CharlieZardoz

Frigate USS United States stern detail

107 posts in this topic

Greetings everyone! I've been doing research trying to find any info about the distinctive details of the 1797 USS United States, specifically the extra deck on the stern and forecastle details. My goal is to one day convert a plank on frame Constitution model to the United States which I don't think would be too terribly difficult with the right plans though atm all I can find are a few models such as the old 1/96 revell version and the very nice looking model on modelshipmasters.com (see below). I recently ordered the Smithsonian Catalogue of Warships plans hoping it was available however all I see is that general plan for the Constitution and sister ships. So I'm wondering where these modelers got their information from if they made an educated guess or if there is some sort of archive that can be accessed for more specific plans/specs etc. Thanks for the help! 

 

PS I would contact the model makers if it were possible the revell kit is ancient (discontinued) and the modelshipmaster has no contact email :D

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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popeye the sailor and GLakie like this

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Ups? No one answered to this?

 

Hello Charlie, although not being an United States Expert I think I learned a lot by my research on USS Constitution.

 

The stern of United States is not very well documented. There is no plan available. The plans being available are the ones for the USS Constitution - which too are not very precise. Doughty did a copy of Humphreys design - and there is a copy by Fox. But both differ from the exisiting ship. It seems to be more following the Doughty-copy (Doughty being the draughtsmen of Humphrey.)

 

Humphrey seems to have produced "only" a half model of the three firgates design. This - as far as I understood - was copied into plans by the ship builders at their site.

 

I know of no plan avalible for US Frigate United State - and I guess: if there would be, I would have stepped over it.

 

There is a plan of US Frigate President "as build" avialable at the NMM - I think its even available as a small picture online.

http://prints.rmg.co.uk/art/493101/lines-plan-for-the-naval-vessel-president-captured-1815

 

Concerning the "Roundhouse" of United States: I believe the only "known" sources are describtions. Chapelle added a indication in his sideviews of the three ships in his book (American sailing Navy). But since he did not add remarks concering his sources I would guess that he did an educated guess based on the knowledge about how others did a Roundhouse on top of the spar deck.

 

The Revell-design is looking awful to my mind! I would not believe that one add another cabin on top of the spar deck and does NOT add another "deck" in the galeries!!! I would not follow this design. Also I would not believe (but this is just a guess by myself) that the window pattern would differ from the one in the gundeck level.

 

If there is more information available I would be pleased to be informed - the USS United States would really be an interesting project. Hope this did help you?

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If one were inclined to visit Philadelphia, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania has a sizable collection of papers from Joshua Humphreys (as well as from Charles & Samuel Humphreys).  Among these is Volume 3: “Work on Frigate United States.” (1798 - 1801).  I have not had the opportunity to examine these (they are not available on-line) so have no idea what is in that volume.  The description of the collection is here: http://www2.hsp.org/collections/manuscripts/h/Humphreys306.html

 

One side adventure that my better half undertook was transcribing some of Humphreys documents (listed as Principal Dimensions at the above web site).  I did a quick skim through there but did not see anything specific to the United States, although there are some interesting descriptions of the system for masting various ships (including the rule for masting frigates in 1809) and lists of spars for the President and Constitution (among others).

 

Need to get back to those at some point and see about getting a final compilation put together!

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The stern that you show is wrong in that the two levels of windows are staggered, whereas they should be directly above one another.

 

Here are the few facts that we know about her stern:

 

1. There are no plans of her stern. The only surviving plans are of the President showing six windows and the Chesapeake with five.

 

2. The double decked stern and quarter gallery did not last long. They were probably removed during her 1808-10 refit. Gone by 1812.

 

3. Two reliable 1812 sketches both show her with seven windows across her stern. This does not include that area in the back of the quartergalleries. One sketch shows a pair of half upper only windows on the back of the galleries.

 

4. There is a contemporary early painting of the USF United States that shows the Galleries and stern (with what appear to be seven windows below.) See Time/Life Books The Seafarers Series Volume on The Frigates, page 6.

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Here is a photo of HMS President (1829 I think), which was build after the lines of USS President in Great Britain.

 

If I would like to build United States with the added Roundhouse, I would follow much more this image than the approach of Revell - except

- I would think about the number of windows (7 as mentioned in the post above or 6 ??) and 

- that I would try to have a more flat stern (I think the more rounded stern became modern beginning (?) of 1800)

 

president.jpg

 

Source: http://www.battleships-cruisers.co.uk/

 

But the overal impression (both decks with eaqual number of windows, and galleries on both decks) is not bad.

