CharlieZardoz

Frigate USS United States stern detail

107 posts in this topic

Hello Charlie, I recognise my handiwork in the second photo of your initial post.

 

 I’d got as far as hull completion  but I thought something looked odd about those poop railings, ugly and out of proportion, and there was a lack of information about the Poop (roundhouse) construction.

 

I also felt the stern looked somehow out of proportion and I lost interest in the build, particularly when I discovered that the kit was a cobbled together marketing ploy by Revell to screw a few more dollars out of their excellent Constitution kit.

 

I briefly revived interest a few years ago and I started to replace the gundeck cannon with brass versions, and modified split port lids. The railings I started to pare down to a finer scale. I also decided to put a skylight on that vast expanse of Poop deck, as I thought that a Captain that interested in his home comforts would have done so.

 

I intended to rig her with proper shrouds and to this end I fitted wooden deadeyes along the channels.

 

Even with an extensive search of the internet I could not find any clear evidence about the construction, or photos of the stern, and I even read White Jacket by Herman Melville who served on her in 1843, but again there was little to glean to assist a modelmaker, except that there was a round house.

 

So for many years now she has lain quietly festering 'in ordinary' in the loft, destined never to be completed.

 

Here's a couple more shots of the sad old girl.

 

100_2875.JPG

 

 

100_2871.JPG

 

Good luck with your quest...

 

B.E.

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Ah yes there she is. I think you did a very good job considering the kits weaknesses and thought I'd eventually pick up one of those old revel kits just for research purposes.  The other model I posted from modelmaster seems to have merely used the kit as a reference base so I can't tell if he did any additional on the look of the ship.  I wonder where revel got their info if any research was actually done or if it was an educated guess.  May take many years for me to find out but either way it's fun. :)

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From J. Humphreys concerning some adjustments to timbers.

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There's an 1813 painting by Thomas Birch of the United States victory over Macedonian. This painting was in the Kennedy Oval Office.

 

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This is the highest pixel count version I could find. Click for larger image.

 

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Detail showing the double red stripes and stern. I know it's hard to tell here but the poop appears

to have been cut down to the spar deck with but one level of gallery windows.

 

I couldn't find much about this painting regarding its value as a source for the appearance of the United States in the War of 1812. Comments please.

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Here is a better version of the above:

 

Current painting at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston MA.  http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/engagement-between-the-united-states-and-the-macedonian-34275

 

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Here is one by Thomas Buttersworth Jr. c.1813. In this painting Buttersworth gives us two views of the same engagement, one showing the fight and the other the dismasted and captured MACEDONIAN. (Painting from the Penobscot Marine Museum Collection). 

 

http://penobscotmarinemuseum.org/PMM-Reader/uss-united-states-captures-hms-macedonian-october-25-1812/

 

post-18-0-82929700-1433957577_thumb.jpg

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That's a nice one and suggests the United States probably didn't have the poop deck at the time of the battle.  At least I see no evidence of it in these paintings with the open aft gunports.

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Contact Ed Zimmerman of the USS UNITED STATES Foundation at ussunitedstates@yahoo.com

 

I last emailed him in 2011

 

He has a developed set of plans he is willing to sell. I had looked into building her as well, but is currently beyond my means

 

Ken

 

PS above pic is of Ed Zimmerman

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Ah cool yeah I'll get in touch and see what he's got. I don't plan on attempting a build for a few years but the more info I collect now the better the result will be and there's plenty of time for research :)

 

Charlie

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I just came across this thread.  Anyway, Howard Chappele has drawn a starboard profile of the hull overlapped with that of the Constitution and President in his book The History of the American Sailing Navy. This profile is overlapped by those of the Constitution and the President, and it clearly shows the roundhouse and associated railings. Granted, his drawings are conjecture, but they were strongly based on whatever sources were available.  He also noted that the three frigates were built to the same plans and looked very similar to each other but that each Captain was free to make his own alterations.

 

The Revell 1/96 scale kit is correctly based on the Constitution kit except that the Revell kit depicts Constitution as she appeared in 1924, not as she appeared on commissioning or even during the War of 1812. Also the Revell United States shows two distinct levels of windows; the Chappelle drawings show only one level.  I believe that the paintings referred to in this thread show the same.

 

One good place to start is to order the Bluejacket plans for their USS Constitution kit which are based on her appearance during the War of 1812.  I trust their research because they are part of the USS Constitution Museum in Boston, which houses all of the primary documents associated with her.  Then, modify the United States accordingly.  You will probably have a more accurate model (probably!)

