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Frigate Diana by DavidG - modified OcCre kit - 1:85

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after finishing my small Coca model recently, I decided to move on with my Occre Diana, I started 10 years ago.

This was the period where I discovered forums, ship modeling books, I purchased the recently released Vanguard kit (still unstarted) and prepared myself to build a better quality model than my previous efforts, which may exceed kit offerings. I shortly learnt, the Occre kit provides ample room for customizing. This is not an expensive kit by any means, and we got what we expect - a well designed hull shape, average (or less) quality materials and loads of generic fittings. I started the build out of the box, but changed concept already in the early stages. My usual sequence was to build a step by the kit, then deconstruct what I have done and replace to an improved version. Then go to the next stage and repeat. But how an improved feature should be made? I found it pretty difficult to answer - the provided plans are more assembly instructions, and I had no specifics about the actual ship (well, proper research was not in my plans anyway), so I used the resources I had. I drew a lot of inspiration from the design of the Vanguard kit, the Anatomy of Ship Diana book (which is a different, British ship) and pictures from the forums I liked. The result therefore not a specific ship, but (in the best case..) a generic frigate.


Anyway, I try to resurrect this project and finish it to a reasonable standard. The plan is to add the missing parts to the hull, make the masts and rig the ship.

In the 10 years passed, I saw a lot of wonderful models built here, and I have questions, wheter a feature I liked by the time is acceptable for now. There are several parts to change, but still not decided if I want to contuine the build/destroy loop. If I want to finish this in a reasonable time, some compromises most probably had to be made.


This is the actual status, on my working desk - the first task is to dust it off.  I will post the sequence, how I got this far.


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the basic hull takes shape quickly. the fit of the precut parts was perfect. the hull shape is not difficult either, so no issues with the first planking.

the frames are made of a very light and soft plywood, having a balsa core - parts can be chipped off by fingernails.


the first planking is 2 mm, rather rough basswood, but bends easily and provides a lot of room for future sanding. a precut prow piece will be added later, a vertical strip acts as a placeholder during planking.


the bulwarks will be built up by a gunport strip, so the planking doesn't take too long.3.jpg.27df5a2789f2cb966adc2c2fa10d18d1.jpgdf



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the kit provided cast metal gunports, which I decided against in favor of wooden lining. for this reason, I had to enlarge the gunport openings.


and here is my sophisticated bending device, I still use different sizes of glasses and pots for bending. the soaked template stays on the former overnight.5.jpg.8590b0f79f699194a7d0937842f25ac5.jpg

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the first bulwark piece in place. again, the fit of the precut part was very good. it will be covered with first planking later.



besides not using the metal gunports, I also decided, I will build the gundeck with actual guns. I planked the whole gundeck, even it will not be visible.

the deck planking material was pretty poor, unevenly cut and very brittle. A good scraping helped a bit.7.jpg.f0719a6cae6a100448c7648bf492b561.jpg


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finally both bulwarks installed and the gundeck planked. The red color is an ordinary water based €1 wood stain from the hardware store, but worked very well for this model. I wish I still had a jar of it, unfortunately now out of production.


further investigation revealed the first mistake (many more will follow...). The kit originally designed with dummy gun barrels on the gundeck (except for the middle four), and their height under the closed areas are relatively unimportant. Not so with my planned carriages - now all of the ports are too high. The white paper templates mark the correct height from upper edge of the wale, the thin planks are the correct lower and upper edges. Let's correct all the 28 of them.



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the bottom of the ports are cut, and filler pieces inserted to the upper edges.


finally the gunports can be framed. the example below is a port without lid. I had some spare strips for this, but soon I had to order more material.

The wales are buing built up. The upper wale strip (first planking) was installed originally as temporary one for the gunport positioning, but it is the right size and the bending qualities were better than the thick walnut (?) one, and choose to use it for the wales.



Edited by DavidG
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and here are some recessed ports, with future lids. Inspired by the painted models, I used the second planking material to show a light stripe over the gunports, and planked dark above and below. This is the final cover - it's a pity, there is so much visible grain.


the wales are also built up using first planking strip. At the end the wales come out smooth but I recall an endless loop of filling/ sanding/ painting to reach the final stage.


