HMS Sheerness – Part 2

I am now continuing my description of how I modelled HMS Sheerness, a 24 gun 6th Rate Frigate, by converting an Airfix 1:87 model of HMS Bounty. In my last post, I finished by completing the hull.

My next step was to complete the masts, by gluing the yards on to them. They are numbered on the Airfix sprue to assist in fixing the otherwise similar yards in the correct place. Below is the Bowsprit, Foremast, Mainmast and Mizzenmast.

The original HMS Bounty model had a flat deck, but I had modified this to create a raised Focsle and Quarterdeck. I therefore shortened the Foremast and Mizzenmast, then remodelled the shape of the bases of these so that they would fit into the holes in the deck..

The HMS Bounty model came with a Rigging Machine for the shrouds. I used thick waxed thread for the verticals and a strong, but thinner, thread for the horizontals.

This system creates a matched pair of shrouds each time you use it.

Having assembled each pair of shrouds, I then painted them with PVA glue, and when that was dry, with a coat of matt black paint to represent the tarred standing rigging.

After making the first pair of shrouds, I removed the two middle horizontal sections of the Rigging Machine, since they were making my PVA glue and black paint clog up the gaps between the threads.

The Airfix HMS Bounty instructions have a shroud plan showing how many verticals and horizontals are needed for each pair of shrouds.

A pair of completed shrouds looks like this.

I glued them in place with the horizontal sections closest to the mast.

I also trimmed both the top and bottom as I fitted them.

Here is the hull, with bowsprit, masts and shrouds fitted. The masts are painted in a gloss ochre (buff), whilst the yards and other mast fittings are gloss black.

I added a rope to the anchors using waxed string and painted the anchors.

Here are the anchors fitted, suspended from a rope (actually thin wire) from the catsheads.

The end of the anchor rope is glued into the anchor hole near the bow and the anchor itself is glued into position below the focsle railings.

The Airfix instructions recommend painting sails before cutting them out, so I did this, painting them in a matt pale grey (really off-white).

I cut the sails out, then glued them to the yards, working upwards on each mast. Here are the lowest level (courses), all of which are furled. I added a piece of thread as a reefing rope to the appropriate places on the furled sails. I also fitted the first jib at the time, glued onto a stay (diagonal fore and aft rope), plus sheets (ropes) from the ends of the yards to securing points on the sides of the ship’s railings..

Here is the second level of sails (topsails) glued to their yards, plus the second jib glued onto its stay. I made holes with a map pin in the bottom corners of each sail to attach sheets (ropes for adjusting the sails).

Next I glued the uppermost level of sails (topgallants) to their yards and glued the third jib to its stay.

I shortened the gaffsail slightly, so it would be easier to place my crew on the quarterdeck. I then glued it to its yard and used a map pin to make holes in both of the lower corners of the sail to have a rope attaching it to the mast and sheets attaching it to the hull. I glued it in place then fitted a stay (diagonal rope) to suspend it at the correct angle.

I simplified the rigging, to use the minimum. The lower corner of each sail has a sheet (rope) attached to it which is then knotted around the yard below the sail and on to a fixing point on the ship’s railings. There would have really been several ropes fulfilling separate tasks.

Similarly, I made the minimum number of stays (diagonal ropes to help hold the masts in their correct fore and aft position). I made two between the mainmast and the foremast plus two between the mizzenmast and the mainmast.

I made simplified halliards (diagonal ropes to raise the yards) only above the topgallant sails and not above any others.

The Airfix HMS Bounty model came with three boats, but I had used these for my Jacobite boats (here). I therefore used an old toy boat, one of a set of six I have had since I was a child) to make into a jollyboat.

A Jollyboat is the smallest boat carried on a ship. Here it is painted.

The original Airfix HMS Bounty boats were designed to be stacked on the deck, but I wanted my HMS Sheerness decks clear for my guns and crew.

I decided to have the jollyboat slung over the stern of the ship, as I had for the HMS Hazard model made earlier.

I therefore made a sling from a thin piece of wire to suspend the jollyboat from.

Here is the jollyboat slung aft of the ship.

The Royal Navy had Red, White and Blue Squadrons, but the fleet around British coastal waters used white ensigns.

I printed off a paper ensign and attached it to thin wires as halliards (to raise and lower it).

I then attached it to a flagpole which was originally a mast from a Zvedza Medieval Lifeboat. I had used two of these Zvezda boats as Royal Navy boats and one as a Jacobite boat, but had modelled these as entirely rowed so did not need the masts.

I had previously made a holder for the flagpole (from a piece of paintbrush protector) and now just slotted the flagpole into that.

This system allows me to fit different ensigns (ie French ones if captured, or post 1801 ensigns if I was using this same model ship to represent a Napoleonic Frigate).

Here is my model HMS Sheerness completed, but without crew.

As with my previously modelled ships, for crew I used Hät Napoleonic Royal Navy figures.  Trousers did not really come in until about 1770, but I have accepted that anachronism. Here is my conversion of gun crew figures. The original figures were stripped to the waist, but I have given them welded rolled up sleeves, so I could show them with shirts, as I thought that the waters around the north of Scotland were too cold for bare chests. I have removed the original bases, apart from a peg below each foot, then fitted each figure onto a 12mm square base made from a section of Wills (now Peco) planking. I have two gun crew figures for model gun, as I have used for my Army artillery.

