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Beef Wellington

Poles/Masts used for flags when launching c18 Royal Navy Ships

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I'm hoping someone would have some information on the masts/poles used to hoist the flags used during the launching of late 18th century Royal Navy ships (Admiralty, Royal Standard, Union) .  I have seen many paintings (and a few photos of models) of these, but none clear enough to show any sort of detail.  I'm considering finishing a model with these featured, so would appreciate insight to allow these to be constructed - any input would be appreciated.  I'm not as concerned with the Jack and Ensign staffs which I think are clear enough and would likely be no different than when in seagoing state.


  1. Were these some sort of existing preformed mast (e.g. topgallant) repurposed, or were these just simpler flag poles round in profile for entire length?
  2. Dimensions?
  3. How would these have been secured?  - assuming some sort of temporary blocking in the partners as the dimensions are significantly smaller than the actual mast


Many thanks in advance

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1) No, they were simple poles reused for many launchings.

2) Look at contemporary paintings or models of launchings/with launch flags. You can estimate sizes from these.

3) I believe that plugs with suitable sized holes for the staffs were used. The bow staff was mounted through an eyebolt in the back of the hair bracket.


See the following examples, for instance:





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Thanks Druxey for info.  Knowing these are simple poles simplifies things and gives some latitude for "eyeballing".  I've noticed in the pictures I've seen that the poles seem to mimic the order of height of the masts.  Makes sense for the Royal Standard to be highest in the mainmast position, signifying its status.  Interesting the Admiralty flag is at the fore, and the national Union flag at the mizzen, possibly suggesting (in the Admiralty's eyes) its higher status 🙂  

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Good Evening Jason;


Druxey is quite right. I will add a little bit as well. 


Models of ships were sometimes fitted with launching flags. A short plank is fixed over the hole in the mast partners, athwarthips, with a hole cut through it. The hole is much smaller than that for the mast. The plank does not cover the mast hole completely, not being wide enough to do so, so a portion of the mast hole is visible both afore and abaft of the plank.


You may be right about the relative position of the flags, but remember that the ship was launched backwards!


All the best,


Mark P

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The Nautical Research Journal recently included an article about the launching flags for one of the models in the Naval Academy’s Rogers Collection.



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