Len Jordan 1/1200 P&O liner 'Arcadia'
KIT: Len Jordan 1/1200 P&O liner 'Arcadia'
KIT #: L 42
REVIEWER: Jeff Simpson
NOTES: Resin waterline kit


The Ship: Arcadia was built on the Clyde in Scotland for P&O S.N.Co and launched in 1953. She had a capacity of 29500 gross tons, capable of carrying 1400 passengers and 710 crew at 23knots. She sailed on the London to Sydney, Australia route, with some cruising.

The model depicts the ship after mid 1970 when the rear mast had been removed, as it happens I think the ship looks better with this later rig. Len Jordan does not give any notes for modifying the ship model to the early configuration, which might well be as simple as drilling a hole and fitting a rear mast and a taller foremast. She was sold for scrapping in 1979. There is a good photo-essay online at http://www.simplonpc.co.uk/

The Scale: 1/1200 and 1/1250 scale miniature ships have been made and collected since at least the very early 20th century. Most models in this scale are to the waterline (vis. not full hull) and metal cast, but there are some resins and a few plastic kits (see Hobbyboss and Revell on mm). There are many websites related to this hobby, one of the best is www.steelnavy.com/1250home.htm which has lots of useful articles and links.

The Maker: Len Jordan has been making resin 1:1200 scale ship models since 1988. He now has a list of well over 100 freighters, 42 liners, 9 tankers and also some wartime armed variants of these models. He sells the models as unpainted kits, most of the models on his list are still available although some of the earlier ones have been withdrawn pending improvements to the masters and moulds. He can be found at a few UK "miniship" meetings and also contacted by mail at Len Jordan, Sunny Home, Whitchurch Hill, Reading RG8 7PG United Kingdom.

The kits and fully finished painted models can also be purchased from "Wirral Miniature Ships" who can be contacted by email wirralminiships@aol.com will happily send lists, photos and other information.

These Wirral models are available vis. other model dealers specialising in 1:1200 scale ships, a web search (especially via steelnavy) will probably turn up a few other sources.


A resin hull and separate funnel, a metal pin and a resin "cross-tree" together with a paper plan and colour information is supplied in a sturdy corrugated cardboard box. (Len Jordan does not provide any material for the derricks or yard arm - the modeller has to make these himself ). The box should be kept to contain the model after it has been finished to protect it if you are moving house, or indeed if you want to post it. The hull is finely detailed, with only slight visible flash, no pin-holes or bubbles, with exceptionally sharp and deep undercuts - a most impressive example of resin casting, it has a flat bottom at the waterline. The hull has integral ships boats and kingposts, these are not as fragile as they might appear, since they have a metal wire inside as reinforcement, however because the resin is quite brittle and the details thin modellers need to be careful when handling and working on the model.

In the case of Arcadia, Len Jordan's printed notes include references to two books and a magazine article.

I should mention that, on request, Len gives out (well he did in 1996) a couple of pages of printed notes about how to make and fit masts and derricks for his models, painting hints and also good sources of supply for tools and materials in the UK.

I measured the hull at 178mm long, which gives a scale of about 1:1235 which will be quite a nice compromise for many collectors who have both 1:1200 and 1:1250 scale models for this one to sit alongside.

First I checked the bottom of the model was flat by placing it on a sheet of sandpaper and lightly rubbing it: on inspection there were no obvious high spots and no further work was required.

I tested my model for paint adhesion, by applying a few dots of "deck colour" in some of the less visible corners, this seemed to be okay, so I did not wash the model, as it happens I later found that the interior of the boats did resist paint a bit, so with the benefit of hindsight I should have given at least the boats a bit of a de-grease. I inspected the resin for any flaws. In this case I found a few areas of roughness and some very small "flash", a needle file and a small piece of fine sandpaper was all that I needed to clean up the casting. I also checked that the funnel fitted neatly on the hull, and trimmed some resin flash to achieve this, also that the hole for the fore-mast was able to take a pin for a mast without needing any drilling.

