Category Archives: Ship Model Blogs

HMS Mercury in 1/96 Scale – The Build, Part 2

I’m not a paper/card modeler, but after building Shipyard’s paper model of HMS Alert, I enjoyed the project so much that I tinkered with a couple other subjects. I have two of them at the moment, and like with my ship modeling scratch build projects, I start on a few different ones until one of them stands out and calls to me to be taken to completion. That’s actually how HMS Alert came to be. I had no particular plans to complete the model initially – it was just a tinkering project.

Now, one of my current paper model tinkering projects is  Shipyard’s 1/96-scale HMS Mercury paper model kit. The ship is a 28-gun Enterprize-class sixth-rate frigate. As I mentioned before, there is a 1/72-scale boxed version where all the parts are laser-cut instead of printed, but that kit is around $500. Mine is about $35 at the North American distributor for Shipyard products, Ages of Sail.

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AL’s Independence – Swivel Guns

It occurred to me that I haven’t been posting enough about my own traditional western-style model ships what with my Japanese boat models and now the Japanese shrine build. Also, as I’d been in something of a slump due to project overload, I thought it might help me move forward by writing some more project updates.

Though I’ve written plenty about the cannons on my model, I don’t think I’ve said anything about the swivel guns. Clearly, I’ve replaced everything else from the original kit, and the swivel guns are no exception. I’ve being going back and forth on the scale of this model, and for the person I’m building this for, I don’t think the exact scale really matters. For the swivel guns, I ended up going with the 1/48-scale turned brass swivel guns sold by Syren Ship Model Company.

AL kit barrels in brass. Lumberyard replacements in pewter.

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Amati Swedish Gunboat Build – Part 4

Well, I did not end up finish this model for the IPMS show in San Jose in March. I decided to set it aside to let others in our build group catch-up, though I know that two of the members are at least as far along as I am. Anyway, I had work to do to for my display of Japanese boats, which ran from March 1st through the 31st.

Then, last weekend, we had a ship modelers’ get-together again at the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum. It’s been the usual 3 months since our last gathering and it was good to see the fellow ship modelers and their projects again.

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AL’s Independence – Completing the Rigging

I’ve been working on this model for a long time now, and recently, I’ve been trying to focus on finishing her up. I don’t have too much to say about the model at this stage, except that it’s a lot easier to follow someone else’s rigging plan than trying to work it out from scratch, or even modifying someone else’s plan.

Colonial Schooner Independence nearly complete. Apologies for the ad hoc backdrop that needs ironing.

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AL’s Independence – Headrails and Rigging

Yes, I’m finally getting around to wrapping up the Colonial Schooner Independence. I’ve worked on it here and there, but hadn’t made any blog posts about in quite some time.

The last task that I was concerned about was to construct some headrails from scratch. Mostly, this is one of those tasks which is painful, because the brain says it’s painful. In actuality, it wasn’t that bad, but did take some mental work to wrap my head around where to even begin.

I found some examples that were more complex and finally found some that were simpler. I made sure that the images of those simpler ones became embedded in my brain. So, here’s what I came up with…

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Amati Swedish Gunboat Build – Part 3

A couple weeks ago, we had another quarterly meeting of ship modelers at the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum. This is the group that includes our group build of the Amati Swedish Gunboat kit. We’ve been getting a lot of rain lately, so it’s literally put a damper on ship model meeting attendance over the past couple months. But, one of the other members of the group build showed up, and it was enough to inspire me to press on with this build.

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Amati Swedish Gunboat Build – Part 2

While this is a group build that I’ve been working on together with 4 other people in a local group of ship modelers, a couple people have fallen behind and we haven’t had a group build meeting in many months now. So, I decided I should be making some progress. I know a couple others have made headway on their projects, and I figured I should get caught up a little

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Buying the Tosa Wasen Kit

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If you’re looking to buy the kit, there is good news! There is a faster, less expensive method than trying to get it through Amazon-Japan where I got mine. I found out that manufacturer will sell direct to the USA for a very good price. To buy from the manufacturer,  send an email to the company: info@thermal-kobo.jp. For buyers from other countries. I don’t know what his policy is, but you can always ask.

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Price for the kit is 13,000 Yen. Shipping is via EMS (A Chinese Express Mail Service that ends with a USPS delivery) for 2,400 Yen. Payment has to be via Paypal, sending to the email address above.

This is a really good price. Makes the whole thing with express shipping only about $150. I went ahead and ordered a second kit.

The only thing that I’m not so sure about is that the kit is shipped in its own box, but wrapped with a bubblewrap bag. It’s a long box, so it seems like it would be easy to bend in half. But, I received the first kit this way and it was delivered just fine. Then again, I generally have good experiences with the US Postal Service here.

It looks like I might have been their first international sale of this kit, as the owner posted a picture of the kit shipping out to the USA on their Facebook page.

When you order one, please feel free to mention where you heard about it. Ω

Amati Swedish Gunboat Build – Part I


While I haven’t really considered this among my list of current builds, I am continuing this project for our local build group project. There are still 5 of us, each working on his own model. We last got together back in late August, and I have hardly touched it, hoping that those who are a behind will have some time to get caught up.

Here are some photos showing the early progress on my model.

This kit’s hull is supposed to be single-planked using 1mm beech wood. This seemed awfully thin for a single planking layer, so we decided to use some balsa filler blocks to fill in between the frames. This worked out quite nicely. I think it was the first time any of us tried the technique.

One of the first things I did was to cut away the exposed portion of the strongback/keel. My original plan was to glue down a narrow strip of wood along the keel and then fashion a stem post and keel and attach it into place, forming a natural rabbet.

