French Battleship Hoche (1886), 1:400

  • Hello to the folks here at Kartonbau. I've lurked here for quite a long time without registering... I've focused my attention on sustaining instead. However, they are having some issues now and I'm in the middle of a build that I would like to share with people, so I will present it here, with your approval.

    I apologize for posting in English. I can read a certain amount of German and a lot of Spanish and French, but it would be embarrasing to us all if I attempted to post in German. Thank you for your forbearance.

    I have had an enormous fondness for pre dreadnought ships of all sorts since I was a child back in the 1960s. One of my first models was the WMV Schleswig Holstein - since converted to landfill by my parents. Recently I have had the urge to attempt modeling these ships on my own out of paper. The odd French ships with large tumblehomes and frequently tall sides particularly interest me.

    I chose for my first scratch build effort the French battleship Hoche in its original configuration. It has considerable tumblehome and side barbettes, but, curiously, fairly low sides. However, it did have an extravagant upperworks.

    I started by designing it without aid of CAD software. Here are a couple of my early attempts:

  • After working for a couple of weeks with hand drawn plans I changed my mind and invested in Rhino software to design the kit. Renaud helped me enormously with tons of plans and photos - check my thread at Cardmodels if it ever works again - and I simply felt that I needed to upgrade the quality of the model. Here is a Rhino image of the model that I designed:

  • Although the scale is 1:400, which I chose to save space in may display area, I still want to put some detail in. My next step was to cut out the internal stairwells of the top deck and insert the stairs. However, I didn't want a lot of white from the framing to show through so I cut out holes in the framing and then installed black boxes to shroud the interior. Here is the result:

  • Then I wanted to attach the hull sides. However, there are 7 prominent gunports in the hull on each side. These are open in almost every photo of the ship so I wanted to do the same. To accomodate this, I again trimmed out the frames where needed and installed black backgrounds within the sides. Here is the result:

  • My next step was to install the distinctive side barbettes for the ship. These are somewhat complicated assemblies that cut into the side of the upper deck and also overlap the hull sides in curving bulges. The pieces generated by the CAD model fit perfectly. The first picture shows the ship after installation of the first side.

    Then I installed the second side and started coloring the superstructure pieces. However, I realized that it would be a lot easier to build the rest of the structure if the main turrets were mounted first. Each gun is an assembly of three rolled pieces joined end to end. They are not built to elevate. Currently the turrets are not built to rotate but I have decided to change that before gluing them down. The second picture shows the current status of the model with the turrets set, not glued, in place.

    My next step will be to make the turrets rotate and then I will finish the center superstructure. However, progress will be slow because I have an injured left shoulder which causes me considerable pain whenever I work on my models. I had to take yesterday off but will try to do a little more today.

    Thank you for letting me share your site with my build. I'll continue the thread here to completion even when (if) Cardmodels restores my threads over there. This is a good site and I really like the interface!


  • Hi Golden Bear
    It's lovely. I like the french Navy, "La Royale" how we call it here in France. I hope you'll go on straight with this vessel. Keep on tight and good luck.

  • Hello Golden Bear,

    what a great idea !
    These pre-d-ships have a charm of their own, especially the French ones which in my eyes often bordered to the bizarre.

    The first steps look very fine indeed, I´ll be watching your progress intently.


  • Golden Bear,

    this is indeed fascinating work since this ship is from a period which is probably the most interesting in battle ship construction. A time when nobody yet seemed to have a clear notion of how a modern warship should look like. There are way too few models of this kind available. Please keep up your interesting work! You will no doubt find a lot of devoted readers here at


    Wiedereinstieg in den Kartonbau nach vielen Jahren ...

  • Thank you, Andreas, Zaphod and Simon.

    It really was an interesting time for warship construction and innovation. I have found an interesting remark in, "The Metal Fighting Ship in the Royal Navy" by E. H. H. Archibald (1971). The author clearly identifies with the England and uses "we" and "our" at different points when talking about the history of ships in the book. When talking about the changes and experiments of the period he says, "Indeed, the pattern of French battleshiup development follows a more consistent and steady line than that of the British." This despite the usual raised eyebrows over the peculiar hull forms and gun sitings of the ships. I really treasure all information about ships from this period.

