I think of Jules Verne's classic story of Captain Nemo and his marvelous submarine vessel as the first science fiction novel, in the sense that we think of science fiction today. True, there were other earlier books that are often cited as the progenitors of science fiction, but they are mostly either fantasy or very obscure. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea set a standard for science fiction. And, of course, the Nautilus is a natural subject for a modeler.

Both my Nautilus models were built a long time ago. The first was built around 1972 and the second in 1976 (while I was stationed in Italy - amazingly it and the other models I built there made it back in one piece). At the time I had little in the way of references beyond the description of the Nautilus in Verne's book and a few pictures of the ship as it appeared in the Disney movie adaptation. The Disney version is the one most commonly recognized and it is how we think of the Nautilus now, even though it isn't anything close to Verne's version, so I decided that my model should look like the Disney movie version. But instead of building an exact replica of Disney's Nautilus, I used the dimensions for the Nautilus as given in the novel (scaled appropriately, of course). This produced a strange hybrid model that everyone immediately recognizes as the Nautilus, even though it is much longer in proportion to its beam than the Disney version. Oddly, no one has ever commented on the differences. The model looks right, and in many ways looks better than the Disney Nautilus, which was rather short and stubby.

The second model is entirely scratchbuilt, mostly from Plastruct sheet plastic. I am quite satisfied with the way it turned out, though if I were doing it now I would probably try to put rivets on it and paint it a less absolute black. This was one of two models I entered in my first IPMS National competition (1978 in Atlanta) and it was awarded a second place in the scratchbuilt ship category.

The Nautilus Models

1/96 Scale
The Nautilus
CLICK HERE for more pictures of Nautilus and a discussion of the techniques used in its construction.

(Click on thumbnail picture for large picture)

Dan and the Nautilus Old Nautilus

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All text, illustrations, photographs and design are 2000-2013 Dan Thompson, except where otherwise noted.