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Hi all! My this is great stuff, sorry I didn't know people were replying.  So far all I've found was http://www.taubmansonline.com/MSCUNITEDSTATES.htm  When I questioned them whether this was actually the civil war era as stated on their plans they claimed they had no way of know so I suspect this is just the Humphrey's plan as shown in Chappelle's book with the drawn on quarter deck railing.  It's a shame that such a historic ship has so little info had history played out just a bit differently it may have well survived to modern days like Constitution.  I'm not letting this go it may take me a lifetime but intend to do my best to piece together what this ship may have looked like and build a model of her representing her later 1830's refit before she began rotting in Norfolk.  I'll definitely check out those JH papers at some point as well I have to believe I'm not the first person who has tried to do this. ;)

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The Maryland Silver Company sells copies of some of the National Archives navy ship plans. He does mostly civil war ships, but he does have plans listed for the Frigate United States. They include deck plans, an inboard profile, an outboard profile and a sail plan, along with the original 1797 lines drawings. Some have been reduced in scale. You can try to order them from the NA directly, but that task takes for-freakin-ever. You'll still have to come up with some decision on your own regarding her stern layout.

 

Go to Marylandsilver.com. Look under ships from the National Archives.

 

He's asking $60 for the set.

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Hmm that looks like it may have at least some of the info I'm looking for and a lot cheaper than those $180 plans I listed.  I expect this will be a lot of stabs in the dark but I have to assume Gosport Navy yard had some sort of record of the ship, pity no pictures were ever taken. :(

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Marcus,

 

You are right, the earlier sterns were flat, the semi round stern of the Presidet in the photograph post dates the experiment with the Steppings round stern, so probably dates from c1840 onwards.

 

Gary

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Thomas Birch version from the MFA in Boston:

 

United States vs Macedonian

 

fif%253Dsc1-SC151004.fpx%2526obj%253Diip

 

Birch apparently interviewed participants of the battle.  Dunno if he had access to make sketches of the actual ship...

 

Evan

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Just want to say that I am a fan of this discussion.  I have an interest in both the USF United states and the USS Franklin.  Keep up the search and tell us what you find.

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I may be a little off here but didn't the builder of the President differ and change the design of the ship so much that Humphrey disowned the ship I thought I read some where that he even narrowed the hull a bit and I do know that the main mast was moved back two feet on later ships and that was by Humphrey and was rerated from a 44 guns to a 38 gun ship. And since the United States was the first to be launched my question is does the Constitution have the change of moving the main mast back two feet or not if so then you have to move it two scale feet forward

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While I would need to do some additional digging into any change to the form of the President as compared to the Humphreys draughts, the masting and rigging was highly variable amongst the 44 gun frigates.  On 25 January 1796, Timothy Pickering (out going Secretary of War) resolved an ongoing dispute over the proper way to mast the frigates by sending the following circular to all the Naval Constructors and Superintendents (Captains):

 

Sir      War office January 25 1796

The masting the frigates now building having been submitted to varied gentlemen of considerable abilities and reputed skill on naval affairs for their opinions as to the best proportions for masting of the two classes of ships so as to answer all the purposes necessary for ships of war but a diversity of opinions having arisen on the length of particular masts and yards I am induced to propose that the captain and constructor of each frigate shall have liberty to mast and spar their own ship according to the best of their judgments.

 

You will therefore pay an immediate attention to this subject on which Capt Barry will assist and the result of your noted opinions you will sign that it may be transmitted to this office as soon as convenient specifying very minutely, the exact length ad diameter of each mast, yard ad bowsprit also the length and size of mast heads and yard arms that they may be recorded I this office.

   

I am with great regard

Sir yr obt Servnt

    Timothy Pickering

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He disowned the Chesapeake which was a beautiful ship in it's own right but very different from the Constellation and Congress.  The builder Josiah Fox altered her due to budget constraints and she was re-rated to a 38. The slight changes in the President (the mast you speak of) was due to previous experience of the Constitution and United States in what they learned through the trials of those two ships so no the United States would be almost exactly to the design of Constitution save the stern/billet detailing and the extra deck in the rear. Most of the minor differences in construction were due to the plans being translated by the builders of each city they were built President in NY, Constitution in Boston, United States in PA, Chesapeake in Gosport VA etc. :)

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The following are recorded by Humphreys in his notebook as the Rules for masting Frigates 1809

For placing masts

Foremast 1/7 of spar deck from forward

Main mast 2/7 and 6/7 of 1/7 of spar decks rom the foremast

Mizenmast 1/7 and 2/3 of 1/7 of spar deck from mizenmast

 

Length of Masts

Main mast 28 1/3 the extreme breadth of the ship

Foremast 10/11 of the main mast

Mizen mast 7/8 of main mast

Main top mast 11/18 of main mast

Foretop mast 15/16 of main top mast

Mizen top mast 7/8 of foretop mast

Top gallant mast 9/17 of their respective topmasts exclusive of Pole –

Royal mast from topmost cap 1/10 hounds of top gt mast –

Skyscraper masts 3/9 of their royal masts above royal mast head when lowered down to step on top mast

caps

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Marcus the HMS President and the HMS President are the same ship kind of like when the HMS Macedonia became the Uss Macedonia after it was captured what you may have is a picture of that ship being repaired