Len Jordan provides a pin for a mast - the idea being that the head can be snipped off and it can be installed point uppermost to give the impression of taper, I prefer to use a nylon bristle - the benefit being that nylon is easy to cut with scissors and it is flexible if it is brushed against. I also selected some thinner bristles to use for the derricks illustrated on Len's plan.

The only real "modelling" is to sand the resin cross-tree down, check the pre-drilled hole is clear and glue it to the mast. I filed a slight groove in the mast above and glued on a thin piece of nylon as the "yard-arm" near the top of the mast.

Given such a complete resin hull, the bulk of the work on this model is painting.
It might be a good idea to spray the entire model with a matt white undercoat. I decided that the very light "straw" coloured resin would provide a suitable base without undercoating. I use acrylic paints, in this case applied with a brush.

I decided straight away that I was not going to paint a waterline, the photos I have all show a prominent (red) waterline at the bow, disappearing towards the middle of the ship. I do not know if the ship always looked like that, or why, but I thought that it would look peculiar and decided the model would look better with no waterline marking at all, which is of course also much easier than applying one, even if it "should" be a slanting or curved line.

I painted the decks with a matt patent mix that is similar to Badger Modelflex "Concrete" or Games Workshop "Bleached Bone", in other words much the same as the colour of the resin, but matt not glossy. I feel that this is a good representation of sun-bleached deck planking, however I know that lots of modellers use a rich brown - like furniture colour - which would perhaps be correct for wet decks.

I painted the hull sides with Badger Modelflex semi-gloss "Reefer White" - this is my "standard" colour for merchant ship models, it has a nice sheen very suitable for this scale - a high gloss would look unrealistic. A second coat was required.

The two swimming pools were painted dark blue (Revell matt blue 56)  - this choice is based on the tones of a black and white photo in the McCart book, however it is possible that this photo was a retouched publicity shot, a light blue would look "prettier".

The interior of the boats was painted with a semi-gloss patent mix of Gunze orange, matt base, and various light browns - this was based on the World Ship Society cover photo Sep 2007, where the boats look quite orange, but not "day-glo".

The buff colour for the funnel and masts, derricks, hatch covers and kingposts was another matt patent mix based on Aeromodeller RLM Gelb with white and a dash of brown added to taste.
The funnel top was painted Badger Modelflex gloss "Engine Black", the photos all show the funnel top gleaming. The actual exhaust orifice and adjacent area was painted Badger Modelflex matt "Grimy Black".

Len Jordan says that the sign boards alongside the funnel are red, in photos they do not stand out boldly, they would have been covered in light bulbs on the real ship, I used a matt Gunze red (label disappeared from paint jar) applied lightly with a fine brush to just pick out the name boards.
The monkey island on the top of the bridge and the top of the "house" on the foredeck was painted Testors "leather" to give the effect of varnished wood.

After the first round of painting I went back with the Reefer White, touching up the lifeboat sides, tops of deck fittings and so on to give a neat appearance.

The funnel and mast were attached with superglue. The derricks were attached to the base of the mast and kingposts with superglue, following the layout in Len's plan. I let the ends of the derricks fall on the decks, but in the real ship they rested high up off the deck held by metal brackets that would be almost impossibly fine in this scale.

There was a final round of touching up the paintwork and she was finished.

A super model kit. Because of the high quality of the resin hull this model would be a good introduction to resin miniature ships. Probably not an idea "beginners" model, simply because I doubt that the fine detail would take rough handling. There is some challenge to paint the small details, but an acceptable model could be made by adopting a simplified colour scheme and, if necessary omitting to make up the fiddly derricks, so modellers or limited ability could certainly consider this kit. There is the potential to do more detailing than I did - pe railings are available for this scale, so it could be a basis for a "high-end" model project.

McCart , Neil, "Famous British Liners 3 Arcadia and Iberia", Fan Publications 1993, ISBN 0 9519538 3 4
World Ship Society, Marine News magazine, cover photo Sep 2007
http://www.simplonpc.co.uk/ search for Arcadia

Jeff Simpson

August 2008

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