Jump to content

Kit Review - HMS ENTERPRIZE (1774) by CAF MODELS

Recommended Posts

HMS Enterprize (1774)


CAF Models


Review by Dr. Kerry Jang


HMS Enterprize was the lead ship of the Enterpize class of 1770.  The class was designed by Sir John Williams with a gross dimensions and tons of 120’6” (gun deck), 99’6” (keel),  33’6” (beam),  11’ (depth of hold) and to carry 200,men.  Armament was 24 x 9 pound guns on the upper deck, 4 x 3 pound guns on the quarter deck, and 12 swivel guns.   She was ordered in January 1771, Keel laid on September 9, 1771 at Deptford, launched  August 24, 1774; hulked in 1791.  Twenty-seven ships composed this class.


A pair of paintings of the ship by Joseph Marshall in 1775 is held by the Science Museum in Kensington and the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.




Enterprise served as a cruiser and convoy escort.  Her most notable action occurred on June 7, 1780 whilst at Gibraltar when her crew spotted six Spanish fire ships drifting into the harbour toward the fleet at anchor.  A warning salvo was fired to alert the fleet and the Enterprize’s cables cut to allow the ship to drift away from the hulks and opened fire on the hulks in an attempt to sink them.  The Spanish fleet lay outside the harbour for any British ships trying to escape so the British seamen boarded the small the fire ships to attach lines to away from the fleet and burn themselves out.


On April 27, 1782 near the Leeward Islands she captured the 22-gun American privateer Mohawk which was later taken into Royal Navy service.  Mohawk was sold in1783.

Enterprize was decommissioned in May 1784 and from 1790 she served as a receiving ship and hulked in 1791.  In 1806 she was taken to Deptford and broken up in 1807.

Lines, profile and decoration drawings of Surprize as built can be purchased from the Royal Museums Greenwich (National Maritime Museum).


The Kit


CAF MODELS of Shanghai, China has created a stunning 1/48 scale Admiralty model of HMS Enterprize.   Before reviewing the kit a few words about wooden sailing ship kits from Chinese producers is warranted because they are not all created equal.  In 2001 China was allowed to formally join the World Trade Organization (WTO) which meant the country had to abide by international trade agreements and practices such as copyright protection.  Prior to 2001, China was the largest source of counterfeit goods that focused on covered luxury goods, cosmetics, sportswear, and appliances.  As a result of joining the WTO, far fewer counterfeit goods are no longer produced or available in China, but remains a problem because copying has become a way of life and normal practice for many manufacturers.  This problem is endemic among many wooden model kit producers in China who readily use copyrighted drawings to produce their kits without acknowledgement or licence, and these kits are readily available on shopping websites.  They will continue to do this as long as it is profitable so do not buy these unlicensed and counterfeit kits.    


A concerted effort by Model Ship World and the Nautical Research Guild to highlight these practices and alert model makers to the counterfeit products is having success and has gone further to lend an open and willing hand to any Chinese producers who wish to abide by the WTO and international agreements.  One of these companies is CAF MODELS located in Shanghai, China.  CAF MODELS first came to attention for producing unlicenced kits of French vessels from the ANCRE collection of drawings and monographs.  With the help of members of the Model Ship World community, proper agreements between ANCRE and CAF MODELS are being negotiated and to CAF MODELS’ credit, has stopped selling any models based on ANCRE material until an agreement is signed.  These kits will return once the agreement is finalized and signed.  


In the meantime, CAF MODELS has a number of original kits for sale such as HMS Enterprize, with several more under development.  CAF MODELS kits are designed and manufactured by Mr. CAO Feng, or in English -- Tom Cao.  Tom is an engineer by profession and used CAD to design kits from Admiralty drawings and other references.  His CAD designs have become very precise and is able to detect and correct draughting errors in commercially available plans and well-known sources.  I had the pleasure of meeting him and his lovely family in Shanghai in 2018 where he kindly took me to his home to show me how he designed model kits and his extensive reference library. 


On a funny note, I am a third generation Canadian Chinese and speak Cantonese Chinese.  Tom speaks Shanghaiese Chinese and our dialects are mutually unintelligible.  The two of us had to use an English translator on his phone to converse!  Tom is a talented and keen modeller and with his engineering training tries to design kits that are faithful to the actual construction practices of the actual ship or model with an eye to ease of construction for the modeller.  The kits are continually upgraded to take into account improvements in design and materials or to correct errors.  All kits are manufactured in house and Tom builds the lasers to cut them out.  For his latest designs he is building a series of CNC cutting machines to avoid laser cutting char marks.  Carvings for figureheads and relief carvings are done using CNC routers guided by 3D renderings.  The wood used for the kits are cherry, boxwood, pear, and maple imported from North America and Europe.  He experiments with other traditional materials such as ox bone for window frames to replicate materials used by traditional craftsmen of the 18th Century.     





