What are your best tips and tricks to model ship building?

What are your best tips and tricks to model ship building?

My model ship skills are the same as ~35 years ago with this 1/400 Heller Tirpitz.

Would like to try a ship model again at some point but realized I haven’t got much of a construction plan for this type of model.

Any articles, comments or video links are appreciated.


Breakdown the build into smaller builds:

  • Hull
  • Superstructure (it could also be in parts)
  • Armament

Workout each build and finish one by one, do not consider that you can paint the whole ship, or weather the ship etc.

My favorite youtube channel on ships is this, some of the best explaining on the process of the build



…the good old Heller 1/400 Tirpitz! About 35 years ago, that was about my “Heller”-age, too, for the first approach. At that time, I thought they were looking absolutely marvelous…

I would recommend to start with something like a Heller kit again, maybe a destroyer, then one of their Panzerschiffe possibly. Those are basic models, but with generally correct lines and dimensions; comparably cheap and you can try techniques and procedures. I did that about 20 years ago, restarting my modeling hobby after a roughly 15 year break. After I was getting comfortable again with how to approach a big ship model, soon those Heller kits were not thrilling me any longer, and I went on to 1/350, PE and all the ‘good stuff’.
Other than that, exactly as Nikos says.



As Nikos and Jan have already mentioned, start off with something simple before you then go to adding PE and resin/3D printed AM parts on the next build. Break down the build into smaller builds and paint sub-assemblies don’t try and paint the whole at the end it doesn’t work!

If painting a camo scheme (US Navy measure) see if you can find an official drawing online and then check against photos of the actual ship in case they differ then size the drawing if it matches the photos to the size of your model on a computer screen. It will help align the camo scheme on the model. Do check photos though, case in point one ship I was doing was in a measure (can’t remember of the top of my head which) but when checking a photo of the ship part of the camo was missing from the top of the bridge and gun director, run out of paint, no ladder available? For me that’s part of the fun, doing the research and finding photos of the ship at a point in time.

Also don’t forget to ask questions here (like your question here), lots of very knowledgeable and happy to help people here.


There is one thing to consider if building the Heller Panzershiffe. The Graf Spee is okay but needs added detail. The Lutzow and the Scheer hulls are grossly mishappen, especially in the forecastles. I have built the Graf Spee and am working on a conversion into the Deutschland. I will also convert the Spee into an early Admiral Scheer. With planning, the Heller kits can be made into nice models.


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