Sovereign of the Seas
From the first day mankind was drawn to the sea, there has been the never ending conquest to build faster, bigger and more powerful ships; this still holds true even today. Way back in the summer of 1634, Stuart King Charles I made a personal visit to one of the leading designers’ and shipwrights of the times, Phineas Pett. Pett’s crowning achievement up until that point was the designing of the Price Royal, the first ship of the line to have three complete gun decks incorporated into the plans. The discussion between the King and Pett would lead to the development of something bigger, the largest and most heavily fortified First Rate ship afloat; HMS Sovereign of the Seas.
The ship would be launched in the fall of 1637 under the name Sovereign of the Seas (changed to Sovereign in 1651 and be renamed to Royal Sovereign well into her career). The Sovereign of the Seas would weigh in just over 1500 tons; 300 tons heavier than her predecessor the Prince Royal. The weight would not be the only thing to increase, the armament would almost double in size from her predecessor; increasing from the earlier 55 cannons to a whopping 90 by design. Only after orders from the King would this compliment of cannon increase to 102.
Another of King Charles I requirements would be embellishment. The king believed that a ship lavishly decorated would be sure to portray the might of the crown and its navy. No expense would be spared in building the ship. This of course would come at the cost to the English taxpayer causing financial dissidence and possibly contributing, in some part, to the English Civil War. From stem to stern the ship would be gilded with gold over a black background. The finest craftsmen in the trade would be put to work in creating the ornate carvings and posh trimmings culminating the creation of the largest gunship of the 17th century.
The Sovereign of the Seas would go on to fight in three Anglo-Dutch Wars during her career. The first war prompted the Dutch in aptly granting her the nickname of the “The Golden Devil”. This of course was from the devastating blow she landed on the Dutch navy. By the end of the third war, Sovereign would be the most feared ship afloat. In a strange twist of fate, the Sovereign of the Seas would succumb to fire while at anchor in Chatham; possibly at the hands of a careless cook and a candle he may have knocked over.
Model Space – Sovereign of the Seas
The Sovereign of the Seas
model from Model Space
is a 1:84 scale
multimedia ship kit depicting the largest warship of the 17th century, “The Golden Devil”. This kit is comprised mostly from wood and is a plank on bulkhead (POB) construction format which is where there are bulkhead sections attached to a false keel for the main structure of the model; on top of the bulkheads the decking and planking would be applied. The kit also incorporates detailing through the use of Britannia and photo etch part, various sizes of rope for rigging and real cloth sails and flags. The nature of how this kit is presented and delivered will actually define how I approach the review. While this kit can be purchased as an entire kit at one time, Model Space
offers this kit as a “Pay as you go” subscription. This allows a modeler to be able to create amazingly detailed kits from virtually all genre without having to pay for the entire model costs up front. Each particular model is a subscription which is broken down into easy to manage sections of construction and shipped on a monthly basis; in most cases once a month for twelve months. Each section of the kits come with parts and a set of full instructions for that particular section of construction and continue until all sections of the model have been delivered. So in terms of this review I will be building this kit and this will follow the normal delivery process of the monthly subscriptions from Model Space
. After I receive each section along the way, I will review the new parts and add them to a blog of the build, review each section as well as making inbox videos to help show the entire kit along with showing the construction process.
The first installment (section) of the subscription of the Sovereign of the Seas
kit is called “Pack 1”
. Upon delivery, the first thing that is noticed is how well the kit parts have been packed. The parts are nestled within two layers of bubble wrap. All of the parts are individually wrapped in sealed plastic bags and blister packs. “Pack 1” of the kit is broken down into eleven stages of construction covering the basic hull assembly, ship's launch and two cannons. As the subscription continues more sections will arrive monthly each being the next step of the construction process.
Contents to Pack 1
• 132 – Wooden Parts
• 9 – Britannia Parts
• 17 – Brass Parts
• 1 – Photo Etch Part
• 3 – Spools of Rope (0.5mm, 0.15mm Beige, 0.15 Black)
• 1 – Coil Of Wire
• 1 – 2’ x 3’ Fold-out
• 1 – 55 Page Instruction Manual
The best place to start when looking at any kit is with the Instructions. Model Space provides an Instructional Magazine with each installment of the kit. With Pack 1, a 55-page full color magazine is provided containing 20 pages of well written history on the Sovereign of the Seas, including history of the ship, design of the vessel, background on the designer and a section on Henry VIII, the so-called “Father of the English Navy”.
