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Large Scale Warship Models

From Kits to Scratch Building

By Kerry Jang


Pen & Sword Books Ltd.

7 1/2" x 10”, Hard Cover, 110 pages

Photographs, drawings, resources, references.

£25.00 - $30.50

ISBN: 9781526730961

This book is aimed at the steel Navy warship modeler who wants to build larger and more detailed models than the common plastic kit scales of 1/350, 1/700 and 1/1200.  Whether the approach to larger scale models is to build kits or to scratch build this book does a good job of laying out just what is involved and how to go about it.


Large scale isn’t defined by the author as the subject determines what is a large scale.  Many ship modelers would say a large scale model would be larger than 1:48.  However, an American Battleship in 1:96 is considered a large-scale model at over 9 feet long while a 1:96 model of an 18 ft. Chris Craft runabout at only 2 1/4-inches long is considered a miniature.  The models show in in this book are in many scales; 1:100, 1:96, 1:72, 1:48, 1:32, 1:32 and 1:24.  These scales can certainly be considered large scale when modeling large warships.


The book is profusely illustrated with 187 sharp color photographs and some good line drawings.  The photographs are very specific to the task being shown.  It is obvious that the author planned the photographs rather than picking a photograph that was “close enough”.


The book is divided into 10 chapters with the first three chapters being background information and some workshop and tool information.  The first chapter is an explanation of large scales and the benefits of modeling in large scales.  The next chapter is a comprehensive evaluation and listing of the various suppliers of large-scale kits, semi-kits, hulls and fittings with each of the major manufacturers having a section listing the types and scales of their offerings.  The third chapter covers tools needed and desired tools and some good workshop tips.  Basic hand tools; both modeling and full size are discussed.  Power tools covered are limited to modeling size table saws and full-size band saws.  There is a good amount of information on soldering and the use of a variable temperature soldering iron.  Glues and fillers are covered well with a comprehensive listing of the various glues and fillers and their main uses are explained.  The book goes a step further than most as the author covers safety in the shop with eye, lung protection emphasized.  Workshop lighting is discussed with natural light spectrum bulbs being highly recommended.  Finally sharpening and cleaning of tools is discussed.


The rest of the chapters deal with the methods and a logical progression of building a warship model.  The hull and running gear are the logical starting point.   The models and modeling techniques shown and explained deal with fiberglass or plastic hulls as these are the most common materials for model warship hulls.  Cutting the openings into the hull for prop shafts and rudders can be the most intimidating aspect of building a fiberglass or plastic hull for the first time.  Few kits or hulls come with these openings pre-made or even marked for locating.  The author’s thorough explanation of the process and his clear photographs should alleviate any anxieties of doing these operations.


The main decks and the supporting structures for the decks is covered extensively.  Making templates to fit the decks is a critical step with a fiberglass hull as there is often some differences in the hull wall thickness and possibly some distortion that a good deck structure can correct.  Regardless, the deck must fit into the hull with precision.  Deck hatches and openings to access radio control components must be carefully planned and the deck supporting structure must be made to accommodate these openings, the deck shear and camber and be strong enough to support the deck and the superstructures that will be added.  Deck materials and the deck beam installations are thoroughly covered.  There is a section on enclosed decks and how to finish them before the main deck is finished.


Radio control equipment is covered in Chapter 6.  This part can be skipped if not doing a R/C model.   But it is a complete how to on installing the equipment and also covers the need to distribute the equipment with the trim of the model in mind.  Ballasting the hull is covered in this section.  The attaching of the main deck and how to plank a deck are covered in this section.  I personally think the deck planking should have been its own chapter, but the info is provided and that’s the important thing.


The superstructure construction and attaching it is covered next.  The author provides a good guide to what types of superstructure components that are provided in kits and some tips on how to work with the various types of materials used.


Fittings and detail parts are covered in Chapter 8.  While the text and photos provide a good overview of the ways to make various fittings there will be the need for additional information on soldering, mold making and resin casting if one doesn’t already have extensive experience in these operations because the information provided is not meant to provide more than an overview.  Lots of good ideas on jigs and fixtures are provided to aid assembly.


Painting is covered next and all the basics are covered.  There is a very good discussion on detail painting to bring out details and how to detail paint the hull to show the hull plating and show depth and shadows by using pre-shading at the plating lines.  This itself could be the subject of a small book but the photos and text give a very good explanation of the process which is shown to achieve a realistic appearance.


Final assembly and the finishing touches to complete the model is the final chapter.  Decals, porthole glazing, figures and navigation lighting as well as how to display the model are covered in this final chapter.  I think some of this material should have been covered much earlier in the book because it might be very difficult to go back to do some of these items that would have been easy earlier in the construction process or at least planned for doing at the end.


A twelve-page gallery of models is the concluding section of the book.  Photographs of several finished models show off the benefits of modeling in large scales.  The degree that the photographs look like photos of real ships just isn’t possible to achieve in smaller scales.


All in all, I think this book is a very good guide to what goes into making large scale warship models.  While there are a few things that might have been covered in different sections of the book, overall the information is provided and, as it isn’t an instructional guide to building a model, the order of the data presented doesn’t detract from the book’s usefulness at all.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend it for the modeler considering larger scale warships.

Review by:

Kurt Van Dahm

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