- These are generally more complex models, so might not be suitable for beginners
- These model kits are suitable for adults or for the whole family to assemble together
- You’ll need to buy glue and paint separately
Take to the seas with these wonderfully-detailed model kits for adults
Naval vessels have always held a special place in our hearts. There’s something romantic and adventurous about setting off into the sunset – for a long time in our history, travel by sea was the last big adventure before air travel connected the world.
Model kits of ships and boats tend to be more complex than other types of vehicle as sailing ships and battleships are much more detailed machines. This makes these kits a perfect purchase for adults, either as a gift for an enthusiastic model builder or a naval history aficionado. While they will require some time and patience to assemble (as they can have hundreds of individual pieces), the result is a fantastic model that can be displayed and admired for years to come.
Most of these kits are fairly low cost (under £30) which is a great deal considering the fun you get from them. They do require some supplies to be purchased separately though (glue, paint, tools, etc).
1. RMS Titanic 3D Puzzle
Take the helm of the ill-fated RMS Titanic, possibly one of the most famous vessels to ever sail the seas. Its maiden voyage on the 10th of April 1912 lasted only 5 days before it struck an iceberg en route to New York. It’s estimated that around 1,500 of the 2,224 souls aboard lost their lives that day, making it the deadliest peacetime sinking of a cruise ship to date.
This 3D jigsaw model from CubicFun offers you a curious piece of naval history and is easily assembled as it’s constructed from foam boards that clip together without the need for glue. As each of the pieces is appropriately coloured, you won’t have to paint it after assembly either. One lovely little feature is the inclusion of 85 LED bulbs when constructing the model, which then light up the ship when completed. This makes is a fun project to build and a unique light source for any room it’s displayed in.
- Length: 89cm
- Pieces: 266
- Material: Foam
2. HMS Victory Kit
The HMS Victory was a first-rate ‘ship of the line’ used by the Royal Navy from the 1750s to early 1820s. History buffs will know it from the Battle of Trafalgar where it served as the flagship in Lord Nelson’s fleet. The designation “first-rate” was used by the Royal Navy to indicate the largest ‘ships of the line’ (which was the type of warships designed for the “line of battle” naval tactic).
This is a beautifully detailed model and a wonderful style of sailing ship that often springs to mind when thinking about older naval ships. With an impressive 269 pieces, this is definitely more of a project to complete than some of the others, but the result is exquisite.
This would make a wonderful gift and a lovely addition to any collection. The finished model will look great displayed in any room.
- Size: 40cm x 33cm
- Pieces: 269
- Material: Plastic
3. UGears Trimaran 3D Puzzle
This lovely little 3D wooden model of a trimaran (also known as a double-outrigger) is a great choice for anyone who has an interest in engineering or sailing. The wooden parts click together, so don’t require glue or tools to assemble.
The charm of this model is that it has been designed with a skeleton frame so you can see inside after assembly. This lets you understand how the key components work as you play around with the moving parts. This is a great gift that has been specifically designed for adults – it’s part puzzle and part educational model that’s an absolute joy to assemble.
- Length: 41cm
- Pieces: 237
- Material: Wood
4. HMSC Snowberry
The HMSC Snowberry is a corvette-class warship deployed by the British Navy during the Second World War. Corvette-class vessels are typically the smallest to be classed as a “warship”, and are used for patrolling key waters or escorting convoys. They’re light, faster but carry heavy armaments which means they’re a great reactionary vessel. The HMSC Snowberry served most of the Second World War in the Royal Canadian Navy (on loan from the British Navy), as a tanker escort, protecting critical oil tankers from German U-boats.
This is the most complex of all the model ships in this guide, with just over 500 pieces. The kit manufacturer, Revell, grade their models on a scale of 1 to 5 (in terms of difficulty) and this is a 5. While it can be completed by more amateur model builders, it’s recommended that perhaps you start with a simpler model first. But, for those who have more experience (and a steadier hand), this could be a great challenge for you to get stuck into.
- Length: 43cm
- Pieces: 501
- Material: Plastic
5. Patrol Torpedo Boat Kit
This is a great 1:72 scale model of a modern US Navy Torpedo Patrol Boat which will challenge intermediate to advanced model builders. The Patrol Torpedo Boat is a small, quick and often cheaply produced reactionary vessel that was deployed during the Second World War. Favoured for its manoeuvrability, it would be deployed against warships and tankers, or even retrofitted as a Gun Boat to counter threats from smaller craft.
Revell are a great manufacture of model kits for all levels of expertise and do a good job of grading them – this kit is a 4 (out of 5) in terms of difficulty, which means experience of gluing and painting intricate models is recommended. The result is a wonderfully detailed model that’s an excellent recreation of the PT 588.
- Length: 34cm
- Pieces: 176
- Material: Plastic
6. Nagato-class Battleship Kit
Nagato-class Battleships were dreadnought battleships commissioned by the Japanese Imperial Navy during World War I (although they weren’t completed until after the war). The Nagato (the lead ship of the class) was home to Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto during the attack on Pearl Harbour and both ships of the class were present during the Battle of Midway.
After the Second World War, the US used the battle-worn ship as the target during nuclear weapon tests (they had captured her just before the end of the war), where she survived two nuclear blasts with only minor damage. However, damage sustained during the initial capture caused her to list and eventually capsize. The wreck was opened to divers in the 1990s is considered to be one of the best diving sites in the world.
This is a wonderful piece of wartime history. This 3D puzzle kit doesn’t require gluing as the metal parts clip together and come with full instructions. With 430 parts, it’s definitely a project to complete, but with patience and a steady hand the result will be a detailed model that you can take pride in completing.
- Length: 12cm
- Pieces: 168
- Material: Stainless Steel & Brass
7. German Battleship Bismark
The German battleship Bismark was one of two Bismark-class battleships reconstructed by the German Navy during the Second World War. The ship entered into an engagement with two British vessels, resulting in the sinking of the British battlecruiser, HMS Hood. This prompted a strong response from the Allied forces, with the Royal Navy sending dozens of warships after the Bismark. A few days later, the vessel was critical hit by torpedoes deployed by bombers from a British carrier. The next morning, two British battleships and two heavy cruisers caught up with the Bismark and she was heavily damaged in the engagement – forcing her crew to scuttle her.
This is another advanced model – this one has 295 pieces, so again, aimed at more intermediate or advanced model builders. But it does have an interesting backstory and the final model is detailed, making the time and effort to assemble well worthwhile.
- Length: 36cm
- Pieces: 295
- Material: Plastic