Monthly Archives: March 2021

The Return of Model Shipways’ Yacht America Kit

Being a fan of the early Model Shipways kits, I was happy to see that they just re-released their 1/64-scale Yacht America kit. I think it’s actually been a few years since they produced their America kit last. The kits that I was familiar with were solid hull kits, and this one has been “upgraded” to a full plank-on-bulkhead kit.


The original kit dates back to the old “Yellow Box” kits. I’m not sure how far back these old kits go, but they all had beautifully done plans by naval architect George Campbell. I assume, and really hope, that they continue to include these plans in their newly revised kit, though obviously there would be additional plans and instructions for constructing the hull from bulkheads.

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The Endurance – New Model Kit from OcCre

OcCre has been producing a lot of new kits over the past couple years, and what’s great is that they are releasing a number of subjects that haven’t been done before, or haven’t been done very well before.

Now, these kits aren’t exactly scale accurate representations, but are reasonably priced and they seem to have the overall dimensions and general details right. Any ship modeler who is more scale-obsessed, like I am, can modify the details as he or she sees fit. To me, that’s the mark of a good kit.

Well, the latest release by OcCre is Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition ship, Endurance. Check out OcCre’s 1/70-scale model of this famous ship of exploration. OcCre seems to be on a roll with these ships of exploration. 3 of the last 5 kits that I am aware of, have been ships of exploration: HMS Terror, HMS Beagle, and Endurance.

OcCre’s Endurance looks like it may be another winner.

Ages of Sail

We just received our first shipment of the newest kit from the Spanish wooden ship model kit manufacturer, OcCre. The ship is the 1/70-scale model of Endurance, the Antarctic exploration ship of Sir Ernest Shackleton. A 3-masted barquentine (or barkentine) built in Sandefjord, Norway, the carried Shackleton and his crew of 27 for the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1914.

The Endurance was a sturdy ship, 144 feet long, and built with a reinforced hull. The ship was equipped with a coal-fired steam engine that could propel the ship at over 10 knots. Though she was considered to be perhaps the strongest wooden ship ever built, she could not overcome the power of nature. In January of 1915, strong winds had piled up thick packs of ice around the ship, and became locked in the Antarctic ice. Ultimately, by October, she was crushed by pressure waves in the ice around her…

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Today, I ran across some posts by an amazingly talented ship modeler on Model Ship World. Her name is Olha Batchvarov and she’s relatively new to the ship modeling forum, but she’s apparently been an avid ship modeler for quite some time. There is more to her that I can effectively write on this blog post, so I’ll just point you to her website: The site is in Russian, but there is a language selector that allows you to read most of the content in english.

Shown in the photo above is one of Olha’s models. This is a model of the St. Gabriel. It is based on a kit from Master Korabel, but with modifications, including the replacement of the kit wood with pear wood and hornbeam. The St. Gabriel was a Russian exploration ship commanded by the Danish cartographer and explorer, Vitus Bering, who was in service with the Russian Navy.

This is one of many of Olha’s magnificently done models. You should really check out her other model work on her website. Personally, I’m interested in some of her in-progress work. Namely, the scratch model of the French cutter Le Cerf being constructed from Ancre plans. I have the Ancre plans and have been itching to get started on a model based on them, so her work there, though not complete, is a real inspiration.

Apparently, she’s done a number of Youtube videos as well, so that’s something else to check out. Here’s a link to the full Youtube playlist:  Ω


Wasen Projects Status – March 25, 2021

Here’s an update on my Japanese traditional boats projects for the month of March, 2021. I had taken a break, but with a couple projects so close to completion, it really makes sense to get them done. The same is true regarding my Amati American gunboat model, which is coming along, and looking quite nice too. More on that soon.

Wasen Mokei 和船模型

After taking a five-week break from wasen modeling, I’m back at it now, getting close to finishing up some more details on the Tonegawa takasebune, and soon the Kitamaebune, which still needs sails.

The break came about after I was asked to do a Zoom presentation as part of a series of lunchtime talks talked MESS lectures, for Maritime Education for Students of the Sea, a series organized by the San Francsico Maritime Research Center. The talk is not until the end of May – Thursday, May 27th, at 11am, to be precise. But, more on that later.

So, I kind of needed a break from my Japanese projects. Plus, for the talk, I think I need to keep some of the these models in various stages of completion, to serve as illustrations of the wasen model building process. So, I’ll probably leave the Senzanmaru and Nitaribune models where they…

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Vanguard Models Shipment Received

These have got to be the finest ship model kits on the market today. The only thing is that you have to like your models in 1/64 scale, and you have to like late 18th, early 19th century British vessels. You also have to really like detailed model kits with great instructions! If all of that sounds appealing to you, check out these kits from Vanguard Models.

For those of you who didn’t know, designer Chris Watton was connected with two other very popular and highly regarded lines of ship model kits: Caldercraft’s Nelson’s Navy line and Amati Models’ Victory Models line.

