Tag Archives: Ship Model Kit

HMS Mercury in 1/96 Scale – The Build, Part 4

The 1/96-scale HMS Mercury paper model continues.





I’m starting to think about the outer layer that’s going to go on the model. The kit includes printed parts for two configurations of the ship, one for the original 1779 paint scheme and another for the 1795 (Black and Yellow) paint scheme. I was always planning to build this in the 1779 configuration, but I’m thinking about the later configuration, just because it’s different (for this kit, anyway).


HMS Mercury in 1/96 Scale – The Build, Part 3

To begin with, I have to revise something I stated earlier about card modeling being challenging.

The biggest challenge about these Shipyard paper model kits is a mental one. When you get one of these kits, you instantly see a gazillion parts, and you have to cut out each and every one, plus you might decided to cut out windows instead of using printed windows, etc. That’s intimidating.

So, I’m finding that approaching construction of one of these kits is a lot like tying ratlines on a ship model. You can’t think about all those knots you have to tie – you just have to start and do one at a time until you get to the end. Building this model is about baby steps. You can’t count how many baby steps you have to take, you just have to take them one at a time and keep on going.

HMS Mercury Progress

First off, I glued the new pieces into place in the fo’csle and then added the doors back on. If you recall, I’d added the doors earlier and then decided I didn’t like printed windows. So, I removed them and the related partitions and cut out the window panes and used canopy glue to add the “glass”. In addition to the doors, I also finished the inner bulwarks pieces at the bow.

As you can see in the photo below, I still have to “edge” the gun port sills with red paint.

At this point, I began to wonder how well this model was going to go together and test fit the fo’csle and quarter decks. I had to dig through the diagrams and all to figure out if this was all going to work okay in the end. So far, it seems like it should be okay, though there’s more gap around the bow that I would like. Not sure yet how to fix this, if it even needs fixing. But, it was nice to see how well the decks seated into place. There are a couple beams I will have to fashion and put into place before these decks can go on. And, of course, I’ll need to finish some internal details, plus the cannons.

In the lower photos, you can also see the galley stove under construction. Below, you can see where it will eventually go.

Of course, there’s a lot of work to do to the stove before it goes into place.

Finally, I added the remaining parts for the interior of the great cabin, aft. There’s some furniture to go in here. That’s one of those things which is pretty neat about these Shipyard ship model kits. Of course, if you want to be able to see any of this stuff, you’ll have to modify the original kit, which includes printed windows. Those would normally need to be carefully cut open, but the detail kit I bought from GPM includes some laser-cut parts for the gallery windows.

I’m starting to think about the outer layer that’s going to go on the model. The kit includes printed parts for two configurations of the ship, one for the original 1779 paint scheme and another for the 1795 (Black and Yellow) paint scheme. I was always planning to build this in the 1779 configuration, but I’m thinking about the later configuration, just because it’s different (for this kit, anyway).

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 – 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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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.


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.



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.


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!”


HMS Alert – Project Completed

Here it is, about a month after I said I should have the model done in about a week. HMS Alert, my first paper model project is finally done. I added the last of the rope coils last night and and working on the case.


This is from the Shipyard line of kits from the Polish company called Vessel. The kits are sold in the U.S. by Ages of Sail (http://www.agesofsail.com). The hull and nearly all the deck details are cut from pre-printed paper parts provided in the kit. Some things, like the mast and spars and blocks are wood, purchased separately.

The sails are cloth, and the cannons are brass, sold by Syren Ship Model Company as small swivel guns. The blocks are swiss pear blocks that were also sold by Syren (sadly discontinued). Some other aftermarket parts were used, such as the gratings and the gun carriages, which I adapted from a detail kit sold by the Polish company GPM for a different model.

Building this model was a real challenge in patience for me – there are a LOT of little parts to cut, and the instructions take a bit of study, like it’s in code. But overall, I had a blast building it. The kits are VERY inexpensive and if you photocopy the parts before you begin, you can usually recover from basic screw-ups – I certainly had a LOT of opportunity for that!

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I highly recommend trying a paper model kit. But not just any kit, I recommend one of the kits from Shipyard. The models are constructed in a fashion that’s closer to wood ship modeling than is true for most other paper kits. These kits are very high quality, but you just need to be aware that you will either have to make just about everything from paper provided in the kit, or you have to provide some of your own materials, like cloth for the sails, dowels for the masts, etc.