Here are my similarly converted mast crew figures. There is a Petty Officer to supervise the mast crews. I picked a figure with a jacket, welded his original round hat into a tricorne, removed his musket and added a rope starter (the latter used to “encourage” the crew). I have two mast crewmen per mast. I used this figure to look as though he was hauling on a rope, but removed the axe.

I made one helmsman, converted by removing his boarding pike, moving his arms to hold the steering wheel and turning his head. I also made two marines, from Airfix AWI George Washington’s Army figures, but with heads replaced with Strelets GNW ones and their muskets repositioned to a high port.

I made a Captain and a Lieutenant from Italeri Napoleonic French Guard Artillery figures, replacing their heads with those removed from the marines, modifying their coats and changing the position of the Lieutenant’s right arm as though he is about to order his maindeck guns to fire. I also used an officer from the Airfix HMS Bounty model to represent a Midshipman. This is a 1:87 model so is about 20mm compared to the other 1:72 scale (23mm) figures, so he looks right as a young midshipman, although perhaps slightly portly. I have changed the position of his right arm as though he is about to order his quarterdeck guns to fire.

Here is the Lieutenant and his maindeck gun crews.

Royal Navy officers uniforms were not introduced until 1748, but I wanted to also be able to use these figures for the Seven Years War in North America (French & Indian War). I also understand that the reason that the Royal Navy chose blue and white was that it was already the most popular colours for officers to wear prior to the introduction of uniforms.

I have given the sailors shirts with red and white vertical, horizontal or checked patterns. There are eight model guns on the maindeck (four each side), but they would normally only crew the guns on one side of the ship, so this gives a two man crew to each gun. If they had to crew both sides they would split the crews, which would reduce their rate of fire, so I can do the same. Royal Navy ship’s crews were more ethnically diverse then the Army, or the British population as a whole, so I have given them some black or darker skinned figures.

Here is the Midshipman and his quarterdeck gun crews. There are four model guns on the quarterdeck (two each side), so again a two man crew for each gun on one side of the ship only.

Here is the Petty Officer and his mast crews.

Here is the Captain, Helmsman and Marines. The marines have been painted as 2nd Marines, with light green facings.

Here is HMS Sheerness complete with her crew. There are six hidden guns and four gun models on each side of the maindeck plus two gun models on each side of the quarterdeck. That gives 12 guns per side or 24 in total. I have 8 gunners to crew the maindeck gun models and four to crew the quarterdeck guns, a total of 12 gunners, the same as the number of model and hidden guns on each side of the ship. I can therefore calculate firing and casualties using guncrew figures, as I do for my Army artillery.

HMS Sheerness was launched in 1743 and commanded by Captain O’Brian.

In November 1745 she captured a French ship carrying supplies and reinforcements to the Jacobites, including the Earl of Derwentwater (one of a small number of English Jacobites). He had been condemned to death after the 1715 Rebellion, but had escaped. He was now executed under the original sentence.

In February 1746, HMS Sheerness helped Lord Loudoun and his Highland Independent Companies to evacuate Inverness, move to the Black Isle and then on to north of Dornoch Firth. It may well have been one of the Royal Navy ships patrolling the mouth of the Dornoch Firth, who failed to intercept the successful Jacobite amphibious operation against Lord Loudoun on 20th March 1746, due to the sea mist hiding the amphibious crossing.

As recorded in my earlier post here, the French captured HMS Hazard in Montrose Harbour, on the east coast of Scotland, in November 1745, sailed her to France and renamed her as “Le Prince Charles”, sailing under French colours.

In March 1746 she was chased into the Kyle of Tongue, in the far north of Scotland, by HMS Sheerness.  Le Prince Charles ran aground and her crew abandoned her, taking with them £13,000 in gold, worth £25 million today.  The crew and most, but not all, of the gold were captured by a force of Loyalist Highlanders (one company of Loudoun’s 64th Foot and two Highland Independent Companies of MacKays).

Here is a representation of that action. You can seen the comparative sizes of Le Prince Charles (formerly HMS Hazard) and HMS Sheerness.

Well, that concludes my Naval postings.

5 thoughts on “HMS Sheerness – Part 2

  1. simonsmrt April 17, 2021 / 11:19 am

    And that’s now why I remember I never liked doing airfix sailing vessels………….the rigging!

    By the way Rod, did you know that in the village church a 16 year old midshipman is remembered on the plaque behind the pulpit albeit just over 50 years from the date of your vessel, killed in action in 1814.


    • rodwargaming April 17, 2021 / 2:55 pm

      Hi Simon,

      Yes the rigging was a bit fiddly, but I simplified it.

      I didn’t know about the plaque to the midshipman in our village church.

      Best wishes



      • simonsmrt April 17, 2021 / 3:26 pm

        I wrote an article for the Parish mag a few years ago. He served on HMS Hebrus at the battle of Jobourg. It took a chunk of luck to discover the details in the London Gazette


  2. Paul Liddle April 17, 2021 / 12:35 pm

    A very fine job Rod, a grand model to get on the table.


    • rodwargaming April 17, 2021 / 2:57 pm

      Hi Paul,

      I enjoyed making it, and it was a bit difficult to work out all of the modifications, but that was part of the fun. It did take quite a long time, so I will get back to some simpler model soldiers next.



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