Provenance of Kit
There has been a lot of discussion on what ship this kit is supposed to represent. What is clear is that the kit is based on Plates XXXI and XXXII of Chapman's Architectura, with the only details being that these plates are included in the section of "Privateers":
Euromodel states it's a French vessel that was launched in 1747. However, it appears that the ship at the following links is likely the "true" La Renommee for that period:
From what I've read on a Russian ship model forum, in Boudriot's research, Admiral Paris, a Frenchman, in his Souvenirs de la Marine (which was published in 1879), was copying over plans from Chapman's Architectura and mistakenly labeled it the Le Renommee, when he was intending to say something about the anchors or stern or something being similar to the Le Renommee. That mistake has been passed down, and may have been passed down into this kit.
Then there is Keith Julier, in The Period Ship Handbook 2, who believed that the kit represents a frigate of the same name that was built in 1793. That vessel only had 32 guns, while the kit supplies 40. It clearly can't be that ship because the Architectura was published in 1768.
Then there are others that think it's actually a Swedish ship named the "Jupiter" because of the figurehead and certain stern details. On page 106 of Wolfram zu Mondfeld's "Historic Ship Models" is the exact picture of the stern which is labeled as the Swedish privateer from 1760. The German site below, as well as a Russian model ship forum I came across, also think it's a Swedish ship. I can't find anything on a Swedish ship named the Jupiter though, and a query to the Digitalt Museum in Sweden came up empty.
I'm by no means a naval historian at all, but all this is very interesting. One thing I was thinking was whether there were particular features of this ship that are uniquely French, Swedish, Danish or other. I would surmise that you could look to plainly visible things like the figurehead, ornamentation, flags, etc. Then there are structural items such as how the stern is constructed, height between the decks (for example, I learned in researching the Unicorn and Lyme that they were based off of French frigates, which had a lower height between the decks than seen in the typical English ship of that time, as well as had shorter railing, etc. on the quarterdecks). I thought maybe the open stern would provide a clue, but Plate III shows a very similar but smaller (and unfortunately, unknown) ship, and Plate LI shows another with a similar open stern that is of an English East Indiaman.
One clue might be the waist. I've done a lot of research on the waist of ships because the Corel Unicorn clearly uses the wrong waist for a British frigate of that time. From the Gardiner books on frigates, the waist of ships in the 18th century was generally open during the early to middle part of the century, and gradually started closing up as the 19th century approached. I think this principle clearly applied to British ships, and likely French ships as well (I don't have any books on French frigates, but flipping through the Ancre monographs for ships at the time, all seemed to have similar open-waisted ships to the British). Gardiner seems to have essentially limited his studies to British frigates, as his last book, the "Sailing Frigate," uses pictures from the NMM. In that book, he shows the development of the filling in of the waist, and shows a similar closed waist with row of light gratings similar to Plate XXXII with the Lacedaemonian (SLR0674 from the NMM), a ship that was circa 1812:
What's curious is that Plate XXXII shows a very closed waist which wasn't used by the British until the beginning of the 19th century. So, I don't think Chapman copied it from the British. Then take a look at the Venus, an actual Swedish frigate that was designed by Chapman and built in 1783 (it was captured by the Russians in 1789):
A smaller ship for sure, and obviously post-dates the Architectura. But look at the general design with the gunport rows, small windows at the quarterdeck, the name badge just under the row of windows on the stern, and in particular, the waist and main deck with the rows of gratings (again, not seen in British frigates until the beginning of the 19th century). It looks like the little younger sister to Plate XXXI!
All this is not at all meant to disparage Euromodel. The kit is clearly based on, and true to, Chapman's plans. As we know, actual ships sometimes differed from the plans, ships were captured and converted, etc. In any event, whether Chapman himself designed the ship in Plates XXXI and XXXII or copied it from elsewhere is anyone's guess, but I would lean towards this being a Chapman design given the early adoption of the closed waist and line of gratings. Now, whether the ship in Plates XXXI and XXXII was in fact built or not is also anyone's guess. And does this make this a Swedish ship?
In the grand scheme of things, does any of this matter? The kit makes for a very nice model of a mid-18th century frigate with really beautiful lines that I will have a lot of fun building - regardless of whether I put a French or Swedish flag on her in the end
Edited by Landlubber Mike, 23 September 2016 - 10:07 AM.