Daily Archives: October 30, 2013

The 18th Century English Longboat Kit – A Kit Overview

Before I get into the construction of my longboat model, I’d like to talk a little about the kit itself. The kit was designed by master modeler Chuck Passaro, who has designed I believe four other kits for the ship model kit manufacturer Model Shipways.


Photo of Chuck Passaro’s prototype model.

The 18th Century English Longboat kit is a very tiny model of an open boat – the type of boat that would have been carried aboard large sailing ships of the period. The model is of a 26 foot long boat circa 1750-1760 and is based on contemporary models found in England’s National Maritime Museum.

Fully rigged and at a scale of 1/4″ = 1′, the model is just under 12″ long and 9″ high. The hull itself is only a tad over 6-1/2″ long. At this size, it is not a beginner’s model. I would say it’s best as a model built by an intermediate or advanced modeler who wants a small project to work on, maybe as a distraction from large sailing ship models. That doesn’t mean that a determined beginner can’t build it. It’s just that I think a larger model will probably give a beginner better results.

Construction of the kit is all basswood with laser cut frames and other major parts. Plenty of extra wood, wire and brass strip is provided in the kit, so there is a lot of room for errors with plenty of stuff to spare. The only thing that I found a rather bare minimum is that there are four very tiny belaying pins and all of them are needed, so don’t lose one. Of course, if you do, Model Expo is good about replacing them.

The instructions are great. Model Shipways has a tendency to change their printed formats over time, but when I got mine, the book was 19 pages and printed in color. I don’t know if the current version is in color, but the downloadable pdf version available from their website is only black and white.

There are a couple sheets of plans in the kit, one of them in color. The boat’s decorative friezes are simulated with the use of color printed paper that you cut to fit the model. The one issue I ran into is that the printed artwork was too big for the model. Perhaps this has been fixed since the initial kits went out, but mine and others I know were off by 10% or so. But, fortunately, the kit designer, Chuck Passaro, was ready to assist on the website Model Ship World where he is an administrator. He can be found there and has posted downloadable pdf versions of the artwork that you can resize and print on your own printer.

The most difficult part of construction is the planking. The planks are thin 1/32″ basswood that has to be bent as well as edge-bent to fit into place. That’s not easy with basswood this thin as it has a tendency to kink and buckle. The wood requires soaking, heating and lots of patience to fit. Then, working with the masting and rigging on a model this small takes a steady hand and more patience.

But, all in all, I found that this was a really nice kit. Initially, I thought it was only okay, but as I got farther along, I started to feel better about the model and really began to love this little kit. Ω