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  1. S.M.S. WESPE (HENK, 1895) History and context The WESPE-Class armoured gun-boats of the then young Imperial German Navy were born out of a tactical concept that dated well back into the Napoleonic era. The idea was to mount a heavy long-range gun onto a highly mobile small craft that would be able to retire into shallow coastal waters, beyond the range of even the heavy artillery of an attacking fleet. The addition of a steam engine and the increase in calibre followed the development of the time, of course. Adding heavy armour to the front (mainly) was meant to give the gun-boats a certain attacking capability. It also owes something to the floating batteries used in the defence of Copenhagen during the Napoleonic wars and to the armoured floating batteries used by the allied French/British forces during the Crimean War (1854-55). In fact, adding armour plating to a (rowing) gunboat was already proposed as early as the late 18th century in Spain, as documented by a model in the Museo Naval in Madrid, but apparently never put to work in full scale. S.M.S. WESPE, brand-new and still without the 30.5 cm gun (1875) At the time of the conception of the WESPE-class in the early 1870s a former cavalry(!) general was the naval chief-of-staff in Germany. The tactical dogma was ‘proactive defence’: an attacking enemy was to be awaited near home waters and fenced off. The main threat was seen in amphibian operations attacking the German coast. Thus, the landing of troops at strategic points had to be prevented. Long-range strategic and oceanic operations were out of the scope of the German naval planners of the time. There was a certain logic in this, as Germany, unlike Britain, is/was a more or less land-locked country and largely self-sufficient in many respects at that time. Overseas trade then did not have such an importance as in Britain or as in later globalising economies. Therefore, attempts to severe overseas supply chains was not so relevant. There was, indeed, active resistance from trade interest groups, particularly the merchants in the cities of Hamburg and Bremen, to a navy that would engage itself overseas. These merchants relied on their network of friendly contacts and on sailing under a neutral flag. Hence, the WESPE-Class was designed to be mainly a heavily armoured gun-platform, giving long-range protection to the tidal North Sea harbours that are surrounded by mud-flats and to give mobile protection to the deep fjords of Schleswig-Holstein's Baltic coast. They would be backed-up by heavy artillery (and later fixed torpedo batteries) in coastal forts. The guns in such boats usually could only be trained by turning the whole boat. This seems more difficult then it probably was, because even in the old days of the rowing gunboats they would attack by rowing in a wide circle and when the intended target passed through the line of aim, one would fire. As the WESPE-Class was designed to let themselves fall dry on mud-flats, a possibility to train the gun itself was needed. This distinguished the WESPE-class from earlier boats of similar design in Britain, namely the ANT-, GADFLY-, and BOUNCER-class of the 1860s. Man other navies took up the same concept and there were examples in the Danish, Dutch, French, Norwegian, Spanish, and even the Argentinian navy. Some of the were armoured, while other were still constructed from wood or composite. S.M.S. WESPE under construction (HENK, 1895) Technical Description The WESPE-class comprised ten boats delivered in two batches between 1876 and 1880: WESPE (1876), VIPER, BIENE, MÜCKE, SCORPION, BASILISK, CAMAELEON, CROCODILL, SALAMANDER and NATTER. They were all built by A.G. Weser in Bremen. With a length of 46.4 m and a beam of 10.65 m they had a dead weight of 1157 t, drawing 3.37 m. The dimensions vary somewhat according to source, but this may be due to different reference points, such as length overall compared to length between the perpendicles etc. Two inclined double-expansion engines on two propellers gave a maximum speed of 11 knots. Their original complement was 3 officers and 73 crew. Steering was from a stand on the hut and an emergency double steering wheel abaft. Very early on they were also retrofitted with an electrical generator. The WESPE-class were the first German warships (and indeed among the first of any warship) that did completely without auxiliary sails. As the consequence they only had a light mast for signalling. In spite of sporting quite some leading edge technology, they were only of limited seaworthiness and their handling was far from perfect. This resulted in them being given a collection of rather unfavourable nicknames. They were also not very popular with their crews and officers due to the cramped conditions below decks, but then they were not meant for long voyages in the open sea. Admiralty illustrative drawing (before 1883) Armament The main armament was a single 30.5 cm rifled breech-loading gun designed and manufactured by Alfred Krupp AG in Essen. At the time the WESPE-class boats were designed, fast torpedo-boats did not exist yet – the automotive fish-torpedo was just being developed. When in the mid-1880s small torpedo-boats became a tactical reality, some form of self-defence against them was necessary and two bronce(!) 