Heller 1/125 Tuna Fishing Boat Armor

Heller's 1/125 scale "Thonier Armor" is one of a number of kits of small sailing vessels produced by this French manufacturer - others include the "Sinagot" and Sardagne" representing even smaller vessels in 1/60 scale (the latter two are a lot harder to find nowadays, alas).
This kit represents a French tuna fishing boat (thonier) of the "dundee" type, with a hull length of 19m and about about 50-60 tons displacement, dating from the early 20th century. Armor is the vessel's name (it's painted on the bow).

Despite its small size (about 20cm long, including the bowsprit, when completed) this is an excellent kit. The hull and deck are beautifully moulded with plank and wood grain detail and internal structural detail on the hull bulwarks, and all of the fittings and smaller parts - such as the winch, anchor and bell - are sharply moulded and highly detailed, with minimal flash and mould lines. Although I don't know the kit's original release date, this must surely be one of Heller's later efforts, when their kit designers actually understood sailing vessels! In some ways it's a shame the kit wasn't produced to a larger scale, like the other Heller fishing boats.

Small, simple and without too much rigging, Heller's Armor would be an ideal introduction to modelling sailing ships. It doesn't have the elegance of a clipper or the grandeur of a ship-of-the-line, but is nevertheless an attractive and distinctive-looking vessel, particularly if you build it with its red sails unfurled. I'm not sure if this kit is still in production (given Heller's recent financial issues), but it's not too hard to find on the second-hand market.

For an even smaller sailing boat kit, see Zvezda's "Mediaeval Lifeboat".

Hull halves. Note the very detailed representation of the hull planking.

One of two parts sprues, this has the deck and display stand.

Deck closeup.

The other sprue, with spars and smaller fittings.

Closeup of the ship's boat, grating and anchor.

Closeup of the mast and some of the fittings.

Sails, decals, rigging thread and chain.

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