My ship Catalogue

Classic Ship Models 2


Amerigo Vespucci in New York Harbour


Italian "Marina Militaire" Training Vessel

The "Amerigo Vespucci" was the second of two training vessels built for the Regia Marina after a design by Colonel Francesco Rotundi of the Italian Navy Engineering Corps who was inspired by the late 18th century 74 gun ships of the line.  The first was the "Cristoforo Colombo" which was decommissioned after the 2nd world war but the "Amerigo Vespucci" was retained as a cadet training vessel and is still in service.  She is classified as a Tall Ship and undertakes regular voyages in the Mediterranean, European waters, North and South America and in the Pacific besides participating in the Tall Ship races.

Built in Naples in 1930 and launched in 1931, the vessel is a fully rigged three master with steel hull. Specifications are:-

Hull length - 82.4 m (270.34 ft), Length overall - 101 m (331ft), Max width - 15.5m (51 ft) , Draft - approx 7 m (23 ft) and a displacement of 4146 tons.

Motive Power - 2 diesel 4 stroke 8 cylinder FIAT B 308 engines providing a speed of 10 knots.

The masts are 50, 54 and 43 metres high (forrard to aft) which carry 26 sails totalling 2824 sq metres providing a sailing speed of 12 knots under relatively severe conditions.

The rigging consists of 30 kms of hemp rope with only the mooring lines synthetic to comply with International Regulations. The deck planking of teak is replaced every three years.

The crew comprises of 16 Officers, 70 non-commissioned officers and 200 sailors.  Midshipmen from the Naval Academy join during the summer lifting the ship's complement to around 450.




This model is the smaller model version of the "Amerigo Vespucci" available from the Italian kit maker Mantua Sergal.  With a scale of 1:100 she has a remarkable amount of deck fittings and rigging.  Although sails are available, it was decided to show the model as being "in port"to retain the views of the intricate rigging.  Mantua advised painting the hull as shown in the photograph rather than having the less interesting black boot topping as per the real vessel.  It enhances the look as does the gold on most of the deck housings, the Samson Posts, the funnel and the vents. She has eleven small craft which include the lifeboats, motor boats and a whaler all housed on davits with two larger power boats, a diesel boat and the Commodore's launch set on cradles amidships.

Modellers need to be careful to study the instructions and the order of work as there are some steps which are better left to a later date. Nevertheless it is an interesting, challenging and rewarding model for the more experienced model maker. 

My model was commenced in March 2009 and completed in July 2010 with an estimated construction time of 1150 hrs.  Mantua now provide Balsa wood as an alternative for the first of the two hull plankings as well as limewood, but I preferred the latter. As construction progressed, it became clear that having a stock of spare fittings and timbers was essential - there being little margin for error in the content provided. Similarly, some items required fashioning from raw timber not present in the kit. Overcoming such situations is half the interest in model making using basic kits. However, I sit in admiration of those model ship makers who make such brilliant, authentic and accurate masterpieces from 'scratch'.

Model specifications: Length overall 1000 mms - Breadth 152 mms - Height 570 mms

For the interest of model makers, below are shown some photos of the various stages of construction

Amerigo Vespucci - hull complete with decking and the start of deck housings etc.

Amerigo Vespucci - deck fittings complete

Amerigo Vespucci - before masting

Amerigo Vespucci - foredeck before masting

Amerigo Vespucci - stern view before masting