If you have a bit more money than time, you should consider getting one of the boxed kits that is part of the Shipyard product line that used to be called Laser Cardboard Kits. These kits contain everything you need in one tidy package. Of course, it’s more money. Also, few part are pre-printed for you. The big advantage is that ALL the parts are laser cut for you – a big time saver. Also, all the boxed ship kits are in a larger 1:72 scale, whereas all the paper ship kits are all 1:96 scale.

This particular model is going to a good home with a fellow ship modeler who has been admiring it since I first brought it to a ship model meeting. He encouraged me to finish it up, and I will be transferring possession of it next week. In the meantime, I’m busy working on a case for the model.

But, this isn’t the last you’ll see of HMS Alert. The new owner and I have made tentative arrangements for me to take it to the Nautical Research Guild conference in October. The model made its first debut at the conference in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2014, so it’s only fitting that it make an official appearance as a completed model in a case this Fall.

I know I’m going to miss working on this paper model. So, I started working on another one that will take it’s place as a low-priority background project. The model is Shipyard’s 1:96 scale HMS Mercury, a 28-gun Enterprize-class sixth rate frigate. At this point, I’m not planning on rigging her. Rather, I’m thinking of making a type of admiralty display model rigged with launch flags. Of course, things change over time, so you never know. Stay tuned! Ω


Shipyard’s 1:96-scale HMS Alert 1777, Paper Model Kit – Part VII

I haven’t posted an update on this project for a several months, so figured it was time.

I now have someone who wants the completed model, so that pushed this project up in priority.  Initially, it was more of a test to see what building in paper was like. But, it was so much fun that I kept going with it. Now, it’s close enough to completion to really push to finish it.

I finished building the carriage guns, blackening them and adding breech ropes. For the ropes, I ended up using Morope brand model rope. The main reason for using Morope was simply to test out the product. This model rope certainly looks good, but it does want to unravel quite easily. I found it best to put a drop of CA glue at the point where I want to cut the line. After the CA dries, I cut the line and there’s no unravelling.

The other model rope I was considering was the stuff sold by Syren Ship Model Company. Initially, I avoided this rigging line because for most purposes, the lay of the rope is backwards. It’s all left-hand or S-laid rope. I’ve since changed my mind about the Syren model rope because it’s so nice to work with. It’s stiff, but flexible, doesn’t unravel, and looks great. However, since I already started using Morope, I figured I’d continue with it.


Not so clear photo of the finished cannon on carriage with Morope breeching rope.

For the cannons, I ended up using turned brass barrels sold by Syren Ship Model Company as swivel guns. One of the sizes worked out perfectly for this models small carriage guns. Making the carriages was the hard part. But, there’s only a dozen to get through.

I then had to add eyebolts at the ends of the breech ropes and drill the bulwarks to mount them. The deck is open and so drilling and adding the eyebolts into place wasn’t too bad. But, the model is more delicate than a wooden one, so it required extra care.


HMS Alert in my shipyard with Colonial Schooner in background. All cannons are in place and rigged with breech ropes.

As you can see, the taffrail is pretty well complete. That’s one feature that really made me sweat. Getting those stanchions all in place and then adding the rail and trying to make it run as flat as possible… I’d put off building the rail for a while until I could muster enough nerve to deal with it. Since then, it’s been mostly smooth sailing.


I worked on the sails some time ago. They’re are cloth and purchased as a separate accessory set available from Shipyard. They are pre-printed, but only on one side. Getting the lines of the cloth to show through required lightly tracing them onto the blank side in pencil.

Bolt ropes were glued around the edges using simple white glue. I also added all the small ropes to the two reefing bands on the mainsail.


I’d purchased the masting set from Shipyard too. This just consists of some dowels and a few laser cut cardboard pieces for the cross trees, mast cap, etc.

For blocks, I decided to use some swiss pear blocks I bought from Syren Ship Model Company. They stopped making them rather abruptly and did a big sell-off before I’d had a chance to stock up on more of the sizes I needed. But, this model doesn’t use too many, so I figured I’d go ahead and use them. Anyway, they’re really nice looking blocks. I made up a batch of paper blocks, but I figured I’d use the swiss pear ones while I had them.

