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Building my Vasa ship model

There are wooden VASA kits available from Billings, Corel, Mantua. With that comes the confusion of which model when completed would provide closest resemblance to the real ship. Could someone be so kind and guide me in my search?

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  • There are in fact four wooden kits of Vasa. The Corel, Mantual and Billing kits are all rather old, and were developed before the ship had been completely reconstructed, so they all have some errors. The closest overall is the Billing kit, in terms of hull shape, but the sculptures are plastic and much simplified. The Mantua kit has the best sculptures and fittings, but is larger and more expensive. The Corel kit has a reputation of being difficult to build.

    In November, deAgostini of Italy released a new kit, sold as monthly installments. We assisted in the development of this kit, and so it is much more accurate and buildable than the older kits. It is already available in Italy, and will be released in other markets, including Sweden, in the spring. I can recommend it highly.

    If you are starting a Vasa model project, I recommend that you join the modelling forum which we started to help people with this project. Go to warshipvasa.freeforums.net and register! There are a lot of other builders there, and I participate to answer technical questions about the ship.

    Fred Hocker Research Director, Ship Unit, Ph.D.


    Question:

    For about 20 years ago I built Wasa (a billing boat model ) and now I would like to make it more detailed and rebuilt the rigging.
    Do you have any drawings availble from the museum to buy ?

    Answer:

    We have drawings of Vasa in one of our books called Vasa 1, but not other than that unfortunately. Please Contact the shop (butiken.vasa@maritima.se) if you would like to have more information.

    Best regards,

    Gunilla Schwang Museum Shop Manager

    Question:

    I am currently building a model of the Billing's Vasa. I have used the book Vasa 1 for reference, painting and details. My question is if you know if the standing rigging was tarred. I understand that in the British navy this was not the practice until 1760. Since the Vasa hull was tarred I thought the standing rigging might be tarred also.

    Glen

    Answer:

    Hi Glen,

    The remains we have of the rigging include numerous rope fragments from both standing and running lines. All of this has some tar in it (a normal part of making hemp rope for naval use including tarring the individual yarns before they were made up into strands) but there does not appear to be a clear difference between standing and running rigging. As the ship aged, the standing rigging might have received more surface applications of tar as a normal maintenance measure (which would gradually give it a darker color eventually approaching black), but it was still new when it sank. In modelling terms, it would be most accurate to show standing and running rigging as approximately the same color, which would be slightly darker than raw, untreated hemp.

    Fred Hocker Research Director, Ship Unit, Ph.D.

    Question:

    Hi Fred
    I am building a VASA kit , De Agostini, and it really beautiful.
    I have a question about the hull of Vasa. Is it possible that the hull of the original ship was white under the water line ? I am not very convinced of the instruction of the kit.

    Answer:

    We are not sure of the original colour below the waterline. The hull is covered with tar, so it would have been a dark reddish-brown if not treated with anything else. The navy bought lots of tallow, which was a common ingredient in many mixtures of anti-fouling applied to the bottoms of ships, and the bottom could have been painted with one of these mixtures, which has since disappeared. Most of these had a colour when new of dirty white to pale brownish-grey, so you would not go wrong to paint the bottom of your model this way.

    The De Agostini instructions area based on what we can say with confidence from the evidence on the ship itself, in most cases (they give the wrong colour for the gun carriages, which should be black rather than red).

    Fred Hocker Research Director, Ship Unit, Ph.D.

    Question:

    Sir, How accurate are the colours on the official model ? have the views on the colours changed much since its recovery? Many of the earlier paintings and models show the predominant colour as blue but now it is red.

    Answer:

    Our ideas about the colour scheme of the ship have changed a lot since the recovery. It was thought initially that the ship must be blue and gold, since that is a typical colour scheme later in the 17th century. Detailed investigation of the paint remaining on many of the timbers and sculptures in the 1990s showed a very different picture. Instead, it is typical Renaissance polychrome, with the sculptures painted in naturalistic colours on a red background. The 1:10 model in the museum was painted just a few years ago to reflect this research.

    Fred Hocker Research Director, Ship Unit, Ph.D.


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