In taking a close look at the assembly portion of the booklet, there are eleven stages to this first part of construction. The instructions are well laid out and printed in color showing the individual sub-assemblies for constructing the hull framing and ship's launch as well as completion of the two cannons supplied in “Pack 1”. The instructions are clear and presented in a simple format making them easy to follow. At first, they may appear to be out of order as the construction starts with the forward section of the hull and then jumps to one of the two cannon and then back to amidships and so on. But after giving some thought to the outlined process, this allows the modeler a break from one section of construction which in turn allows the glue to cure before moving onto other sections connected to previous assemblies.
In looking over the parts supplied for this first section of the kit, the bulkheads to the hull are made from 3-ply, 3/16 inch plywood. The parts have been laser cut from the plywood giving them clean sharp lines with minimal attachment points. These attachement points can be removed with a common #11 hobby blade or by using a thin-blade detail saw. After removing some parts I found the connecting of the parts to be excellent with tight fitting joints. The tolerance between the futtocks (top ribbing to the bulkheads) that get added to the lower bulkhead sections do have a little more play between them than any of the other connecting parts, but the fit is still very good. Special consideration to allowing these bulkhead sections to dry on a flat surface after gluing, and possibly with a flat weighted object on top of them, will keep the parts from warping while the glue cures.
Each section of the construction has been well planned as all of the parts have a laser numbering burnt into the surface of them. The corresponding location to where the parts are to be installed have the same number burnt into them for foolproof installation. You can use any wood friendly adhesive to attach the wooden parts together; such as wood glue, standard PVA or superglue (CA). Please make note that with the use of any superglue, especially in later constructions of the planking and decking, that this adhesive can seal the wood as well as adhering it together. So if the parts are to be stained and not painted and there is any superglue residue that has been left on the parts, the stain will not take causing blotching.
The cannon supplied with the first Pack are only the first two of 102 nicely detailed carriages and gun barrels. The shape, design and size appears to be to scale and indicative to what was seen on 17th century sailing vessels. The cannon and the wheels for the carriages are forged from Soft Britannia metal and are cast very clean. There is a small seam line on both cannon barrels, but barrels of this type would typically have some casting lines possibly visible. A light sanding or even knocking down with a sharp #11 blade will remove the seam lines easy enough is so desired. Each of the cannon have a set of block and tackle that needs to be constructed. Each set of tackle would also be rigged as well. There is a set of brass eyelets included for the rigging process as well.
One of the final constructions for this first Pack is the ship’s launch. This boat is the same POB construction as the main ship with all of the bulkheads included on one sheet of 1/8 inch, 3-ply plywood. There is a small template included to set the frames in to allow for straight construction and easy planking o the hull. The instructions show the intricate planking process to this small boat. The instruction for planking is presented very well in a step by step format.
Conclusion of Pack 1
I have to say after taking a close look at the first installment of the Sovereign of the Seas kit from Model Space
I am quite impressed with the kit so far. The parts are cleanly and accurately manufactured and the fit to all of the parts are excellent. The detailed instructions are simple to follow and allow for a stress-free construction process to assembling ribbing of the hull, two supplied cannons and ship’s launch. The 1/84 scaling of this model is simply impressive. The completed bulkhead construction will measure to approximate 34 inches in length. Something to be aware of if space for displaying a ship of this size is an issue as the finished model will top out at 43.3 x 35.4 x 15.7 inches. Judging by what I see in this first section sent to me, the Sovereign of the Seas
is shaping up to be a be an amazing kit.
I feel the aspect of a "Pay as you go" kit turns out to be a fantastic way for folks interested in building highly detailed kits that would otherwise be out of their price range. The installments allow the cost to be broken down from anywhere from 6 months to a year depending on the kit. What is also nice, is knowing that if for whatever reason you wish to cancel the subscription, you can, you are not locked in.
I am very much looking forward to future Packs and fully constructing each step of this model along the way. Please take the time to stop by my blog of the build and see more details to the construction of the Sovereign of the Seas
Link To My Build Blog Of The Sovereign Of The Seas – http://www.modelshipwrights.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=SquawkBox&file=index&req=viewtopic&topic_id=237899&page=1