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HMS Sphinx 1775 (prototype) by James H - Vanguard Models - 1:64 - FINISHED

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Well, my bench has been idle for long enough...


HMS Sphinx is the next major release from Vanguard Models, and as per the previous 4 main kit releases and the 8 ship's boats, I'll be building up the production prototype and creating the instruction manual. Just a little 'ye potted historie' of Sphinx: She was a 20-gun sixth rate launched in 1775. Captured by the French in September 1779, she was recaptured by HMS Prosperpine on 29 November 1779. Sphinx was finally broken up in 1811.





One thing you'll note if you buy the completed kit is that there's quite a weight. Chris shipped me two complete sets of wooden parts (and some fittings), and that pack, minus any plans, heavy manual or the numerous sets of photo-etch, came in at a whopping 7kg. Factor in around half that weight, plus those missing items, and you'll see it's a bumper pack.


There are over thirty sheets of laser cut material, also incorporating the three ship's boats (a good number of different thicknesses). Apart from the MDF sheets which comprise the Sphinx's skeleton, a ply sheet with the lower deck etc, laser-engraved maple decks, the rest of the material is pearwood. Two bundles of strip wood are included; the obligatory lime for first planking, and some 0.8mm thick pear for second planking. The colour is this really is very nice. There are numerous changes between the first test hull Chris built and featured on MSW, and this version, with deleted parts, new parts, and things which have been improved further to make building even more enjoyable. 


I now have a few days of acquainting myself with the original reference build pics before I can start this, probably this coming weekend. 












Cannon are in black resin and nigh on ready to use. They look really nice, and the cannon balls are in black plastic, so no painting. Boat beam brackets are in very strong resin, and there is a sheet of laser-cut acetate for the stern/quarter windows. The stern fascia is cast in resin and also looks seriously nice. The figurehead is beautifully detailed and 3D printed. Stern lanterns will be from PE and resin. 



The colours on this will be very similar to the Duchess of Kingston, but with red inner bulwarks. Whilst my build will be strictly 'out of box', the scope for extra detailing the cabin at the stern, will be more than a temptation for some, with that engraved, chequered floor and engraved doors to the quarter galleries.


As there will undoubtedly be questions I can't answer, feel free to use this log to also ask Chris questions that are specific to this release. I'm sure he'll chime in with any extra contents details I missed here. 


Wish me luck ☘️


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32 minutes ago, yvesvidal said:

Well, I will be following with interest, too. I wish James would have posted a picture of the finished model or some depiction of the vessel, in his introduction.



I suppose the only problem is that there isn't a finished model to post pics of. Chris has test images in his Vanguard Models traders topic that have been there for a while. That kit also has numerous changes which will be seen in this topic. Of course, this one will also be masted and rigged, unlike the test hull Chris made.





There is a profile to be seen on the National Maritime Museum page:




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Work officially starts on this tomorrow, but I thought I'd do a quick test fit of the bulkheads, and the lower deck and orlop deck section.


The fit is absolutely perfect and everything nice and square.


This will give a rough idea of the genesis of this build before I crack on with the instructions images tomorrow. 



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Waiting to see how this new kit builiding would progress because the prototype pictures looks really very nice.
Another awesome product from VanguardModels.

Hooping the kit build will not be so difficult for non so experienced modellers because would be a good adition for my ToDo list.


Trying to learn from James building as much as possible.

Best regards from Barcelona, Pascual.


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6 hours ago, BCN-Modeller said:

Waiting to see how this new kit builiding would progress because the prototype pictures looks really very nice.
Another awesome product from VanguardModels.

Hooping the kit build will not be so difficult for non so experienced modellers because would be a good adition for my ToDo list.


Trying to learn from James building as much as possible.

Best regards from Barcelona, Pascual.



You'll be surprised just how this build could be built by someone only just intermediate. 


Chris has created a kit that is designed to be as foolproof as possible and it's my task to create a manual which takes the sequence and makes it simple and clear to the average modeller. I hope I can do that.


I love Barcelona. Visiting again by ship next summer (2022), but only for the day. 

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Been a busy weekend at chez-Hatch.


I wanted to het the hull skeleton as far as I could so I can fit the laser deck and red bulwarks/spirketting this week. Work starts on the first and last bulkheads which are fitted with their bow and stern patterns respectively. The first bulkhead is dry fitted to the false keel so the two adjacent patterns sit snug to the keel. A clamp was deployed until fully set, then the assembly was removed from the keel and a sanding block/Dremel used to shape. I really do recommend a rotary tool for shaping the stern. It will be make things much, much simpler. 





Before shaping the stern, the assembly was slipped back onto the keel and glued to the bulkhead which sits adjacent to it. Shaping was done after removal. The tape on the stern assembly issued to protect the filler panel from breaking away.




With so many bulkheads and interlocking slots, I always like to dry-fit all parts where possible, and then paint wood glue into the joints afterwards. This method works perfectly well, and you can dilute your glue too if you wish. Modern wood glues seem to set too quickly that I see this as a way of making sure everything seats before the glue turns.


With the bulkheads slotted into position (minus the bow and stern assemblies I just made), the small orlop deck section is slotted into place, followed by the laser engraved ply lower deck. Care needs to be taken not to damage the bulkhead ears. If you look closer, you'll see the bulkheads have safely gates on the outside, protecting the ears somewhat. These are removed later, before fairing the hull. 






The model is now turned upside down and supported while I paint wood glue into the various joints between the MDF and ply parts.


The bow and stern sections are now finally slotted into place and glued.




It's important that the bulkhead ears are protected from quite early on in the build, so I changed the sequence so that the longitudinal gun port strips are now glued into place. These are labelled 'TOP' and 'BOTTOM' to remove any confusion.




The blanking/strengthening section on the rear bulkhead can now be carefully twisted away as the bulkhead ears are now protected. We also need to later fit the stern gallery timbers which will run through this area.



The first pear wood is now used with the grate coamings. These are assembled and the outer edges have their char removed. I also remove star from the two open sections that won't have grates fitted.



Now, the deck beams can be glued into position. Clamps ensure they are aligned and vertical. With these in position, the coamings and gratings are glued into place.




Four longitudinal deck support strips are now fitted, with one pair being 'OUTER' and the other 'INNER'.




Finally, for this update, the ply deck is fitted. These sections clip into the bulkhead ears so they are self firmly at that point. All you need to do is to pin them down in the middle. I also chose to paint glue into the joints after fitting the deck parts.




More as soon as I have something to show you. 😃



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On 3/18/2021 at 1:00 PM, Alex M said:

Hi James,


very nice model! :) I will follow this build with interest. If I see right you have used my planking sheme for main wales and decks...




Hi Alex,


Your model is certainly inspirational. However, the vast majority of detail that isn't shown on the original Admiralty plans for Sphinx Class was gleaned from the AOTS Pandora, as this seems to be the closest match for the slightly smaller Sphinx.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, yvesvidal said:

It is interesting to see all these would-have-been-wood parts turn into metal ! At 1/64th scale, there is very little alternative .....



Always a compromise. I could do most in wood, but to keep to scale, they would be way too fragile. The alternative would be to increase widths/thicknesses, and end up with those way out of scale chubby parts like ships wheels. 


Took a while to decide about the topmast cross trees, as I would have liked them in wood. However, again, the scale widths were too small, and many would have had problems. Nothing worse than having such a part snap/break when you've already started the rigging process, and they were always painted anyway... 

Edited by chris watton
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