USS Bonhomme Richard 1:132 by Monogram

Joined
Aug 23, 2017
Messages
111
Points
18

Location
central Florida
#1
Last week while searching through model ship listings on ebay I discovered this kit of the Bonhomme Richard by Monogram. Up til then I was unaware of the existence of a plastic kit of this ship. Being from a Navy family and having read in my youth about John Paul Jones I was naturally interested in having a model of of the Bonhomme Richard. So I bought it. It was only then that I discovered that Aurora, the original manufacturer of this kit, had done a poor job of research for this model. A certain amount of leeway must be given as there is no accurate documentation of the details of this ship. It is known that it was originally a French East India Company armed merchant ship built in 1765 and after four voyages to the far east was sold to the King of France and presented to JPJ to use in the Continental Navy in the war against England. There are a couple of models in the US Naval Academy Museum which are probably as accurate as any model of the Bonhomme Richard and the Monogram model isn't very close. But, it is what it is, and I plan to build it with a few modifications to improve it's looks. Mainly I will be replacing the figurehead, a woman wearing a long flowing dress, with that of a lion pouncing on it's prey. I may replace the yards with sails attached to bare poles and a few other cosmetic changes. Unfortunately the area of the ship that looks the least like the models at the Naval Academy is the stern. Where the modelers at Aurora got their ideas for molding the stern galleries is a mystery to me as that area of the model doesn't resemble any picture of any sailing ship of that era. Unfortunately I am not a skilled enough fabricator of scratch built parts to make an acceptable replacement of the stern galleries. So I think I am stuck with what the kit has provided. When my build starts I will add to this thread so anyone interested can follow my progress. Maybe in the meantime someone will have some suggestions regarding how I might make improvements to the stern of the ship.
 

Graham

Active Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2016
Messages
375
Points
43

#2
Hi Bob, she fought the Battle of Flambrough Head which is a rocky headland in my home county of Yourkshire. I (and hundreds of others) used to wreck dive this coast and there was always a far-flung hope to one day come across the wreck, but nobody ever has. There are some paintings of the battle (Google - battle of flamborough head painting) and as a point of interest there is also a commemorative plaque on the cliff top at Flambrough Head (Google - flambrough head plaque). Good luck with your build.
 
Joined
Oct 3, 2017
Messages
64
Points
8

Location
Groton, CT
#3
I have the original kit by Aurora, and have been considering a plan to make replacement parts for the quarter galleries and transom from resin. It will be tricky but doable. It is simply a rough idea right now.

Bill
 
Joined
Aug 23, 2017
Messages
111
Points
18

Location
central Florida
#4
The more I read and research the more things I find grossly wrong with this model, at least as the Bonhomme Richard. I think it can be built as a reasonable looking sailing ship but there are way too many needed changes that would require skills beyond my capabilities to call it the Bonhomme Richard. So far I can't find any aftermarket parts other than the figurehead that would help to make it look closer to the real thing either. I think it can be built into a nice fantasy ship so that is my plan as things stand now.
 
Joined
Oct 3, 2017
Messages
64
Points
8

Location
Groton, CT
#5
The problem is that no one knows exactly what the real ship looked like. Every model is a facsimile, someone's interpretation. Change that which you believe might be wrong, keep the rest.

Bill
 
Joined
Aug 23, 2017
Messages
111
Points
18

Location
central Florida
#6
WilliamMorrison post_id=24498 time=1511029315 user_id=4847 said:
The problem is that no one knows exactly what the real ship looked like. Every model is a facsimile, someone's interpretation. Change that which you believe might be wrong, keep the rest.