    Anyway, back to my little model. Please bear in mind that this is built at 1:400 and the model is under 10" long so detail takes a little care. Anyway, as you can see I've assembled the rest of the side barbette structures and the base of the center bridge. The top of the bridge is not yet attached in these photos and will take a little more clean up before finishing. I've gone ahead and put in the railings around the center stair wells since they will be difficult to reach with the bridges going into place. The railings are LC paper since I am by no means a master of making such things, particularly at 1:400. I have also changed the turrets (actually barbettes) so that they will rotate, and have attached them.

    Since the weapons in the turrets, although being breech loaders, were loaded by a mechanism external to the gun platform the are apparently still technically barbettes. However, common usage has led to calling them turrets.

    Here are a pair of photos, one a little closer and one a little farther away to make the errors a little less obvious:

    [edit: P.S. don't worry about the gaps at bow and stern. I'll hide them when I'm done manhandling the little model and they cannot be damaged any more!]

  • Hello Golden Bear,

    I am very much interested in your construction report because I also like 1:400 scale to save space for keeping them and recently am getting interested in the battle ship of late 19th century.
    In building 1:400 scale model, as you mentioned, I think it is important to consider to what extent we should add detail and would like to know how you deal with it.
    I am looking forward to your further report for my reference.
    Thank you for showing us your beautiful work.

    from 1:400 scale fan

  • Thank you Yu. I spend a lot of time considering the trade off between detail and scale (1:400). I am prone to putting in a lot of detail and find it difficult to draw the line with a smaller model. I'm still wrestling with it.

    BTW, if anybody would like to post here in German... or French, Spanish, Italian or even English I will welcome it. Please don't feel inhibited because the thread started in American. I can read a fair amount of many languages and really welcome the diversity.


  • Hello Jorg! I also have that kit and it served as a little bit of inspiration. There is also the Mikasa in 1:400 which is a little later in time but still pre dreadnought.

    I encouraged to find out that pre Dreadnought ships are as unpopular a topic here as they are on There may not be many of us with fondness for the period but our dedication is deep.

    Hey, Renaud, good to see you again!

    I've been poking along on the build. The progress does not look like much... particularly in the infamous "Super Fault Finding Macro Mode" but it takes a while sometimes to make a tiny bit of progress, particularly where several pieces need to fit together correctly. I'm still satisfied with the build. Anyway, this is it for the weekend. Take care.


  • There is also the Mikasa in 1:400 which is a little later in time but still pre dreadnought.

    Hello Carl,

    I did not know JSC has Mikasa.
    Now I found it out at certain shop and am going to place order for it.
    As Yokosuka where Mikasa lie at its mooring is about two hour drive from my home, I will go there and take pictures.

    Thank you for your information

    Best regards,

  • Dear Matthias,

    Thank you very much :yahoo:
    Did you visit there?
    Thanks to your photos I could save time for visiting there.
    After Carl's construction finished, with the help of your photos, I will start Mikasa.

    With best regards,
    Domo Arigato gozaimasu.

  • Thank you Yu!

    Yes, I have been there earlier this year. I also have lots of photos from the Soya, which I never posted here. So far there is only a plastic model of that ship...

    Have a nice evening,


    Edited once, last by MHBS ().

  • Work has continued - I'm still spending 50% of my time on finishing the design of the model and 50% building.

    The forward bridge and structures are finished and I am working back towards the aft bridge assembly. This is complicated by walkways and structures that are penetrated by cranes and masts so that the fit must be perfect.

    I've also built one of the side gun barbettes as can be seen. Unfortunately I don't think that I can make them turn-able at this late stage so I've left this one unglued for the photos.


  • Looking good! I must say I'm one that has little interest in this ship or class of ships in general - but I love seeing your modelling and design skills in action so I'm going to for sure follow this thread ;)

  • Glad to see the model continue here, Carl! I'm also glad to finally be able to see it. My slow connection would never load the whole page before, with all of those rather large reference images.

