optical ligthness of these tons of white oak, colour and leaf gold. (I have to take any possibility to give my strange beliefs some historical footnotes.)


This project isn't made as a rush in you workshop with an arm full of rolled plans and wood, entering the branch and after being disappeared in a holy cloud of lightning covered sawdust you'll leave it with a shipmodel in your hand. It is a arthistorical trial to reconstruct a beloved period of shipbuilding killed by strange-minded pennypinchers and small-minded safty fanatics... 😉


Have fun and take care.





*p = pieds 324,8mm (106,5% of a GB-foot)

** pfd\£[ivre] is 489,5g













Edited by Heinrich der Seefahrer
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So the mainproblem is to get any ideas what the transom of the ship looked like.  

So I geathered my literature, enlarged the drawings and make a copie of the transom by a pencil on transparent paper.

So I'll try to get some realistic ideas about any look of her. Today I started one trial and error project..having understood what shape means what figure, podestral, architectural element helps to get some idea of the hole composition. 

The sideviews give any possible idea of the deep and the shape, so I can start to give some 3D effect into the hole thing.

The Ancre plans for SAINT PHILIPPE are very helpfull for the structure under the figures.

And the little book "Über den Wellen bin ich einzigartig" opens the view of the art historian what allegorical figure stands for what political or geographical claim/appetite of power.


Hope you like it.






Edited by Heinrich der Seefahrer
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Magnificent, splendid and challenging! I love anything baroque and this project seems to be most interesting! This certainly will outshine her sucessor SR in ornamentation. I am ashamed to admit I only knew this ship from her short description in wiki and not much else, read when I was building the much much later Royal Louis that Heller had a kit of.  

Edited by GeorgeKapas
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The drawing signed with P.P.I.1681 shows a plenty of details.

Lets pick out some of them:

The crown of Thetis is from the very expensive corals from the RedSea. 

Le Bruns as art director reassembled a scenery from a painting at Versailles, several allegorian engravings and the "Mercurius abituruens" by Theodoor van Thuulden of 1642 to praise the French king and the pictures by Rubens due to the sorrow of Antwerp to be left behind.


The shodows do give us some idea of the forming of the balkonys.





Edited by Heinrich der Seefahrer
As the detailing of this drawing is an other I'll have to enlarge this,too.
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As this drawing dates from 1681 - it is made after the mayor rebuild in 1670 - so there may be some dufferences - but I'll try to go with the 1668 launched version. This obviously differ from each other.


P.S.: @Hubac's Historian

Dear Marc, instead I of translating the booklet I'm going to give all the information in this articel series in here to public.



Edited by Heinrich der Seefahrer
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Ui we are at #8... okay! After this furious steps foreward let us stop for a moment and lets look on our picturial sources:


I. Transom view (1681):


The mostly detailed drawing is this one after Charles LeBrun  - a construction scetch with the note "P.P.F.1681" and on the backside "Pujez",1668 (?). Pencil, pen (black and brown) on paper - 585x440mm.

So this drawing was made after the rebuild of 1676/77. So it might give us an idea of the appearance in a lightered design.


II. Transon scetch of project decoration:


The most oblivious change are the four male figures holding the highest part of the transom with King Louis XIV. (The similaritys and differences will be discussed later on.)


III. 45°-side view from starboard


This anonymus drawing from 1668 is believed to come from the Toulon workshop showing the side gallerys and transom decoration. But no gun barrels - so it migth be made during the accoutrements in Toulon. It also shows the four male figures strawl about the Upped gundeck and the poopdeck. The side gallery was a single knee fitted balkony not an enclosed unit (as it was at HMS Prince two years later). So here is my evidencia gor my vour favorites.


IV. Complete view 45° from starboard 



This drawing of 1668 is called "Le Grande Monarque/GRANDE MONARQUE dessiné par P.Puget" sounds as an error and I do belief the ship is our RL-1668 - as we have got 14 gunports on the 36pounder deck - MONARQUE only had had 13 ports. So the Grande Monarque is the substitute for the name of the king.


And we do get an astonishingly detailed drawing - again with four staning man over two tiers.


V. Complete view 45° from portside


This picture dated 1668 also by Pierre Puget shows RL-1668 at sea under full sail. Again we get interesting set of details of the figural decoration.


The corner of the balcony at the 12pounder deck can be seen easily.

 The last two drawing do give little detailed information to us about the figurehead - we have to guess a lot.


