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Pennants Flown from Mastheads c1770


BANYAN
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Hi folks, in trying to finish my HM Bark Endeavour c1770 (all the small things :)) I am trying to determine what pennants would have typically been flown from the mastheads (in addition to the Jack forward and Ensign aft).

 

I am assuming one would have been the commissioning pennant but I am unsure of its size and colours; this would probably have been flown from the mizzen?

 

In a recent painting of Endeavour she is depicted with a pennant flying from each of the mastheads, with the mainmast pennant being fairly large (long).

 

Any information re positioning, size, structure, colour etc would be most appreciated.

 

cheers

 

Pat

Edited by BANYAN
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Hi Pat, I rather think that the Commissioning Pennant would have been worn at the Main Masthead.

 

As the Endeavour was on a scientific expedition under the auspices of the Admiralty I would think she would have sailed under the Red Ensign and worn a pennant of that squadron colour. As an alternative she could I suppose have worn the Union Pennant at the masthead.

 

I have read that for sixth rates, (smallest rate I have information on)  a pennant of some 16 yards in length was authorised for early in the 19th c; would probably have been somewhat longer in the 18th c.

 

Ensign sizes on models are always a little tricky, and trials with paper templates are necessary to suit both the model and your eye.

 

Cheers,

 

B.E.

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Thanks B.E.  Yep agree and  have established she had the Red Ensign and Jack forward - but it is the other pennants I am trying to determine.  Do you think she may have also flown the common pennant (tricolour) if assigned to other duties (scientific exploration)?  Interesting that the Commissioning pennant was at main mast - if nothing else i will consider fitting this one.  The period is too late for Streamers, so it is possibly 1 to 3 pennants.

 

cheers

 

Pat

Edited by BANYAN
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Hi Pat,

 

One of my main reference sources for flags useage is Flags at Sea by Timothy Wilson, well worth getting if you don't already have it.

 

The Common or Union Pennant was apparently a feature of an independent command, so may well have been worn by Endeavour. The Main masthead was the usual place, and it was kept flying at all times, unless struck on the raising of a command flag or a broad pennant. (not applicable in the case of Endeavour.)

 

On a bare stick model I would certainly add the Jack, Ensign, and Pennant at the Main, but Pennants at the Fore and Mizen are less clear to me.

 

There is a reference in the book to the wearing of Vanes (short blunt pennants) at empty mastheads, and many contemporary paintings show  shorter Pennants at the Fore and Mizen, usually red in colour. (Charles Brooking / Nicholas Pocock)

 

There is also mention of Vanes being of squadron colours, and sometimes of different colours to identify a specific ship.

 

All a bit of a fog I'm afraid, and  a quick check of  contemporary paintings of Endeavour  lack detail  in this area, -isn't it always the case.

 

I don't think anyone would gainsay you if you had the Common Pennant at the Main, and in the absence of any specific evidence, smaller Red Vanes at the Fore and Mizen, if you choose to do so.

 

Regards,

 

B.E.

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Thanks again B.E. - your logic and comments generally mirrors my thinking but you have alerted me to a new possibility :).  I have that book by Wilson, but I did not want to post my interpretation initially as I did not wish to influence any responses along any particular path.  My initial thoughts were that perhaps the Common at the main (as you also interpret) and perhaps a commissioning pennant at the mizzen, but I do like the idea of the vanes (which had not occurred to me - many thanks).  Are you aware of any size  'rules of thumb' for the pennants or vanes?  I am also not aware (or more accurately yet to determine) when the use of commissioning pennant started.

 

cheers, and many thanks again

 

Pat

[Edit]  You are very correct in pointing out the lack of contemporary evidence of these for Endeavour.  i have found one watercolour of Endeavour showing pennants at each mast head but it is a more modern interpretation.  I'll take a closer look at this and see if I can contact the painter (unfortunately, I think it may have been Robin whom is no longer a member).

Edited by BANYAN
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The commissioning pennant was always at the mainmast truck, unless superseded by a rank flag.  In this time frame they came in red, white and blue, depending on the squadron of the Admiral under whom the ship is serving.  There was a red, white and blue commissioning pennant in stripes for a 'private ship', that was not serving under the squadron system; Endeavour would have probably used this one.

At sea?  The 'private ship' commissioning pennant at the main mast truck and the red ensign at the gaff or ensign staff.

