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Comments sought: DRAFT update Modeler's Guide/Competition Handbook for ships


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The NCC is in the process of updating the Modeler's Guide and Competition Handbooks.   The following is DRAFT changes for Chapter IV - Ships.   I have previously distributed this document to my alternate head judge and to several of my senior judges and has been submitted to the NCC.  Mark P had wanted to get these inputs incorporated 'by summer', so that while they might not be in place for the convention, they could be addressed.   I am hesitant to drop this on my line judges on Friday judging night, rather would solicit some comments after some consideration.

Expanded category definitions are presented.   This change was driven in-part by changes made to the automotive categories for 2023 that explained the definitions of many categories.   This change increased the page count on the annual category list document.   Making the change here to [hopefully] clearly define the categories once rather than annually expanding the category list seems to be preferred.

The Entry Evaluation Criteria section is a list of items which I would expect my line judges to consider;  presentation, construction, detail, and painting/finishing.  There are no weights or point values assigned.   This is an expansion over the prior evaluation criteria which was dated given the advances in the hobby over the last decade.

Formatting?  The PDF looks much better before being cut into this forum format

Thanks in advance for constructive comments/

Ed Grune

NCC Head Ship Judge


IV. Ships 

The scales referenced in this section refer to the following convention:

 1/700 refers to scales 1/451 and smaller.

1/350 refers to scales 1/450 to 1/101 (and larger as applicable)

1/72 refers to scales 1/100 and larger.


Category Definitions

Aircraft Carriers: 400 (1/700) and 401 (1/350) - Entries in these categories shall consist of purpose-built or converted ships with large decks whose mission is to launch and recover aircraft.   These categories do not include other types of ships which have a flight deck or launch recovery mechanism and may be considered ‘aircraft capable’ (i.e., destroyers, CAM ships, landing craft, etc.).

Battleships, Battlecruisers, and Cruisers: 402 (1/700) and 403 (1/350) – Entries in these categories shall consist of large to medium ships whose mission is battleline, scouting, screening, and/or commerce raiding.   The time frame of these entries represents the Dreadnought to modern era.  See category 408 for earlier time frames.

Other Surface Ships, smaller than cruiser-sized:  404 (1/700) and 405 (1/350) – Entries in these categories shall consist of other medium to small ships, destroyers, escorts, patrol craft, larger landing craft and commercial ships.  A commercial ship entry may be either a purpose-built ship (cruise ship, container, bulker, etc.,) or a de-militarized ship (e.g. Liberty or Victory-type bearing shipping house markings/flags)

Sailing: 407 (all scales/eras) – Entries in this class shall consist of wind-powered craft with rigging.   Masts, yards, and rigging are expected.  The presence of sails is not required. Oar-assisted ships (galleys, bireme/trireme, etc.) are also entered in this category.  The inclusion of wood material, sail-powered ship models in this category is expected.

Early Steam and Sail: 408 (all scales) – Entries in this category shall represent the transition period of propulsion power, the time frame is from the American Civil War, through the Victorian/Edwardian period, generally ending in the Spanish-American or Russo-Japanese Wars.  This category will include ironclads, rams, and pre-dreadnoughts.

Submarines: 412 (1/700, all eras) – Entries in this category consist of small-scale submarines of either submersible or modern type.

Submarines: 413A (1/350, origins to 1945) – Entries in this category are submersible craft with characteristics similar to a surface ship; sharp bow, open conning tower, railings. 

Submarines: 413B (1/350. 1946 and later) – Entries in this category are true submarines in that they have a shape optimized for extended underwater operation; streamlined, enclosed conning tower and few if any rails.  The date separation of this and the prior category is based on design dates put forth by Dr Norman Friedman in is reference books on US submarine design

Submarines: 415 (1/72, all eras) – Entries in this category are large-scale submarines of either submersible or modern type.  

Boats, Speedboats, Motor Torpedo Boats, Motor Patrol Boats, Landing Craft, etc.: 418 (all scales/eras) – Entries in this category consist of small craft which are capable of being taken out of the water (although not required) for transit on a larger ship or other means of transport.  

Naval Technology: 420 (all scales/all eras) - Entries in this category consist of standalone naval equipment, such as gun turrets, gun or missile mounts, boat davit sets, or aircraft catapults. Chibi Maru/Egg Ships will also be considered in this category.  Entries in this category were removed from inclusion in the Miscellaneous Class (Category 860) for 2023. 