Bill
I think the real problem in this case is that Aurora, the original creators of the molds, did little or no research into the details of their model. The models at the US Naval Academy Museum predate the creation of this model and although those models may not precisely represent the details of the Bonhomme Richard it is generally agreed that they are very close in appearance to the real ship. It seems to me that it would not have been any harder to create a figure of a lion on the bow of the ship than a female human. It also would have been just as easy to create more typical stern galleries. Out of all the paintings and models of period ships I have researched none are anywhere near the appearance of those on this model. I wish I had the talent to make more extensive changes to this model but if I did I would be better off starting from scratch as there is so much that is incorrect. Any change that I make to the stern will be because I think what they produced is so darned ugly it cries for some level of modification. I have decided that upon completion I will leave the name off the model and display it as a generic 18th century warship.
Now back to the build. I have attached the figurehead and decks and based on a model I found in google images I have painted the hull and masts.

build progress 001.jpg build progress 002.jpg build progress 003.jpg build progress 004.jpg
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Joined
Aug 23, 2017
Messages
111
Points
18

Location
central Florida
#7
Here's my first attempt at building new quarter galleries out of wood. The trick will be to duplicate the effort on the other side.

quarter galleries 001.jpg quarter galleries 002.jpg
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Joined
Oct 3, 2017
Messages
64
Points
8

Location
Groton, CT
#8
Bob,

I agree with you in many ways, and you are doing an excellent job with a very sub par kit. It is interesting that all the model kits that purport to be the Bonhomme Richard share those ugly quarter galleries. The Aurora, Pyro, Heller, and Aeropiccola kits might differ in minor details, but they have similar approaches to interpreting the ship's appearance. However, even the different models at the Naval Academy differ, even in the quarter galleries.

Perhaps the kit designers should have consulted Boudriot!

Bill
 
Joined
Oct 3, 2017
Messages
64
Points
8

Location
Groton, CT
#9
It's interesting that the Aurora/Monogram/Revell model, the Aeropiccola plank on Bulkhead kit, and the Pyro and Heller kits seem to be based on the famous drawing of the Bonhomme Richard by F. Muller. The hull configuration, the head rails, starboard quarter gallery, and the transom depicted in the drawing are nearly identical to these models. I would like to learn more about that drawing because these manufacturers seem to have used it as a reference point.

Bill
 
Joined
Aug 23, 2017
Messages
111
Points
18

Location
central Florida
#10
I checked out images of the aeropiccola Bonhomme Richard and you are right. I wonder which one came first because it's obvious that somebody did some copying.
 
Joined
Oct 3, 2017
Messages
64
Points
8

Location
Groton, CT
#11
Bob,

I just checked a coffee table book published by Collier in 1918, The United States Navy from the Revolution to Date, by Frances J. Reynolds, that contains the drawing by Muller. So, that drawing is at least 100 years old. I wonder what Muller used as his model or as his references, but Aurora, Pyro, Heller, and Aeropiccola certainly had access to the drawing; their models are identical to Muller's drawing. So . . . who is right? I will go with Boudriot.

Bill
 
Joined
Aug 23, 2017
Messages
111
Points
18

Location
central Florida
#14
Well, it's actually pretty simple. Since this model came with what most consider overstated details such as the wood grain on the hull and decks all I did was apply a thin wash of Model Master semi-gloss black paint, wait a minute or two and then wipe it off with a rag made from an old T-shirt. If it looked a little too heavy I wiped again wit a bit of mineral spirits on the rag. Then repeat as necessary.
 
Joined
Aug 23, 2017
Messages
111
Points
18

Location
central Florida
#16
I think maybe I have discovered a way to remodel the stern of the model to more closely resemble the models of the Bonhomme Richard that are on display at the U.S. Naval Academy Museum. One model in my stash is the Heller Le Glorieux, a 74 gun ship of the line. The appearance of this ship closely resembles that of the Bonhomme Richard with the big exception of the number of guns carried. The stern galleries look very close to what I would like my Bonhomme Richard's stern to look. I recently acquired a resin casting kit and so far there hasn't been anything I wanted to duplicate so it has sat unopened. I think maybe I will try to make a resin casting of the parts from the Heller kit that make up the stern of the ship and graft the resulting pieces to the Monogram kit. Even though the Le Glorieux was a larger ship the difference in scale 1:132 to 1:150 makes the parts from the Heller kit look close to the correct dimensions. I will report the results when the attempt is made.
 
Joined
Aug 23, 2017
Messages
111
Points
18

Location
central Florida
#18
If my attempt at casting resin parts to modify the stern of this kit is a success I may offer them up for sale for just enough to cover the cost of the resin. I'm not sure how many modelers have this kit and never attempted to finish it due to the poor treatment of the stern.