Retired sailor finally completes HMS Victory model with help of 3D printer
May 24, 2023
Work started on replica of Nelson’s flagship in 1969 but only finished using laser wood cutting and resin for the intricate stern decoration
A retired sailor has finally completed his half-century quest to build a model of HMS Victory – with the help of a 3D printer.
Michael Byard, who started the work on the replica of Nelson’s flagship in 1969, was delighted to put the last pieces on the five-foot long model having been worried it might never be completed.
The 82-year-old had completed the vast majority of the ship – which consists of more than 3,000 pieces most of which he cut himself – by 2020.
But as the years passed he realised he couldn’t find anyone to make the intricate stern design, sinking his hopes of completing it.
After a public appeal, several false starts and a cost of more than £500 he was finally able to find someone up to the job.
An elated Mr Byard said the finished product had been “well worth the wait”.
The father of two, from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, said: “It’s just a sense of relief now it’s done. It’s been a long journey.
“I wish it had been done three years ago, but all’s well that’s complete.”
The hobbyist is now looking forward to sitting back and admiring the ship, which sits “pride of place” in his conservatory enclosed in a bespoke museum quality case, 54 years after he first began working on it.
Recounting his journey, he said he had initially reached out to a a Chief Petty Officer help, adding: “I thought that it would be a great ending to the building of the model, to actually have the Navy involved.”
However, his hopes were dashed earlier this year when the sailor was deployed back to sea.
After further searching, he came across Neil Woods, a model maker, who offered his services to convert the 2D stern decoration drawings into 3D form.
The finishing touches set him back a hefty £550, but he considers it money well spent, adding: “I must totally extol the work done by Neil. I think it is truly fantastic and even though it cost me quite a lot of money it is totally worth it.
“He admitted to me that it was the most challenging job that he had done designing, laser cutting the wood sections and then 3D printing in resin the gallery decorations – the scrolls, the human forms and the correct balusters, so we have both learned something.
“It’s amazing what they can do.”
The former naval reserve and shipping company worker has now completed the model to a 1:48 scale.
The actual HMS Victory, launched in 1765, achieved lasting fame as the flagship of Vice-Admiral Nelson in Britain’s greatest naval victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Mr Byard’s model, which features gun ports, lifeboats and cannons, stands 4ft 11in long, 14in wide and 16in tall.
“HMS Victory has so much history and really she’s the only surviving ship of the Napoleonic era in the Royal Navy, so she’s very special,” he said.