VI. The transom under flag:IMG_20190319_222824.thumb.jpg.29d6259ccb4736f1843384a5316020b8.jpg

The larger the flag the more important the ship. Here we see an anonymious drawing   - perchance by Commissaire Hayet with simple style and little detailing. But the Quartett of men is also there. Dated around 1677 we can trust in being before 1676 - before the rebuilt and the disappearence of the four heavy figures. The four coloums are clearly to be seen and a strong decorating element.


These were the sources of the transom and side gallerys. 


For the galion we have only an other Hayet(?)-drawing.


VII. Frontview after Hayet(?) 


with no really useable information of the



figure head and highly equivocal picturing of the breakhead bulkhead and the side gallery.


These were all the picture sources I could figure out.


So I do believe in the group of four men over two tiers at the transom before the big 1676/77 rebuild. So I'll follow this decoration feature strongly... 


Thanks for your patience and intrest.



Edited by Heinrich der Seefahrer
Sorry I cannot turn any pictures on my smartphone.
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There are severat parts of the decoration we know very detailed: i



These angels symbolism for the Renommeé (as I do know from the Ancre-book about RENOMMEÉ-1744) are placed on the same part of the decor.





Neptunus is also on his place the tree ended spear/triend is a challenging feature in 1/90. And the figures around/holding him look quite similar.



Thetis with the fillhorn symbolised the land and the wealth of the sea trade in one. The coral crown is proof for this wealthy.she is supportet by a Triton and here way to sit changed from the inkscetck to the built version.



The King himself:IMG_20190319_215450.thumb.jpg.b564fbca1f7bd5920df89fa6ccface1f.jpgIMG_20190319_215506.thumb.jpg.dd67c02f452e1f9564e6d300498c7128.jpg

placed above the two godnesses sits enthroned between two bound pirates/ barbarians. (The only battle RL-1668 fought were against mediteranian/Algerian pirates) and shows the real meaning of the RL-1668 the sea power in the Atlantic and Mediterranean.  The King looks allways to Thetis as hope for trade and groth.


Over the king himselfe only the symbols of his own rennommee or the French glory - from his point of view one and the same thing. Doubling himself and suggesting unpretentiousness in once... a typical baroque way of behavior.


Smaller structural elements:

The seahorses under the transom look very similar also the girlandes/swags do repeat. So there is very little to change. But we have a great prototype for all over the hull.


So these elements we can used from the later drawings also without any doubt and transfered to the as build/as planed vesion. The taller appearance looks more interesting than the breadth bringing kind of build... the Dutch way of building was still in the background... this is an interesting question.


The Tritons will be discussed later on in detail. As some other decorelements.


Hope you agree with my argumentation based on my own (art)historical knowledge, Eugen Rickenbacher and Bernd Monath. If not please don't hasitate to intercept my wrong ideas. I'm writing here to find new ideas or some correction of my point of view. Without you help I will repeat wrongs of my own thoughts or others.

Edited by Heinrich der Seefahrer
Added the call-up for help and criticism.
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On 3/19/2019 at 8:59 AM, GeorgeKapas said:

Magnificent, splendid and challenging! I love anything baroque and this project seems to be most interesting! This certainly will outshine her sucessor SR in ornamentation. I am ashamed to admit I only knew this ship from her short description in wiki and not much else, read when I was building the much much later Royal Louis that Heller had a kit of.  

@George Kapas


the RL-1668 is quite unknown to a lot if beople, and I would like to get a group in here to geather all the Heller-SR builders and rebuilders. 


RL-1668 is not so well nown but well documented and is fact is a big bathtub full of decissions to be made. So you interpretate this as a curlicure, another sees a floralic twirl in it or I do say "Oh no I think it is a dolphin!" And in that moment you have to carve a pair of them and on top twice as a mirrow immage... full of creativity for your own interpretation... leaving the Heller kit behind you like Huba's Historian does by the incredible SOLEIL ROYAL or Cederic with his ROYAL DUC/REINE... and me with my RL-1667


(and later on the

ROYAL DAUPHIN 1668 of what nothing without some Data and this two


IMG_20190318_001353.thumb.png.506b873936fb9d3e92000f04719ca770.png [the coloured seems to be only a version from the 1970th] of the


sepia original is left as I figured out till now!).


So please don't hasitate to join the HELLER SR re-/builders chorus - blow the dust from the box and start to join us!



Edited by Heinrich der Seefahrer
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There were on the transom three cote of arms and two highest two orders as ornamental additives. 









