Having completed Shipyard’s HMS Alert kit, it just didn’t feel right to not have a paper model to work on. There’s something about the simplicity of paper that is just too darned cool!
Of course, I have plenty of wooden ship model projects, but it’s nice to have a paper model going in the background. As with other background projects I’ve had in the past, there is no rush to get it done. There’s also nothing that says I have to ever get it done. But, having completed the Alert, I can see taking on another kit and carrying it to completion.
Now, I have Shipyard’s Super Modellar Plans (that’s Shipyard’s spelling, by the way, not mine) for the Santa Leocadia, a Spanish 38-gun frigate in 1/72 scale. The “Super” part of that title means that the plans include the laser-cut frames and some other items to give you a start on the model. However, beyond that, it’s really designed as a scratch build project. That’s something that, as a wooden ship modeler, I can probably do. But, I’m really not looking for something that requires a great deal of thought and planning time. I’d rather just go with a kit that I can just follow along and build.
There are the “Laser Cardboard Series” of ship model kits, which are boxed sets and include cast resin figurehead and scrollwork, turned brass cannons, wooden dowels for masts, pre-cut sail cloth, etc. Those kits are really nice and are in a larger 1/72 scale.
However, I already have a paper model kit on hand that I bought more than a year ago. It is Shipyard’s 1/96 scale HMS Mercury kit.
Like most of the other paper model kits, this one comes with color printed parts that have to be cut out. Also, like most of these kits, the internal framework comes already laser cut, so getting started is very easy (note that HMS Victory and HMS Endeavour are notable exceptions and you have to build-up the framework parts and cut them out before you can assemble them).
The most daunting thing about this kit is the rigging. HMS Alert had only one mast with two yardarms. HMS Mercury is considerably more complex. I considered this, but also have been an admirer of British admiralty models, which show the ships at launch. Such a ship is now fitted out and has no masts and hence no rigging. Instead, poles were erected with large decorative admiralty flags. So, looking at this kit, I thought, what better kit to use for an admiralty style model.
Of course, there’s a long way to go before I come to that fork in the road. By that time, I may just be itching to build the masts and add rigging and sails!
In any case, we’re looking here at a 28-gun Enterprize-class sixth-rate frigate. At 1/96 scale, the model, rigged, is about 26 inches long. That’s a pretty small model, really. I know a lot of ship modelers won’t build at that small scale. That’s one of the reasons I’m considering the admiralty-style model.
For those who want an easier model, but like the subject, Shipyard makes a boxed edition of this same model, but it comes with all the parts laser cut, and it’s in a more comfortable 1/72 scale. But, since I’m just a paper model beginner, and it’s a lot more expensive, I figured I’d work on the 1/96 scale paper model kit. It means a lot of cutting of small parts, but there’s no rush.
Here are the first stages of my build, assembling the pre-cut framework…
That was the easiest part of the kit and took a very short time to get this far. If you’re trying this CUT the parts out, don’t ever try to punch them out or you’ll tear or tweak something out of shape.
The whole thing “dry fits” together very easily. Once everything looks straight and twist-free, then it can be glued together. I used fast drying CA instant glue. You only have to touch it to the parts and it wicks right into the joints. With thicker glue, you risk bumping a piece out of place. So, I save the thicker stuff for other assemblies.
I’ll use Aileen’s Tacky Glue, DAP Weldwood contact cement, Elmer’s white glue, or slow cure CA depending on the application.
After the framework is assembled, the partial inner deck is put in place and the hull “skin” is added. This is the first of the layers that will cover the hull. With more layers, the hull takes on a more naturally smooth shape. Afterwards, the pre-printed deck pieces are cut out and, one of the features that separates the Shipyard kits from most wooden ship model kits, the great cabin detail begins with the checkerboard pattern floor covering.
Later, the partitions and knees are built up and put in place to provide interior detail and support for the bulwarks.
Finally, here’s a glimpse of the instructions that show you what goes where. Note the numbers that indicate how thick each piece must be built up to. It’s all a kind of code with almost no written out text. Mostly, build in general order of the part numbers and put the parts where you see them in the instruction sheets.
I hope others reading this will find inspiration rather than intimidation. This is actually a very easy building process, it just takes time. So… “Just keep swimming…”, “put one foot in front of the other…”, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step!”