Tom is in the white shirt and myself in the black t shirt.  Note that the phone with a translator is open so we could chat and that the kit is the French bomb ketch SALAMANDRE based on the Boudriot plans.  This kit is off the market until the licence agreement with ANCRE is finalized.



 The kit provides the parts to build a fully framed Admiralty style model of the ship that measures 33” in length with a beam of 8.2”.  The kit arrives in a shipping carton containing 6 large boxes chock a block full with wooden parts and fittings, and a bundle of wooden strip stock. The boxes in total weigh in around 20 kgs!  The parts in each box are well protected in foam and sealed in bags or cello wrapped to prevent damage and loss.





The CAF kit is packed in six large boxes and a bundle of strip wood stock.


Each box is numbered and along with the parts are numbered sheets that lay out the assembly steps and identifies all of the parts contained in a box.  By way of example, the contents of box #1 contains several laser cut sheets of ship’s frames, instruction booklet, and 1:1 scale exploded view of how each frames is to be constructed.  A closer look at the wooden parts show that each piece is neatly cut by laser with no excess burning and the bevel lines are etched into the wood.  The wood on this kit is cherry, and it has a nice warm brownish tone and is very fine grained.  The char marks left by the laser cutting on the edge is relatively light and most of it is sanded away during the fairing of the hull.  All lasers cut parts on a slight angle (has to do with beam deflection as it burns through the wood) so some mating faces are not 90° degrees and must be gently sanded square using a disk sander.    





Typical contents of a box.






Laser cut frame parts. The plans in each box contains 1:1 scale drawings to identify each part. 





A close up of the laser cutting.  Parts are attached to the sheet using small tabs that are easily cut away with a sharp hobby knife. The kit contains thousands of laser cut parts.





Deck beams, knees, dowels for stub masts, building jig parts, drawings and the first box of fittings made from a multitude of different materials.





Some of the stem and keel parts and building jig pieces to construct the cant frames.


The kit also contains some interesting some CNC cut parts that are cut in three dimensions to capture their unique double curvature shapes that cannot be cut using a laser.  In other kits, such parts are provided as a metal or resin piece that must be painted to look like wood but in this kit it is wood. 





CNC cut wooden parts in three dimensions.







Strip wood is labelled, clean and straight and cut by a saw.


The Building Jig



The model is built in an elaborate plywood jig that holds the keel, stem, stern and frames in the exact locations and square to one another.  The building jig is also designed to hold the cant frames in the correct orientation so they can be built up and faired in place.  The jig itself is made up of several parts and is a major project in itself.










A selection of the framing jig parts.   The jig parts are provided in good quality birch ply and slot together neatly with little or no sloppiness to the joints.  Despite the care taken by CAF MODELS, the jig should be assembled carefully and one must ensure all joints are correct.  Any misalignment will be transferred to the hull as it is constructed.






An illustration as to how the cant frame bow jig is used. 






With box after box full of laser and CNC cut parts, there are also smaller boxes of fittings in wood, metal, glass, and bone.  Of particular note are that the carvings and sculptures that adorn large ships of the line have always been difficult to reproduce for modellers who are not experienced at carving.  Often kits provide a heavy metal or resin figurehead or carvings that must either be gilded or painted.  Model makers have often wished that the carvings were provided in wood, just as seen on Admiralty models.  CAF Models have done this by providing the carvings in wood.  This is not pressed fiberboard but an actual 3D CNC cut set of sculptures as shown in the photos.











Ships guns are in cast brass and are fully detailed with the royal cyphers.  Anchors and other metal parts also provided as brass castings.  All other of the required fittings are provided in brass, glass, wood and good quality cordage.  Each is neatly labelled and packaged.














Note that the spokes for the ship's helm are individual parts.  Glass cover slips for microscope slides is provided to glaze the windows. 





The ship's stove is a miniature photetched brass kit,






The instructions are contained in a series of booklets and plans.  The instructions are pictorial in nature so that modeller does not have to rely on a working knowledge of Chinese at all.  There are some English instructions which in some cases makes little sense because something got lost in translation - but with the picture the meaning becomes clear.  Running the Chinese text through Google Translate provides a good sense of the Chinese instructions.  The drawings and plans are crisp and the parts match the drawings precisely.  Drawings are colour coded to keep things straight and are neatly and cleanly printed.  Future kits will have better English instructions included. 






All parts are labelled and construction fully illustrated so no need to know how to read Chinese to build the model.












Each booklet has several illustrated steps to construction.









Full size profile and lines are provided.





Frame plans to help align all of the separate futtocks.



The kit also provides a full sheet of waterslide decals to reproduce the painted friezes adorning the ship’s side and stern.  The modeller can paint these friezes if desired, but the decals provide a neat option.  My advice for applying the decals is that the designs are cut close to the printed colours as possible, and applied to a glossy surface by sealing the wooden hull sides with a gloss varnish.  The designs are later sealed with a coat of matt or satin varnish as desired.