8.7 cm/l24 breech-loading guns in ‘disappearing’ carriage and two 37 mm Hotchkiss revolving guns came on board. In fact, very early on (1883) also two 35 cm underwater torpedo launching tubes were installed to increase the attacking capabilities. Instruction model for the Rk 30.5/l22 on the Danish HELGOLAND in the Orlogsmuseet Copenhagen on a carriage similar to that of the WESPE-Class Scale The scale chosen for the model is 1/160, which admittedly is somewhat unusual for a ship model. However, the reasoning behind this choice was that a large selection of N-scale railway figures is available that eventually will crew the ship. There are also space and portability consideration, which are important for someone, who has to move from time to time for professional reasons. The model will be a waterline model. This will allow a scenic presentation of the finished model. Besides, the hull below the waterline is not quite so graceful. Above the waterline the hull is also more or less prismatic, with vertical bulwarks and virtually no sheer. These parameters together call for a bread-and-butter construction. Artist’s impression of a WESPE-Class gunboat (1891) Sources Owing to the loss of most of the archival material from the former Admiralty Drawing Office during and after the end of WW2, detailed source material is rather scant. Some lithographed drawings that must have been made before the major refit in 1883 have survived and serve as a basis for the reconstruction. The Bundesarchiv/Militärarchiv in Freiburg i.B. has some drawings, but unfortunatelly they only pertain to a much later refit of S.M.S. NATTER. However, the WESPE-Class was a bit of a novelty at its time and some Detaildrawings of bothm the ship and the armament, have found their way into textbooks of the time. Relatively recently a very detailed original drawing of the gun became available on the Internet from a private collection (www.dreadnoughtproject.org). Historic photographs from the early days of the ships are quite rare and mostly of not so good quality, but some reasonably good ones from the end of their active life have survived. Based on the information that was available in the 1980s Wolfgang Bohlayer drew and published a plan of S.M.S. WESPE as she might have looked like after the major refit in 1883 (available from VTH, http://shop.vth.de/wespe-1876.html). Based on the information available today, this plan would need to be revised in some details. The available information is summarised on the page on the WESPE-class on my Web-site: http://www.wefalck.eu/mm/maritime/models/wespe/wespeclass.html To be continued ...
  2. Hello all! This will be my build of the Continental Gunboat Philadelphia. A brief history of her is taken from the model shipways website. "Launched in August of 1776, the gunboat Philadelphia is the oldest American fighting vessel in existence. Part of the American fleet commanded by General Benedict Arnold, she sank on October 11, 1776 during the Battle of Valcour Island against the Royal Navy on Lake Champlain. She remained sitting upright in the cold waters of the lake until she was raised in 1935. Today, she’s on permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., complete with 24-pound ball that sent her to the bottom. " Length 26-3/8” Width 13-3/4” Height 24-5/8” Scale 1:24 (1/2” = 1 ft.) The actual gondolas built by Benedict Arnold were armed with two nine pounders, one twelve pounder and a few swivel guns. Arnold's gondolas were around 53 feet long with 15 1/2 foot beam and 2 foot draft. An overview image from the website is the following. The first few steps were pretty simple. I removed the parts I needed for the keel, stem and sternpost and glued them together. The keel was very straight with no noticeable war page. I sanded most of the laser char off. The pieces of wood that form the rabbets are pretty simple to carve. I just used an Xacto blade and a sanding block. There are also the visible parts of the stem and sternpost a which get narrower towards the ends. I have yet to make these rabbets at the bow. That's it for now. Thank you for looking in!
  3. The lateen rig is not a subject that one can find a large amount of information on when it comes to ship modeling. In most cases, I see lateen yards are located inboard of the shrouds. This makes sense to me, though I then am always left to wonder how one tacks or jibs such a rigged vessel. Now, I've been looking at early American gunboats from the War of Independence as well as those of the Jeffersonian era and War of 1812, etc. There are a lot of lateen rigs there. I'm interested in the Galley Washington, for which there is a nice set of plans from the NRG, plus the monograph. However, one thing that's always bothered me about these plans is that they lack much detail when it comes to rigging. Still, the monograph goes as far as saying that the lateen yard goes outboard of the shrouds. Is it true that some lateen rigs are done this way? It seems odd to me in that with sails up, there are no parrals to hold the yard against the mast, so all the force of wind is taken only by the halliard. What's worse is that the halliard is being pulled sideways from the pulley in the mast top, so it would be constantly be chafing there. It would also be very difficult to haul the yard up in the wind, as the pulley would be next to useless. Now, I get that the main focus is a POF build of the hull of the ship and not with the rig. In fact, if you mount sails, the model plans don't seem to make any allowances for the belaying of sail handling lines, such as the brails or sheets (if that's what they're called on the lateen sail). So, I'm hoping someone can shed some light for me on the lateen rig. Or maybe just on the Galley Washington plans?
