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San Felipe by robboxxx - Mantua - Panart, severely kit-bashed

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The San Felipe


I posted a build log about the San Felipe on the old forum but I stopped building because I had to fight a serious illness that took 3 years of my life. In that period my modeling was almost zero and my updates were slow and far apart so my build log disappeared slowly to the end of the list on the old forum. Just when I announced my come-back on the forum, disaster struck again. My mom got very sick and we needed al the spare time we had to look after her. Sadly she past away. The only good thing about this was that we were able to move into the house I was born and raised. Moving in, an living, in an very old house takes it's time. A little over a Year has passed and I finally can start working on my hobby room/workshop and My models. At the moment I'm working on the San Felipe and waiting in the wings are the Lauckstreet Fair American and Mamoli's Royal Louis, but that is a whole different story.


When I got introduced to ship modeling (in the pre-internet era) I bought myself a book about ship modeling (in German) by Vincento Lusci. That was an reprint from an older book and full of tips, photo's and drawings and I consider it still as one of the best books around. It was by the way the only book I could find. Anyway, in that book were some drawings and pictures of a San Felipe model. I was hooked right away. Later when my library grew I got another book with some photo's from a scratch-build San Felipe and I consider that model still as one of the best. Needles to say that one day I would built that one. 


Time past by (read: built Mantua's Victory, Mamoli's Bounty & Rattlesnake, AL's whaleboat, Sergals Victory in commission my 2nd Victory, Corel's Victory midship section, galeone veneto and Coronne) and I was asked to help out with making some advertisings for the local model shop. They bought a Mac and scanner but didn't had a clue how to operate it, since I was a photographer they thought I new my way around with graphic computers. Beside that it was a strange way of thinking they were right. So I learned them how to make a decent scan. I used a catalog from Mantua as scan example. at the front there was a picture of the San Felipe. I didn't now that Mantua had a model of it and I said " some day I'm going to build that one".


After an afternoon scanning and explaining. They thought they got it so I wanted to leave. The shop owner was very pleased with my help and asked "what do I ow you?" I said "nothing, but make me a good deal on my next purchase". When I was outside he came after me with the San Felipe kit as a present. He asked me if it was a problem that the cardboard gunport template was missing. So there I stood with a San Felipe kit in my hands.


Next time I will tell you a bit more about the kit and my research after the ship the kit is based on.

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The San Felipe kit.


As I look at the build logs on various ship model forum the kit had had an overhaul and I have the older version. In my opinion that is the better one.


First something about the history of the ship: To make a long story short; there isn't one. Chances are that the ship as presented never existed! Also the title Flagship of the Spanish Armada 1690 is completely based on fantasy. There was no Armada in 1690! The Spanish Armada sailed out in 1588 and the flag ship was the Santa Ana and later the San Juan. None of the Armada ships looked like the San Felipe. They were much smaller (think size and look like Galleons like the Golden Hind) For more info see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Armada. If the Spanish had ships like the San Felipe the outcome would have been different.




For more about the historic authenticity of the ship I can recommend the website: http://www.modelships.de/San_Felipe_1690_authenticity/San_Felipe_1690_authenticity.htm


So far the historic part. Next time I will analyse the kit itself.
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Looking at the kit.


The first time the San Felipe, in this form, is mentioned is by ship modeler and historian Vincenzo Lusci. He produced a model and drawings of a ship he called the San Felipe. All later drawings and kits are based on his "mother drawing". There is a huge controversy about the model, see my previous post. However, if one looks away from the historical accuracy it is a very nice model. 


In the beginning I came across a book (in German) that featured a model built by S. Verbeeten and was built according the Lusci plans. Studying this article's photos and the Lusci plans (which I don't have, but are reproduced in a pocket size book by Lusci)  I found some things that are different with the Panart (Panart is a sub-division of Mantua) kit. 






Two pictures from the Verbeeten model, scan from a book.


I decided that since the San Felipe probably never existed I would use the kit to build a "general" Spanish ship of the line and make some changes and enhancements based on the Lusci plans & Verbeeten model.


Some points that I'm changing:


Fore deck: If one looks the the gratings on this deck and the position of the guns I can only conclude that the guns couldn't be loaded or fired. The recoil would smash them agains the gratings. There is simply not enough room. So, should there be gratings in the first place? It seems so. They were needed so the smoke from the guns a deck lower could disappear (thats my opinion). So I decided not to make them according the instructions ON the deck, but IN the deck. Flush, so the guns could roll free and there was room to pull them back to load them.