If you want to build an Admiralty style model and don’t have the tools, access to wood stock, skills or inclination then CAF Model's Enterprize is an excellent way to build one.  All that is required is included in the boxes that saves you from having to source materials and tools.  All of the materials are top notch and having seen the prototype model at Tom's home, is well designed and goes together well.  It is rare to find a kit this well produced and the innovation and constant upgrading CAF MODELS does on its kits ensures improves ease of construction, and quality of materials and design continually improves.  The sheer complexity of the kit will keep the modeller busy for a long time and especial care and fitting of the many parts is the order of the day -- this is no different that scratch building so your skills will be challenged and honed over time. The kit is excellent value for the money. 


CAF MODEL's next kit is Le Coureur based on drawings from the National Maritime Museum, and a set of figures is being designed to crew the ship.  


The review kit was purchased directly from CAF MODELS courtesy of my wallet.  Payment was by PayPal and China Post delivered it to Canada Post in excellent shape and in good time.  Tom Cao stands by all his products and should you find a faulty part or broke something, he will help you with replacements.  If you have an earlier kit and want the latest upgrades to it, you can contact him and he can supply it at a nominal cost.  Tom is responsive to e-mail within a day or two in my experience. 


With scratch building, masting and rigging can be added to really make the model stand out even moreso.  That is what I plan to do in due course.


Happy Modelling!


Kerry Jang

Vancouver, Canada



Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for this review - I'm eagerly waiting for the reappearance of the La Belle kit, as I just bought Ancre's monography from another modeler. I had to give up space for Homeoffice, so HMS Enterprize is simply too big for me. What I really admire here is the clever kit-design, excellent for people like me with more romantic dreams than useful modeling skills.

I wish Tom total success with his enterprise, may there be soon an agreement!


Link to post
Share on other sites

In regards to Captain Hook’s question on the figurehead.  The Enterprize class was a large class of ships and I would suppose each had its own figurehead.  The draught in “The Sailing Navy List” is not for Enterprize but another of the class that shows a human figurehead.  The painting of Enterprize I put at the top of the review shows the same human figurehead...


In the absence of any definitive drawing of the carvings I guess a “generic” lion will do, which adorns many Admiralty models of the time.  


A question for Tom.  I will ask him.


I am glad the review is helpful, and thank you for all the kind comments on it.  






Kerry Jang

Vancouver, Canada.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you very much to Kerry, and also to my friends who have been supporting me. I can't finish these works without your help

We are now waiting for Ancre's authorization, and then we will start selling salamandre, renommee, Le reqin chebec and La Belle

For La Belle, we have plans to redesign. The size is 1 / 48. Will it be too small? Is it better if 1 / 36 is better,


Thanks again to my friends




Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Jeff

In 1:48 the hull's length should be 54 cm, in 1:36 then 72 cm (according to Ancre's website: https://ancre.fr/en/monograph/30-monographie-de-la-belle-barque-1680.html#/langue-anglais). 

I very much hope, Tom, there will be a kit in 1:48. It would be a unique opportunity to build a fully framed model of a small ship in a relatively small scale. I'm hoping and looking very much forward to this kit.

Cheers, Gregor

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Aydingocer,


Thank  you you got your kind words on my review.  Enterprize is the same as Enterprise and the kit is the same as you posted.   I just used the old spelling with a “z” instead of the “s”.  


Interestingly, some say that ”Enterprize” is an incorrect spelling which is untrue, as the ship’s name as listed in Admiralty records is spelt this way and thus correct.  





Vancouver, Canada

Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the answer I received from Tom at CAF Models when I asked the same question:


The specifications of HMS enterprise are B and C

B. C material: cherry and maple

B. CWood carving: Boxwood

B. CMetal parts: Brass


B: window: Bovine bone

😄 window:Boxwood


B has less wood color difference


C is in stock, B needs to book (I need to select timber) the estimated processing time is 3-4 weeks


I hope this helps,




Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...



No, you didn’t miss it.  I didn’t list any shipping costs as it depends on how it was shipped.  Prior to the pandemic, my kit and other items I ordered from China came via China Post to Canada.  Now, Chinese prodecers are using courier services such as DHL to avoid sitting in the post office (in my case Canada Post) until cleared by customs.  The courier firms have their own brokerage which is faster but comes at a price.  


I suggest you email Tom and ask.  The kits can be provided in parts so you can stretch out the costs.  This is why each box is a self contained unit of parts, plans, etc.  You can start with box 1, build away until you are ready for the next part.





Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, kljang said:



No, you didn’t miss it.  I didn’t list any shipping costs as it depends on how it was shipped.  Prior to the pandemic, my kit and other items I ordered from China came via China Post to Canada.  Now, Chinese prodecers are using courier services such as DHL to avoid sitting in the post office (in my case Canada Post) until cleared by customs.  The courier firms have their own brokerage which is faster but comes at a price.  


I suggest you email Tom and ask.  The kits can be provided in parts so you can stretch out the costs.  This is why each box is a self contained unit of parts, plans, etc.  You can start with box 1, build away until you are ready for the next part.





Sorry, i never replied on here as i sent you a PM at the time you asked

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...