Master Korabel is a Russian wooden ship model kit manufacturer that have been sold in the U.S. for a couple years now. They’re kits are all in a scale of 1:72 and they’re developed using Computer Aided Design, or CAD.
They have a fairly limited offering at this time with seven wooden kits of ships , none with more than two masts. But they also have three ship’s boat kits ranging from a 4-oared yawl, 2-3/4″ long, to a 10-oared ship’s boat, 3-1/2″ long. I picked up the larger of the ship’s boats kits to get an idea of how these kits go together
The largest ship’s boat kit, MK0101, is 95mm long, or about 3-1/2″. About the first thing I did after opening up the kit and laying everything out was to put it all right back in the box. I was just too taken aback by how thin the wood was, and how delicate and complex the build looked. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I took another look at the kit in detail and really read through the instructions. Once I did this, I was able to mentally break down the vast assortment of parts and start to make sense of it all.
The kit includes one double-sided page of instructions and one page of construction diagrams with parts list on the reverse side. One set of each is included in Russian and another in English.
I still found the written instructions pretty confusing and hard to follow. I think some of the problem was with the translation from Russian. Fortunately, I could make sense of the construction diagrams. With that, I could go back and decipher most of the written instructions. In any case, it all starts to make sense after a while.
Starting the Build
As I commented above, this kit is very complex. Clearly it is the product of a lot of engineering skill, but it goes far beyond what you would expect to comprise a 3-1/2″ ship’s boat kit. In most cases, a ship’s boat kit this small is really something of a fitting you buy pre-made. If assembly is required, you don’t expect it to be super detailed. But, the Master Korabel ship’s boat kits are really full wooden ship model kits unto themselves.
You could easily build one of these, just for the sake of building it, and you’d have a beautifully little display model. Mount it on a base, under a small acrylic cover, and you have a beautiful desk model. No doubt this is what the manufacturer is thinking, as they even include parts of a display cradle, though maybe they’re for mounting the boat on the deck of a ship model. In any case, there’s enough detail for this to be a stand-alone model.
I’m ignoring the instructions here, as I still find them hard to decipher, even after getting half-way through the build. First off, the parts are only labeled on the instruction diagrams, so it is necessary to mark some of the parts. Most important I found was to not cut the parts loose from the sheets until the part is needed. Also, there are some left and right-side parts, so it’s important to examine parts closely in each step.
The first thing is assembling the two parts of the keel, which are essentially the keel and the stem. I used medium, gap-filling CA for this whole kit. I tried wiping a little CA debonder onto the surface of my cutting mat in hopes it would keep any CA from gluing the keep to the mat. Seemed to work, but it might just be that I was really careful.
There appear to be only two parts in the whole kit that require some carving. It’s the support pieces / bow filler, that go on either side of the stem. The pieces were so delicate that I decided to glue them into place before beveling them. I used a scalpel blade to do the cutting, and that seemed to work okay.
I added bulkhead 14 to the keel. There is a pair of laser-etched guides to help glue the part on straight. The main part of the mold is then built to which this assembly will glue to later.
The mold goes together quite easily. I THINK I understand how this will be removed later, so I did my best not to get any glue where it would prevent the proper removal of the mold.
The keel is glued to most of the bulkheads. But, again, it’s important not to get glue in the wrong places, so that the mold will be easily removed later.
We’re moving right along now, but this kit is so small, it’s easy for the assembly to fall apart until the risers below are glue into place. These risers, which are horizontal pieces pierced for all the frames, are only glued at the stem and sternpost. These will remain inside the hull after the mold is removed.
The last thing I did in this part, was to add some of the frames. These are strips of thin pear wood. These strips are laser-cut, and have to be cut from the parts sheet. Wetting the strips was enough to allow me to bend them to fit through the hole in the keel and the holes in the risers.
I actually tired of trying to decipher most of the instructions, but when they reference specific diagrams, I made sure to take notice. These frames are glued to the keel and risers, not to the bulkheads, since those are to be removed. Actually, there is a small part of most bulkheads at the keel, that will stay on the model. So, that is the extend to where the gluing can go.
Took me a little bit to understand how to properly install all the frames, but I think I’ve got it now. I trimmed the excess off the ends of the frame strips and secured the very ends to the bulkheads with a tiny drop of glue. These strips are long enough that I can cut off the excess before attempting to remove the mold.
The next step will be to plank the hull. This will be interesting, as the planks are laser-cut and perfectly shaped for an accurate-looking hull.
This will be more of a challenge, but it all seems to be going well enough. Hopefully, I won’t mess up the build at this point. Tune in next time to find out how it all turns out. In the meantime, wish me luck!