Conversions and Scratch-Built: 423 (all scales/eras)

·         A Scratch-built entry is one for which there is no commercially available kit. The modeler develops the entry using scratch-building materials and methods to create the parts and model in accordance with plans.

o    A totally 3D printed model is not considered scratch-built.

o    Commercially available detail parts (i.e., photoetch, resin, 3D print, metal) may be used in the completion of the model, but will not comprise the major portion of the scratch- built entry.

·         A conversion entry is a commercially available kit which has its class, configuration, or silhouette SUBSTANTIVELY CHANGED by the modeler, using either a commercially available conversion set, scratch-building materials or parts from another model.

·         The effectiveness or complexity of the conversion or scratch-built entry may be considered.

Basic Kit Build: 426 (all scales/eras) – A Basic Kit Build entry shall be composed of single-media only built from the contents of a kit.   Only the primary material type contained in the kit may be used in the completion of the entry. No other type of material contained in the kit may be used.  The entry must be accompanied by the instruction sheet so that adherence to the single media criteria may be confirmed.   If the instructions are not provided or the entry is determined to not be of single media construction the model will be moved to the appropriate standard category. 

Ship Vignette: 440 (all scales/eras) – A ship vignette entry is a single ship subject interacting with the environment to present a theme or ‘slice of time’.  There is no story line required in a vignette.  The totality of the presentation; model, base, finish, and action will be evaluated.   All components will be considered with equal weight. 

Ship Diorama: 442 (all scales/eras) - A ship diorama is one or more ship subjects interacting with the environment, each other, and/or an off-scene element to present an event or story.    The totality of the presentation; model(s), base, finish, action, and strength of story will be evaluated.   The strength of the story presented will be given an equivalent weight to that of the model(s).

A note about Hypothetical Ship entries, for at least the last 20 years it has been the understanding among the ship model judges that if plans have been drawn (officially or unofficially) and a modeler develops his entry in accordance with those plans, it is not hypothetical.   The model may represent a ship which never actually appeared presented configuration (example USS Lexington as a battlecruiser).


Entry Evaluation Criteria


·         A model entry may be presented as whole hull or waterline. 

·         A whole hull presentation will include the running gear (shaft(s), propeller(s), and/or rudder(s) typical of the prototype.

·         A whole hull entry may include underwater details such as: sonar domes, sea chests, intake & exhaust ports or other fittings on the prototype.   The absence of these details is not a downgrade criterion.

·         A whole hull entry may be presented on pedestals, keel blocks, cradle, or other mounting base.

·         A waterline presentation is representative of the ship visible from the waterline up.   As such no underwater details are expected or required,

·         A waterline entry may be presented without a base, on a sea-base, or a plain material base.

·         With the exception of the Vignette/Diorama categories, bases will not be evaluated as part of the model entry.

·         The simple dynamic movement (bow waves, wakes) of a waterline ship presented on a sea base will not be required for placement into a vignette/diorama category. Similarly, a ship ‘doing what a ship does’ with its basic mission, as in an aircraft carrier launching an airplane, does not necessarily place the entry into a vignette/diorama.

o    The modeler may choose to place an entry, with a possible poorer vignette/diorama quality into the vignette/diorama categories, understanding that the totality of the presentation will be evaluated.

o    The modeler may choose to place a vignette/diorama model entry into a standard category understanding that only the ship subject will be evaluated.

The evaluation of ship vignettes and dioramas will include the base and other structural components to determine the effectiveness of the presentation of the vignette ‘slice of time’ or diorama story.


Basic Construction

·         No glue strands or fingerprints

·         Flash, visible trademarks, mold seams, sink marks, ejector-pin marks, and similar molding flaws eliminated.

·         Seams filled. Details lost by filling/sanding will be re-scribed/replaced. 

·         Cylindrical items (masts, yards, gun barrels) will remain round.  They must not be sanded to an oval shape.

·         Alignment:

o    When viewed bow or stern on:

§  Periscopes, masts, and projections are vertical and aligned parallel to the central axis of the ship unless presented otherwise on the prototype.

§  If whole-hull bilge keels will appear symmetrical. 

§  Yards are aligned perpendicular to the mast axis unless presented otherwise on the prototype.   Sailing ships may have yards arrayed at ‘off angles’ to catch the wind.

§  Signal halyard lines shall run from the yardarm to the flag bag and not have visible frayed cuts at the tie off points.

§  Antenna runs shall be prototypically taut and shall run between antenna lead-in points.   Antenna insulators may be applied with drops of glue.