 

Bill Morrison

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Hi! I really need to order the plans collection from Maryland Silver which in them is a collection of profiles taken of United States in 1840-1846 at Gosport Navy yard, just haven't gotten around to spending the cash for it. While I don't think an accurate profile of the stern actually exists I am hopeful the plans offer some sort of clue via a side profile. Regarding the roundhouse It is very likely it was removed prior to the war of 1812 but again ill get more clues after I order those profiles. The Bluejacket Constitution is in my opinion the best kit for depicting her during her 1812 incarnation  :)

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Ten to one in 1840s plans, United States has the same six-port stern that Guerriere and Java introduced and Constitution was refitted with after the war (she still has it). Pretty much standard until the Brandywine introduced the round stern.

 

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2d/USS_Constitution_-_NARA_512913_(19-LC-20_A)_-_42.jpg

http://modelshipworld.com/uploads/monthly_01_2015/post-1111-0-05924600-1421827286.gif

 

Though only a sloop, Constellation details the round stern the later frigates carried well, just missing the upper level.

http://images2.mygola.com/uss-constellation-stern_7148078_l.jpg

 

The roundhouse was most likely gone by then. Probably long gone. As far as the two-level quarter galleries, Chapelle did postulate them, you can see an extension to the galleries up to the quarterdeck level in his plans. Ironically, the replica HMS President the British built later featured a typical British two-level quarter gallery and stern. http://s017.radikal.ru/i428/1212/a2/78007cc6952c.jpg

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Talos, you are likely correct and the "old wagon" quite possibly got streamlined to the typical 3 window stern that Constitution, the Java class and the Potomac as well received for the time. However I can help but postulate that some variation existed would be interesting to find out.

 

Dan, I have the revel model stern as well. It's an interesting design though I have no idea what historical basis the stern has or what revell used for research. I mean it doesn't look like any of the contemporary paintings of her but I imagine that information is lost by now.

 

Force9, what a nice find! Never saw that one before, the first picture yes but not the second one. I mean it's not named but considering both images line up, it could very well be an image of United States during her early days.

 

I can speculate that United states went through 3-4 significant alterations in design starting from the federal frigate article, to the artist conception fighting Macedonian, to something similar to the modern Connie but also possibly elements of the revell stern. I won't lie that revell stern looks like the modern Connie stern only with more windows and the double deck meaning an incarnation of the ship post 1830 however if the quarterdeck was removed prior to 1812 then that isn't possible. Consequently every time I think I can buy those plans from Maryland Silver one of my cats almost dies and needs a vet visit. Theyre 17/18 and keep on ticking all they need is a wad of my money and boom they bounce back to life... my poor bank account. ;)

 

 

Last image is the Potomac from Canney's book (sorry about the quality)

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Those are most interesting engravings! They would lend some credence to an argument that the Revell 1/96 United States is somewhat accurate.  It would be interesting to see someone modify the Revell piece and quarter galleries to match the engravings, perhaps by making a resin mold.  Hmmm . . .

 

Bill

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I do like the look of the revel stern however that doesn't necessarily mean that it's accurate. Most frigates of the time had 5 stern windows at gun deck level (plus the two quarter gallery windows), large frigates like Connie and President had 6 and the United States according to the images above had 7. If you look at the image I posted it shows Constitution's window evolution over time the most significant change would be downsizing from 6 windows to 5 (assuming these are all accurate and probably done after battle reconstruction), this requires significant changing the structure of the wood beams in order to have an odd number of windows and they probably did so due to streamlining of ship design. Subsequent renovations would have just blotted out the 2 end windows and voila we have the stern we see today. What I am getting at is that while President never existed long enough to have her 6 windows changed, United States would have most likely been modified to the 3 window Java class design as well and with that logic if the revell kit is accurate that means she went from 7 windows at gun deck level to 6 then back to 5/3? That makes no sense and if we take that battle portrait of her with Macedonian shown above as fact then by 1812 she still had 7 windows even after her top deck was removed so wouldn't it be more logical that she kept the odd number of windows since the even number seemed to have been phased out by the end of the war? The revel kit likely just took the existing Connie stern from the kit and added another level and some detailing hence why she has 6 windows at gun deck but I doubt she ever really looked like that. What does interest me though is if United States started out with 7 windows and assuming there was a streamlining of ships to the Java type sterns might United States due to her unique number of windows have maybe gone in a slightly different evolutionary direction and looked kinda different than Constitution by the 1840's. Maybe looked something like this modern painting of her?

