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Building the Langton Anglo-Dutch British 1st Rate

British First Rate
Product #
Suggested Retail Price
£7.00 GBP

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camelspider writes:

Also check out Howarth and Wheatley's book Historic Sail -- has many nice color plates, including several very impressive plates of ADW ships of the line.

Revision Log
20 August 2007page first published

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Personal logo Virtualscratchbuilder Supporting Member of TMP Fezian of Virtualscratchbuilder writes:

British First Rate

I am a big fan of the Age of Sail, and these ships really speak to me. I love transitional eras, and the Anglo-Dutch Wars was one of those.

In response to Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian's call for naval Workbench articles, this is the third installment from the table of Personal logo Virtualscratchbuilder Supporting Member of TMP Fezian. I'd like to thank Rod and Carol at Langton for sending this and other ships for me to build in answer to Bill's call!


This ship is part of Langton's 1/1200 Anglo-Dutch Wars, and represents the largest type of vessel present in those wars. The era is not nearly so well documented in terms of ship construction and details compared to the Napoleonic era, so the models by nature are somewhat non-specific - except for representations of a few well-known and often painted examples, such as Royal Katherine and Gouden Leeuw.

The Anglo-Dutch Wars span a period of about 25 years, and much development took place during that time. In the early war, the ships were just coming out of transition from galleons, and many of them retained the last vestiges of galleon features. There were a few very large ships, but most were on the smallish side, armed with 30-50 guns, and many had been rebuilt from older, more archaic ships. Armed merchant ships were commonly used to beef up the forces of either side. Dutch ships tended to be smaller and more lightly armed compared to the British.

Through the second and third wars, there was less reliance on armed merchant ships, a greater preponderance of larger ships in the 60-80 gun range, and the British built a number of relatively large 1st rates (such as this model).

The Langton range is such that any of the wars can be simulated simply by purchasing the right mix of ships. I myself am going for a later-war mix. My most sincere wish is that Rod adds some of the relatively huge French ships of the period, as they were active participants in the later wars.


Information on paint schemes for ships of this period is scarce, and a lot of conjecture is involved. Schemes were probably left up to the individual captain - save the artwork on the stern, which was often painted by renowned artists of the time. A safe bet is that most ships would be various shades of brown with strakes in practically any color, but mostly lighter or darker brown. The upperworks were often brightly painted in blues, reds, yellows and greens, and there is considerable license to paint as one pleases, since there were no national schemes. Rod Langton's site has provided most of my inspiration for colors, though has many pictures from this and other eras. Relief decoration at the bow, stern and on the sides was almost always gold (painted).
My primary resource for rigging is Langton's Guide to Assembly, Painting & Rigging of Anglo Dutch 1:1200 - though again, is an excellent guide as well. One of the neatest things about this era is that the Willem van de Veldes (father and son) were prolific painters of Anglo-Dutch ships, and they are extremely accurate in their depiction of rigging and hull decorations. Much of what we know about these ships comes from these two men. A Google image-search of "van de velde willem" turns up hundreds of pictures.

Another good resource is I have yet to explore the entire site, but it is full of great information, particularly orders of battle and information on individual ships.


  • Wal-Mart grey primer
  • Testors White Primer
  • Razor knife
  • Straight-edge
  • Langton black thread (no longer available)
  • Superglue
  • Elmer's Wood Glue
  • Hairbrush with ultra-thin bristles
  • One packet of Langton etched-brass ratlines for 1st and 2nd rates
  • Various paint brushes
  • Various Ceramcoat, Accent, and Reaper paints
  • Water and soap
  • Reaper Pro Paint #18206 Wood Shade Ink
  • Tweezers
  • Pin vise
  • Matteboard
  • Penny or small coin
  • Straight-pins
  • Zig Millenium .005 marker

Construction & Undercoating

Straight off the shelf

Straight off the shelf - this is the 1/1200 scale Anglo-Dutch series British First Rate.

British First Rate components

There are fourteen parts to this kit: Hull, stern, counter (lower stern), 2 quarter-galleries, three masts, 1 bowsprit, 3 yards, and two etched-brass frets.

Soap bath

As always, I wash everything in a soap bath.


Here are the parts drying. Be sure to avoid handling the sails themselves, as etched brass picks up body oils very easily.

Beginning to put the pieces together

Once dry, I assemble the ship to this point, using superglue. The yards are affixed to their respective masts, and the four pieces of the stern are added to the hull.

Stern close-up

This is a close-up of the stern, showing the ornate carvings, counter, and quarter-galleries. When the glue dries (half an hour), it's off to the priming shed.


Just back from the shed. The hull and masts get Wal-Mart grey, the etched brass gets Testors White Primer.


Basic undercoating begins. The deck surfaces get Ceramcoat light brown. The sides of the hull and the masts get Ceramcoat sienna. The yards and furled sails get Ceramcoat dark brown. (Sorry, I cannot give you specific colors because the labels have long since worn off of the paint bottles!)

More undercoating

More undercoating. The quarter-galleries, bow carvings and upper stern are given a basic black undercoat. Note that everything is pretty rough at this point.

Painting the sails

While the hull is drying, one side of the sails on each fret get a basecoat of Accent Butter Cream. I use a very wet brush for this, dipping it in water before picking up a little paint.

Browning the sails

While the sails are still wet, I take a Ceramcoat brown and let a little bit flow into each of the corners of the sails, and give each sail a swath across the top. I use a very wet brush for this, too, so the paint should flow rather than be brushed on. When one side of the fret is dry, repeat for the reverse side. However, do not paint the reverse of the lateen mizzen sail.

Finished sails

The finished look. This approach simulates a dirty, used look.

Sails were almost never pristine white, except for the first couple days they were hung. In addition to being wind-catchers, they were equally effective dirt catchers, and turned from white to yellow to grey very quickly, particularly if ships spent a lot of time close inshore in an off-shore wind. This was born out to me recently when our neighbors bought a yard swing that hung from a frame that had a white canvas canopy. In less than 3 weeks, it was a dingy grey.
Inking the hull

After working on the sails, I return to the hull, and give it a liberal coat of water - deck and sides - followed by Reaper #18206 Wood Shade Ink dabbed into wet areas. I never need to brush this on.