The Commodore (published 1945) is a Horatio Hornblower novel written by C. S. Forester. It was published in the United States under the title Commodore Hornblower.
"In this ninth installment in the Hornblower series, the incomparable Horatio Hornblower, recently knighted and settled in as squire of the village of Smallbridge, has been designated commodore of his own squadron of ships, led by the two-decker Nonsuch and bound for the Baltic. It is 1812, and Hornblower has been ordered to do anything and everything possible, diplomatically and militarily, to protect the Baltic trade and to stop the spread of Napoleon's empire into Sweden and Russia. Though he has set sail a hero, one misstep may ruin his chances of ever becoming an admiral. Hostile armies, seductive Russian royalty, nautical perils such as ice-bound bays, assassins in the imperial palace--Hornblower must conquer all before he can return home to his beloved new wife and son, as his instructions are to sacrifice every man and ship under his command rather than surrender ground to Napoleon."
I had built a model of a 74-gun ship, the Gorgon, in the Admiralty style. The class of sailing warship known as the "74" (because it carried an armament of seventy four guns) is a favorite of mine because it was the most common ship-of-the-line during the Napoleonic wars and because if figures prominently in many of the nautical novels that are a major inspiration for my ship modeling.
Since the Admiralty model of Gorgon did not include rigging, guns or most of the other furnishings of a sailing ship of war, I still felt an interest in modeling those aspects of a 74. But after the long time and large amount of effort put into Gorgon, I wasn’t really interested in building a complete ship model, either.
Fortunately, an alternative occurred to me. For many years, a manufacturer of wood ship models has been selling a cutaway model of HMS Victory. This is essentially a section from the middle of the ship that includes the mainmast. I had all the leftover mast, yards, cannon, etc, from the kit that I’d used to build Gorgon, so I thought, why not?
What I didn’t have was a hull. I scratchbuilt the hull section using plastic sheet and strips. The hull frames were photocopied from "The 74-Gun Ship `Bellona’" which were used to make card stock templates. Those templates were used to cut frames from sheet plastic. The frames were planked with strips of styrene.
Different sizes of strips were used for the wales and square strip was used for some of the smaller upper wales.
The bottom of the hull was “coppered” with rectangles of .010” sheet. Gunports were cut in the sides and framed with more styrene strips.
I built each deck as a complete, separate subassembly. The layout was based on the plans in "The 74-Gun Ship `Bellona’." I cut a sheet of plastic the size of the deck and then cemented various sizes of square Evergreen styrene strip to make the beams, carlings, and ledges.
The deck was then flipped over and the top was planked with styrene strips.
The hanging knees were cut from sheet styrene. The lower futtock riders were constructed from sheet styrene box style, that is with sides and a top cut from thin sheet.
Hatches were cut to size from Grandt Line ship model grating. I made the coamings from .040" strip.
The railings at the break of the quarterdeck were made from the railings in the kit. The ladders between decks were made using a metal jig to get the spacing and angle of the treads right.
I airbrushed the hull and decks with Testor's Model Master paints in colors appropriate for a British warship of the period. That included a black hull with yellow stripes and a copper lower hull.
The inside bulwarks of the hull between decks were painted insignia red (No. 1705), as were the gunport lids. I painted hatch coamings, ladders, railings and riding bits a flat brown.
The riding bits were made from square strip.
I placed typical naval stores on the lower decks, including a spare anchor, cable and a buoy. The ballast rock in the very bottom of the hull is aquarium gravel, painted gray (since it came in a florescent green color). The barrels are model railroad items that were just the right size for the large barrels used to store water, beer and rum.
Ringbolts were made from annealed wire and cemented into holes drilled in the sides and decks. The cannon were used from the Heller kit with little modification. One change that was made was to shave off the round bumps that represented the ends of the axles on the outside of the carriage’s trucks (wheels). New axles cut from styrene rod replaced them.
Gunport lids were cut from sheet styrene and fitted with plastic strip hinges. Channels were scratchbuilt. The deadeyes are cast metal fittings while I made the deadeye chains from annealed wire.
The mainmast parts from the Heller kit were assembled. This included the lower mast, the top mast, the topgallant mast, the yards and the fighting tops.
When the paint was all thoroughly dry, the model was rigged with waxed line, black for the standing rigging and brown for the running rigging. I made blocks from strip styrene since, at the time, I could not find any commercial blocks the right size for the model’s scale of 1/150. The rigging is standard for a 74-gun ship, c. 1800, and was in accordance with "Steel's Elements of Mastmaking, Sailmaking and Rigging."
I usually build my ship models to represent some ship from one of the nautical series that I enjoy reading. I had built models based on the Bolitho series by Alexander Kent and the Drinkwater series by Richard Woodman. It seemed time to have a model that represented a ship from the Horatio Hornblower series by C. S Forester, the series that all the others emulate.
Unfortunately, in the stories, Hornblower only commanded one 74-gun ship, H.M.S. Sutherland, and Sutherland was a captured Dutch ship so my cutaway of a typical British 74 could not very well be her. Instead, the model is H.M.S. Nonsuch, Hornblower’s flagship when he was a Commodore in the Baltic. Nonsuch was commanded by Hornblower’s loyal former first lieutenant, Captain Bush.