Monthly Archives: August 2014

Higaki Kaisen in NRG Journal

I got a nice surprise a couple months ago when the editor of the Nautical Research Journal, Paul Fontenoy, asked me to submit a short article on my Higaki Kaisen model. So, a while back, I sent him some photos to use and a very short write-up with some captions to accompany the photos. Then, I got an even nicer surprise when I was told the model would appear on the cover.

Cover NRJ 59-3 for Web-1

Having been an NRG member/supporter and having long admired the models that have graced the pages of the Journal, this was a really tremendous honor. Now, I’ll have to admit, it really the model subject and the uniqueness of the kit that got the model on the cover and not my artistry or craftsmanship. But, still it’s pretty nice to see it there.

Of course, being that I’ve been advocating Woody Joe kits here, it’s great to get people’s attention this way. I got an extra copy of the issue and sent it Woody Joe and they should be receiving it any time now. I’m sure they’ll be very happy to see their kit receive such attention.

The timing of this article probably couldn’t be any better, as I just submitted the proofs for my Higaki Kaisen kit review article, which will appear in Seaways’ Ships in Scale in the next few weeks. As for my history/build article for Ships in Scale, I’ve been getting pretty distracted with all the projects I’m trying to get done. But, with these articles both out in August/September, I’ll need to get back on it very soon.

But, while I’m mentioning the NRG here, I would like to say that this is a really fine organization, dedicated to ship modeling, and it deserves and needs your support. It’s not all academic and it’s not about being “purists” or anything of the like. The tagline “Advancing Ship Modeling Through Research” is just to say it’s about making better models, it’s about helping the modeler make better models, it’s about getting help to build better models.

Seeing my own model on the cover, I can’t help but wonder when the last time was that a kit build was featured on the cover? Times really do change. So, join the NRG. It’s a great organization, you’ll be supporting a great cause (ship modeling) and you’ll get your quarterly issue of the Journal!



Echo Cross-Section

As regular readers already know, I need a new project like I need a hole in the head. But, referring back to a discussion I was having with some fellow ship modelers last week, sometimes you just have to step up and start doing something. Otherwise, you may spend years just thinking about reason why you can’t or shouldn’t be doing it.

Someone had commented on a person who built a boat (1 to 1 scale, i.e. full-size) in his basement, only to realize that he couldn’t get it out of the basement. But, to me, if he didn’t have any other place to build it, he never would have had the experience of building something like that.

So, maybe it’s foolish to have put all that work into something that you can’t actually use. But, as they say, sometimes The Journey is the Reward. Take the opportunity to do something you enjoy because the opportunity may not come again.

All of this talk is, of course, just to rationalize my purchase of a new item. This one is more of a study package of sorts. Admiralty Models, which is run by Greg Herbert and David Antscherl, produces accessories to aid in the construction of a model based on Antscherl’s work The Fully Framed Model, HMS Swan Class Sloops 1767-1780, a series of books published by Seawatch Books.

Echo-X-Section~~element15In addition to the Swan Class Sloop items, they also have a package for building a cross section of an Echo-class sixth-rate ship in the same 1/4″=1′ scale. Construction involves the same techniques presented by Antscherl in his books, but on a much more limited scale.

A cross-section model still has the construction of the ship’s frames, but generally ones that are all similar in size near midships. This means planking is straight forward, there is little to no beveling of the frames, no cant-frames to deal with and only a pair of gun ports, yet the model has the benefit of providing experience in most aspects involved in building the fully-framed model.

The package is mostly a bunch of wood provided by The Hobby Mill, but it also includes a pair of beautifully turned brass cannons from Admiralty Models and a CD with all the framing plans and instructions. With shipping, the cost of the package comes to around $200.


The wood is all boxwood of the high quality one would expect to get from the Hobby Mill. The cannons are absolutely beautiful, representing 6 pounders.

cannon1 webcannon1-1

Even if you’re not going to build an Echo Cross-Section or a Swan Class Ship, if you need 6-pounders in 1/4″ scale, these are absolutely gorgeous. Only hitch is that since they’re sold specifically for the Swans, they’re only available in sets of 16 and only in 1/4″ scale. My advice is to build in 1/4″ scale, buy as many sets as you need and save the rest for another project.

By the way, Admiralty Models also sells a beautifully done etched brass sheet of fittings, again designed specifically for the Swans in 1/4″ scale. But, might be worth taking a look at.

Well, honestly, I don’t have time to start this projects, but I don’t know how long it will be offered. After all, they used to sell a ship’s boat kit that’s no longer available. I didn’t want to miss out on this one, so I picked it up now, just in case.

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery… I Guess.

Russian Website Plagiarism?