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post-15936-0-96722100-1466086680.jpg

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I agree.  My point is that one very frequent criticism of the Revell kit of the United States is that the kit depicts double-level quarter galleries while it is assumed that she only carried a single level.  Those who argue this point also believe that the roundhouse is too large, and that the railings lining the roundhouse are outlandishly large.  Your engravings and the painting, coupled with Chappele's book, indicate that the Revell kit might have some features correct.  The kit certainly does not match the engravings or Chappelle, but, the idea within the kit is somewhat accurate.

 

Bill

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I mean the revel Constitution did a pretty good representation of the stern from the Peabody model so who knows maybe someone did some research and what they came up with was off some info I haven't found yet. Main thing is that these ships changed all the time so we will never know all the subtleties of these changes but we can extrapolate some of the evolution based on conjecture and available info. :)

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I mean the revel Constitution did a pretty good representation of the stern from the Peabody model so who knows maybe someone did some research and what they came up with was off some info I haven't found yet. Main thing is that these ships changed all the time so we will never know all the subtleties of these changes but we can extrapolate some of the evolution based on conjecture and available info. :)

 

 

United States’ stern was probably refitted identically to the other frigates in post-war refits. It’s an extensive one with the entire stern structure replaced. Earlier American frigates had excessive stern overhang, which could lead to pounding by the water in certain conditions. HMS Chesapeake’s commander once noted it was bad in the ship’s log.

 

The Java design during the war improved on that with a nearly vertical snub tail. Along with that there were three notable improvements to the tail design. First is the obvious increase in stern firepower, from four ports to six. The second is the vertical nature of the stern. This makes it much easier to shoot a cannon out of rather than the sloping ones previous. Finally, the whole structure is a heavier design as seen in the photograph of Constitution undergoing refit, compared to standard frigate designs. I think it’s pretty likely that the stern chases Constitution and her sisters engaged in, which included Constitution’s own stern chasers damaging herself, were a big influence in this new stern shape.

 

The Revell stern is almost certainly just a modified Constitution, I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in it being close to the historical design, nor a lot of the period paintings and etchings by someone who wasn’t there or hasn’t seen the ship in person. A lot of the reconstructions with Chapelle, the model, etc, all tie in together and are based off one another. If you look closely in that last painting, the stern seems to rise at the same angle as the Java’s stern.

 

I’m attaching a quick chart I threw together of some of the basic frigate sterns in the USN. You can compare the overhang and slope of the sterns in the older ships to the snub-nosed Java stern and interiors. Note also the reconstructed poop deck, rail, and hard-to-see upper galleries Chapelle did on the original Constitution design.  Note also that President is shown with the diagonal riders, but there’s no evidence they were there when the ship was taken, if she ever actually had them (President was the lightest and fastest of the three).

post-14867-0-84626300-1466145661_thumb.jpg

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Talos,

 

Might I ask about the reference from which you got those drawings?  The differences in the sterns between the earlier American ships and those of the British are quite striking.  Thank you for posting them!

 

Bill

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Those are all Howard Chapelle's redrawings of original plans from the US and Royal Navy (President, Chesapeake, and Essex) available from the National Archives and in his book The History of the American Sailing Navy.

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Bill you may be mistaking that Guerriere for the british ship. That is the American built ship the Guerriere/Java class built around 1815 and was the next evolutionary step in frigate building until the Potomac/Brandywine class of the 1820's. One of the evolutionary trends was the flattening of the stern design and with the images above you can see how different the Java class was to those preceding it. All ships afterwards would get this stern redesign which is why Constitution's is the way it is now and most likely United States received the same stern alteration as it was the standard design until the Brandywine which started the round stern which the modern day Constellation features. Thanks Talos this is a great image for comparison I wouldn't have realized without them all lined up like this and the Potomac image I posted above also shows this flattened stern as well. What this shows me is that when I get the Gosport profiles of United States from Maryland Silver they should show the flattened stern and even without a stern profile it should show the alteration was done. What I am curious about is if other surviving 1812 frigates also had their sterns changed (meaning old Constellation, Congress am I missing any?)

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It's possible they did later, sure, but it really depends on if they got a major enough refit during those years to put them on. I know Constellation did plenty of cruising, but Congress did spend most of that time as a recieving ship.

 

I'll do a comparison of the round sterns too, as most of the Brandywine are featured (except for St Lawrence, which he modified from the Brandywine draught based on a description). I'll also throw in the two Macedonians. Eventually I want to draw my own version of that Potomac draught posted earlier, splicing the Guerriere stern on the Brandywine.