§  Superstructure bulkheads shall be aligned vertically and parallel with the central axis of the ship, unless otherwise on the prototype

§  Superstructure decks shall be generally parallel with the main deck, unless otherwise on the prototype.   Deck camber should be considered.

§  Railings should stand vertical, neither leaning in nor out


o    When viewed beam on:

§  Periscopes, masts, and other projections are generally vertical in appearance.    Masts may display a fore or aft rake consistent with the prototype.

§  Mast stays, lines, antennas, and other rigging will be prototypically taut and not have frayed cuts at tie-off points.  Fabric lines will be waxed or otherwise treated to minimize fuzzy appearance.

§  Superstructure bulkheads shall be aligned vertically and perpendicular with the central axis of the ship, unless otherwise on the prototype

§  Superstructure decks shall be generally parallel with the main deck, unless otherwise on the prototype.  


o    When viewed in plan (topside view)

§  Photoetched railing details should not appear wavy.

§  Gun alignment – gun barrels are aligned with the train of the turret/gun mount.  Barrels do not point off in wonky directions. Gun elevations may be different as per the prototype. 


·         Glue puddles around figure’s feet or flaked-in lines should be minimized.

·         Shiny glue beads along railing runs should be toned down and blended into the surrounding structure with a dull coat



·         All small parts (including masts, bulwarks, splinter shields, railings, and rigging) should be thinned as close to scale as possible.

·         Small details sanded off during construction should be replaced with scratch-built or aftermarket material.

·         Gun barrels and vents should be drilled out whenever possible.

·         Sailing ship rigging and lines should be correct for the era being modeled. Rigging should be appropriately taut and attached properly (no frayed or flyaway ends at tie-off points).

·         Dead-eyes and blocks should be in scale and in proportion to the rigging lines used.

·         Shell/expansion plating or oil-canning effects may be added.   They should be in scale and relate to the prototype internal structure.

·         Kit-included detail materials, with BKB/Single Media exceptions and limitations, may always be used.   Aftermarket or scratch-built detail items of diverse materials such as plastic, resin, wood, cast metal, photo-etched, 3D-printed, thread/monofilament, etc. may be used in the standard (non-BKB/Single Media categories).

·         Photo-etched detail parts:

o    Nubs and burrs where parts are removed from sprue must be eliminated.

o    Paint should cover applied brass details completely.  There should be no brass color showing at nicks, cracks, cuts, or bends.

o    Parts should not be unintentionally damaged or bent.

o    Radar screens or netting pieces will not have grids filled with paint or glue

o    Glue marks and buildups should not show. They should appear seamlessly blended.

o    Parts (e.g., rails and stanchions) should not overlap.

o    Railing runs should have logical starting/ending points (stanchion, bulkhead, gun tub, etc.,) They don’t just end in mid-air.

o    All railings should be straight when viewing the model bow to stern (no wavy railings).

o    Railings must line up horizontally and vertically where they join.

o    Corner (box) seams created when parts are bent to shape should be filled.


Painting and Finishing

·         No paint fingerprints.

·         Care should be taken with the wooden models and deck details.

o    Distracting 1:1 scale wood grain effect should be minimized.

o    End grain pieces should be finished to a similar consistency as long grain parts.

·         3D printed models and parts will be primed and finished in a manner to minimize the striation affects often present in the media.

·         Paint should have a matt or satin finish unless a different sheen is being used to create a special effect.

·         Paint should be even and smooth, exhibiting no brush marks, masking ridges, or "orange-peel" effect.  Unintentional overspray of adjacent surfaces is minimized.

·         Except for natural wood models, the model surface should be painted even if the model material is the same color as the desired finish.    A clear coat could be used but must be applied in a manner to prevent application faults. 

·         Unless appearing on the prototype, deck colors should not wrap onto the bulkheads, nor the bulkhead colors wrap onto the decks.    There should be a demarcation in paint between the surfaces. 

·         Decals:

o    Aligned properly. Unusual markings or markings placement must be documented.

o    No silvering or bubbling of decal film. Decal film should be eliminated or hidden to make the markings appear painted on.

·          Weathering should be consistent and appropriate across the entry.  But the nature of a ship and its environment may lead to inconsistent upkeep.


Edited by EFGrune
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Ed, you need to clarify in writing whether or not adding figures will move it into a vignetter/diorama category. We ship judges know it won't, but so should everybody else.

It might also be needed to say that raked masts need to be parallel with each other except when not so on the prototype.