Colors: This model is often presented with a bright/light blue upper part. This is completely wrong, not only on this model, but on all models that represent a ship before the 1800's. Before the 1800's chemical colors, as we now them, were unavailable. Color was made by mixing natural pigments with oils or fat. These pigments were difficult to obtain, expensive and would quickly fade in the harsh sunlight. Especially blue was a notorious color. It was for a long time one of the most expensive colors available. The only "blue" available was Indigo. Indigo is a very dark blue (it leans to black). Your jeans is colored blue with indigo. So a bright blue on the ship is highly unlikely. If it was blue, it should be a very dark and dull blue (look at Anja's Half moon, she has it right). A greenish-blue would also be possible. But to paint such a large surface would be extremely expensive, so the most likely color would be black. There are some models presented this way.


The guns: the guns on the upper deck are way to "decorative". The carriages will be changed to a much more practical form. 


Other issues: the mid-deck should be longer and the forward gun ports should be positioned more outward. As are the outhouses and some other small details.

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I've got the SF on my shelf (hoping to build one day) I've known of the historical accuracy questions so it will be interesting to see where your research leads you. I've also got the Lusci book.


Good luck



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I spend last week making the fore deck. On the left you can see the kit part. The new deck with the new gratings is not yet glued into it place. It needs some more work. The kit deck planks were of a low quality. Not all the strips were straight and all of them had fuzzy edges. I ordered at Online Hobbies (out of business) new 3mm wide strips and got razor sharp edges. (photo made with my iphone)


After a lot of experimenting with caulking methods took some time before I was satisfied with its results. Downside: have a drawer full of pencils & leads. TIP: don't sand your decks when using pencils for caulking; scrape them instead. I used a single edge razor blade And got a glass smooth finish!





The first planking with the (re-done) gun ports. They are still not in the right place. So parts of the planking and gun port cutting will be re-done. I'm still thinking about the method. 

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I found some extra parts that I ordered. I completely forgot about them. I ordered them at Double O laserservice. I now they had lots of parts for other models as well. At the moment they are not listed at their site so I don't now if they are still available. The parts are laser engraved wood and replace the etched brass parts. I think they look great.78CF4C7E-9C8D-4F4F-A216-0FFA38F0E5CB-414







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I have the same kit as you do. First I completely agree with your comment about the older kit being the better one. I also have the double laser parts. they make a big difference. I got a good price for her off Ebay. But as I started to do the research that you mention I got discouraged about yet another fantasy of history. I will follow your build with interest!

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I do wonder if they based the model on the French Royal Louis. As far as I can ascertain, Spain was in decline for most of the 17th Century, and the largest ships she produced seemed to have no more than 70 guns at most.


San Felipe certainly looks like it is based on a vessel built during the last quarter of the 17th Century.

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Hi Chris. The Royal Louis crossed also my mind. I have the Royal Louis kit from Mamoli (funny story how I got it) but the resemblance between the two models is far apart. Personally I don't think that this is the case. However; the Royal Louis has some features (like the live stock pens) that got me thinking.

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After a lot of thinking on how to solve the wrong gunport locations I finally had the guts to tear out some planks for the 2nd time! This is how it looks now.



I also ripped out the pieces you're supposed to mount the gun barrels on. Whatever I tried I can't get the mounts and the gun ports aligned. I'm still thinking of a method but since I'm a bit stuck, suggestions would be welcome.

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I think Chris refers to the 1668 Royal Louis. It is very reminiscent. I have the Mamoli Royal Louis partially built and that is imo the sexiest looking ship  B) from all the manufacturers. The Mamoli Royal Louis is claimed to be from 1780 but it looks more like that 1758 one.



Royal Louis 1668


Edited by demonborger
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Hi Nigel


Thanks for the input although I couldn't find the link you refer to I can imagine what you mean. I also came up withe that idea.


I'm also thinking about some sort of "sub" decks. On these I can mount blocks with the gun barrels attached. By filing more or less material of the blocks I can precisely position the height of the barrel. This was the method used on the Mantua Victory I build a long time ago.

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Yes, found it..... That is the same solution as I came up with.


But I thinking more and more in the direction of a kind of "decks". I have to determine de lowest point of the 2 gun decks and build just under that point a ledge/platform on which I can mount (trough the gun port) blocks with the gun attached to.

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I'm using the newer plans for my scratch build of the San Felipe....gun port placement was a HUGE concern for me, but luckily the horizontally placed wood strips cover so much area that it made it much easier. Page 6 & 9 of my build log show the unpainted and painted strips.

Good luck!!!

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

At last the new decks are in. Now I can start with the re-planking. This is the third time I plank this part. I really start to hate this boring job. Hope to finish it soon so I can start with the fun parts.


Photo made with my phone, so not the best quality.


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