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Cutty Sark by VitusBering - Revell - 1:96

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My darling better half gifted me with two virtually identical kits. She knows I've missed my built H-399 (1974) kit that was sadly destroyed in a wildfire (long story).

She found one ostensibly new-in-box but had reservations so she also got a 05422 (2017) kit as a backup and spare parts. She's a keeper.


I've been gathering stuff - I have an accessory kit from HiSModel including beech decks, cloth sails, wood blocks and deadeyes, etc.

I'm awaiting delivery on paints and adhesives. I have all the necessary tools and other goodies, I think.


I will likely build using as many parts as I am able from the H-399 kit (it appears to be complete) just for nostalgic reasons.

My previous build was standing rigging only but this one will be under full sail.


I anticipate that I'll be leaning rather heavily on you folks here (bless your souls) as the build progresses.

I'm guessing I'll start in earnest around the first of the year (2023) and between now and then I'll be studying the invaluable topics here.


The journey begins...

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I'm champing at the bit impatiently waiting on supplies for this build but I don't want to rush into anything.

I have been trimming flash and test fitting a few hull parts though.


I have also been combing the topics here looking for tips and examples, and I've found plenty!

This place is a wonderful resource.


I see that most folks weather their hulls, decks, sails, etc. I'm thinking I may go a different way.


When this vessel splashed into the River Clyde for its maiden voyage the copper was bright and the canvas was white.

The delightful beech decking I have from HiSModel is what I envision the Cutty Sark's deck may have looked like at that moment.



I'm waffling about weathering the deck or any of the parts. Is it a travesty to portray the ship in a faux pristine state?
Or should I stain this?

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I've been dry-fitting the hull, sanding some areas and trimming flash. It is far from done.

The stern joint is going to need some putty because I can't fix the gaps with trimming or sandpaper.

Ignore the misalignment, I can fix that easily enough - the halves are simply held with clips at the moment.




The deck rails seem to be a bit problematic. I think the camera makes these lands and grooves appear deeper than they really are.

The unevenness is not detectable with my fingers but I think it may be visible after painting.




They are certainly not significant enough to warrant putty but I have heard that primer hides a multitude of sins.

I've never used primer on a plastic model, and have had no issues with adhesion (so far).

If I use primer on the hull, will it obscure the wood grain and copper plating detail as well?
Is there a better approach?


Oh! And happy holidays to everyone!


Edited by VitusBering
Add season's greetings.
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Rather than delete the above post, I'll let it stand as a testament to trial and error. With emphasis on the error part.


Very, very fortunately I have a backup set of hull halves from the 05422 kit that have a much better fit.

I considered a mix 'n' match approach but the age of the H-399 kit has changed the parts ever so slightly.

The 05422 halves fit much better. But, all of the flash trimming I've done on the H-399 halves is for naught.


So, round two. The question of primer is still valid however.


I'll be checking in as family time allows but I will be taking a break from this project until after the New Year.

Until then, thank you everyone for all you are and do, and have a wonderful holiday.

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Vitus, Merry Christmas!


Looking at the few photo's of your perceived problems with that hull; building that kit it's a common problem.

I'm afraid you have to be a bit more 'creative' with such issues which many before you have overcome.

I'll leave it to others with more recent experience to jump to your aid, but this impasse is resolvable.

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  • 2 weeks later...

A short update - I'm still waiting on delivery of a few essentials. (Inigo Montoya voice) I hate waiting. But such are the woes of living in an ultra-rural town.


The middle of Jan. seems like a reasonable target for beginning work in earnest. In the mean time I've been studying other folks' builds and have learned a bunch, and made a few choices for customizing this kit.


One of those choices is the addition of foot ropes and those lines across the top of the yards that I think are hand rails or lines (?). The original is not equipped with those but I like the look. (photo attrib Richard Gentile)



I'll be adding chain sheets, hanks on the jibs and stays, and a few other custom goodies as well.