Edited by DavidG
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Having the hull shape and the gunports ready, the second planking can start.

I never had such an easy planking job like this. The hull shape is very friendly. In addition, the strips are so thin, like paper, it's really about just gluing them side by side. There is large grain, the reddish color makes it typical kit look - but at least easy to work with.





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once I had the basic hull set up, started working on the guns. I planned to populate the gun deck will carriages (instead of dummies) throughout. A very fiddly job, but I was enthusiastic about it. I purchased aftermarket cannon kits (they are made of pear) and after sanding, staining assembled them.


I also changed the barrels to stock Amati items, I wanted to have them uniform, and they were just the right size. 

A barrel is test fitted for checking height:


I fully rigged the visible guns. The barrel is only a temporary fit here, they will be painted black and the breeching rope added. I used 2mm blocks for this.20.jpg.cfa1d9c3e7d2be493e3082088ddfd4cd.jpg


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  • 2 months later...

after I finished the basic rigging of the guns, started the coppering. from one tedious job to another.. this was my first (and so far the only) attempt on coppering a hull, but it came out just fine.

I used the Amati PE plates, they can be fit in longer strips which adds to the alignment and speed. There is a thin styrene strip on the upper edge, painted copper.


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  • 2 weeks later...

That looks very good.  Its really coming together....one thing that sticks out for me however are those gratings.  Its not a criticism of your work because you did a masterful job putting them together and gluing them on deck.  Its just that for whatever reason most kit supplied gratings are so oversized and out of scale.  The holes are just too big....


Its something to keep in mind for your next model since you are a terrific model builder,   just replacing the gratings with properly scaled versions can elevate your model without much hassle. 


But I am enjoying your progress and it is looking excellent. 



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On 11/8/2019 at 2:00 PM, Chuck said:

That looks very good.  Its really coming together....one thing that sticks out for me however are those gratings. Its just that for whatever reason most kit supplied gratings are so oversized and out of scale.  The holes are just too big....



thank you Chuck for looking in. you made a very valid point on the gratings - actually the same applies to most of the kit fittings. I replaced most of them over time, including the gratings, but this made the work very slow and broke up the flow several times. I just wonder on 1) how much other modeling I could have done without continuously removing and updating parts and.. 2) with this kind of time investment I could have built a better/ more authentic ship model. 

but for next time... :)


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Another couple of areas I see kit manufactures  laking  -  correct scale  beam  so the canons have the corect  room for movement  between the bulwarks  and gratings, and also  corect scale stairs  as so many  of them  if converted to real life would have sailors struggling to clear the frames when going up or down  stairs.



Edited by Old Collingwood
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  • 3 weeks later...

after having done two upgrades for the kit (guns + copper), I started to dislike some of the kit features. The gun deck seemed dull besides the the row of guns, so decided to add some furniture. My first adventures to scratch building parts. First remade the grating (these are the Amati ones):


then I figured out, I can make a pump and other deck fittings.





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  • 1 month later...

Failures.. I spent a lot of time on customizing the kit and tried out several ideas, some of them worked and others not.

In this post I show some of my failures, as they are a natural part of model building. at least for me..


deck beams. the kit provides a flat upper deck, I wanted to incorporate a proper curve. The idea was, the laminated planking strips (glued and dried in a template) will save me from sawing out them individually. While the strips kept their curve, they were simply weak for the purpose. It would have been better to bend the whole ply deck separately before gluing on. I put these beams to the model, but the deck remained more or less flat.


I also had an idea, I can build a better gallery of wood instead of the cast metal pieces. I took measurements from the castings and made some supports, with the intention of planking it later. The flow between the sections wasn't smooth though, I took this apart and I reverted to the castings later.


ships's wheel.. Can't recall what did I think.. :blush: used cast Amati wheels at the end.


stern.. I decided against the cast/ PE kit pieces. The decorative pattern was copied to a boxwood sheet, and I cut it with a hand saw. It took several attempts to have one which didn't fall apart immediately, and fixed it to the model. I recognized my limitations as I can't make it any better and moved to other areas. After ten years it's still there and still not satisfied. The current plan is the radically reduce it's thickness, maybe a little dome shape in section, to look like more a painted decoration than carving. To be honest, I saw way better examples of this stern using the well prepared kit piece, and this might be a final option if everything fails.




