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LE CERF (1779-1780)
This is a model made by my friend Kerry Jang. It is a marvel in miniature at 1:192 scale, based on a monograph from Ancre. Unfortunately, Kerry don't own a camera that can show better his truely amazing work. Hopefully soon he will be able to make closer and better photographs.
LE CERF (1779-1780)
(Paraphrased from Boudriot & Berti, Le Cerf, translated by D.H. Wells)
Le Cerf was launched in the evening of March 7, 1779 by M. de Sartine, Minister of Marine (1774-1780) entrusted to the command of one of his protégés, Ensign Varages. She had a short but eventful career that cruised for English privateers in the English Channel. During one of these cruises, she fought with two British cutters of 14 and 16 guns to a draw in which 17 men were injured.
On July 11, Le Cerf joined a small French squadron to cruise for privateers around Belle-Ille and the Island of Yew. During this cruise, her mast was struck with lightning during a squall (July 17 at 3:30 AM). The lightning struck the head rigging of the topgallant pole, ran down the topmast, split it into four pieces lengthwise, knocked down a seaman standing watch at the head of the lower mast, wounded another man, shocked a third stationed at the topmast crosstrees, and cut some strands of the main stay and of the starboard shrouds. The lightening continued its course, passed through the lubbers hole, penetrated among the mast fishes and split them from the mast in splinters, damaged the lower mast, and went down into the hold. It wounded three men with electric shocks. The bolt continued through one of the scuttles of the main hatchway, knocked down and wounded seamen standing to starboard, and finally passing through the waistcloth set on the gunwale, dashing three stacks of slops into the sea after having them set on fire. According to the commander's report, "This unfortunate incident put the crew into sad consternation which did not die down until they had been harangued at length".
Once repaired, she sailed (August 14, 1779) with the division under John Paul Jones, Captain of the United States in Bonhomme Richard. On this cruise, Le Cerf was ordered to pick up and find deserters from Bonhomme Richard. She found a number of deserters on fishing boats, but during the night, heavy seas damaged her mast and she began to founder. Her armaments were cast overboard to right the ship and they put into port for repairs.
On August 27, off the Blaskets, Le Cerf came upon a British cutter of 20 6-pounder cannon. The joined battle but the British broke contact and sailed away, giving way to Le Cerf's heavier armaments. Le Cerf gave chase but gave this up when several larger British sail were spotted. The next major action Le Cerf was involved was with a large British privateer on February 8, 1780 just off the Azores. The Privateer pretended to be an American ally, running up a Boston pennant and when the ships closed to exchange information, a British pennant was run up and was ordered to surrender. A battle ensued in which the crew of Le Cerf tried to board the British ship at least two times. The privateer broke off battle and sped off, but Le Cerf could not follow given the damage she took from the privateer's guns.
Little is known of Le Cerf after this battle except that on the night of February 18-19, Le Cerf was in the Azores and hit by a huge gust of wind damaging the battle damaged mast again. Le logs or any records of Le Cerf simply state that in 1780 she was at Martinique, and that is it.
The model is in 1:192 scale made from Boudriot and Berti's plans. The methods of construction is as outlined by Philip Reed's "Sailing Men-of-War" (Conway). The length of the hull is about 5 3/4" long overall.
Various construction stages, from January to June 2002
The hull is carved from basswood. The deck is made up of individual holly strips cut and tapered to match the plan. They were glued up over a copy of the plans to ensure all coamings, nibbing of the strakes were in the correct place. The guns were turned from brass rod and carriages made from holly. The ship's boat is carved from a solid piece of holly and hollowed out. The hollowing process being greatly facilitated by holding up to a strong light and stopping when the light shines through the hull evenly. The boat's frames are strips of plastic and the thwarts, etc., made from Swiss pear. All deckhouses and fittings were made of blocks of holly or Swiss pear. Belay pins were lengths of brass rod glued into the belay pin rack made of holly. The heads of the pins were represented with blobs of glue. The transom relief carving is simply a photocopy of the device on heavy paper that has been painted in, being careful to give the drawing a 3 dimensional effect by painting in shadows and highlights.
The masts were made from spruce dowel and the years all made from brass rod for strength. Rigging is a mixture of nichrome wire (standing rigging) and tinned copper (for the running rigging). Loops of wire for the blocks and eyebolts were made of nichrome as this wire is very hard and can take a lot of strain. Eyebolts, shrouds and stays were turned up from twisted wire in which a loop of the stuff was put into a Jacobs chuck on a lathe and spun, with a drill bit (in the case of eyebolts) or a pair of pliers holding the other end and twisted tight. Blocks are represented by discs of paper stained brown using a felt pen. Sails and pennants made from painted draughting vellum and lined with pencil.
The seascape is plastic "water" sheet used by model railroaders. This material is a clear sheet of tough ABS plastic to be placed over a blue painted base. This looked silly so instead I glued the sheet down to the base with bits of scrap wood placed underneath it to form swells. The hull of the model was temporarily placed in a cut out in the sheet and swells and a bow wake was sculpted suing Milliput epoxy putty. When dry, the sea around the ship was textured with acrylic gel medium, and when dry, the sea was painted blue. The ship was glued to the base and when dry, the entire base was given several coats of gloss clear paint to give it depth.
The only other commercially made hobby items used on this model are some chain and "z" (1:220) scale railway figures used for the crew.
The model finished, sitting on a seascape base.