Monthly Archives: August 2020

David Antscherl’s Norwegian Sailing Pram Kit

I’ve been waiting for this one. If you’ve been following my blog, or even if you’ve just been keeping on top of ship modeling news, you probably know that Model Expo has started a new line of model boat kits in a series of progressive model building tutorials. These kits are designed by one of the best ship modelers of our time, David Antscherl,  who is also the author of several ship modeling books.

I’ve just spotted the second kit of the series in an email ad from Model Expo, the Norwegian Sailing Pram.

This kit is classed as an “Intermediate” kit, but I think that term is relative, since so many square rigged sailing ship model kits are called Intermediate as well. But, it is designed to be the second build, after the completion of the earlier released Lowell Grand Banks Dory kit. For those who have never built a ship model kit before, this series should be an ideal way to build up the skills necessary to master more complex builds.

Actually, if you act quickly, it looks like you can get the kit, currently marked at $49.99 with free shipping. And, if you add ANYTHING to your order, you’ll get 25% off the order. This deal is only good until August 31st. I’m sure there’ll be another deal around the corner, but I went ahead and sprung for it (I ordered a pack of $3.49 drill bits to get over the $50 threshold), so I can see first-hand how the kit looks.

Here’s a link to the kit on the Model Expo site. There’s no special coupon you need to use for the deal I mentioned above. It’ calculated automatically:

And, if you don’t have it already, the Lowell Grand Banks Dory kit is only $22.99 at the moment, so you might just spring for them both to get your free shipping and 25% off:

Remember, you don’t have to be a beginner to build one of these kits. For experience modelers, you’ll probably find it a nice quick distraction from your long-term projects. Ω

New Vanguard Models Products at Ages of Sail

Online ship model shop Ages of Sail just posted an announcement that they are now stocking Chris Watton’s latest accomplishment, the brig-sloop HMS Flirt. The ship’s overall look should be familiar to fans of Vanguard Models, as it is the same ship class as their earlier release HMS Speedy. There are some differences apparently, and the Flirt’s hull, at least in this kit, is not copper sheathed. So, if you don’t like that whole copper plates look, you might take a look at Flirt, as she’s a pretty nice looking ship.

In a separate announcement, Ages of Sail also announced that they now have the pre-sewn sail sets for Vanguard’s Zulu and Fifie kits. These look pretty nice, though if you want to die them the nice red-brown color that is shown on the kits’ marketing art, it looks like you’ll have to die the bolt ropes too, since those are attached, but I doubt most who look at the finished model will really even notice.

Since the Vanguard Models fifie kit is the same scale as the one that Mr. Watton did for Amati’s Victory Models line, I suppose the sails ought to work on that kit as well. But, that’s just my own speculation.

Anyway, you can check out the posts below

HMS Flirt Announcement:

Sail Sets Announcement:



Building a Gozabune (Kobaya) from Paris Plans – Part 13

A long overdue update on the Edo period Kobaya project in 1/32 scale. Not done, but getting very close.

Wasen Mokei 和船模型

An update on this model is long overdue, and while I haven’t really been working much on the Kobaya model, it is a model that I’ve been very happy with. I’ve recently been researching old drawings, looking for atakebune information, but mostly finding sekibune and other small ships. As a result, I’ve found something of a renewed interest in finishing my kobaya model, and started working on it again.
The model keeps inching closer to completion, with the biggest hold-up being the making and mounting of the ship’s 28 sculling oars. Given the size of a person on the model, the deck would have been crowded with oarsmen. With such a sharp hull and relatively small size (17m) in comparison with the largest of ships at the time (30m, give or take), those 28 oars must have made her very fast.
However, Japanese sculling oars are more complicated in shape…

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A Naniwamaru Build in German

Some inspiration for those who want to consider scratch building a model of a higakikaisen.

Wasen Mokei 和船模型

Not sure how I missed this, but back in 2012, a german ship modeler researched and built a model of the Naniwamaru, one of four replica Japanese coastal transports at the time.

Naniwamaru model by Heiner Luh

Mr. Luh had contacted American boatbuilder Douglas Brooks, who had written an article on these ships, generally called bezaisen or sengokubune, in the the Shipwright annual for 2011.

Mr. Luh’s model under construction.

The construction of the model is detailed on the modeler’s website here:

I’m always very impressed by ship modelers who build models of Japanese watercraft with limited information. The only thing odd in the model is the narrow strip planking of the lower hull, but this is covered by the paint job anyway.

I couldn’t find mention of the scale of the model, but it’s pretty big. I’m guessing it’s about 1/50 scale, as the 30 meter long ship…

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Hunting for the Elusive Atakebune (安宅船)

I wanted to make sure to share this with the general ship modeling crowd, because of all the types of old Japanese ships, the Atakebune, the largest of the warships of old feudal Japan, is probably of more interest to model builders than any other type. The problem is that most model builders are kit builders, and there are no serious kits available of such ships. Why is that? And why haven’t the scratch modelers taken them on?

