As if I didn’t have enough projects in progress, I took on yet another. This one is a commissioned project from the same person that asked me to rigged the Mantua San Felipe model. This one is the schooner Independence, 1775, a kit manufactured by Artesania Latina of Spain.
As this is a commissioned project, I tried to convince the buyer to let me build something from scratch and tried to find a subject he was really interested in. But, I didn’t have much luck. I went ahead and accepted the project, but it’s almost impossible for me to build a kit without changing the heck out of it – “kit bashing” as it’s called. So, at least I did manage to convince him to allow me to make modifications.
It didn’t take a whole lot of research to find that the model does not resemble any known vessel called Independence from the period of the American War of Independence. My first look at the kit was to note that it seems to be based on the colonial schooner Halifax, but with some modifications to make it seem like a different ship. But, it was clearly based on the Halifax.
The scale of the kit is purported to be 1/35th scale. This is so close to a more convenient 1/32nd scale that I figured I’d just treat it as such. But, I looked at some measurements of known colonial schooners of the period, Hannah (though a reconstruction), Sultana, Halifax, and Sir Edward Hawk. If the Independence were 1/32 scale the actual ship would have been smaller than the Sultana, a ship described in Harold Hahn’s book The Colonial Schooner as “the smallest of them all”. Yet, this model was to carry the same armament as the Halifax: Six carriage guns and 8 swivels. This just didn’t seem right.
So, I decided to reset the scale and built the Independence as if it were at 1/48 scale, or 1/4″ = 1′. At that scale, it would fit in nicely with the other colonial schooners. Intending to replace everything on the model anyway, this actually seems to make things easier, as parts for a 1/4″ scale model are easier to locate.
Looking at the kit itself, I would say that aside from the scale accuracy issue and the historical question, it’s a great kit for the beginning ship modeler. I started test fitting the bulkheads and was really surprised at how perfectly the parts fit together. And they were nicely snug, not too tight, requiring almost no sanding at all. The only problem I ran into was the slight warp in the keel – something I’ll need to deal with during the build.
So, I’ve got about a year to finish the kit, which should give me plenty of time to work on my other projects. I’ve decided to plank the decks with Boxwood, replace the keel pieces with ones cut from Cherry and the plank the bulk of the hull with Cherry veneer. Above the whales, I will probably use some Pau Marfim strips I bought a long time ago and never had occasion to use or maybe I’ll just use more Boxwood.
The cannons in the kit are made from turned brass, but are badly designed. Instead of these, I will purchase some 4-pdr cast pewter cannon barrels and swivel guns, both of which The Lumberyard carries in 1/4″ scale.
Those interested in purchasing the kit may have to search around. The main sites I purchase from don’t seem to have this kit. I’ve sent an email to Ages of Sail to find out if the kit may be out of production. Of course, there is always ebay.