Life-Like 24 Pounder Naval Cannon 1:24
Before you read any further, I have to admit that this tale of woe really has very little to do with the Life-Like Naval Cannon. It has more to do with proverbs like: “Measure twice, cut once.”, “Look before you leap.”, “No plan survives the first shot.”, and … you get the idea.
This all started when I found the Life-Like Naval Cannon in my garage. It called to me. In 1:24, it was a good size. And for a kit from the early 70s, it was relatively detailed. But the idea of just sticking a cannon on my shelf didn’t sit right, so I decided to build a diorama base of a shipboard gun position. So, full of images garnered from the Master & Commander movie and a youth full of reading the adventures of Horatio Hornblower, I set about to find some references. Soon I had what I needed and used my printer to copy and enlarge the diagrams to scale. I went to Hobby Lobby and bought a selection of bass wood and craft paints, all fueled with imagined images of smoke-filled fights on the high seas. This isn’t my first rodeo, so I knew it always took about 3 times the amount of time I thought it would take to finish the project. I figured it would take 3 days to build my diorama, so I tripled it and planned on 9 or 10 days to complete.
The only tools needed were a scroll saw, a belt sander, and a pencil. The ribs were soon cut and slotted into a jig to hold everything together while the glue dried. I exclusively used wood glue, which would allow me some time to reposition things that super glue didn’t allow. Things moved really quickly for a while. I ordered some hinges for the lower gun ports, which were the only hardware I purchased for this project.
It was about this time, 7 or 8 days into the project, that the train jumped off the track. The first thing I did was to misplace one of my pairs of hinges. So I ordered another set. In addition, the use of wood glue took a lot of drying time, so I realized the project would take at least 2 full weeks. Oh, well. So, I was admiring my work one day, my head full of Hornblower and blazing cannons, when I realized that I was building a diorama base that couldn’t possibly display the cannon. I should have built the diorama with one gun port in the middle. Putting two gun ports in the diorama meant that the cannon would need to be far to one side or the other on the base. There wasn’t enough deck space to offset the cannon to one side and still fit the cannon on the base, so I shifted into salvage mode. I added a half inch to each side of the deck to allow more deck space for the cannon. After a little measuring, I still don’t think this will allow the cannon to fit on the base.
The smart thing to do would be to abandon this base and start a second one that would feature just one gun port. No one has ever accused me of being smart, so I decided to finish the first base. I had a lot of time invested and I really wanted to see what it would look like. So I finished the painting and assembly of the base, and then sprayed a coat of satin clear polyurethane. I finished a wood base to hold my gun position and then added one gun port to the diorama using the one set of hinges I currently had. I still need to add the 2nd gun port, the eyebolts to the interior, and run the lines from the gun port covers to the interior, but it is basically done.
I think it looks pretty cool and brings to mind those images from movies and books of my youth (and more recently, too). Please forgive me if you are an aficionado of this era of sailing warships, since this is an approximation of an estimation of a generic conglomeration of several different plans found on the internet.
For now, I think the cannon will have to wait. I want to jump into some actual plastic of things that fly. This was kind of fun, but I am not in a hurry to build a second gun position. :o)