Airfix HMS Prince - 1670 Man-o-War

KIT: Airfix HMS Prince - 1670 Man-o-War
KIT #: ?
PRICE: $35.00 MSRP
DECALS: paper flags
REVIEWER: Len Roberto


HMS Prince was launched in 1670 at Chatham and was one of the most powerful 3-decked ships-of-the-line in the Royal Navy.  Boasting 100 guns, she was major part of the Third Dutch War, which began in 1672.   The ship has very decorative ornamentation all over the vessel but especially on the stern.


            Airfix released a series of fine sailing ship kits on the 1970’s- most of which are out of production currently.  The kits were of different scales but were all a great size – not too huge like the Heller monsters but not as small as the other sail ship models in their line.  This kit comes out to around 1:144 scale.  It comes with the obligatory vacuum formed sails and only one spool of thread for rigging- a very light tan.  Also, to my horror, instead of pre-formed shroud/ ratlines, which were a feature of the earliest releases, the kit contained a sinister looming contraption and diagrams to make these important assemblies.  A colorful sheet of paper flags complete the parts to adorn each mast top.


            Assembling the hull and deck was not very difficult.  The kit design does not include full cannon carriages for the lower decks.  You simply glue a “half” cannon into a hole in the gunport.  I decided to forgo this step and glue all lower deck gunport lids in the closed position.  The weather deck cannon were assembled in conventional fashion.  Masts were the fiddliest portion of the assembly with delicate crosstrees and very thin upper portions. Most were not warped and only in the case of the very tall mainmast was some bending required to get a straight mast.

            In fact, the assembly portion of just the plastic parts only took about 2-3 weeks.  The big challenge with this kit would be the painting…. 


            Taking a long look at the instructions did not do much to assure me.  The ship is very ornate with many colors to paint and lots of gold accents, stripes, etc.  The colors are given in Humbrol numbers so I went online to find a chart equating Humbrol colors to other paint manufacturer’s lines.

            Hull painting took another 3 weeks and here is how I did it: 

  1. A light coat of grey primer to start
  2. Next a few coats of Matt white for the underside.  A demarcation line clearly showed where this break started.
  3. Masked off the white- then flat black overall including the deck.
  4. 3 coats of hand-brushed Yellow Ochre from Model Shipways.  This paint has to be thinned with water because out of the bottle it is very thick.  It dries very uniformly but required 3 coats over the black.  Perhaps not the best decision to do it this way but there you go.
  5. 2 black stripes just above waterline were painted around with the yellow ochre and touched up with a black Sharpie marker.
  6. Inside of upper gunport lids painted Guards Red.
  7. Now for the Gold- I used a combination of Testors Gold in the small bottle and a Gold Paint marker for tracing the delicate lines around the hull.  This works great and it is much easier to get a clean line than with a small brush- especially the wreaths around each gunport!
  8. Silver to simulate windows on stern.
  9. Clear red for lamps on stern
  10. Military Brown for deck furniture as well as bulwarks.
  11. Deck was painted a thinned Testors Wood then drybrushed with tan.  Then a light sanding to bring out some black for wear.
  12. Masts were painted the same Yellow Ochre then the gammoning around the masts were done using a black Sharpie.
  13. Spars were flat black.
  14. The directions called for a “Wine” stripe at the top of the hull but the box photos showed a more red color so that’s what I used.


            I have quite a box of spare rigging leftover from the Revell Cutty Sark and Constitution so I raided that for some black line to do the forestays and backstays.  The Airfix rigging instructions are very poor and do not show you exactly where to tie the lines so I had to use some license there.


            The way you loom the shrouds and ratlines is not too hard to figure out.  The diagram tells you the length of each by an A-E note.  Then it tells you where to start the tie to get the right angle.  Then you weave the lines to the appropriate numbers on the bottom and sides of the contraption. 

I did fine up to this point and was well on my way to a great looking set of foremast shrouds…

Now, to make this “whole”- you have to apply some sort of glue to each crosspoint to get the lines together as one.  I tried CA glue, which quickly became a nightmare.  CA glue is both your best friend and worst enemy.  First of all it leaves a frosty residue when it hardens. Second, it gets where you don’t want it.

            I quickly realized the main problem with this machine is that the crossing lines do not always lay flat enough to touch the shrouds.  So how do I glue them?

            I tried again and this time I mixed up some Elmer’s glue and water which is what I use for securing most rigging knots.  This looked promising but when I began to cut out the assembly, most of the lines were not secured.

            So I gave up the notion and raided some other kits for the right sizes I needed and used the pre-formed lines…Clearly, I need to practice this skill a lot more and find the best way to secure the lines.

 Once the stays were in place using black thread, I continued with various tan and beige lines for the lifts, braces and other lines.  I also rigged the 4 anchors with a mix of black and thicker beige lines for the ropes into the hull.

 The various paper flags were coated with the Elmer’s/ water mixture and affixed to the masttops. 

Last step was a coat of Krylon Clear overall.


            These kits are wonderful but take some patience to do the detail painting required.  Instructions could be better but the series offers some unique ships.  The series contains:

HMS Victory, HMS Endeavor 1768, Wasa, Golden Hind, Cutty Sark, Saint Louis, Discovery 1901, HMS Prince 1670, Mayflower 

I have some of the above and am looking for the others!

Len Roberto

October 2004


Not many- the Royal Science Museum of Kensington has a beautiful model of the ship done in the time the ship was built.  Pictures are on their website but that’s all I could find.

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