    Anyway, I also find the pre-Dreadnoughts very interesting. There are so many later ships available, but very few of these. (Not enough of the earlier steam naval vessels either, but that's for a different topic.)

    Another page that might be of interest to pre-Dread fans is here;

    They offer a board/tabletop naval combat game (for US$9.95) called "Queen Victoria's Navy". This is the opening paragraph from their site about the game;

    "Queen Victoria's Navy is a nautical combat war game for two players which simulates the period from 1880-1906. The game scale is 500 meters per hex and about 5 minutes per turn. Capital ships are modeled individually. Complexity is medium. Time to learn is from 30-45 minutes."

    There are several free expansions available for download as well. I was lucky enough to discover the site several years ago when all of their games were still available as free Beta downloads.

    Now all we need are a few more 1/400 models, to play an enlarged version of the game.

    Scott K.

  • Looking pretty awesome as always Carl. Glad to see the build carrying on :)

  • Thanks folks! Scott, I'll work on getting those 1:400 ships designed for you... Jaureguiberry will probably be next and possibly the Victoria after that.

    Hi Barry and Chris... hopefully one of you will let me know when I can actually post pictures over at the other site. It's too frustrating for me to keep dealing with it right now.

    I'm actually rather pleased with myself for the side barbette gun. It took a little work to get just right.


  • Hello Carl,

    afterwards I`ve read your Thread more than twice, it`s time to say that I´m very impressed =D> =D> =D>

    Not only you did a great job, no, you did it in my favourite scale :]
    I`m eagerly looking foreward

    Have a great day


  • Hey Peter, what's up? Yeah the shoulder is a b!t%* but life goes on, right? In some ways it is doing better but if I reach back a little bit, like to get into my pocket, I get 60 seconds of incredible agony. I'm just trying to do a little at a time to keep going. Glad to see you check in!


  • Here's an update for today's progress. The forwardmost of the two large crane supports is installed and I've started gimmicking around with the aft superstructure. Everything sort of fits together so it takes some work. That whole aft superstructure will be a sort of make or break sort of construction. Note that the aft crane is definitely NOT glued in place yet!


  • Construction of the Hoche has continued. I needed to install the two large cranes on the aft upper deck in order to build the aft flying walkway. The aft super structure is a complicated meshing of different parts and some curved and sloping pieces.

    The first picture is an overall shot and the others are macro mode pictures to show the detailed constuction. The last shot is an effort to show the barbette gun detail but it is too dark really to see.


  • hi carl,

    =D> WOW =D> your design as well as your build is extraordinary. I saw your model already on (sadly most of the pictures disappeared ;( ) looking forward to new pictures

    with best wishes from austria

  • Hey Raimund! Good to hear from you. To tell the truth I've been considering ending this thread in Kartonbau for lack of interest. I've found a workaround for Cardmodels and get at least a few posts. Too bad. However, since there are a few of you that seem to like this old ship I'll keep it alive until the end. 8)


  • Hi Carl,
    I don't think we have a lack of interest here, you got some 1300 clicks on your report already. Please keep going as this is very interesting. I am also just watching this thread without interfering. I am trying to learn how to design structures only using the plain cardboard without doubling with millimeters of card. OK, this would be for a 1:50 plane but this helps a lot here.


  • Hello Carl,

    all your modells are looking perfect. I'v got the Dresden as well - but yours look much better. Will keep my focus on your reports in future. Congratulations. =D> =D> =D>



    Auf der Werft: Fregatten F213 Scharnhorst und F216 Scheer

    Meine letzten Modelle:

    Z 51 der KM; Sven Johannsen, U-Boot W. Bauer; Fregatte Lübeck; Landungsunterstützungsboot Natter; Nordstjernen;
    HANSEATIC; U 2540; Vorpostenboot V 1102; BuPo Bayreuth; S.M.S. Frankfurt; Munitionstransporter Westerwald; FD Nürnberg; Fregatte Baden-Württemberg, Minensuchboote Paderborn und Passau