I found the niftiest set of micro drill bits ever. The set has bits from a millimeter down to a tenth of a millimeter (!!!) - the tiniest I've ever seen. Perfect for setting those microscopic eyelets.

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Well, Murphy is certainly alive and well. FedEx lost a package that contains stuff I am depending on to start this build (putty, primer, a few other little things). The supplier did make it right with an expedited re-shipment but it will be a week at least.


In the mean time I've been studying and I am pretty much overwhelmed by the level of craftsmanship, expertise, and historical knowledge shown by modelers here. I won't name names, I don't want to leave anyone out. Suffice it to say you all have incredible talent. The bar is way too high for me, I can't possibly attain the level of realism and detail shown by many here, but I'll muddle through and hopefully make a pretty ship.


Some prep work I've been doing - I made one of those really cool ratline tension tools detailed in the masting, rigging, and sails forum.

This is a brilliant idea.




I've also made some painting dams using a set of plastic playing cards.





The cards are totally useless as a set of playing cards. Being plastic as soon as you try to shuffle them they tiddly-wink everywhere.

But they make good paint dams and I can get good clean lines with them.


I am going to paint the inner part of the top of the hull while I'm waiting and trying to maintain my patience.

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Thanks LeoM, All the best to you, too!


A bit of progress to report.

I finally got putty delivered so I joined the hull halves and the stern hull join seam is gone.

This looks all kinds of wrong but it is just primer.




I've not used primer on a plastic model, but I've also not used acrylic paint, either. So this is all new to me.


A minor rant and a serious question - I am not sure whether this problem is particular to the Revell paints or is a systemic thing with all acrylics but when I thin down a batch for brushing (vs. airbrushing) the paint in the mix container skins over very quickly as I am working, I find I have to stir often to break up the skin and also be very careful to avoid getting the resulting clumps on my brush. Any advice you folks may have to help ameliorate the problem would be very welcome.


I also dry fit the deck.  As is common with this model, there is a gap at the stern that is too large for putty. Like many others here, I made a shim that will be painted later.




Seams at the join (they're not glued yet) are irrelevant, the wood deck will cover them.

Gaps at the edges disappear when the hull is gently clamped.

Primer overspray will be touched up as well.


Tomorrow I'll paint the hull (black and copper). The bump rails will come next, after a thorough drying.


[edit] Ok, I did some research on slowing acrylic paints and it seems that for me the downsides of any of the methods outweigh the advantages so I'll muddle through as best I can by brushing aside (pun intended) the inevitable skin. This, and the pigment to carrier ratio of acrylics is almost enough to make me go back to enamel. Acrylics do very well in the airbrush though and I love cleaning up with water vs. mineral spirits.

Edited by VitusBering
Additional info on slowing acrylics.
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Much better, no? I will do the bump rails next.



The copper line really is sharp, scaling the image gives it a bit of the jaggies.

I don't think I'm all that fond of the kit-recommended color for the stand beams.

I need to think on that one for a while.


So I have been thinking dangerous thoughts...


This model, like so many others, suffers from historical inaccuracies. Some can be overcome with accessories and ingenuity, Others not so much.

But, you know, I didn't go into this to create a historically accurate model (is that even possible?)

Sure it is a lofty goal but not one I want to set for myself.


I'll make a nod to the insanely talented shipwrights who built this ship and add some things that are glaringly missing in the kit.


Oh, yeah - those dangerous thoughts? I'm considering putting really small windows in a few of the deck houses, and probably wiring up an LED in each house that won't be visible, but the light will illuminate the windows. I may partially cover some doors with some sort of translucent material, I don't know yet.


I may also wire up the running lights.


I've found a great source for both the right size porthole style windows and the running lights. I've seen other running lights that are too bright but I know how to tame any of them if necessary.


I know these things are not canon. Not even remotely. I hope I don't get thrown out of the Guild as a heretic 😉


I will take a cue from all of you and get some books on this marvelous vessel. I am sure that will be enlightening and very valuable.

Edited by VitusBering
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Looking forward to more of your updates, which are promising to say the least.