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With regard to: Submarines: 413B (1/350. 1946 and later).  Entries in this category are true submarines in that they have a shape optimized for extended underwater operation; streamlined, enclosed conning tower and few if any rails.   

I think there are points to consider before putting a 1946 date and then the description of the category.  The post war period was an era of relatively slow changes, and many new roles were tested for the large number of fleet submarines remaining.  They didn't all get the same streamlined conversions and many retained fleet boat features but had specialized postwar roles which are often interesting modeling subjects.  A select number of fleet submarines were converted slowly to the streamlined Guppy designs, with streamlined bows, sails,, and snorkels.  The modification were through the early 1950's and some (Guppy III) were in the mid-1960's.  Some fleet boats (many) were never modified but often the deck guns were removed, and the submarines were employed for training or other purposes (e.g. Lionfish, Archerfish) and a few had little modifications but received large deck tanks to hold Regulus missiles (Carbonero) and some received the Migraine radar installations on deck. Also, some were never streamlined but did get new streamlined conning tower fairwaters (Fleet Snorkel versions).  

So, I would suggest that you might modify the category to just Post WWII.  I realize that this muddies the definition a bit without the 1946 date, but a lot of interesting ideas were tried on fleet submarines post war before submarine design settled down to the familiar streamlined tube variations in the 1960's. 

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Two things. One, in the basic kit category, it says that the model should be made out of a single media built only with what comes in the box.What if the kit comes with PE parts, such as railing? Can you not use the PE or if used is model not a "Basic Build"? also, some older kits in the instructions tell the modeler to add rigging and or railings from thread which is not included in the kit. If the modeler follows the instructions does his model not qualify as a "Basic Build"? Two. In Presentation it says "The simple dynamic movement (bow waves, wakes) of a waterline ship presented on a sea base will not be required for placement into a vignette/diorama category." I would suggest changing the phrasing. The use of 'will not be required" is awkward. Maybe just say "The evidence of simple dynamic movement (bow waves, wakes) of a waterline ship presented on a sea base will not cause a model to be moved to the vignette category." 


Edited by Ron Bell
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As written above, "A Basic Kit Build entry shall be composed of single-media only built from the contents of a kit.  Only the primary material type contained in the kit may be used in the completion of the entry." I know that in the rules it says otherwise, but according to this you could not add rails/rigging from thread even if called for in the instructions. The two need to be brought in line with each other. 

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"Why would it" said Jim Clark.


Just like OOB/BKB, we ship judges get that particular question a lot.

The theory is that if we write it into the rule, there might be a few that read and don't ask.

I know it's a silly thing to expect, but.... 😉

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Maybe it wouldn’t happen with ships, or aircraft, but there are restrictions on figures in armor because of the entry that would have 15+ figures on top of it so you can’t see the top of the vehicle.

Same with the rule that nothing on the base can be higher then the model, came about because of the entry with a canopy of trees over the model, or the vehicle on a street with two story buildings on both sides, makes it impossible to just judge the model when you can’t see it. I understand the intent (I was there when it was coming up as an issue) I think it is a little ridged, “nothing on the base can block the judges view of the model”  or something like it might be more appropriate and avoid kicking an entry into vignette/dios for something on a base that is non obstructive to the judges when the modeler didn’t want it there anyway.

Great to see this rewrite, sorry I don’t know enough about ships to really add/critique anything, but kudos to Ed for asking the membership (and your senior judges) for suggestions and ideas!

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A few thoughts:

Do we need an additional comment in the Early Steam and Sail category that ships built during that time and qualifying for this category will still be in category regardless of the calendar date?  Quite a few ships that fit here served past the launch of Dreadnought and into WW I.  This is the really the same issue mentioned with regard to submarines that were built pre-1946 but served into the 50's and 60's.  Whether we go with construction date or service date should be consistent between all classes.

OK, here I may be looking for a problem that doesn't exist, but here we go.  in Category 404 and 405 we need to be careful about mentioning size in the description.  As ship sizes increased over the years many early ships were physically smaller than later ships considered to be a smaller type (e.g. early cruisers versus modern destroyers).  Ticonderoga class cruisers and Spruance class destroyers are on the same hull and almost the same weight but would be in different classes.  Ship designation should clearly be emphasized as the primary factor if size is mentioned.

Under Detailing, who determines whether drilling out a gun barrel is practical and whether a builder should be dinged for not doing it?  I think we should stay with the concept that doing something like this should merit extra credit if done well but be a neutral item if not done.


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