Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Aurora Sea Witch

Before I became interested in the ships of discovery, I had a long love affair with the clipper ship, those greyhounds of the sea that set records and would define the future of ship design. Of those, my long favorite was the ship they considered to be the first, the Sea Witch. 
I won't cover the history of that wonderful vessel here; you can either go to the Wikipedia page, or check out Howard I. Chappelle's "The Search for Speed Under Sail". Regardless, its impact was notable, and still retains a record, the fastest time from Hong Kong to New York for a single hulled sailing vessel, 74 days, set in 1849.
The Aurora model is one of their better sailing ships, if not the best. It is in the same group as their whale ship "Wanderer" and Revolutionary War "Bonhomme Richard", both of which are rather questionable in detail (especially the latter). This model is also some what controversial in model ship circles because of its fate. After Aurora went out of business, many presumed that the Sea Witch that was produced by Lindberg was in fact the same. It isn't. The Lindberg kit was derived from the Marx kit, with changes being a plastic deck instead of a lithographed sheet metal one. This has led some to speculate that the Marx kit and the Aurora kit are also the same. Again, they are not. The Marx/Lindberg model is 1/96 scale and dates to the 1950's. In appearance, it is simpler in hull and deck detail when compared to the later Aurora kit. The 1966 Aurora kit, on the other hand, is around 1/120, and has a hull that features planking, if somewhat oversized, though no attempt to replicate the coppering has been made.

My model was started a long time ago, and judging from the amounts of glue, by someone who was probably a novice. The masts are more than likely a write off, having warped. I've only seen this once before, and is one of the primary reasons I replace plastic masts with wood.

The rest of the kit appears to be there, but again, many of these pieces will be set aside when construction commences.

One of the nicest aspects of the kit, though, is the box art. This example's box is in great shape.

The painting of the Sea Witch underway is one of the nicest representations from that period I have ever seen.

I am not sure as to when I will begin this little project. One thing is for certain, though, This kit has plenty of potential, and should produce a fine model of the first true clipper.

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