Always refreshing to see another 'take' on one of the few available kits of clippers.


The more one reads about the long history of CS, the more one realises how much detail was altered due to improvements, changes in use and indeed damage repairs.


What little 'gingerbread' is featured has also changed over time and no one to my knowledge has depicted the very early stern decoration, drawings of which are online somewhere.


Happy modelling.

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I found a drawing of an early stern decoration for this ship - one featuring a cavorting Nannie Dee. It is posted at the Royal Museum Greenwich's site in an Object Focus section (https://www.rmg.co.uk/stories/blog/conservation/object-focus-star-india-stern-decoration)




The article has a number of very interesting anecdotes about the past and current stern decorations.


The current Star of India and associated filigree is nearly microscopic at the scale of this model but Radimir Beseda at HISModel has reproduced it in fine detail. However, note the full scale image...




The red fill behind the star proper and the blue ring pose interesting challenges. In the photo-etched decoration for the model there are voids where the red should be, which is something of a boon. If I paint a piece of silkspan with red paint I may be able to place it behind the star and, if I am lucky, the paint may actually "bulge" a tiny bit and fill the voids. Even if it does not, it should be visible in the voids.


The blue is a matter of luck. My painting skills at that level of detail may be deficient - we'll see. It also appears elsewhere in the decoration so I pray my hands remain steady.


As for Nannie Dee, there's no way I could reproduce that decoration. My daughter is an artist however, and I'll show it to her and convey the scale if for no other reason to hear her laugh derisively and maniacally.

Edited by VitusBering
Fix typos
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On 1/16/2023 at 10:49 PM, VitusBering said:

I didn't go into this to create a historically accurate model (is that even possible?)

Hello 'Vitus', I personally think that historical accuracy is difficult to achieve here, if only because there are differences between the Revell and Airfix kits. I can't say which kit is closer to the original. Therefore, in my opinion, it is not worth trying to check every belay pin for historical accuracy, since the hull lines of each kit do not quite match the original. And in the case of the Revell kit, there is also the suspicion that the kit designers deliberately moved away from the original, because it later came onto the market as the 'Thermopylae' with only slight modifications. And the original 'Thermopylae' had very different lines. So it is possible that the kit design had to fit both ships. In any case, the revell kit fits more to my personal aesthetic taste.

Edited by Cirdan
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I agree Cirdan. The Thermopylae is a bit of a pet peeve. That poor vessel (which of course actually won the famous race) has been treated badly by history, by the public, by its owners, and by model makers. The power of marketing has shown its hand and the loser Cutty Sark has had exorbitantly lavish sums spent on its preservation and restoration. The Thermopylae as most of us know met an ignominious end as a gunnery target. As you mention her Revell model was also essentially cloned from the Cutty Sark. btw I have a print of the Sorensen Thermopylae painting in my shop. I doubt its accuracy as well but it is a very pretty depiction. I'll take my liberties with the Cutty Sark with no regrets.

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The brief period when Airfix produced their sailing ship kits.....


Of course they all have issues, but bare in mind they were produced for unwashed, snot nosed kids with limited pocket money; yet the hull moldings at least, stand up to favorable scrutiny.


Indeed their 'Victory' is almost identical to the drawings in the AOTS book.

I see no reason their CS should be any different; a shame it's such a small scale.

Whoever their designer was, he knew his stuff by the standards of the day.


The big revell kit is a generation earlier and from what I've read it was a dedicated CS project, though clunky by today's standards.


Don't forget how under served modelling of any kind was in the late '50's and early 60's and today's high definition kits were a figments of a deranged mind back then.


The Thermopylae kit was an after thought, slightly modified to capitalise on the success of their CS, as were other kits in that range. Your average schoolboy modeller would have had zero reference to go by, so none the wiser.


Retrospect is a cruel God!

