HMS Bounty

HMS "Bounty" is my latest model. It was built from a kit issued by a Spanish publisher and came with a Maritime Encyclopaedia. The quality of some of the parts left much to be desired and had to be scraped and completely remade, but more of that later.

The "Bounty" started her life as a merchant ship called the "Bethia" and was requisitioned by the Royal Navy and converted in 1787. She commissioned to sail to Tahiti to load Breadfruit seeds and seedlings to the West Indies to provide a cheap source of food for the slaves working there. The hull a little over 30 metres in length with a beam of 8 metres displaced 215 tons.

Captain William Bligh was appointed to command her on the 16th August 1787 and on the 23rd of December that same year set sail on a voyage that would become history. On passage from Tahiti to the West on the 29th April 1789 near Tonga or the Friendly Isles as they were then known, the 1st Lieutenant Christian Fletcher led a Mutiny and put Captain Bligh and 18 crew loyal to him over the side in an open boat in which they sailed 3618 miles before reaching safety near Java on the 14th June. The mutinous crew returned to Tahiti where they split into two groups; one staying and the other sailing in 1790 on the Bounty to Pitcairn Island whose population today are descendants of the survivors.

In principle the idea of the model with a removable part of the ships side allowing a view of the interior was good, but the building of it was a different story.

Advertised as requiring no special skills or tools required to build really was a lot of rubbish unless one wanted a rubbish model. All the parts came in A4 size envelopes with the encyclopaedia (with the exception of the Spars) and were issued on a weekly basis if you were lucky and there were to be 100 issues. For example, the first issue came with 3 frames and the stem which also formed part of the keel with photographs of how to glue it together. The fit was so sloppy that one had no idea whether or not the frames were perpendicular, the next issue was three more frames and a straight section of keel, at least one could get these square.

The main deck came in five separate pieces and was veneered with planking. Close scrutiny of the assembly photographs showed the poor quality of the build so I decided at this stage to wait until I had sufficient parts to do a dry assembly to ensure a good fit before gluing up. This went on for 100 weeks. At times I felt that I could have built 10 Bounty's in that time. The hull was first planked with Spruce and the covered with strips of mahogany veneer. This outer skin was issued in the form of an oblong about 8"x4" and water jet cut into 5mm strips tied at each end to hold it together. This was finally cut into separate strips and because of the roughness of the cut each piece had to be sanded smooth on both edges to ensure a good fit against the adjoining piece. A very laborious process when the hull could have been planked up with Mahogany strips.

Nearly all of the spars supplied had to be consigned to the rubbish bin because of bow and shakes and remade from good quality doweling. Fortunately I have a small model makers lathe so it was not too much of a problem for me, what other people did I know not. Ended up with poor model I suspect.

The material for the sails was so heavy for the scale of the model and as frustration was beginning to set in, I decided that they would have to be furled to the yards rather than set if the finished model was going to have any appeal.

So two years in the building and I often wonder how long it took to build the "Bethia".