Duquesne (D603) – Heller 1/400

May 22, 2018 · in Ships · · 15 Comments

Someone told me some time ago, that a good modeler is the one who can make a bad model look nice. In this case, I think it's true.

One of my customers ordered me this french frigate from . I've never built any from Heller, so I gave it a try. What I found was a really hard model, with almost no details at all.

I usually start ships from the hull. Heller decided to make it without the interior reinforcements (like Revell for example), so it was quite difficult to leave it simmetrical. Then, after a lot of sanding, I glued the main deck.
The deck had almost no detail at all, but since the customer didn't want to spend a lot of money, I couldn't make any detailing. Anyway, I continued with the upper structures. As I said, no details...
The radar bulb (the big dome) didn't had the panelling, so I had to make it based of photographs.
After some trouble with the unions, and a lot of putty and sanding, It was ready for painting...or that's what I thought...
It seems that when I preshaded it, it revealed some defects on the hull surface, so I had to sand it all over again. After that, It was finally painted with "wolf grey" from Vallejo model color (It was very close to the real color of the ship). Deck was painted in light full grey.

When varnish was applied, it looked like a toy. Of course I wasn't happy with that, so It was time to apply some weathering. The customer specified: "I want it a bit weathered. Not very clean, but not very dirty". So what I did was only to apply a coat of highly diluted black oil, and then slowly retire the excess to leave some parts clean.

Then I added the railguards. They were the worse I've ever seen in a model. I phoned the customer to explain the situation and he demanded to add only the "good looking" ones, so that's what I did.

Finally, the wiring was added made of stretched plastic (thin as hair).

In conclusion, It's a really hard model to make, full of mould defects and inaccuracies. It's not a model for non-experienced modelers.
If you find yourself building this model, be careful with the instructions and try to rely on your instinct as much as possible. It will help you with some parts.


8 additional images. Click to enlarge.

15 responses

  1. Claudio, never saw this kit but reading on your description of it, I would say you did a pretty good job with it. I like it, even though I’m completely oblivious to ships, even modern ones. The only warship I know is a submarine my father-in-law commanded in the late 80’s. I hated it 🙂

  2. Looks like it turned out pretty well, Claudio...despite the "bad review" - good job.

  3. Hat of for finishing a model like this.
    I've wrestled with old Heller kits too, so I know what it's like.
    To think, that in the seventies, they were the state of the art.

  4. Nice work on an old kit. I've built a Heller or two, so know your travail!

  5. Well done, Claudio!

  6. Hello Claudio,
    If you can make something out of these Heller kits, consider yourself a good modeler.
    Regards, Dirk.

    • I still have a lot to learn and improve. Anyway, I've learnt a couple of tricks building this one, which can be useful to complete the "other" heller ship which I'm working on...

      Thanks for commenting Dirk!

  7. Blood, sweat and tears!
    Very tasty job with an old kit from Heller. Surely, the railguards are no truly photo-etched ones, but I guess customer will appreciate the authentic heller ones !
    I am going to publish the little Heller Mercure diorama I built to remember a special feature these brand used to carry along with the kit...

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