I’ve seen some very simplified models for wargamers, but nothing meant to actually display as a serious model of an Atakebune.

So, I’ve decided to start the serious search for original drawings. My personal search is limited to what I can dig up via the Internet, and I’m only just barely getting to the sources of some of the published information.

Anyway, you can read more about it here…

Wasen Mokei 和船模型

Atakebune were the largest class of purpose built warships that were used by the Japanese clans during the Sengoku period, or the Warring States period. These ships ranged from around 30 to 50 meters in length, were equipped with a large, box-like structure. Inside were the oarsmen, foot soldiers and samurai, protected by the wooden walls. The structure had two or three levels, with the top level being the roof of the structure. Firing and viewing ports were cut out and may have been closable with a hinged cover.

Atakebune model at the Verkehr Museum in Shizuoka.

In addition to a single-bank of sculling oars, the ship carried a large square sail hung from a single mast, usually mounted near the center of the ship. In bad weather, or when otherwise not in use, the mast could be un-stepped and lowered across the top of the ship. Usually, the ships were…

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New Model Gallery

In an attempt to expand interest in my Wasen Modeler site, which I set up specifically to support interesting in modeling of traditional Japanese boats, I decided to add a gallery to showcase builds by modelers other than myself.

If you’ve built a wasen model, either kit or scratch, please contact me and I’ll be happy to post a photo of your model, along with a link to your site, if you have one.

In any case, please check it out and see what other people are doing!

Wasen Mokei 和船模型

Over the past couple days, I’ve finally been setting up the Model Gallery page on my site here. I’ve had the menu showing for quite some time, but up to now, it’s just been an empty page. So, I finally got my act together, collected a few photos, and got them up.

Kushikino no kogata wasen model Alexey Shaporov of the Russian Federation. One of the wasen models now on display in the Model Gallery.

I may change the format in the future, but the displaying of other modelers wasen models is long overdue. I’m looking to add others. If you’ve built a wasen model, whether it’s scratch built or kit built, please contact me here. Ω

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Published Ship Modeling Article by Clare Hess

From 2012 to 2017, I was pretty active with not just building ship models, but writing ship modeling related articles for Seaways’ Ships in Scale and the Nautical Research Journal. In that time, I must have written 4 build articles, a book review, and 3 or 4 out of the box kit reviews.

Of course, this was before I created this blog or my wasen modeler blog, so the magazines gave me an outlet for my need to write. They also gave me a bit of pocket money to maintain this sometimes expensive ship modeling habit. And, before anyone jumps on me about how low the per-hour cost of ship modeling can actually be, when you spend as many hours as I have on ship modeling, the per-hour cost may be low, but the per-month cost starts to really add up!

In any case, I have pdf copies of many of the articles, sent back to me by the publisher as digital proofs for my review prior to publication. Since I get questions from time to time about models I’ve built, for which I’ve also written articles, I figured I should finally put these together in one place so that others might be able to get something from them, even it’s nothing more than a laugh.

So, I created a new page on this site, listed under the Resources menu, called Articles. Just select that page and you’ll find links to my Mary Taylor, Higaki Kaisen, and Tosa Wasen articles, as well as a couple others. Note that many articles are missing, as I never received proofs from the publishers for these. Also, a couple articles I’ve written, but never submitted. Perhaps I will in the future. And, at some point, I may post the submitted drafts of the missing articles.

Regarding copyright, they have reverted to me after the initial publishing. You have my permission to use them as you see fit for your own personal, non-commercial use. If you want someone else to read them, please send them a link to this site to download the articles for themselves. Anyway, it drives traffic to my site, and it’s always nice to see more people visiting here. Ω


My Mid-Summer Update


Things are progressing slowly here. I’m working on projects, but not making a huge amount of progress. To boost my productivity, I built another one of those Woody Joe mini-architecture kits, which I’ll post something about later. It didn’t distract me for long, but hoping it will give me a little more model building momentum. We shall see.

Technically, this model is not quite done, as I’m going to paint a few figures to add to it and give it some life. My 95 year-old mother loves these dioramas with little people in them, so I’m going to give it to her when it’s done. That is, if we can find a place to put it – it’ll the the fourth such model I’ve given her.

The Gift of Gifting

Because I can’t display my Japanese boat models anywhere with this Covid crisis going on, and no one would be out and about much to see them, I’m finding my models are getting a bit crowded here. So, I’m finding homes for a couple of the simpler ones, making nice, personal gifts for a few people who’ve been particularly generous and supportive.

So, I’m in the process of making a couple simple display bases and realizing that I need to make a few small accessories for the models – things to put inside the boats, to make them more fun to look inside, like bailers, paddles, poles, adding mooring lines, and so forth.

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