Whether you have just ordered a fibreglass hull or model, or are looking at your new project, there are some important first steps before you begin working on it.
Building a ship model is a considerable effort in time and money, so it is worthwhile to do adequate research to make sure that your miniature is a fair representation of the prototype.
Luckily, there has been an explosion of warship information over the last 25 years. Plans, books and photos exist for many types of vessels, even relatively esoteric types. Of course, the more popular or well know the prototype, the easier your research task will be; the Missouri or Bismarck has a lot more information available than some WW1 ships. But, this is all part of the challenge.
The first thing you will need is a good set of plans. If you are just starting out, you are probably better off getting a set from a reliable source, instead of attempting to draw your own. In our Links section, you will find some suppliers for plans. Most kits and some hull makers include plans of varying degrees of completeness with their products – you should check with them to see what other material would be needed for the project.
The best plans are those from official sources, but be aware that even these will only represent a certain period of time. Ships, especially warships are dynamic structures, and are modified all the time. Significant variations will often be present within classes of ships – for example, the Fletcher class of US destroyers had many variants – round bridge, square bridge, even a few that had catapults to launch aircraft! Determining both which ship to model, and the time-frame you wish to represent is critical in the early stages of planning.
Again, we are very fortunate that reference books exist for many types of warships. Often labours of love, these represent countless hours of effort by the authors.
You are indeed fortunate if your prototype is covered by the Anatomy of the Ship series, as these are perhaps the ideal resource for modellers.
Whilst it may not always be possible to take your own photos of some ships, being that they maybe in active service whereas others may have visitor access periodically. If this is not an option to you then have a good search on the internet as more images are being added all the time.
Other points of interest my be your local library or museum.
These are just some starting points for the new modeller coming into the hobby.