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The deck sheet was used to aid in the alignment of the bulwarks. At this stage the hull filler was completed and filed to shape along with the bulkheads.

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There was a slight droop in the deck sheet on one side, so I used a piece of scrap glued in place to provide support.

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Before planking started, I used the top deck sheet to help in shaping the bulkhead tops so that the sheet would lay in a nice fair curve. I also used this to help align the upper hull planks.

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The hull planking is beech wood, which bends nicely with a little soaking and heat. I decided somewhere along the line to forgo adding the keel at this stage. I added the narrow strip along the line of the keel, and just
butted the planking up against it, figuring I’d add a keel afterwards.img_0805

After adding a few planks on each side, I then added the deck planking and the lining of the bulkheads at each end of the deck. To simulate caulking, I edged the deck planking in pencil, which I also did with the hull planking.

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I could have actually waited until a later stage to plank the deck, but I always enjoy deck planking, and wanted to make some headway before getting back to the hull planking.

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Previous post on the Swedish Gunboat build: Swedish Gunboat Group Build

HMS Mercury in 1/96 Scale – The Next Paper Model Project

Having completed Shipyard’s HMS Alert kit, it just didn’t feel right to not have a paper model to work on. There’s something about the simplicity of paper that is just too darned cool!

Of course, I have plenty of wooden ship model projects, but it’s nice to have a paper model going in the background. As with other background projects I’ve had in the past, there is no rush to get it done. There’s also nothing that says I have to ever get it done. But, having completed the Alert, I can see taking on another kit and carrying it to completion.

Now, I have Shipyard’s Super Modellar Plans (that’s Shipyard’s spelling, by the way, not mine) for the Santa Leocadia, a Spanish 38-gun frigate in 1/72 scale. The “Super” part of that title means that the plans include the laser-cut frames and some other items to give you a start on the model. However, beyond that, it’s really designed as a scratch build project. That’s something that, as a wooden ship modeler, I can probably do. But, I’m really not looking for something that requires a great deal of thought and planning time. I’d rather just go with a kit that I can just follow along and build.

There are the “Laser Cardboard Series” of ship model kits, which are boxed sets and include cast resin figurehead and scrollwork, turned brass cannons, wooden dowels for masts, pre-cut sail cloth, etc. Those kits are really nice and are in a larger 1/72 scale.

However, I already have a paper model kit on hand that I bought more than a year ago. It is Shipyard’s 1/96 scale HMS Mercury kit.

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Like most of the other paper model kits, this one comes with color printed parts that have to be cut out. Also, like most of these kits, the internal framework comes already laser cut, so getting started is very easy (note that HMS Victory and HMS Endeavour are notable exceptions and you have to build-up the framework parts and cut them out before you can assemble them).

The most daunting thing about this kit is the rigging. HMS Alert had only one mast with two yardarms. HMS Mercury is considerably more complex. I considered this, but also have been an admirer of British admiralty models, which show the ships at launch. Such a ship is now fitted out and has no masts and hence no rigging. Instead, poles were erected with large decorative admiralty flags. So, looking at this kit, I thought, what better kit to use for an admiralty style model.

Of course, there’s a long way to go before I come to that fork in the road. By that time, I may just be itching to build the masts and add rigging and sails!

Lots of parts...

Lots of parts!

And even more parts...

Another view of the parts.

In any case, we’re looking here at a 28-gun Enterprize-class sixth-rate frigate. At 1/96 scale, the model, rigged, is about 26 inches long. That’s a pretty small model, really. I know a lot of ship modelers won’t build at that small scale. That’s one of the reasons I’m considering the admiralty-style model.

For those who want an easier model, but like the subject, Shipyard makes a boxed edition of this same model, but it comes with all the parts laser cut, and it’s in a more comfortable 1/72 scale. But, since I’m just a paper model beginner, and it’s a lot more expensive, I figured I’d work on the 1/96 scale paper model kit. It means a lot of cutting of small parts, but there’s no rush.

Here are the first stages of my build, assembling the pre-cut framework…

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That was the easiest part of the kit and took a very short time to get this far. If you’re trying this CUT the parts out, don’t ever try to punch them out or you’ll tear or tweak something out of shape.

The whole thing “dry fits” together very easily. Once everything looks straight and twist-free, then it can be glued together. I used fast drying CA instant glue. You only have to touch it to the parts and it wicks right into the joints. With thicker glue, you risk bumping a piece out of place. So, I save the thicker stuff for other assemblies.

I’ll use Aileen’s Tacky Glue, DAP Weldwood contact cement, Elmer’s white glue, or slow cure CA depending on the application.

After the framework is assembled, the partial inner deck is put in place and the hull “skin” is added. This is the first of the layers that will cover the hull. With more layers, the hull takes on a more naturally smooth shape. Afterwards, the pre-printed deck pieces are cut out and, one of the features that separates the Shipyard kits from most wooden ship model kits, the great cabin  detail begins with the checkerboard pattern floor covering.

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Later, the partitions and knees are built up and put in place to provide interior detail and support for the bulwarks.

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Finally, here’s a glimpse of the instructions that show you what goes where. Note the numbers that indicate how thick each piece must be built up to. It’s all a kind of code with almost no written out text. Mostly, build in general order of the part numbers and put the parts where you see them in the instruction sheets.

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I hope others reading this will find inspiration rather than intimidation. This is actually a very easy building process, it just takes time. So… “Just keep swimming…”, “put one foot in front of the other…”, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step!”