Friday, March 20, 2009

GHQ 1:1200 Napoleonic British Frigate

This is something new for me.  Although I'm from a naval family (my grandfather was a lieutenant commander in the Royal Canadian Navy in World War II; a MacPhee was at Trafalgar; we race a 24 foot sailboat during the summer), I had never built a ship before.  The new Warhammer Trafalgar rules, though, have inspired my inner Jack Aubrey, and I mean to build a good sized force of French and British.

I bought two GHQ 1:1200 frigates off eBay to see how I liked the scale.  My first impression was shock at just how small these models are!  The ship you see here is mounted on a 30mm x 60mm Litko base, so the hull runs only two inches from stem to stern.  The fore and main masts are about 1.5" high.  The bowsprit and staysail assemby, the spanker, well, they're tiny!

I wasn't at all sure about how to assemble the thing.  From what images I could find online, I decided on a simple rigging scheme, staying the masts to the next forward and to the deck behind, and using some mesh from a 1:35 armor kit to field shrouds and ratlines.  I made the stays out of individual strands of speaker wire, and I built the whole frigate before painting.  Next time I might paint the masts seperately, because the stays made it very difficult to reach parts of the ship.

I primed with Testors grey primer, and the primer beaded up on the stays.  I couldn't file them down without breaking the thin copper wire, so I left the beads intact.  I painted the hull sides, masts, and yards in Delta's Territorial Brown.  The deck is Delta's Latte.  The sails got Americana's Butter.  

Once this basic block painting was done and dried, I washed the whole frigate in a burnt umber oil wash, gave it a couple days to dry, and started on the detail work.  I picked out raised areas of sails in butter again, painted the stays, shrouds, and ratlines black, drybrushed the ratlines in Delta's Storm Grey, and picked out the reef points and haliards in black.  I used Delta's Harvest Gold to give the upper hull a dull yellow and picked out the gun ports in black to get the Nelson checker look.

The final step was to pick out  the stern gallery, bow shear, and guns in Testor's gold.  I may still do some more work on the figurehead.  I painted the base in various blues, drybrushed all over with a light baby blue.  I may go back and add some white to the water.

Once all the painting was done, I cut a pennant out of white paper, glued it to the main topgallant mast with Elmer's Glue-All, and painted it Tompte Red.  I cut out a square for the colors, mounted it on some wire as a whip, hand painted it, and attached the whip to the stern.

It's not a beautiful ship, and I've certainly seen much better modeling and paint jobs online.  But as a first attempt, I'm comfortable with it.  This was a good learning process for me, and I hope to do better next time.  I have 8 Langton ships on the way and another GHQ frigate to build, a 22 gun ship that is much smaller even than this!


  1. Looks good, can't wait to get my Langton order and give it a try !

    So you really race sailboats? Didn't know that, might have to come up and check that out.

  2. We race a J24 named Colonsay, after the ancestoral MacPhee home. You can read about the J24 class here.

    We've been racing since 1980. We have a Saturday series that starts in May and runs through September, and an eight race Wednesday series in July and August.

    If you would like to sail with me this summer, let me know! I would be happy to take you out for a cruise.

  3. A couple of minor comments. Trim the rigging to a triangle to get it more "integrated". And try artists medium for the top of the sea to get a reflective and shiny surface, will lift the model after your great paint job

  4. Wow!! That could not have been easy.

  5. Nice Frigate! Excellent work so far and I look forward to seeing more!

  6. Well done but... why are the flags waving backwards if the wind blows from stern ?