When I first examined a copy of "Jane's Fighting Ships 1914" the ship that grabbed my imagination more than any other was the French pre-dreadnought "Bouvet", laid down in 1893. The photograph and plan drawing showed an amazing collection of turrets, housing guns of several sizes. The bulge of the tumble-home hull with the low turrets riding thereon, gave the appearance of a vessel already sinking. Looking at the pictures of "Henri IV", "Carnot", and "Charles Martel" one realizes the French naval architects were working with an totally different vision than that of other navies.
One of my first games of "Memoir of Battle at Sea" was to be a match-up of German and French pre-dreadnoughts. I had the four German ships built in the style of Bob Cordery's SMS Schleswig-Holstein model. Now I needed the French opponents. I did not feel I had the ability to accurately carve the odd contours of the French style hull, but wanted to suggest it in some way. I laid out the basic cuts to be made on a four inch by two inch piece of 3/16" balsa. I also cut a four inch by 3/4" piece of 3/16" wood to represent the main deck.
Both pieces were cut to shape with an X-acto hand saw, then sanded. The outer edge of the larger piece was sanded to suggest the inward slope of the hull.
The two pieces are glued together, then weighted until they dry.
The upper hull/deck is sanded to match the contours of the lower hull.
These are the other pieces. With the exception of the four half inch sections of 1/16" dowel(guns) and the 1/2" by 7/8" piece of balsa next to them, every piece here is a pre-milled hardwood fitting available at Hobby Looby or other craft stores. Two are small spools(stacks) and there are three sizes of furniture plug (various turrets). A small wooden cube is also used (chartroom).
Here are the first pieces attached. Support for stacks, chartroom, two medium turrets, and the sponson for the flank main turret.
Next to be added are the stacks, and the fore and aft small turrets.
Holes are drilled for the main guns, which are then glued in place. They are propped on a piece of scrap to dry.
Main batteries are added. All she needs is paint and a flag.
Here is an early effort with a coat of Testor's Gull Grey and one of Spike's printed flags.
Total cost of materials is about $2 US. Time for construction is about thirty minutes each. So far they have an 0-2 record against the High Seas Fleet.
NEXT SUNDAY: GAMING THE BATTLE OF DOGGER BANK, in Words and Pictures