Monday 10 February 2020

All at Sea - On the Stocks in JJ's Dockyard

As mentioned in my last post I had started to work on the French fleet box set of ships, composed of a French first rate, three third rates (Bucentaure, Redoubtable and L'Aigle), and three frigates (Thesus, Comete and L'Hermione).

As with any new collection and working with new figures or as in this case ships, I find my technique improves with gradual changes to the method of construction and painting with each new job and this collection of models is benefiting from my experience working from the first ones produced.

The painting work is done with the masts and boats to be fixed to the hulls

So as you will see in the pictures, I continue with the basic process of painting before rigging, but unlike with the very first builds I have found a distinct advantage in painting the hulls with just the jib attached and with all other masts, boats and anchors painted on the sprue separately.

I find this process really aids the detail work on the hulls with no masts in the way to prevent access with the brush to really bring out the detail on these kits. Likewise with the resin models, that is the French first rate and HMS Victory I have kept the metal masts separate and painted them prior to drilling the hull and fixing them in place.

HMS Victory

The detail work on the exquisite stern galleries on these named ships together with the individual figureheads each carries has entailed a bit of homework on the net trawling for illustrations of scale models showing the likely appearance of these fittings and the colours used.

Once the basic paint job is done, I do the fitting out, attaching masts and boats, but leaving anchors off until the rigging is done.

The stern galleries, figureheads and deck detail are what really set these models apart from other scales. Nearest to camera are L'Aigle 74 and the French first rate.

You might think the Warlord box with its pictures of their own models is good enough but I would council caution with referring to just the box and not to other sources.

Two famous names from Trafalgar

An equally famous Trafalgar ship that will no doubt need an enhanced anti-personal rating

The later interpretation of L'Hermione

For example the L'Hermione frigate model illustrated is using colours from the reconstructed frigate of the same name built in France for the commemoration of their involvement in the American War of Independence. However the later french frigate that was built to replace the AWI model that was wrecked of the French coast in the late 1780s is the one I wanted which took part in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

French frigate Themis' figurehead

The Bucentaure

Needless to say L'Aigle

Likewise I have found better illustrations of the French third rates that captures the look of these key ships that took part in the same battle and that information is reflected in the look of these models.

Once the varnish has dried thoroughly on these models I will get on with the final work of rigging and adding the naval ensigns.

As well as adding to the fleet, I have put together some chits and markers for our next scenario play-tests using War by Sail to avoid using cards. Once I am happy with the set up I think I might get some improved laser etched options.

The large tokens to determine the sequence of play and the smaller markers to determine what individual ships will do when their move token is drawn, which are placed face down to prevent the opposition knowing until the move is made.

One final thing I thought would be worth including, for those interested in using the clear bases to mount these ships on is that Fluid 3D Workshops have listed the bases on their website for easy ordering and I attach them here for reference.

Bases for Brigs
Bases for Frigates
Bases for 3rd Rates
Bases for 1st & 2nd Rates


  1. You make it look extremely tempting! Great work, looks fun

    1. Thank you, glad to hear you are tempted. Hopefully a few pictures of lots of these models in action on the table will build on that.


  2. Wow ships are looking good. You mentioned testing using War by Sea rules but aren't those tokens based on KMH rules?

    1. Hi Eric, thank you.

      Yes indeed, almost with a few exceptions, taken directly from KMH. As I mentioned in the post using War by Sail, I wanted to change the activation system to a more variable one, as used in KMH and so in those first games we used the cards to activate, but I find card shuffling a pain and so have produced these tokens instead.

  3. Beautiful painting and modelling!

    1. Hi thank you.

      They will look better once they are fully rigged which I estimate will take about another two weeks work with all of these. I will leave the Victory to last as I intend to festoon her with signal flags so that will add a bit extra impact to her final look.