Finally, I began the process of rigging by adding the lower deadeyes into place, and rigging the shrouds. As you can see the main boom is also in place. I had to finish up all the details on it first, then decided I’d better add it before too much other rigging gets in the way.

IMG_0618 IMG_0620

I have to now add all the blocks I’ll need on the mast, gaff and yards and sails. Then, I’m going to have to tie the backstays around the mast head so I can finish up adding the main and preventer stays which will lead down to the top of the stem. Really starting to feel like I’m getting into the home stretch on this model.

One interesting thing I’ve discovered is that the deadeyes are really pretty securely attached on this paper model. That was one thing I had concerns about. But, I wire stropped them and then simply bent the bottom of the wire to insert into holes I drilled into the hull, forming the chainplate. A faux chainplate is then glued to the face of the wire.

H.M.S. Victory, Mantua/Panart kit in 1:78 Scale – Part 2

This may be the most overdue “Part 2” of series of posts ever. I started this HMS Victory model just under 2 years ago. I’ve been working on various other projects in the meantime, but kept plugging away little by little. Actually, I suppose this kind of qualifies as a “Part 3”, since I did write a post about 3-D printed parts of for the model.

To catch up on the ship modeling activity here, I decided to replace the stem and sternpost with properly built up pieces instead of using the one-piece all-in-one plywood piece using boxwood. I’m not sure how this will affect the final build using the kit supplied parts, but I expect I’ll figure that out when and if I get that far.



I thought ahead about mounting the model this time and added nuts into the hull. These, I later epoxied into place. I also added some wooden reinforcement pieces over the area to protect from cracking.


I decided to add a little bit of middle gun deck detail since parts of it may be visible through the upper gun deck hatches and the entry ports amidships. I’m sure I went too far, but I couldn’t help myself.



Figuring that there should be some hint of an interior when looking in through the stern gallery lights, I cleared out that section as best I could, adding flooring and openings for the quarter gallery doors. I also opened up the windows in false partitions at the forward end of these stern galleries, which should allow enough light through to make people want to look, though I’ll probably keep down the details.


I also decided to build a full-length upper gun deck. This necessitated laying down sub-decks that I could then plank over. This turned out to be a bit trickier than I expected, because the cannons on this deck need to line up nicely in their respective gun ports, so the shear of the deck was very important.

I planked the hull using the kit supplied wood and then decided I’d need to remove the bulkhead extensions from the upper gun deck on up. This necessitated the addition of some reinforcing strips on the inner side of the hull planking. With that in place, I could plank the upper gun deck using boxwood strips.

IMG_1169Note that I didn’t want the hull inner reinforcement to interfere with the cutting of gunports, so I marked the locations of the upper deck gunports and temporarily marked the locations of the other gunports as well, though I expected I’d have to adjust these for accuracy.

The problem I saw with marking the gunports was the use of the template provided in the kit, which is a nice 2-dimensional cardstock template for use on a heavily curved 3-dimensional surface. For the most part this worked, but created distortion at the ends, where the hull curves are the greatest. One particularly odd issue is the position of the entry port in the middle. The template has the bottom of the entry port lined up with the bottom of the gunports, whereas on the real HMS Victory, their top edges pretty much line up. This didn’t make much sense, and the corrected entry port will be a lot closer to the deck level.


Next, I drilled small holes at the center of each of the upper gun ports since I have to make sure that the ports are the right height for the carriage guns. I made a cannon pattern using a copy of the drawings for the Victory’s 12-pounders in the Anatomy of a Ship book.

Once satisfied with the alignment, I went ahead and cut the gun ports. I just used a sharp #11 X-Acto knife to cut them to the size drawn in using the template. Afterwards, I measured out the exact size I wanted and started trimming the gunports further. My plan now is to make them large enough to add gunport sills using stripwood, probably Swiss pear. This requires the ports to be enlarged enough to accommodate the extra wood.



To finish up the gun ports, I made a square stock plug the right dimensions and used it to test that I had the gunport sizes correct.


The one shown is for the upper gun deck ports. The middle and lower gunports are a bit larger and require a separate plug.

Once I get all the gunports cut and properly lined, I’ll plank the inside of the hull of the upper gun deck to give it strength as it’s a bit delicate right now. Then, I’ll start the outer planking of the hull.

