Sunday, 26 July 2015

War Artisan Model Ships

My War Artisan 64 Gun Ship of the Line

I have always entertained the idea of playing through the excellent little naval campaign written by David Manley covering the fascinating naval war within a war which was the tussle for control of the Indian coast during the American War of Independence between the French Admiral Suffren and British Admiral Hughes.

I have several of the model ships built using Langton models with other awaiting fitting out and have run games covering the battles of Sadras and Providien using them.

A big part of the enjoyment of fighting age of sail games for me is constructing the models themselves and I have been attracted by the amazing paper kits designed by Jeff Knudsen.

The pull in for me is that Jeff offers free kits to try out on his site so you can test your skills at putting them together. The instructions and guidance on the site with rigging tutorials and loads of gallery pictures help the first timer get their head around the build process.

There is even a set of rules "Admirals" that can be used for fleet actions of the kind I have in mind to go with the lines of model kits once they are built.

In addition there are sets of flags for most of the nations to bedeck your models with once built.

So with a bit of spare time to hand this week I decided to work through putting the 64 gun SOL together. I used cocktail sticks for the masts, paper clips for the spars and 0.3mm black nylon coated steel jewellery wire for the rigging.

The whole thing went together surprisingly easily and took longer than it needed too as I spent time on working out the best way of doing things, the whole purpose of the exercise!

The key learning points for me were:
  • Drilling out the holes for my masts, pre construction of the hull, using my pin vice. I did the drilling after constructing the hull and it put a stress on the card causing a slight crinkling to the hull. (note to self).
  • I still have to decide how I am going to base these models. I might just get some mdf from Warbases and paint then to the colour of the mats I a planning to put together.

The campaign requires a collection of 5 x 50 gun, 19 x 64 gun, 11 x 74 gun, 1 x 80 gun, 6 x East Indiamen and 10 x Frigate. With the 64 gun models offered as a free kit, War Artisan models make this a very affordable option for a lot of gamers and a lot of scratch build satisfaction, especially when seen en mass. These kits also offer a huge opportunity for purpose built specials like shot up versions with rigging lying over the side. The beauty of being able to produce multiple copies really opens up new ideas.

Ok, just to manage expectations here. I aim to build this collection over time as we get the Talavera project finished, plus the Roman and Dacian collection to do. The nice thing about these kits is that I can carry a little modelling box of scissors, glue, paper clips etc and put them together pretty much any where, so it will make a nice little "down time" project.

If you have been toying with the idea of having a go with these kits, then get one of Jeff's "freebies" and try it out, I think you will be impressed with the quality of the models and the ease of putting them together.

Next up Painting French Line Infantry - Part One


  1. Incredible work, the rigging is amazing!

    1. Hi BP, thank you. The rigging is very straight forward with the nylon jewellery wire, you just need to make sure you put on the standing rigging before the running rigging and with the sails being paper it leaves lots of scope for different sail sets and modelling any damage.

  2. Ah, card stock. I am struggling with card stock buidings at the moment. This sort of thing is entirely alien to me, being used to white metal or plastic constructions, but not paper.

    The skills required are completely different to those needed in other mediums and I have come to respect the skills of modellers who complete beautiful miniatures using paper. I have taken advantage of "cock it up for free models" offered by several suppliers and have managed just that !

    I will get the cutting, trimming, scoring and gluing off pat eventually, but it just goes to show how good some modellers on the net really are.

    I see that paper modelling is really popular "over the pond" and it is one area our American cousins can teach UK wargamers a thing or two.


    1. Hi Vince, yes paper modelling seems to be much bigger over there than here. There is something very satisfying getting these paper kits to come together. I think it appeals to the model kit/scratch builder in me that enjoys the initial puzzle of getting components to fit seamlessly.

      The pictures of these models en mass are very eye-catching and the 15mm Great Lakes boats look fun as well. I'm not a huge fan of paper buildings vs resin but I think the ships look great and am looking forward to having a full on building session when I can sit back at the end and admire the fleets coming together.

  3. Paper models and buildings have made great strides in quality ,availability and ranges, with the added advantage of cost it encourages the younger members of our hobby to begin collecting their own forces. However in my opinion it doesn't compare to your existing metal ones which are far superior.

    1. Hi Steve, I agree about the quality of modern paper designs and the War Artisan models are right up there. I would add the ability to replicate models that provide plenty of scope to add adapted models also lends them extra advantages.

      I think the Langton models are great and now with the brass etched sails and ratlines are even more of a treat to the eye with some wonderful creations appearing on TMP. However the Artisan models are slightly larger and I think are very easy on the eye especially en mass and I love the flexibility and mass effect they offer.

      See what you think when you see a lot of them together, I think you might be surprised.

  4. I have lots of these ships. I use the 1/300 small ships from his great lakes series. I have just Upsized one of the 1/600 dutch small frigates to 1/300 and printed it out on cream cartridge paper. Looks good can't wait to build it. You can see some of the ships at The trick to the masts is to build up the internal hull in layers of card or balsa. From sea level up. its a little fiddly but gives a much stronger finish.

    1. Hi Robert, you did a very nice job with those models, well done.

      Yes I saw this model as very much a training project for me and as soon as I had constructed the hull I wished I had prepared the mast holes prior. It is not a big issue as the pin vice worked a treat and the cocktail sticks fitted perfectly. Once I have decided on my basing the models will have even greater stability.

  5. Wow JJ,

    I just recently found that site and printed off the sample ship. Just had an urge to dabble with a naval campaign after reading Famous Sea Fights by John R Hale (old book but good). I'm totally enjoying putting the model together. Your ships look great! That's a great idea on the masts and spars....too bad I already hunted down and bought the wire I'd need ;). Can't wait to see how you'll base these models


    1. Thanks Adam, the naval warfare itch is something you have to scratch every now and then and I like the idea of being able to take these kits pretty much anywhere and spend the down time putting them together with fairly inexpensive materials and still get an attractive set of models.

      I haven't entirely made my mind up on functional bases that allow information to be carried on them or something a little easier on the eye but less functional. I probably leaning towards the former as the whole point of this scale is quantity and ease of playing lends itself to functionality.