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I don't have many photos from the later stages, but here is one with the upper deck is on. Good bye, details below :)


I made an attempt to have as many holes as possible - left the hatches open and made some false framing on the deck, cut out a section of the ply and glued strips to the opening, then covered the joints with deck planking.


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before the upper deck fittings were made, I worked on some hull details.

here the curved rails are being built up by small sections. after sanding, they will look as one piece, especially painted black.


making the galleries, I reverted to the kit casting pieces, but attached a lip on them to allow planking.

the back side if the lower casting is awful, required a lot of filler, something I still have to deal with.



the planked surface allows building up the window framing, I used a scraped moulding horizontally, and formed the columns by gluing 1x1mm walnut dowels side by side.

the windows will be framed with very thin white styrene strips. I don't have a photo of it, but visible on the first picture in this log. Later I stained the wooden elements dark brown, which much improved their look.

Similar to the stern, I saw very good results made with kit parts only, so at the end not sure, it was worth the effort.


the plan show sweep ports across the wales, suggesting to interrupt the middle wale at regular intervals to form rectangular openings. I wanted these to be closed, and finally decided only to hint the outline of the port but add some hinges to them. The sweep port outlines were cut from regular paper -it barely sticks out - and added the hinges, which were Amati rigging hooks in their previous lives.


and their (pretty subtle) final look, painted black, but no varnish yet.



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  • 4 weeks later...

thank you OC and other for looking in.

I run out of old pictures on the build, so I'm using the present state for onwards. Most of I can show it still old work. As I caught up with the build start to see the difficulties for such a long break (the project is 12 yrs old now), get the same shades of stains is impossible, also I just forgot what did I use.

let's catch up with the upper deck. not that much of details like the gun deck, but still a fair number of guns, racks and loads of railings around.


the upper deck guns are smaller versions of the ones placed on the gun deck. I found 26mm cast barrels which are perfect fit to the carriages. I fully rigged them with 2mm blocks - the square ones, which were available that time - now we have more choices. The capstan is the kit piece, not glued. I filed the dome head flat to make a bit more realistic, but the proportions are just not correct and the whole thing is too small. I have to make a better one, I think I have to scratch build.


a shot of the aft area. Having no better options, I used the kit wheels, despite being a bit on the thick side. If I find a better one I might change it, but not going to scratch build. The wheel supported by a simple stand I made, the 1mm decorative strips extend below the deck and hold the structure in place.

In the background is the hatch, which I made after the Caldercraft Diana.




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this is the fore section of the upper deck. I used the cast belfry kit piece, but remade the rail around it. Also, made some columns for the gangway supports and added the skid beams from below as I saw on several models, opposed to gluing it from the top, as the plan suggests.


Edited by DavidG
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..and the most difficult part, the headrail. The kit provides a straightforward approach to build it, and I saw several examples where builders made it as suggested and came out fine. Not for me. The rail pieces was simply too short, probably due to my modifications. When I remade them in correct sizes, they met at the wrong angle. I had so many failures on this part, I gave up the experiments and didn't touch it for several years.

Then following a more or less successful card template, I cut it from 3mm solid wood; I always thought the kit piece is too thin anyway. I had to use boxwood sheet for this, as the walnut ones split along the grain. There is a decorative element, supposed to be glued on top, which I didn't made separately and cut the whole thing from one piece. 

Finally, when the rails were in place and I inserted the bowsprit, I realized the tip is off center. So took them apart last time, adjusted the angle of the brackets, and finally painted the decorative part brown. Wasn't able to paint a sharp line, and used a thin styrene strip to define the edge.


still need to add a lower rail and build up the forward grating , but happy to be over this part.

I have to figure out, how the gammoning will the cross the bow platform.

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