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The differences are subtle, from what I can see, but evident, I think. The Revell model seems to be a bit broad in the beam. I don't have either of the plans so I'm relying on on-line depictions that may not be at all accurate. It seems my bookshelf is due for some additions. I've re-visited my thoughts on adding windows and running lights. I think that may be straying a bit too far.


I finished the bump rails and top rail painting and am working on the deck. When that is covered in veneer and installed, I'll post another pic.


[edit] Unexpected delay - perhaps up to two weeks. Will return asap.

Edited by VitusBering
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I have made an embarrassing rookie mistake. I mis-read or misinterpreted Radimir's (HISModel) instructions for preparing the wood veneer deck for gluing to the plastic deck. I was certain the instructions tell us to treat the wood with varnish before gluing to the plastic. There is a tiny bit of room for interpretation but I won't belabor the point.


Varnishing before gluing, it turns out, is a fatal error.




In retrospect I should have known this would happen. I could make a lot of fairly weak excuses (I've never dealt with veneer, etc.) but the bottom line is that I really should have known better.


This deck is toast, there's no way to flatten the pieces without them cracking (I tried a couple).


So it is a setback but there is a hidden up side to all this. When I initially ordered the wood deck I inadvertently chose the beech deck when I actually prefer the oak version. I didn't sweat that detail, the beech does look nice.


I've ordered the oak version from Radimir and, of course, won't make that mistake again. I'll make all new mistakes 😉

It should arrive in a week or so.


I've also made a jig from easel boxes to allow the large plastic deck to sit flat for gluing. The deck has mast sockets that won't allow it to sit flat which is an inconvenience when I am ready to glue the larger piece of veneer to the deck.




The deck pieces are joined/reinforced with scrap to ensure proper alignment. The age of this model means the deck has changed size ever so slightly and if I joined them one to another the deck houses would no longer fit and, of course, other problems fitting the deck to the hull would arise, so I used the deck houses as alignment tools. The resulting tiny gaps will be covered by the veneer.


The hold and companionway openings are painted - only their rims will be visible after veneer application.

Here's the deck in the jig.




btw that's my makeshift airbrush booth in the background.


So once the glue is applied and the veneer is set into position I need a way to make sure good contact is made all 'round.

I made a cardboard template to fit on top of the veneer after it is glued, and will set another couple of those easel boxes on top of that, and weight the whole shebang down.




Here it is sort of sandwiched - offset for illustration reasons but you get the idea, I hope.




The hardest part now is waiting for delivery of the new veneer.

There are other things I could possibly do in other areas of the model and I may keep myself busy that way for a time.


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After reading, viewing, and studying the marvelous logs here I've totally revised my thinking on this build.

I will indeed attempt to include as much historical detail as I am able.

It is a tall order, but it promises to be rewarding.


But, I need a bit of help, folks. I see references to documentation that I am having trouble finding (I think).

I read here references to plans and other resources by Campbell, Underhill, and Longridge.

What are the titles of these documents/books? Where might I find them?

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Ok, smart aleck 🙂.

I know how to find them. I am just not sure what to find. For example, Longridge has published several tomes on the ship. Should I get the 2 volume set or the Last of the Tea Clippers, or ???. The same sort of question applies for the other authors as well.


You folks have ostensibly read the authors and know which of their books I should have in my library.


[edit] I ended up getting two resources so far:


The “Cutty Sark”: The Last of the Famous Clippers [Combined Edition of Two Volumes] by Longridge as an e-book


Rigging plan for 'Cutty Sark' (1869) by G.F. Campbell from Royal Museums Greenwich Prints (I passed on the sail plan)


I'm still researching Underhill.

Edited by VitusBering
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Thank you both very much for the info - it is quite valuable.

The e-book does have images but they are very small.

l will get the two volume physical set.


I found a first edition set in what booksellers call fine condition with all plates for a surprisingly reasonable price.

Thank you again.


I've also been looking a bit more closely at the Royal Museums Greenwich's Sail Plan by Campbell.

Though I'm not sure I'll study it in the same detail as the Rigging Plan, the two of them will look great on my wall.

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