Pen Duick
by Artesania Latina
Built by Billy Shaw

The Pen Duick by Artesania Latina is shown here on this page. I have to admit that I designed and built the model as an r/c conversion, but alas, the effort in fact failed. The model is simply too unstable in water to be reliably sailed; and I'm not above admitting that something I spent 3 months on didn't pan out as planned. But I'd also intended the model to be museum quality, and lacking the intended functionality, the model does maintain all of the original Artesania Latina detail as well as all of the effort I could muster to create a piece that holds its own as a static work. In hindsight, I believe that the r/c conversion would have succeeded with a custom lightweight sail ensemble. On the other hand, one of the wonderful features of this kit was that very set of sails, and I'm reluctant to give up the level of detail that Artesania Latina has provided in their sail kit.

In fact, I have to say that for a kit under $100 (US), the packaging, fittings, quality of material, and level of detail availed to the instruction-follower is the highest that I've ever seen in a model at this price point. I'm highly impressed with this kit (and I have to admit that I've never been a real fan of the other offerings from this manufacturer - but this kit has me hooked... these people know how to design and package a good time!). This kit is head and shoulders above anything else I've seen at this level of kitting. Now I feel guilty that I can't really sail it!

Since the model didn't end up a notable r/c conversion, I'll dispense with the details of how and where the modifications were made, and concentrate instead on items of interest to the prospective modeler of this most interesting boat. However, I must note that the boat pictured here benefits from a couple of potentially worthwhile additions in any event. First, all of the rigging is executed in white dacron flyfishing backing; the result is much nicer than using the supplied cotton thread. Also, the hull shown is varnished to such a degree that I've had problems convincing other hobbyists that the project isn't a solid shaped block of wood!

In fact, once the planking was completed (a weekend of work), the dozens of coats of varnish that went into the completion of the hull took the majority of the construction time for this project, something like four weeks of watching paint dry...

Since the boat was originally intended for water, I spent a lot of time experimenting with the hull finish. This simple method of varnishing with common outdoor varnish is so waterproof that I'll continue to use the method on true watercraft. It's nothing fancy and it gets the job done. Plus, it looks better than any other finish I've ever done on a hull.

The hallmark of the Pen Duick is its graceful set of lines, visible from any angle. It is truly the epitome of the pure sailing craft, viewed in any scale. Artesania Latina is an official licensee of the Pen Duick design from the French organization that holds and maintains the rights to the craft and its design. If you're interested in pursuing additional information about this historically significant craft, you can research the subject on the web at length, as this boat isn't underrepresented. And for this reason alone, its worth having the model in your collection if you're interested in highly representative items of enduring importance.

The Artesania Latina version captures the essence of this craft down to fine detail without making undue visual or practical compromises as found in some manufacturers' visions of scale models. In fact, this kit can be utilized to create a museum quality definition of the Pen Duick without much rework. If you're motivated to own such a piece, then this kit is the logical jumping off point. And again, at under $100 (US), you certainly can't complain about the price of realism.

The only colors really necessary to complete the model are shown here. There's a life vest executed in orange, a compass face done in dark blue (actually, Corsair Blue to be exact), and some minor cabin dome fittings touched with black (not really visible here but there are four small pieces placed on the deck). The rest of the model is color schemed in mahogony and teak stain (natural) and clear varnish. There are a number of interesting brass fittings that appear here on masts and sheets. I did them with three different gauges of brass tubing, in lieu of the brass sheets provided; accommodating brass tubing instead of wrapping sheets is a concession you'll be real happy to make here - plan on getting some instead of trying to wrap flimsy sheets around wood. In general, the supplied fittings are high quality. But the brass wrap thang is a non-starter. For about $4 (US), you'll have enough brass tubing to last beyond this model and the next, so the additional investment is both esthetically appealing and easy on your crafting. Also, I embedded a number of functioning rings and such with fiberglass, anticipating sail-like conditions under r/c operation. You'd have to be a true museum model afficianado to recognize their placement; nevertheless, since you would be selling to museum model afficianadoes, folks will notice a difference here if you execute in the manner shown.

More detail on the general shape of the craft with fittings as supplied and executed is shown here. Prominent details include the chock for flag mast (which I didn't complete because I needed to be able to package the model for a move from Colorado to Las Vegas) and the honking large main sheet chock originally intended for r/c.

In general, everything in the instruction sheet was included in the finished model. I honestly believe that the utilization of dacron fly backing adds immeasurably to the overall appearance. Brass fittings as supplied accommodate the width of the material. Wood chocks need a bit of modification, but are trivial to accommodate.

All of the sail fastening is done with clear nylon thread. It's tedious to complete, but results in a fairly scale finish that doesn't detract from the true apppearance of the rigging. This departs from the model's indicated procedures, but the sails look more realistic.

Shown are additional details of the deck and top rigging. A model executed as instructed should appear as shown here. Missing from this model is an additional sail (omitted originally from the r/c version as risky but most likely needed to clearly identify the real Pen Duick).

Two details to note in the left photo are 1) the wooden chocks conducting the Dacron fly backing as rigging, and 2) the brass collar on the illustrated boom. Note the smooth appearance of the hull. For whatever reasons, this type of appearance falls into disfavor with museum purists unless they attempt to actually sail the craft!

More detail on the stern view of the model to left, and a general bow-view to the right. The cradle shown is supplied with the kit; you assemble it as instructed. Plan on finishing it according to taste. In this case, it was stained teak and heavily varnished.

Shown here are the extreme bow and stern details. The bow fittings, originally envisioned as supporting true functionality, are all fiberglass reinforced; the stern fitting shown is missing the flagstaff... it was omitted for the purpose of packaging the model for a move from Colorado to Las Vegas. All in all, this is one fairly bulletproof museum piece.

The Pen Duick as shown here is an enormously satisfying model to build and enjoy as a static piece. I regret that I wasn't able to convert it to r/c as originally envisioned. But all in good time, as an empirical modeler as myself learns and absorbs. The salient lessons for this project include a hearty dose of topweight and sail kit. I'll ne'er repeat these mistakes on a top-sailer, but ye, the potential static displayer is unmistakably museum. Artesania Latina has created a wonderful kit for the den. I will not gently leave this piece away...

Copyright 2001 Billy Shaw. All Rights Reserved.
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