Excerpt from Ship Modeling from Stem to Stern

I was reviewing a few of my Books on Ship Modeling. I’ve now accumulated a few. One of my latest ones is called Ship Modeling from Stem to Stern. I’m really enjoying reading this book because a lot of what he talks about is very relatable to me because a lot of what he talks about are the same things that have ran through my head as I build these Models.

Anyway, here is an excerpt of him talking about Model Kits and Instructions –

The makers of ship model kits have perverted the term plank on frame. In reality, they should tell it like it is : plank on bulkhead. This version of the built-up ship model is not constructed with built-up frames. The “frames” are plywood bulkheads. In some kits, the outlines are simply printed on the plywood. In others, they are die cut, while in a third they are cut out and almost completed for you. All are notched for assembly. Of course, the more labor involved the higher the price.

The number of bulkheads included in the design of these kits is in my opinion and I believe the manufacturer’s, sufficient to ensure the shape of the hull. The kit designer often will use as few as possible to save on the cost of the material, especially in the less expensive kits.

The planks —thin wood strips— are to be placed over the bulkheads to form the hull. Again, depending on the designer and the cost of the kit, the planking might be a double layer of thin strips or a single layer of thicker strips. The double planked hulls use a less expensive wood for the first layer. This under-layer is to be covered with a thin “show” wood. The completed model results in a hull that is completely covered by planking. It is a built-up hull. All mistakes and errors of construction and patching can be concealed under the planking.

The sharks of commercial salesmanship have convinced many a potential model builder that it is a “breeze” to build a plank-on-bulkhead ship model. It isn’t. Many a model has been relegated to the closet shelf while the builder gathered courage. To this day many are never finished.

The majority of kits of the plank-on-bulkhead variety are imported. The basic instructions, translated into English, are sometimes laughable; and often misunderstood. This is perhaps the reason for the profuse illustrations. You might not speak or read the language, but you can follow pictures. Building a model by following the pictures is the rule, rather than the exception.

Milton Roth, Author of Ship Modeling from Stem to Stern

Okay, I totally agree with this author. On my last model, the Belem, it was almost totally pictures. Very few written instructions. That kit was by Artesania Latina, I believe they’re out of Valdáliga (Cantabria) Spain.

I found their instructions to be quite easy to follow.

On this Mamoli Kit however for the HMS Surprise, their English is terrible and they don’t really give you all that many illustrations either. Just one 3 dimensional Picture per step. I had to figure out a lot of things on my own. Perhaps that’s something that is intended with Model Ship Building. To learn about the Ships as you proceed. Anyway, I am driving on even though sometimes it seems intimidating. That’s all part of it. To see if you’re up to the task.

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