Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Lindberg Brig of War - A Conundrum in Plastic

The Lindberg "Brig of War" - A Conundrum in Plastic

First, I should disclose that this is not a review, but more an overview. To begin with, my current project, the Life-Like (nee Pyro) "Mayflower", is about to be completed. Obviously, I already have my next project lined up, the Lindberg "Brig of War".

This is, of course, the old Pyro kit of the same name. A couple of entries previous, I discussed some of the Pyro ship models that I was acquainted with and their various merits. In an addendum, I mentioned that the "Brig of War" may have some potential. In this entry, I want to discuss some of my findings.
The model most resembles the "Fair American" found in the Henry Huddleston Rogers collection. This model was built by the Royal Admiralty after the ship had been captured. This is not a typical Admiralty model, being a full hull with no inner structure present. It's been speculated that the model was built to better understand the hull and sail. There is even some question as to which "Fair American" this model represents. Regardless, this model has served as the prototype for many models of the privateer. 
Since I now had a prototype, I decided to see just how close the brig came. I found some old plans for a wooden kit of the "Fair American" and reduced them down to the size of the plastic model, which appears to be approximately 1/170 scale.
In profile, the model is very close to this interpretation, though I suspect (and have read elsewhere) the Pyro tooling was based on the old solid hulled Model Shipways kit. 

So far, so good. The masts are a bit flimsy, dubious in detail, but very close to scale, based upon the drawings. The only problems are the bowsprit, which is a bit short, and the mizzen booms, which are similarly undersized.

The yards and attached sails, though, are horribly out of scale, as if meant for a smaller model. 

It is in looking down on the model that the real problems surface.
The model looked too beamy, though not horribly so. In fact, however, the model has a plan that looks a bit peculiar. The further aft you go, the worse it gets. As a result, the transom is nearly twice as wide as it should be.

How did the folks at Pyro do this? More to the point, why? Perhaps it was a compromise to keep it a bathroom toy and therefore buoyant. That explanation, though, doesn't make sense in light of the fact that there are some ships in this series that are far more scale-like in appearance. At this point, I suppose that we can only speculate. One thing I did find interesting is that if you took a 3/4" (19mm) wedge out of the stern and squeezed the deck together you ended up with one that was a bit closer. The amount of work that this would require, plus the work needed to correct the hull, would be significant if not altogether daunting.

Where does that leave my planned build? At this point, I am looking at simply correcting the sail plan and improving the deck detail to see how that improves the model. This was supposed to be a simpler follow up to my current project, but as model ship builders know, simpler is sometimes a rare thing.


  1. I too have the Pyro Brig of War. Noticing that it was more of a bathtub toy, I also narrowed the stern. I did it by sanding the stern area of the keel very thin to narrow the stern by a 1/16" or so and then trimming off the Port and Starboard sides of the deck at the stern area by 1/8" each. This allowed me to "pull-in" or narrow the Hull quite a bit but also caused a bit more "tumblehome". Now, fortunately, it looks much better to my eye. I did have to eliminate the 2 rear-most guns and close the gun ports (no room to operate them). This way I kept the deck "Furniture" the same, just narrower so that it had a shape reminiscent of the Fair American.
    The other option seemed to be to cut away the keel, Trim away a good portion of the 2 hull pieces at the stern, re-attach the keel, and trim the deck edges to fit into the slimmer stern. I believe this would leave you with a rather shallow draft vessel. It might look great from overhead but maybe look a bit UN-sailable from profile.
    Thank you for all your postings. Your History Lessons and observations on the Santa Maria ( among others) makes your site immensely informative and enjoyable. I re-read your postings frequently. Keep'em Comming!

  2. Use these ships for wargaming because their deck is open enough to put 15mm or even 1/72 scale figures on. The ship otherwise is worthless. My suspicion is they may have planned for this to be part of a game way way long ago.