  4. My old build log is gone, but progress on the model continues. So, it's time to get the log going again. A Brief History The Saginaw was the first ship built at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard on San Francisco Bay. She was launched in 1859 as the USS Toucey, in honor of the then Secretary of the Navy, but was commissioned as the USS Saginaw. The last paddlewheel steamer built before the American Civil War, she was specifically ordered for use in the shallow waters of the China station where she operated until she returned home to be refit and relaunched in 1863. She served in the Pacific Squadron during the Civil War, being on the alert for Confederate activities and for the Confederate raider Shenandoah, whose captain, James Waddell had originally served aboard the Saginaw as one of her officers. Among other activities, the ship charted the coastal waters of the newly acquired Alaska Territory in 1868. In 1869, after the US Army's run in with the Tlingit Indians (apparently following several incidents over the years), she was ordered to destroy three evacuated villages on an island near what is now Saginaw Bay. On October 29, 1870, following the support of dredging operations at Midway Island, she was returning to San Francisco by way of the rarely visited Ocean Island, where she went to check for stranded sailors. She arrived ahead of schedule, but struck a reef in the process, which doomed the ship. While her hull was pounded by breakers, her crew abandoned the ship, taking as many supplies as possible, and went ashore on the desert island. In mid-November, one of the ship's boats was built up and a small group of volunteers sailed for 31 days and 1500 miles to the Hawaiian islands. Sadly, in the breakers off Kauai, the boat overturned and only one member of the starving and weakened crew survived. As soon as his story was relayed to authorities, the king of Hawaii dispatched a steamer to rescue the stranded crew. This model represents the ship shortly before she was lost in 1870. At that time, she was equipped with two 30-pdr parrot rifles on pivot mounts, four 24-pdr boat guns, and I managed to discover from Mare Island logs in the National Archives that she also carried a light 12-pdr gun, though the mount is unspecified. While she was originally rigged as a fore topsail schooner, which is illustrated in the plans in the National Archives, I believe she was probably rigged with topsails on both masts by 1870. This is how she appears in the only known photo of her and I believe this is from later in her career, as I found one reference indicating that for at least one year late in 1860s, she operated almost exclusively under sail. I would tend to suspect that this was during a period when she was a little more heavily rigged. There are several other small structural changes between her original 1859 configuration and that following her 1863 refit. These include the removal of her original pilot house, the rearrangement of her boilers, coal bunkers and forward hold, a change in the appearance of her decorative work on the wheel houses, and the relocation of some of the deck hatches. The Model and Initial Research The model is being built at 1/8" scale (1:96) as plank on solid hull construction. The solid hull is built up from basswood lifts and is planked over using holly. Keel, stern and stem posts are beech and the deck planking is boxwood. This is actually a prototype model that I'm using to work out various details since Civil War period ships are somewhat out of my area of knowledge. So too are steamers and, in particular, paddle wheel ships. My plan is to build a larger version, probably at 3/16" scale (1:64), though I expect that I'll probably build that as plank on bulkhead. I was originally inspired by a photo of a custom Saginaw model that BlueJacket built for a client. I've always been somewhat intrigued by the ships of the sail and steam transition and then some simple online research turned up the fact that the Saginaw was the first ship built at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, which is just about a 30 minute drive from where I live. My normal suppliers for ship plans showed no sign of Saginaw plans, so inquired with BlueJacket about their source. But, when I asked about the plans, they told me that because their efforts were funded by their client that they couldn't share any information with me. After a while, I sent an email to one of the librarians at the J Porter Shaw Library at the San Francisco Maritime National Park. My main contact there is always very helpful and she again showed her worth when she did some searching and found that copies of the National Archives plans were available from Maryland Silver Company. I ordered these plans without delay and, while I was waiting for those, began researching what I could. I discovered that a book had been written about the Saginaw called A Civil War Gunboat in Pacific Waters: Life Aboard the USS Saginaw, but it's an expensive one, and the local library's inter-library loan system had no access to it either. I discovered that there was a copy at the UC Berkeley library, but that is a real pain to use unless you are a student or faculty. But, fortune was smiling on the project and it turned out that the author of the book, Hans Konrad Van Tilburg, had done some of his research at the Vallejo Museum and gave them a copy of the book. So, a trip to their research library gave me access to this and some other records on the Saginaw. Though it was a pricey book at about $70, I found that it had enough information in it that I was compelled to buy a copy. In the meantime, the plans from Maryland Silver Company arrived and I had also discovered that there was an article in the Nautical Research Journal regarding the construction of the Saginaw and that I had it in their back issues CD. Clare
  5. Hello, all! Welcome to my to-be-much-abbreviated build log for the Master Korabel "cannon jolle" (gunboat) kit. I say "abbreviated" because Jim Rogers already did a fine build log for this kit, which you can see here. You can also read my initial review of the kit in the reviews section of the forum. Part of my reason for choosing this kit is to show members that yes, I do actually build ship models on occasion! Here's a couple of shots of the very early stages of construction, only a few hours' worth really. So far I have not had any issues apart from being a little confused by the instructions once or twice. This is only to be expected in instructions that are translated from Russian, so no big deal. Having patience and thinking thoroughly through the process has spared me any missteps to this point. As you can see, the hull substructure has A LOT of pieces. It all fits together very nicely but snugly and locks up tightly once glued. The finished model will really be quite small, as the hull is only about as long as my hand. That's all for now!
