16 Best Wooden Ship Model Kits by Experience Level (2020)

Best Wooden Ship Model Kits

In this post, I list some of the best wooden ship model kits that have been released through the years, and narrow them down by experience level.

Contents:

  1. Some Experience: Some experience with 1 vessel, or a similar model in another discipline (i.e. wooden airplanes, etc.)
  2. Experienced: Successfully built a few vessels.
  3. Highly Experienced: Completely comfortable with wooden ship building. Difficulty is not a factor, and you have the confidence and skill level to take on anything (based on extensive experience).

Some Experience

Before getting to my top picks, I wanted to preface it with 2 things:

1. If you don’t have a ton of experience, then I highly recommend that you get a copy of Frank Mastini’s book called “Ship Modeling Simplified”. It covers everything from choosing the right kit, setting up a workshop, understanding complex instructions, painting, and much more. It will make it a lot easier for you to build a high quality ship model and reduce mistakes throughout the process.

Ship Modeling Simplified Book

2. Also, if you’re just getting into wooden model ship building, then you should check out Model Ship World, which is the go to forum/resource for model ship builders to exchange tips and advice with each other, share build logs, and more.

With that in mind, let’s get to it! 


Caldercraft HM Schooner Ballahoo

Top Pick
Caldercraft HM Schooner Ballahoo Wooden Model Ship Kit
  • Scale: 1:64
  • Length: 20.5 inches, Height: 12.6 inches
  • For more photos of Caldercraft’s HM Schooner Ballahoo, check out this photo gallery, which was created by a member from the Model Ship World online forum.  
  • Well designed kit with clear and detailed step by step instructions 
  • This ship is also known as the Fish class, and it was built in Bermuda during the Napoleonic war. Back in the day, shipbuilders in Bermuda were known for making extremely fast vessels (by using strong wood that did not weigh much).  
  • The kit contains (1) four 12 pdr brass cannons, (2) double plank on bulkhead construction, (3) CNC cut walnut cut parts for visible structures and fittings (4) Black, natural hemp meant for rigging


Artesania Swift Wooden Model Ship Kit

Runner-up Pick
Artesania Swift Wooden Model Ship Kit
  • Scale: 1:50 
  • Length: 21.25 inches, Height: 4.3 inches 
  • The Swift was a Virginia pilot boat made in 1805, and it was known for being quick and lightweight  
  • This model ship kit comes with a DVD that you can watch to better understand the instructions, which is especially useful for beginners.  
  • Contains pre sewn sails, laser cut wood parts, rigging line, double plank-on bulkhead, brass fittings, and a flag. 
  • This sailboat model is a good option for folks who want to get into wooden ship model building, but don’t want to spend a fortune on their first kit.


Corel S.R.L Leida: 1775 Dutch Pleasure Boat

Budget Pick
  • Scale: 1:64 
  • Length: 14 inches, Height: 14 inches 
  • The model ship kit contains high quality wood in different shades, cast and gilded metal decorations, and photo etched brass or copper parts.
  • The well known architect F.H.Chapman designed this Dutch pleasure boat, and it was commonly used for fishing in the 18th century. 
  • Read more historical info


Mamoli USS Constitution - Cross Section 1797

Also Great
Mamoli USS Constitution Wooden Model Ship Kit
  • Scale: 1:93 
  • Length: 3 inches, Height: 26 inches 
  • The USS constitution was launched in 1797 by the US Navy. It was named by George Washington and the fittings were put together by Paul Revere. This tall ship was most famously used in the War of 1812 and the Civil War. During the War of 1812, the USS Constitution beat 5 british ships in battle: HMS Guerriere, Pictou, Cyane, Java, and Levant.
  • One of the USS constitution’s nicknames is “Old Ironsides”, because when cannons hit it during the War of 1812, they bounced off the hull of the ship, and the crew jokingly announced it’s made of iron (even though it was made of strong oak and pine). 
  • Read more historical info


Caldercraft HM Brig Supply

Also Great
Caldercraft HM Brig Supply Wooden Model Ship Kit
  • Scale: 1:64
  • Length: 26.6 inches, Height: 20.5 inches
  • A model builder posted some questions (see here) about the HM Brig Supply in Model Ship World, the go-to forum on model ship building. He mentioned that it’s his first build, and raised some solid questions that you may also have down the line if you end up going with this kit.