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Ok ,I stand corrected it was the Chesapeake and not the presidident that was disowned ok let's see about expanding the issue. What about the masts on the constellation and congress I want to make at least five if not all six first frigates

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Marcus the HMS President and the HMS President are the same ship kind of like when the HMS Macedonia became the Uss Macedonia after it was captured what you may have is a picture of that ship being repaired

USS President was taken into the RN as HMS President and, if I remember correctly, greatly admired. She was found to be decayed in 1818 and broken up, with a replacement being built to her lines. That one, a 52-gun frigate, lasted until being broken up in 1903, over a century after the original President was built. This is her in the 1880s.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3a/HMS_President_in_South_West_India_Dock%2C_London%2C_ca._1880_%285375139968%29.jpg

 

Here's a story about the restored figurehead from the second HMS President from early this year. http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/news/2015/january/16/150116-historic-figurehead-returns-home It's supposed to have been carved as a replica of the original American one's, a figure of John Adams.

 

Ok ,I stand corrected it was the Chesapeake and not the presidident that was disowned ok let's see about expanding the issue. What about the masts on the constellation and congress I want to make at least five if not all six first frigates

Chapelle in his "The History of the American Sailing Navy" does have the building draught for the 38 gun Constellation and Congress that shows the placement of the lower masts and bowsprit. He also has a building draught for Constitution, United States, and President (including his interpretation of United States' round house and poop). Note that these are all the 1799ish design and they lack the solid bulwarks of the War of 1812 refits and the Connie today. There is a draught the British took of President after she was captured, as well as a sail plan, showing the War of 1812 configuration.

 

As far as Chesapeake, the only draught in the book was, like President, a post-capture one showing her 1812 appearance. There are two sets of spar dimensions for her too, one from 1800 and one the British reported at the time of her capture by HMS Shannon. There are also spar dimensions for Congress as-built, Constellation from 1801, Constitution from 1803 and 1815, President 1801 and a copy from Humphreys' Notebook, and United States 1807 and 1815, as well as stuff on the later improved 44s like the Guerriere.

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Ok I stand corrected again, I am new to the history of these ships and I'm willing to learn as much as I can . But it's not like I haven't been reading up on it already .

I like learning new parts of history to me and I like building models and I would like to get should of Chapelle's book is one issue better than another? I've seen one with a white cover and another that is blue so which is better or is one a later copywrite?

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The blue one :) you can also request the book of plans from the smithsonian. When im home ill send the link.

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There are two different books too, The American Sailing Navy and History of American Sailing Ships. The list I described is from my white-cover reprint of History of the American Sailing Navy. The earlier edition is a greenish-blue cover. American Sailing Ships has a dark blue cover, so don't get them mixed up. The only frigate drawing applicable in American Sailing Ships is a reprint of the post-capture USS President draught I mentioned in American Sailing Navy.

 

I'm attaching three spreadsheets I threw together a while back listing all the plans in both of those books, as well as Chapelle's The Search for Speed Under Sail.

 

 

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If you're referring to the attachments, you can save them and open them up full size. They're quite large (the American Sailing Navy one is 2104 x 3401 pixels)

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Not to change the subject too much but I think weall know how the Constitution got its nickname Old Ironsides but how did the United States get the nickname Old Wagon ? And what were the other nicknames of the other ships and how did they get their nicknames?

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OK, Charliei did some searching and i came across something look up USS United States Foundation I'm not sure how much traction this got but the seems 

to me that if he is still around was going to build a full scale replica how far he got is any body's guess for all i know this could be a rouse or the idea died with him if he died but there is mention of a modeler liking  his plans and and he claimed to have the most knowlege of the ship it would be interesting to know what he knows and he says he's been at this since 1978

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Ok Charlie, her's an up date I've been in contact with the gent that is head of the Uss.United States Foundation and he seem pretty willing to share his ideas of what she (The Old Wagon) may have looked like he is planing on building a full scale seaworthy replica if you want you could join his cause and how many people know that it even existed at one time? I think he even was the captain during some recreations on Old Ironsides

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Feel free to send me some links/info.  I'm curious what you found. I'm assuming you mean this dude right? I won't hold my breath on a "life-sized seaworthy replica" since he's been at this since before I was born however a reasonably accurate model will do ^_^

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Speaking of nicknames, the USS Guerriere, a otherwise very fast frigate, was nevertheless very lumpy, austere and wall-sided in her appearance, and was thus christened "Old Washtub" by her crews.

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