A 1/72nd Scale Ship of Dreams

If you visit the Seriousness Aside page, you’ll see a link to the itty-bitty ship-shaped paper model in the bottom of this image. That’s a 1/300th scale model of the U.S.S. Enterprise, the first ship in the United States Navy to bear the name. She was a tiny, 50-or so foot long gunboat that served on the Great Lakes during the War of 1812.

The little model comes from a site called WarArtisan.com, a site devoted to miniature naval war games. The games themselves are not miniature, but involve movements of fleets of tiny sailing ships. It’s rather more involved than I can quite follow, but the people in the pictures seem to be enjoying themselves.

Anyway, I prefer to model in 1/72nd scale – that dusty ship in the picture on the Useful Sailing Terms page is in that scale. If you do the math, 1/72nd scale works out to one of our inches equaling  6 scale feet – a six foot guy is just one inch tall. And there are lots and lots of 1/72nd scale figures commercially available.

So, as I was falling asleep at work, I mean, one night, I had the brainiac idea that if I simply scaled up the WarArtisan model by 400%, I would get a ship that was 1/75th scale, which is remarkably close to 1/72nd. So I did it, and the graphics… well, the graphics didn’t scale up so nicely.

It didn’t take long in Adobe Illustrator to trace over the original art to create the outline of the ship.  There’s a lot of graphic work to make it as nice as the WarArtisan model, but you can see how it would work. The guns are leftovers from Zvezda’s 1/72 Black Swan kit, and the figures are pirates from a company called Mars.

So, what do you think? I think she looks awfully beamy – kinda mondo wide. There is so much to do to get that thing to look even close to the picture at the head of this article, I’m not sure I want to do it.

However, however, how about this: in the instructions for the WarArtisan model, you’re supposed to shave a piece of balsa wood to form the structure of the hull. What if, stay with me here, what if you used the scaled-up templates for the tiny balsa hull and shaved up a big piece of balsa wood to make it the same shape, but, like, bigger? Then you’d have a big piece of balsa that was approximately correct upon which to glue the scaled-up paper graphics.

Except that the graphics don’t scale up so well, and have no dimension. So, instead of scaling those up, why not just make ’em out of wood and stuff? In the end, you’d end up with a wooden model ship!

And yet, and yet, wouldn’t it be cool to make a hybrid wood/paper/plastic model ship in 1/72nd scale? I mean, I have the guns and the pirates… how hard could the rest be?