 

HMS Guerriere's an interesting one, being a French ship originally until capture by the British, then captured by the Americans. Too damaged from that and she sank soon after. Only a couple of our captures really survived, most were either lost soon after (Epervier, Insurgent) or recaptured almost immediately (Peacock, Levant). The only real exceptions are Macedonian and Cyane. Speaking of Cyane, Chapelle got her profile wrong. He actually did a profile of the old Bittern-class Cyane from the 1790s, not the correct bigger Banterer-class of the 1800s. RMG probably sent him the wrong plans back in the day.

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Fascinating and looking forward to the reconstructions. Be mindful that Potomac's bow was also different than Brandywine's since she received a straightened sheer that Brandywine did not get so might need to splice the St Lawrence's bow and add the Guerriere's stern to get Potomac. Seems Columbia would have gotten the Brandywine's stern and St Lawrence's bow while Raritan and Cumberland had that large bow structure. St Lawrence seemed like she was designed more in line with the first 3 river frigates but sat on the stocks and completed later. I'd love to see all 9 lined up.

 

Regarding Constellation I'd wager she did get some sort of upgrade while Congress probably never did but it depends on when the upgrades were implemented since Congress sort of ended her career in the early 1820's I'd say no. And is there an actual plan somewhere for HMS Guerriere? I've never seen one.

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Yeah, that kind of thing has been something I've kept in mind. I would have thought Columbia would be identical to her shipmates Java and Gue....oh, you meant the Brandywine-class one, not the Java-class. ;)  I'll see what I can do there. I already mean to modify the Santee profile to match the description of Sabine as well.

 

As far as Congress, I thought it was around 1819 she became a recieving ship. With HMS Guerriere there probably are French plans for her or a sister ship. She's a fairly normal Forfait design as I recall. I'll check my French frigates book later. Her lines were also taken off by the British, I'm sure.

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Lol yes the -er slightly less useless Columbia (at least she got a launching) I have this pic of her from Canney's book. So looks like the Potomac except with the round stern. And yes you are probably right about Congress I was guestimating  :)

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One thing to keep in mind when considering the United States is that while each constructor/builder took certain liberties with the standard design for the 44 gun ships, this one was built by Humphreys, and he was very protective of his design.  I suspect that the as-built structure will be extremely close to the known design criteria (a great deal of the correspondence concerning the design and construction is available at the Papers of the War Department project website - my better half has been working on transcribing these from the online images, but we have a long way to go still).

 

Attached is an excerpt from one of the documents.

 

1795-11-16 WD to Constr CIRCULAR_ZXA06.138-143.pdf

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Good point Wayne I'm sure United States and Constitution were practically the same hull shape and President was so minor a model likely wouldn't show the difference. The only real differences would be there ornamentation which over time became more streamlined though I'd still like to find some more specifics if they are out there. I mean all billetheads were slightly different no? :P

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Yes, I had a senior moment when I saw the illustration of the Guerriere.   I also had not seen that drawing in Chappelle.  I will have to look more closely.  Thanks for pointing it out.  One thing that I would be interested in finding out concerns the original figureheads.  Constitution was built with one of Hercules brandishing a club (I believe!), and lost hers at Tripoli, and was given the billet head configuration before she was fitted for the Andrew Jackson one.  United States was built with a different figurehead, I believe of the Goddess Liberty brandishing a spear, but I am not sure about what happened to that.  I'm not sure about President, Congress, Constellation, or Chesapeake.  It would be good to find some sort of detailed illustration.

 

Bill

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I question the accuracy of that Columbia print, as it shows 17 ports a side on the main deck, two more than she actually had. But if it is accurate, then the stretched sisters Santee and Sabine had 17 aside, so it could actually represent one of them. And even if the forward-most port in the print was only the bridle port, then it could be the Hudson or the Independence, as they had 16 ports aside. It's probably just the engraver's whimsey. I think it is the only depiction of the Frigate Columbia, but if memory still serves, there is also a contemporary print of the Columbia and the John Adams bombarding the piratical towns of Quala Battoo and Muckie, on the coast of Sumatra, circa 1837. (Muslim Sumatran pirates, actually. How some things never change.)

 

Alas, there are no draughts of HMS Guerriere. She was possibly a one-off design by an engineer named Lafosse. But Author Rif Winfield speculates that she was a stretched L'Immortalite' Class 24-pounder frigate, like the La Furieuse was.

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