Both gives some colourfull spots in this desert of gold and figures.



Here a printing.


There are several versions of the both Ordres (and classes rangs)




so I'll try to figure out what appearance


the 1660th version in the "1eme rang" had had.



Here the light blue colour of the background of the cartushe for the Ordre de Saint Esprite



and the black morion ribbon band of the Saint Michel.


So I'll write some lines to the "International Commission on Orders of Chivalry" to ask for some helpful hand.

Edited by Heinrich der Seefahrer
added the ribbon band colours
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Well, this should be a truly fascinating project, and one that several others have expressed interest in attempting.


Whether one plans to build a representation of the Monarque of 1667, or the Royal Louis of 1668, I think the principal difference, there, will be in how one presents the number and arrangement of guns.


From the standpoint of the Heller kit, what I think would be interesting to experiment with would be a lowering of the forward sheer of the wales, and a corresponding relocation of the decks.  Making these adjustments will enable you to lower the knees of the head and create the lower sweep of the headrails.  The issue of the bowsprit entry point and step is tricky because I believe it is also lower than depicted in later century portraits of French ships.  Cedric L makes mention of this in his build-log for La Reyne conversion project.


Moving aft, I would be interested in increasing the sheer of the wales to some small, but noticeable degree.  Ultimately, this will require adjustments (built-up) to the upper bulwark sheer line, and the number if sheer steps, but I think that these adjustments will provide a closer facsimile of the RL/Monarque silhouette.  Then, the rest is mainly a layering of ornamentation.

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The reason , Marc, why this rebuild is N°2 is my intrest to change more onto the Heller hullparts than I'll do with SAINT PHILIPPE. 


Good news is as I stay in the same scale I can reuse the thre moulds for the 12, 24 and 36-pfd bronze guns with their high degree of ornamentation I'll place on SP first time.


Royal ordonance board gave her a very short time some 48pdrs (s.o.) they might be a bew challange to show her hull in a very defined period.

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2 hours ago, Hubac's Historian said:

So, you are going to cast guns for both the SP, and the RL?  Will they be resin castings or white metal?

I belief in metal as a former foundery man, but I do think the resin wil give use better and finer results due to the huge ammount of decoration additives to be put onto the barrel before the 1670th reformation of ordonance decor - these lead to less dangereous decor to the gun crew and less expensive barrels for the cash masters office. (In the SPbook by Ancre is a hole chapter about th development of ordonance decoration through the 60-90th.)


These are three examples of 24pdr due to the decoration fromfroMy.the Ancre Monographie of SAINT PHILIPPE. My true terrifying

horror is the pair of dolphin arcs to lift the barrel out of and into the gun casing. I think I'll have to mould them separately and to glue them on. 

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Hello friends, the verylast sentence in the book of Rickenbacher do tell us in the Epilog, that ROYAL LOUIS wasn't very often seen in an escadre out in the sea - but the Genius Colbert was aware of her real role: being representative in and sourrounded by the impressing Toulon arsenals. The imense cost of manning her with 800-1000 men was a second factor... so the titleing as "Versaille of the Seas" was right - so we can see onto her the combination of the will to representate and tell us the proud of France personalisized in the king hisself with any possible pomp and circumstance. And so I can tell you I ended my firsttime reading of the OVER THE WAVES I AM EXCEPTIONAL and showing the


first row of remarks where to find what - to avoid the question:


"Where the hell I  did read this!?"


So I use signs for arthistorical proposes, for named details on the ships transom, for importsantv diffrerences between the four pictures.

Edited by Heinrich der Seefahrer
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It was not uncommon for many first rates to remain close to port for the majority of their careers. The costs of manning, arming and supplying them was immense and as such they were often used more as a symbolic threat or on more stationary duties such as blockades. Of course many still saw plenty of action, but in the line of battle unlike the smaller rates that were sent out on cruises and could have more frequent one-on-one battles. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hmmm there are between the


drawings differences more and more obvious...


I set a middelline in tthe drawing and interpolated a CWL 


I think I'll take the right drawing as the guideline and integrate


the four Atlas figures in it as they are on any later Piget drawing also. I bends the transom taller. This due to the similarities to the other Piget sideviews. 

I'm really unshure how to get some progress in a way I can reach it later when I'm buildung. So I'll have to redraw the full transom and can stop when the ships structure without decoration (doors/windows) is ready copy it and go onto the next step using the copies for construction. Does this sound like an idiot's idea? 