I was doing some more research on the Kanrin Maru today. It looks a chance I may be able to get some support for building a model of the ship for a museum in the area. It’s still up in the air and may not happen, but that’s for another discussion.

Today, I was trying to recall certain details of the kit manufactured by Woody Joe. Rather than dig through my notes, I decided to poke around on the Internet. I just happen to run across what appeared to be a kit review… in Russian. It was all in another language, yet something looked REALLY familiar about it. Somehow, it reminded me in overall appearance like something I would have done, only it was in Russian and the photos were clearly not mine. But, the composition of the photos and choice of photos seemed oddly familiar.

Enter Bing Translator, or Google Translator if you prefer. I started going over the translated text. It was definitely different that anything I’d written… sort of. I mean, it talked about how Woody Joe kits weren’t directly marketed to the Russian market and how Russian ship modelers were familiar with Western ship modeling and this was something new and different.

As I went through the article, I realized that it was essentially an article I’d written last year. I had to dig up a copy of the article since I couldn’t be sure at first, but when I pulled it up and read translations, it was clear the Russian website completely plagiarized the work I did for Ships in Scale. It was amazing to me that anyone would do that. It’s just beyond my realm of thinking.

Clearly, the “writer” – wait, does a plagiarist qualify to be referred to as a writer? Perhaps he should be called… well, it doesn’t really matter what he’s called. He did bother to change some of the work to fit his needs and he did emphasize different information on the ship in their kit review, but it was clearly a copy job.

I guess that’s a good sign that my writing and organization is acceptable, if someone likes it enough to use as the core of their own article.

And, it doesn’t make me mad all, it just really surprises me to see that someone would do that. Anyway, I got paid for my article, so what do I care?

If you’re interested, you can check it out here:

I actually love that the author even went so far as to copy the general composition of the photo of my finger pointing through a page of Japanese instructions.

I can’t wait to see my next work in Russian!

3-D Printed Ship’s Wheel for HMS Victory

A while ago, I was directed by a fellow ship modeler to some information on parts that someone had designed for enhancing the Mantua/Panart 1:78-scale HMS Victory kit. The parts were made available through an online 3D printing service.

This new technology is making customized parts creation possible on demand. The specific part I found and became interested in is the Victory’s ship’s wheel. Most Italian kits still include an old bulky wooden wheel, which is grossly out of scale, detracting from what may be an otherwise nice model. Ship’s wheels are particularly an issue because of the complexity of making them look correct.


The new plastic parts printed using 3D technology vs. the wooden part included with the kit

3D printing requires the part be designed using a CAD program, a computer skill that is something a bit beyond that of most ship modelers. However, there are a few tech-minded ship modelers that like to engineer parts on a computer. These completed designs can be printed directly to a 3D printer, but they’re still a bit too expensive for most users. So, the designs are instead uploaded to a 3D printing service. They produce the part for a fee. Some services also allow the designer to make the designs available to others through the service’s website. This is how I found this particular ship’s wheel.

This particular service is called Shapeways and the part, along with others, is easily found on their site. The HMS Victory’s ship’s wheel can be found here. The cost with shipping was under $15 for a pair of wheels, and the parts took just over a week to arrive. The part itself is plastic, as are most 3D printed parts. Metal printing is available, but the output is rough and not ideal for something as small scale and detailed as ship modeling. Parts that need fine details need to be made from plastic and that’s what the ship’s wheel is made of.

I’m satisfied with the results, though the rim actually seems to be grooved and doesn’t have a flat face like the real Victory’s wheel. I’m not sure why that is, because the 3D rendered images show a flat facing on the rim. It’s a pretty tiny detail and should be filled easily enough. As for the fact that it’s plastic, my client has indicated a desire to avoid plastics, sticking with metal and wood, but I think I can get him to make an exception on the wheel due to the nice scale details.

If you want to learn CAD, there is a bit of a learning curve, but many community colleges offer reasonably priced courses. It also requires the software, which can be pricey. For the rest of us, there is hope and other pre-designed parts are available. The same designer of the wheel also made a set of stern and side gallery decorations as well as sets of rigols that fit above the gun ports. In the future, many more after-market parts will become available and eventually the quality will be good enough to get good metal parts as well.

Shipyard’s 1:96-scale HMS Alert 1777, Paper Model Kit

Well, some frantic knocking at the door got my attention this warm Saturday afternoon. I could tell it was the Mail Carrier – they’re usually in a hurry and don’t want to have to fill out extra details if they have a package that needs a signature. I had an inkling that this was my Shipyard kit from Poland. So, when I opened the door and saw the blue uniformed man with electronic pad and a flat parcel in-hand, I knew the kit had arrived.