Vanguard Models is his own development, and I’d really love to build one of his newest kits. For me, personally, I think the contenders are the Scottish Zulu, a really sharp looking fishing boat(!), and HMS Speedy, a classic-looking Royal Navy brig.

Whatever you like, I don’t think you can go wrong with any of these beautiful-looking kits.

Ages of Sail

After a long hold up by the shipping company, we finally received our shipment from Chris Watton’s Vanguard Models company in England!

Vanguard Models, as you may already know, is one of the newest ship model manufacturers on the market, and already they make some of the finest kits available. Their kits are popular, interesting, and challenging. But, Chris has gone out of his way to make the kits as easy to build as possible, providing clear instructions in english, and advanced engineering, using computer aided design to come up with ways to simplify construction.

HMS Speedy

HMS Speedy, shown above, is a model of a 14-gun British Royal Navy brig. We ran out of stock of these following the holidays, so we’re happy to announce that they’re back in stock, and ready to ship to you!

There are four other ship model kits available from Vanguard Models besides HMS…

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More Musings on the Amati “Arrow” Gunboat

I made some progress over the past few days on the Amati American gunboat kit, but it doesn’t really show very well. Here are photos from my last post and then from today.

It may not look much different, but there are some 116 parts that have been added since last time! That comes out to be 56 cleats and 60 ringbolts. The ringbolts had to be assembled from provided eyebolts and split rings. The cleats are cast metal and I’d already painted them months ago.

Last time, if you recall, I said there were a lot of extra cleats and eyebolts. Turns out I was absolutely wrong. I went over the plans and instructions thoroughly, and I discovered that just about every one of these cleats and ringbolts has a line attached to it, so there is a LOT more rigging on this model than it first appears in the kit photos. Don’t be fooled.

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Building the Amati “Arrow” Gunboat

Amati Model of Italy makes a wide variety of interesting ship modelings subjects. In early 2018, I finished building their Swedish Gunboat kit. Like that one, another gunboat that has been around for as long as I can remember, and was always intrigued by, is the “Arrow” an American Gunboat from the period around the War of 1812.

The Jeffersonian era was an interesting time in American naval history in the desire to use defensive gunboats in place of large expensive warships. As a result, there were numerous gunboat designs implemented. In Howard Chapelle’s book, The History of the American Sailing Navy, several of these designs can be found. Among them is a design that Chapelle describes as a “galley gunboat showing Mediterranean influence.” Clearly, this was the drawing that inspired the Arrow gunboat kit.

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Disasters in Ship Modeling: No Coffee

Got up this morning and set up my coffee machine – Filled with water, put in a new filter, added fresh ground coffee, and started it up. Minutes later, I realize there’s no happy sounds of steaming, gurgling, dripping coffee. Nothing but silence…

It seems I have gone through yet another coffee maker. I guess the heating element is out on it, or the thermostat. I briefly looked at what it takes to repair it, but this model has some weird screws deeply recessed, so that only a repair technician can fix it. Not worth having it repaired, it’s a very simple, inexpensive, Black & Decker coffee maker. It worked well when in worked – that’s the actual model in the photo above. But, I guess I’ll try a different brand next time, just in case it I need to try to fix it in the future.

It’s a hard way to start a day of ship modeling. First order of business: Improvise. So, I boiled some water and poured it into the coffee filter basket to make my coffee. Not so good – needs to be a slower process to get better flavor. Next order of business, get a replacement, and quick!

If you’re a coffee drinker like me, you understand the emergency. After spending about an hour messing with it, I decided to move on and order one off of Amazon. Having Amazon prime, I’ll have it tomorrow. Won’t be in time for tomorrow’s coffee needs, but at least I’ll be prepared – no more surprises. Now, I’ve got my manually brewed, kind of weak, microwave heated coffee, and it’s time to move on to ship modeling matters… Ω




War of 1812 Gunboats

So, this past week, I’ve been having a few conversations with Mr. Paul Reck, who’s an accomplished ship modeler that runs the Hyde Street Pier Model Shipwrights club in San Francisco. I’ve been a member of that group for at least 10 or 11 years. Paul has been talking for some time about gunboats of the Jeffersonian navy. So, 1801 through the War of 1812. And, yes, that’s technically into the Madison presidency, but we’re talking about the gunboat navy that took shape under Jefferson.

Paul has built a model of the War of Independence gunboat Philadelphia and small galley cutter Lee. Lately, his attention turned to these Jeffersonian gunboats. This is something I’ve always had an interest in, though my knowledge doesn’t really go past a couple historical books on the War of 1812 and the Barbary Wars, and Howard Chapelle’s book History of the American Sailing Navy.

A number of years back, my interest did lead me to buy the only available kit of a Jeffersonian gunboat, Amati’s Arrow Gunboat kit. I’d started the model a long time back, but set it got set aside as many of my projects do. But, Paul has seen the model I was working on, and we talked about the boats many times over the years. But, the subject came up again recently, and it sounds like Paul is interested in moving ahead with a build of one of these boats. Continue reading