  6. C.S.S. Richmond was one of the earliest Confederate ironclads, having been laid down at the Gosport Navy Yard at Norfolk, Virginia, in March 1862, immediately after the completion of the famous C.S.S. Virginia (ex-Merrimack). Richmond was designed by John Luke Porter, who would go on to serve as the Chief Naval Constructor for the Confederacy, but completed under supervision of Chief Carpenter James Meads. Richmond embodied many of the basic design elements that be used, again and again, in other casemate ironclads built across the South in the following three years. When Union forces were on the verge of taking the Gosport Navy Yard, Richmond was hurriedly launched and towed up the James River, where she was completed at Richmond. Finally commissioned in July 1862, the ironclad served as a core element of the Confederate capital’s James River Squadron for the remainder of the war. Richmond, along with the other ironclads in the James, was destroyed to prevent her capture with the fall of her namesake city at the beginning of April 1865. This model is based on plans of the ironclad by David Meagher, published in John M. Coski’s book, Capital Navy: The Men, Ships and Operations of the James River Squadron, with modifications based on a profile of the ship by John W. Wallis, particularly regarding the position of the ship’s funnel and pilot house. Hull lines are adapted from William E. Geoghagen’s plans for a later Porter design for an ironclad at Wilmington, that seems to have had an identical midship cross-section.
  7. Dear friends of the light balsawood, As I have found plans for the small Imperial Russian Navy's gunboat and the need of a chrismas present I decided to start the 1/144 bread & butter project of STERLYAD launched in 1854. I scaled down the Russian plans - and saved a 1/72 version as well - to built a little non-prominent-ship model. Both scales layed side by side to compare. And as my brother served on a minelayer I decided to try a ship as a present. The „Big Vicky of Portmouth“ isn't non-prominent... and too timeconsuming - so I looked for something smaller and ended at a Russian cruiser's launch (too small) and this gun boat that fits my limitations (depends on the display case). I decided to reuse a quickbuilding scale and method I used years ago for my Battlefleet 1900 wargaming ships (in the more workflowbreaking and fuzzy 1/780). Here all what is in use of the twosided planset: So I scaled down the plan from Sukolov - I additivly ordered the planset for the 30 amnd 64 pounder ordonances. But I have to admit the ordonance plans are - politly spoken - semi-scale. The gunboat's plans are rude in sence of detailing (there are missing any cuts or details without of anchors and some rigging detail) i have to admit. The copies I cut off and glued on the 6mm balsa wood. Taking as much model hull from a single plank as possible. Then I extracted the „superstructure“ and that's all what happend till today. Here comparing of the hights of the superstructure to the drawing: Besides a testfit on a 10mm balsa plank in between the two Ikea frames nothing important happens: Hope you don't dislike my patientfree hurrying little gunboat project too much within your detail crowned 74 and 100 gun ships, HMYs and other slowgrowing projects I like to read in so much and with gerat respect.