I'm drawing on a 190g/m2 cardboard ficed on the camping table by Tesa. So I can remove it into safety folding the legs and hiding it beside the old bog oak cupboard.

IMG-20190414-WA0016.thumb.jpeg.0ea4d1db3f73d0979563be5f630c1535.jpegShipcat is watching you!


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It sounds, to me, like the best way to proceed.  You will have to decide, though, whether you intend to represent the six stern lights, plus a door opening in the center.


You could - if you were set on the idea of wanting to build a full-hull model - work within the confines of the Heller kit architecture.  If you stuck to Heller’s scaling, when you recreate the window/door openings, that will result in two stern lights to either side of the central doorway.  In my opinion, though, this would be a less than ideal approximation.


The other consideration is that the profusion of so many large figurative sculptures demands a wider platform than the Heller architecture can provide; the stock kit of Soleil Royal seems impossibly tall and too narrow, as it is.


Nevertheless, You could simply trace the stock outline of the stern and lower transom, and then attempt to fit scaled-down spacing that will allow for the seven openings that are required.  I suspect, though, that the impression this creates will be even less ideal than the five openings option.  That’s a quick enough thing to lay out, though,  just to see for yourself.


My thinking is that to really do this - one would be well served by chopping away the lower hull and increasing the breadth of the hull, at the bow.  I don’t think it’s really feasible to add more than the 5/8”, overall, as I did at the bow of my build; at that dimension, I had to do some tricky heat bending to get the extensions to mate, without simultaneously spoiling the rounding of the bow.  Those extensions, though, make it possible to set your stern transom at whatever width is necessary to accommodate your new window/door layout.  I needed 1/2”+, but you could probably muster 3/4” without anything seeming exaggerated.


In the end, you will have to go to considerable lengths to produce a good scale impression of the RL, from the SR kit.  This kind of modification build is (much) less about strict adherence to the actual scale and dimension of the original RL, as it is a balance between what is close enough to correct that it strikes an overall impression of being right; this is all a highly scientific approach that I call “Fudgery”;  cheat a little here, get that exactly right, subtract that entirely, and then add back all of these missing details.  And, then, VOILA - a reasonable facsimile of the Royal Louis of 1668.


This raises the question, of course, as to where you will obtain the necessary scrap hull to make these extensions.  Would you purchase a third SR kit, or would you sacrifice the St. Philippe project for the sake of Royal Louis?


Sometimes you can find partially built kits on EBAY for a reasonable price.  Something to consider, anyway.

Edited by Hubac's Historian
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@Hubac's Historian


No, Marc, I am affraid, you missunderstood my post. I have got two complete kits and


one complete hull [not in the picture: with upper deck, transom, side gallerys and galion (the hole light blue sprue)].


Edited by Heinrich der Seefahrer
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Okay, friends, this evening I've made some little progress.

I decided to start with some part of the top end: 



The Couronnement with Louis XIV. as Alexander the Great.



This is the line I was drawing last what is the inner line of the Couronnement as it lays on the


left side of the picture - so I'll have to add some thickness.IMG-20190416-WA0035.thumb.jpeg.8a3b97203ae8bc97f64c296c213ea214.jpeg

Here the used drawing materials. By these I was able to draw the upper planks underside of the doors.IMG-20190416-WA0033.thumb.jpeg.a007911ccb3d5ebb0ff6818d205b17da.jpeg

By mainly using a pair of compasses to transfer the dustances from the


Toulon drawing after LeBrun. And here you can see what is my way


(🤔...here you can see the drawing isn't mirrow symmetric...😲)



to get the diameter of the door's arc. The most important point is to stay as rectangular as possible



So I try to use my own way of drawing.



But my ships cat is still sceptical...



But I'm able


by this double tri angle trick to keep also rectangular 



...as to keep lines parallel, too.

Edited by Heinrich der Seefahrer
...drawing isn't mirrow symmetric... and two similes added
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If I may butt in - just scanning through the last number of posts - the 'angels' are not actually angels! They are representations of Fame blowing their trumpets. Much of this Rococo imagery has Classical allusions, such as the men with fish-tails blowing conch shells: these are Tritons, sons of Neptune, God of the Seas. 

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@druxey thatis very helpfull, you give a good deal of additive knowledge - I cannot always press all the information into the artice/paragraph I wrote as I would overkill my readers with a mixture of allegorical, historical, geometric and additive technical  information...


Due to these complex pile of circumstances your "butting in" is more - much more - than welcome to me!!!


Thank you very much!


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