Getting Back to the AL Independence

Well, it’s time to put more energy into finishing my Colonial Schooner Independence. As I mentioned in my post about repairing a model of the Santa Maria, I had a bit of an accident a couple months back. I was putting the Santa Maria back on the top of one of a pair of free-standing bookcases. I was trying to avoid some things on the floor and lost my balance and went crashing into the book case.

I made a great effort to protect everything, but did end up with a little damage on the Santa Maria model. But, when I looked up to check on the book case, I discovered the Colonial Schooner model, which had been sitting on top, was gone. It had been knocked over the other side of the shelf and landed on a cardboard box about 2-1/2′ down.

I was afraid to even look for damage right away, but over the following week looked at it bit by bit. Amazingly the damage to the model was minimal. The deadeyes on the main channel needed some tweeking and the jib boom was knocked loose. The worst damage was the bowsprit cap, which broke, but that was about it. An amazing story of survival!

Now, most of the damage has been repaired and the model cleaned up and ready for progress. I rigged the guns, which required me to prepare some more blocks. For the gun tackle, I ended up staining some of my supply of Warner Woods blocks. I am using Syren Ship Model Company’s pear wood blocks for the rest of the model, but the available sizes were either too small or too large. The Warner blocks were available in the right size, so I used those. While the styles are different between Warner and Syren, for the small size I needed, no one will ever notice.


I decided to keep things simple and wire strop the blocks with necessary beckets and hooks. For rigging line, I had been debating over using right-hand laid “Morope” or left-hand laid rope from Syren Ship Model Company. I don’t like the backwards lay of the Syren line, but the quality of the line is outstanding. Also, it’s properly turned, so it doesn’t immediately unravel when you cut it. Finally, the line is not stiff or springy and is just a joy to work with. Finally, the color of the tan line I was using was nicer than the gray color of the Morope beige line, at least for this model.

I paired up blocks and tied off lines to beckets and ran the line through the blocks, then glued the rope into coils before rigging all the carriages. With the carriages pinned in place with brass rod, it was nice to not having the guns knocking about or to worry about failing glue joints.

After hooking blocks into place on the bulwarks and gun carriages, I use a little CA to lock them into place, then I used a little white glue to secure the rope coils to the deck.

A Day of Details

Today and last night, I worked on getting caught up a bit on this project. So, in addition to rigging the guns, I also mass produced some stops from swiss pear, added them to the gaffs, and died them black.


Knowing I’d be needing cleats, I went ahead and cut a strip of swiss pear to size and started fashioning some 1/4″ long cleats.



The first of these cleats went onto the underside of the main boom.


I also started stropping some blocks to use for the vangs. While I used wire to strop the gun tackle blocks, I’m rope stropping all other blocks, including these. For the needed beckets, I used a pin for form them. The line I used to sieze the eyes of the beckets was tan thread just for artistic contrast.


These will need hooks on the other end, so I went into hook production today as well, using 26 gauge black annealed steel wire. In the process of forming the loops and hooks, some of the wire gets pretty bright colored. So, afterwards, I used Caswell Stainless Steel Blackener, which seemed to work just fine on this regular steel.


Next, I’m working on repairing the bowsprit cap. I cut a piece of beech wood to the right dimensions and now I’m in the process of making the square notch and the hole for the jib boom as close to the original as possible, so that everything will, hopefully, all fit together perfectly.

Schooner Winston Churchill Kit Re-Release from Woody Joe

Just caught this today as I was doing my rounds on the Internet. Woody Joe has certainly kept busy. At this past weekend’s hobby show in Tokyo showed the prototype of a new kit they’re going to be releasing of a 1/144-scale WWII era I-400 IJN Submarine. Then, this morning, I discovered an announcement on their website of a revamped 1-75-scale kit of the 3-masted schooner Winston Churchill, just released 9/28/15.

I’ve only seen the original kit on the Internet. But from the looks of this new kit, I would say that they’ve not only improved construction of the kit, they’ve also improved scale detail as well.

I wasn’t particularly excited about the old kit. But, after seeing photos of the new kit, I’m impressed enough to want to get this kit. It’s 5000¥ more than the old kit, bringing it up to 30,000¥ (about $250), but the increase in price looks absolutely worth it.

Check it out here: Winston Churchill on Woody Joe Ω