  8. Hi There, Firtsly, Merry Christmas and Happy new year! Here, one of my last 3D models, a Spanish Bomb Gunboat, unfortunatly, my computer was dead....and I last all my files in solidworks.... Cheers
  9. Greetings all....I'm back!!! Model Shipways Kit (modified) Scale: 1:24 1/2”=1’ Circa: August-October 1776 Happy Moon Day!!! I am starting my build log on the 45th Anniversary of the Moon Landing....just because. I don't actually plan on building until the first or second week in August, so I can do some summer stuff. I will be doing some pre-build planning and I may add my thoughts here. I wanted to get started early so that my small but dedicated band of followers can find a seat. Background. This will be the SECOND time I built PHILDELPHIA. The first time I did so as a scratch build based on the Model Shipways plans. I will refrain from going into why I chose PHILADELPHIA and save some bandwidth by giving you the link to my scratch build (if I can figure out how to do it). Chux scratch Philly. It was a fun build, but I had some challenges. I have found that there was an additional sheet that comes with the model that does NOT come when you buy the plans separately. This includes all the templates for bulkheads and other pieces parts. Thanks alot Model Expo for not including that!!! At any rate, it was an interesting build. I entered it into the County Fair Design in Wood Exhibit (Scale model class) and actually got an offer to buy it. By then, I was too attached to it to sell. I offered to make a model from the kit, with boxwood and holly replacing the planking and primary exterior wood, as in the scratch. I figured with the kit as a guide and my experience from the previous build, I could build it much faster and I could correct some problems...both with my build and what I perceived to be with the plans. It also gives me an opportunity to work in a larger scale. Some of those corners got really tight at 1/4" scale. History. Again, so save bandwidth, I direct you to Philly History. PHILADELPHIA and the history behind it is fascinating. It (and its associated fleet, not to mention many of its adversaries) was built in a few weeks. It 'lived' only a few months. IIRC only PHILADELPHIA and ROYAL SAVAGE were the only two ships sunk during the battle, but within a week or two of the battle the entire American fleet was sunk, scuttled or captured-but it was considered a strategic American victory. A century and a half or so later, it was discovered, raised and preserved. It exists today, on display in the Smithsonian Institution. NOW your interest is piqued, eh. I think you REALLY want to go to Philly History and read more about it. Other suggested readings include: The Gunboat Philadelphia and the Defense of Lake Champlain in 1776. by Lundeberg, Philip K. The Gondola Philadelphia and the Battle of Lake Champlain. by Bratten, John R. Benedict Arnold's Navy, by Nelson, James L.
  10. Hi Guys, The Caldercraft HM William Gunboat 1:32 I was just wondering if anyone had any experience of, or have indeed built this ship? For the first time a search on site has produced no hits or information at all (apart from another gentleman asking similar questions 2 years ago). I've virtually finished my last build (Lady Nelson) and am searching for my next. Its a bit of an odd one but I find it intreguing. This is a Caldercraft, so should be of good quality, but I must confess one reason its attracted me is its scale; its a big 1:32 which I find most interesting after fiddling about with the 1:64 Lady Nelson. Any help, information or direction much appreciated. Thanks, Bryan
  11. Based on Model Shipways plans Scale: 1/48 ¼”=1’ Circa: August-October 1776 Caveat. I start this build log with the understanding that I am better at building than I am at documenting…and I’m not all that good at building. As such, there may be large gaps in coverage. I actually started the model in the spring of 2013 so I would have a project to work on at the County Fair in June. After the Fair, I worked in dribs and drabs until I decided (got strong armed by our Guildmaster) it would be great to enter into the Fair in 2014. Some work got done without photographic documentation. So now you know. Background. I have been interested in the colonial gunboat PHILADELPHIA for many years. Having grown up in the Philadelphia area, I was interested in the Revolutionary War. I knew of the battle of Valcour Island, but it was more of a ‘backwater (literally) engagement’ (needs work). It is was more of a footnote to me than anything else. I really became interested in the model and the battle when I saw the in-progress model of PHILADELPHIA by Dave Yotter (Ship Modelers Association/SDSMG). He was building from scratch using the 20+ page set of plans from the Smithsonian. He even cast his own guns. Dave’s model is three times larger than mine will be. When Model Expo announced they were coming out with a model of PHILADELPHIA, I knew I had to build it. I saw that it was in 1/24 scale, which is a bit too large for my work/display area, so I decided to scratch build it in 1/48 scale (1/4”=1’). I would have preferred to build in 3/16” scale, the scale I have used for colonial ships LEXINGTON and SULTANA, but it was a bit too small. The ¼” scale is perfect, however, because it is the same as fellow SDSMG member Mike Lonnecker’s HMS FLY from the same era. Hey Mike, my ship might be smaller than yours but my guns are bigger!!!! Take that!!!
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