Building the hull of this Shipyard kit is really a lot like building the hull of any of their kits in that the skeletal structure of the model is very well engineered. As with just about all Shipyard ship model kits, there is a main keel piece and a series of bulkheads, much like with any wooden ship model kit. But, Shipyard kits often then have a longitudinal piece that crossed the frames, horizontally, and often another piece that crosses most of the frames vertically as well. This kit is no different.
Getting this far takes a very short time, and begins with simply test fitting all the parts of the framework together. Once satisfied, it was all glued together, making sure the keel was nice and straight, with no bends or twists in the hull.
You’ll note that there is a row of windows in the bulkhead at the back of the main deck. The instructions don’t say anything about this, but show that they painted the interior of the space behind the windows black, as well as the space a the stern where the stern gallery windows will show through. So, I painted these spaces black before I added the quarter deck.
Next comes the process of adding the first layer of the hull covering, or “skin” as some people like to call it. With this kit, the process is made simpler by the fact that all the paper parts are pre-cut to proper shape. This speeds up the build, though I found I still took a lot of time making sure that the pieces went on correctly and were well shaped.
I took a couple breaks during the process of adding this first layer. For one thing, experience with past paper and wooden models taught me to consider well in advance how I intend to mount the completed model. I’m still not sure how I’m going to mount the model, so just in case, I decided to cut a few blocks of wood and glue them into the hull, to provide a little more solid support for possible screws or posts.
I realize that the weak point here is the cardboard between the wooden blocks, but at least these should help with whatever method I end up going with. Anyway, with the blocks in place, I could continue with the hull covering.
The paper kit I had built before, HMS Alert, was only 1/96 scale, and the frames were closer together, and it was a smaller ship. On this model, I really wanted to take my time getting each layer done right. Even so, it wasn’t long before the hull was covered.
The final part of this first layer was the bulwarks piece. To be honest, this is the part that worried me most. Beside the Shipyard kits I mentioned completing, there have been a couple stalled projects and one of the things I had issue with was with the bulwarks construction. So, when I got to it here, I wanted to be sure that I did everything correctly. So, I pre-bent the pieces as indicated in the instructions and glue them into place.
Actually, before I did this, you may notice that I have the deck in place. These decks are laser cut and etched with the planking and treenail details, but are left to be painted. The instructions provided information on the color mix to use and how to pre-paint with a provided light color which serves like a primer.
Having experience painting card stock, I knew that technique is everything here, as it’s easy to end up with a blotchy looking deck. So, I was as careful as I could be. And yet, I ended up with a blotchy looking deck!
I’ve since done some work to clean it up and even it out somewhat, but it’s still blotchy. I’m just hoping that over time, as I add deck details, the blotchiness will end up less noticeable and, in the long run, just look a bit weathered. I didn’t do too much more as it’s a short journey from blotchy to ruined. So, the decks were glued into place and the bulwarks pieces were glued into place.
You’ll notice that the model also has it’s first big splash of color at the break of the forecastle. The initial red color provided seemed way too bright to me. It’s straight out of the jar of red paint that the paint manufacturer calls cynober or cinnabar. I wanted my ship to look a little less than brand new, and I figured the red color should appear a little duller, due to oxidation. So, I mixed up a jar of the color toned down just slightly.
At this stage, the model is pretty delicate, as it’s only covered by a thin layer of paper. I’m anxious to get the second layer on, as that will make the whole think a lot sturdier. Unlike the 1/96 scale version of this kit, there is also a third layer with actual individual planks. I’m hoping this will make the model very solid. I know it will make it visually more like an actual planked ship model.
Next time, the second layer…