Shipyard’s Dutch Fluit Schwarzer Rabe – A brief update

After three weeks of taking care of my 95-year-old convalescing mother, I am now taking her up to stay with my older sister for a while. My sister is retired and lives in Washington state, so the journey from the central California coast is a long one. For safety reasons, and in order to carry everything my mother will need, we are traveling by train – a bedroom aboard an Amtrak sleeper car. It’s certainly not the most luxurious way to travel, but it works, and we get to see some beautiful scenery. 

Travel means that this ship modeler again finds himself without a ship-modeling project for several days. However, I was fortunate enough to have had a paper model kit to work on for a bit, and very much enjoyed the time I got to spend on that.

I won’t go into a lot of detail, except to recap that I ordered a model kit from Ages of Sail, a Shipyard paper model kit of the 17th century Dutch fluit Schwarzer Rabe. Don’t ask me why a Dutch fluit has a German name – I don’t know. But, it is a nice looking ship, at least in the way that the manufacturer portrays it. The ship was a real ship and participated in the Battle of Oliwa in 1627 between the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Navy and the Swedish Navy. The Schwarzer Rabe was part of the 1st squadron of the Polish side of the battle. One of her opponents was the Dutch-built ship Papegojan, of which Shipyard also makes two kits. 

Frames come as laser-cut card stock pieces, which fit together very easily. At this scale the frame spacing is very close. Some internal deck pieces are added, but need to be stiffened first by gluing to other paper sheets or card stock to give a total thickness of 0.5mm. 

I didn’t see any text instructions to tell you to do this, but areas inside the hull are blacked out in the photos provided. This is best done first, and then the interior deck pieces can be glued into place. I had a bit of trouble fitting a couple of the deck pieces that are supposed to interlock with the framing, so I had to do some extra trimming to get them to fit. 

As is the case with all Shipyard kits, the hull is then covered with a layer of strips that cover the space between bulkheads. I messed up one pair of corresponding pieces, putting a piece on the wrong side of the hull. It didn’t seem to matter much in this particular case, so I took the displaced piece and put it on the opposite side.

I also had trouble fitting a piece of the first hull covering that came out too small, probably due to my own errors. So, I took scrap card stock and cut new pieces. You can see them on my model’s hull, as they are the unlabeled pieces at midships. 

An interesting feature of this particular kit is that those dark brown bulkhead faces are all covered with a layer of overlapped planks. It’s actually pretty hard to see in these photos. But, if you look closely enough at the model, in person, you might be able to notice. But, probably, only if you’re looking for the feature. 

One thing I like to do it to give the printed parts a thin “wash” of matte paint. This gives the colors more depth and takes off the shine of the printed paper. I think it also makes the color more natural. Plus, the edges of the printed parts, which are white, take on the paint color very well, so the paper pieces no longer stand out like sore thumbs.

This completes the first full sheet of photo instructions in the kit, so I wanted to get to this point before pausing construction. Since I’m back home with my other projects waiting for me, I want to get back to them. However, I’m extremely pleased with how the Schwarzer Rabe is looking so far. And, compared with the HMS Mercury kit I started long ago, this kit is much, much simpler. The next step, whenever I manage to get back to it, is to make the lower deck gun carriages and put them into place, and also to add the basic bulwarks sheets. 

I hope someone out there tries their hand at this or the Papegojan card model kit. I’d really like to see what others think of these model kits. 

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