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The Smithsonian's collection of watercraft plans

The Smithsonian's collection of watercraft plans, maintained by the History of Technology Division of the National Museum of American History, is a valuable resource for the maritime historian, the student of naval architecture, other scholars, the model builder, and craftspeople. To make this collection more accessible to the public, black-line reproductions of many of the plans are offered for sale. The following three publications contain descriptions of plans and instructions for ordering large-scale copies; these catalogs are only available by writing to the following address:



All orders are handled by mail. Please send your order to:

Ship Plans

Smithsonian Institution

PO Box 37012

NMAH 5004 / MRC 628

Washington, DC 20013-7012 USA

EDIT - Guess it would help if I included the link....


The catalogs and plans belonging to the Smithsonian Institution are copyrighted and may not be reproduced in any form without prior written permission.

1.  Ship Plan List (American merchant ships and small craft) - $20.00

This 250-page catalog lists plans of historic American watercraft -- bark canoes, clipper ships, fishing schooners, skipjacks, sidewheel steamers, harbor tugs, and many others.

Among the plans listed in the Ship Plan List are those published by Howard Chapelle.  Unpublished plans by Howard  Chapelle are also listed. These include plans for historic yachts, pilot schooners, and small craft.

This catalog also lists plans from:

  • The Historic American Merchant Marine Survey (HAMMS) of 1936 -- 1937
  • The William Maxwell Blake Collection of Drawings of Far East Watercraft
  • Miscellaneous commercial fishing vessels built in Seattle, Washington, 1910 -- 1930
  • Simplified Boatbuilding: The Flat-Bottom Boat, by Harry V. Sucher
  • Simplified Boatbuilding: The V-Bottom Boat, by Harry V. Sucher

2. The Smithsonian Collection of Warship Plans - $15.00

This 129-page list includes plans for American sailing and early steam warships from the mid-18th century to 1900. Many are from Howard Chapelle's book The History of the American Sailing Navy. Some ordnance drawings also are included. This new edition contains more than 50 pages of new designs, including historic naval ship plans and drawings by Merritt A. Edson, Jr.


3. The Maritime Administration Collection of Ship Plans (1939 -- 1970) - $15.00

This 70-page list includes ship design plans recently acquired from the Maritime Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation. Fifty-five vessel designs are represented, including plans for World War II Liberty and Victory ships, cargo vessels, passenger ships, tankers, container ships, and other designs from the 1950s and 1960s. The collection also
includes 60 sheets of design plans for the famous superliner SS United States.

Walter Biles likes this

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Thanks for the reference lists Wayne.  That site is a bit cumbersome to navigate.  Your lists have made it easy to narrow the search.

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