Ordering from Poland turned out to be pretty simple and the site provided me with a tracking number that actually worked fine with the Polish postal system as well as USPS. I ordered this item around July 22 and arrived August 2 and cost me a little over $14 via Registered mail. I actually didn’t think it would get here until Monday or Tuesday, but here it is on a Saturday.

Of course, I had to immediately open it up and see exactly what I got. The kit itself was only $23. The prices on the website were in Polish currency, but paying via Paypal makes the transaction very simple. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this kit actually has laser cut structural parts. I think it must be because it’s a smaller kit. The larger HMS Endeavour kit didn’t have any pre-cut parts. But then, it had quite color pages of paper parts. HMS Alert is very small and the kit is not in book form, unlike the Endeavour. Instead, its consists of:

  • Front and back color cover sheets
  • A large sheet and two small sheets of laser cut parts
  • A large double-sided construction illustration sheet
  • A multi-language instructional text sheet, also double-sided
  • Six large sheets of printed parts, though one of those contains a copy of the laser-cut parts.
  • One small sheet of flags







About the Alert

For those interested in the ship itself, HMS Alert, 1777, is a small 12-gun Naval Cutter used for coastal patrols to intercept smugglers and pirates, and to protect coastal shipping from privateers during the American War of Independence. During that war, she managed to capture the larger and more heavily armed American privateer Lexington, and as part of a squadron action against the French frigate La Belle Poule and the lugger Le Coureur, she captured Le Coureur.

There is a book in the Anatomy of the Ship series, The Naval Cutter Alert, 1777, by Peter Goodwin. It is out of print and collectors have driven up the price of used copies, but they do appear at relatively reasonable prices from time to time.

Alert AOTS book


Back to the Kit

So, this kit looks like a lot of fun and I may just have to try it out to see how long it takes to build a paper model. This kit is from Shipyard’s Paper Model series of products and is in 1/96-scale. They also have the Alert available in their Laser Cardboard Kit series, but that one is actually 1/72-scale, so the details should be more complete and more interesting on that model. The boxed edition also includes wooden blocks and deadeyes, brass cannons, paints, brushes and more. It seems like a pretty nice set, but I just didn’t want to pay the extra for all then when Ididn’t even know if I’d like paper models.


Shipyard also has a masting kit and a sail kit for the Alert available separately, and I can say that I like this model enough to go ahead and spring for those, especially now that I know that shipping from Poland seems to be pretty quick and painless. I’ve already been loading up my shopping cart for the next order. The sail kit and the mast kit together cost about $13. I’m also considering adding to that some of the Shipyard water-based acrylic paints. I’m sure any decent acrylics will work as well, but I figure these are designed to be a close match to their print colors.

I guess all of this means that I’m going to squeeze this project in amongst the others. But, this appears to be quick and I’d like the chance to know more about it. I think there are plenty of people who might really enjoy paper ship modeling as either a break from wooden ship modeling or for its own sake.



The Nautical Research Guild and Model Ship World Team Up

Last week, the Nautical Research Guild sent out an announcement that it had acquired the ship modeling forum Model Ship World. At the same time, notices were posted on MSW announcing the merger, as they called it. Now, the site is officially called The NRG’s Model Ship World.214497643.jpg

The only details I’ve seen regarding the new relationship is that the NRG will fund any shortfall in the sites fundraising operation, and any surplus MSW funding will go to the NRG. MSW members will automatically become associate members of the NRG. Free membership with MSW gets any benefits of NRG membership, but won’t receive the Nautical Research Journal.

Model Ship Word is a very active forum with a large membership, and already, MWS members are becoming more aware of the NRG and some have responded that they are now signing up for full membership. That’s a very good thing for the NRG. This also gives the NRG a stronger web presence, which it has sorely been lacking and will perhaps encourage it’s regular members to become more active and networked.

Reactions of MSW members are very good. But, MSW members tend to not speak out against actions of the site’s administrators, as on a site like this, people do tend to dog-pile on dissenters. Still, this will probably work out very well for MSW and offer more opportunities to learn and share the art of ship modeling.

Personally, I’m already a member of both, but I think this will end up encouraging me to do more on the NRG’s MSW site. I currently maintain a blog on my USS Saginaw model there, though it hasn’t been updated very quickly lately. I may end up moving or starting another blog there soon. They do tend to encourage you to make progress on your projects.

And here’s my own personal plug for The Nautical Research Guild. This is a great organization that encourages ship modeling. You don’t have to be an expert ship modeler to be a member, nor do you have to be a scratch builder. I joined as a beginner back in the 90’s and found tremendous inspiration in the pages of the Journal. And now, they have a mentorship program if you want someone to help you along, and will soon be hosting webinars and more. So, join today if you haven’t already done so.