Experienced (Successfully Built a Few Vessels, Relatively Confident)


Mantua Royal Caroline 1749

Top Pick
Mantua Royal Caroline 1749 Wooden Model Ship Kit
  • Scale: 1:47
  • Length: 32.5 inches, Height: 24 inches 
  • A modeler posted his build log (see here) in the Model Ship World forum, so you can get a good feel for what this project would entail. 
  • Comprehensive instructions included, 7 sheets of plans. 
  • Double plank on frame construction. Wooden parts are cut impeccably. 5 and 6 mm poplar keel and bulkheads make a strong hull. Photo etched brass and gilded cast metal. High quality fittings.
  • The Royal Caroline ship was built at Deptford Dockyard and launched in January of 1750. It was used for voyages by several members of the royal family through the years. It was also used in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars for fleet reviews. 
  • Read more historical info


Amati HMS Pegasus

Runner-up Pick
Amati HMS Pegasus Wooden Model Ship Kit
  • Scale: 1:64 
  • Length: 31.5 inches, Height: 27 inches
  • The boat model you see above took the modeler “hundreds of hours” to build, and you can read more about his story here
  • The kit includes laser cut parts, plank-on bulkhead constructions, high quality metal fittings, copper hull plating, various decorations, and more.


Caldercraft HMS Mars

Also Great
Caldercraft HMS Mars Wooden Model Ship Kit
  • Scale: 1:64
  • Length: 31.1 inches, Height: 23.2 inches
  • A ship modeler generously shared some of his personal experience (see here) when building Caldercraft’s HMS Mars kit, and you may find it useful if you decide to go with this model. This is just another useful resource from the Model Ship World online forum, and if you’re a serious hobbyist, then I highly recommend you check it out if you haven’t already.


Caldercraft HM Yacht Chatham

Caldercraft HM Yacht Chatham Wooden Model Ship Kit
  • Scale: 1:64
  • The model boat kit you see above was built by a skilled modeler named Shaun Au, and you can read more details about how he did it here.


Amati Mercury Russian Brig 1820

Amati Mercury Russian Brig 1820 Wooden Model Ship Kit
  • Scale: 1:64
  • Length: 33.8 inches, Height: 24.7 inches 
  • Many premium hardwoods and metals included in the kit. 
  • The Russian Brig was an Imperial Russian Navy ship that first launched in May of 1820. It is well remembered in history for being attacked by 2 Turkish ships in 1829 and surviving due to the skills, experience, and heroism of Lieutenant-Commander Alexander Kazarsky.
  • Read more historical info


Caldercraft HM Mortar Vessel

Caldercraft HM Mortar Vessel Wooden Model Ship Kit
  • Scale: 1:64
  • Length: 20.1 inches, Height: 18.5 inches
  • The wooden model ship kit contains double plank-on bulkhead construction, 10 inch mortar, four 18 pounder carronades, CNC cut walnut parts, and black hemp meant for rigging. 
  • This mortar boat was built in 1804, it was more than 18 meters long, and could displace 76 tonnes. 


Mantua HMS Jamaica

Mantua HMS Jamaica Wooden Model Ship Kit
  • Scale: 1:45
  • Length: 24 inches, Height: 8 inches 
  • This ship was built in Bermuda in 1710. Its purpose was to be a cruiser for the West Indian trade companies.

Highly Experienced (Difficulty Is Not a Factor)

As I mentioned earlier, the kits below are meant for those who are completely comfortable with wooden ship building, and are looking for a challenge. Modelers at this level should have the confidence to take on anything (based on extensive experience), and difficulty is not a factor.


Amati HMS Vanguard

Top Pick
  • Scale: 1:72
  • Length: 46.1 inches, Width: 19 inches, Height: 35 inches
  • Click here to read historical info about the HMS Vanguard, which is a British battleship famous for its role in the Battle of The Nile in 1798.


Mamoli 1:150 HMS Victory Model Kit

Runner-up Pick
Mamoli HMS Victory Wooden Model Ship Kit
  • Scale: 1:150
  • Length: Length 25.7 inches, Height 18.7 inches
  • The scale model you see above was built by a modeler who made a few modifications from the original kit design (see more details here) and it took him over a year to build it. 


Mantua San Felipe

Also Great
Mantua San Felipe Wooden Model Ship Kit
  • Scale: 1:75 
  • Length: 38 inches, Height: 34 inches 
  • Incredibly detailed wooden model boat
  • Click here to read historical info about the HMS Vanguard, which is well known for being the lead ship in the Spanish Armada during the XVII century. When this historic ship went down in 1705, it had several tons of gold aboard. 


Caldercraft HMS Diana

Also Great
Caldercraft HMS Diana Wooden Model Ship Kit
  • Scale: 1:64
  • Length: 46.5 inches, Width: 17 inches, Height: 33 inches
  • The HMS Diana model above was part of an in-depth discussion thread (see here) on the Model Ship World forum.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Build a Wooden Model Ship?

As I’ve already mentioned, for all the info you need on how to make a wooden model ship, I recommend that you read Frank Mastini’s book named “Ship Modeling Simplified

Ship Modeling Simplified Book

How Do You Plank a Wooden Ship Model?

The following video does a great job of explaining wooden model ship planking:

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