 

Try this link.  More than you probably wanted to know.  http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags

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Thanks JB.  I am assuming that the commissioning pennant you describe as being  three equally distributed horizontal stripes in the order red, white blue?  I am also assuming a standard  (elongated triangle) shape and not a 'burpee [V end]) ?

 

i have looked through that site but find it very difficult to find this sort of information (unless looking for a typical flag such as an Ensign for a particular country in a particular period).  That could just be me being thick headed though ;)  is there a particular section to look in for this?

 

I am protraying her at anchor/alongside with spars fitted but sails stowed away - so the at anchor positions for Ensign and Jack and now the commissioning pennant at the main mast truk will be my most likel;y configuration. .... Then to find one of these (at appropriate scale) :)

 

cheers

 

Pat

Edited by BANYAN
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Hi Pat,

 

Commissioning Pennants came into use around 1661 probably earlier and continued to 1850 (Flags at Sea)
As for size, there were given proportions based on breadths of cloth at given widths used to make up the flag size. - see. (p87/88 flags at sea)

 

As an experiment I took the given 6th rate breadth of  9" x the number for the largest Ensign (14) which gave me a depth at the hoist of 50mm (at 1:64 scale.)

 

I then used the drawings in the book on page 20 to work out the length to breadth (fly to hoist)) ratio in percentage terms -
68.42% which gave a scale length of 85mm.

 

So my Ensign  had depth at the hoist of 50mm and length at the fly of 85mm.
Same principal applied to the Jack drawing which gave me  scale size of 30mm x 45mm

 

For the Common Pennant I used the given figure of 16 yards which scaled to 230mm. The depth of the Pennant I estimated at 12mm which gave me 4mm for each of the three colours.

 

The acid test is how they look on the model  for size.

 

The first important factor is how do they relate to the Ensign and Jack staffs.

 

post-11-0-62768800-1478011673_thumb.jpg

Here's a trial fit on my Pegasus, not too bad to my eye for an opening attempt. The jack could be a tad smaller I think in relation to the staff, but the Ensign looks close.
The Pennant looks ok to me for length, maybe needs tweaking a tad in the hoist depth, but not much. (A tricky issue if trying to replicate the Common pennant.)

 

Endeavour and Pegasus were close in size, so if you scale up for your build this may at least give you a starting point.
When I get around to it I will make the flags out of tissue, but they will be draped rather than flying as I prefer the look.
Hope this helps.

 

ps: If you would like to contact Robin, you may get to him thro' his web site.
http://www.robin-brooks.com/

 

Cheers,

 

B.E.

Edited by Blue Ensign
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Wow, thanks folks some great info there.  I will really need to sit and read that Wilson Book much closer as I missed some of the detail.

 

I have the Ensign and Jack sorted (and fitted).  It is the masthead pennants I am now trying to resolve .  

 

JB many thanks for the direct link (again I need to sit and work my way through this sit more thoroughlye).  Spot on about the commissioning pennant, I think I will fit a commissioning pennant also which if I recall correctly,  is simply a thin red cross (St George?) on white pennant, with the vertical leg of the cross biased well to the hoist edge of the pennant. These are still in use with the RAN also.  We fly a very small version at all times but often not visible as they are flown from some inconspicuous places so as not to be misinterpreted as part of any signal hoist etc.  The 'paying off/decommissioning' versions are huge (length wise), especially for ships that have been in service for some years.  We sometimes held the tails of them aloft with helium filled (weather/wind finding) balloons.

 

 

B.E.  thanks for that info.  I'll post a piccy of the fitted flags (Ensign and Jack I have used in Endeavour) later today or tomorrow.  They are similar in size to what you have used as I am working at 1:60 - so will be about right.  The common pennant looks a goer and I think I may fit that also.  Thanks for the link to Robin's site as well.

 

Chuck, that site has a lot of info but not the easiest to navigate - but your point is well taken. Any clues/comments re the masthead position of the common or commissioning pennants.  Currently understand that both were flown from the main masthead, but which had precedence?

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I'm a bit confused Pat, as far as the 18th century is concerned my understanding is that the 'commissioning ' pennant is raised at the start of a commission and is kept aloft for the duration of that commission.

 

That pennant took the form of either a common pennant or one of the squadron colours.

 

I am not aware of a separate pennant also being at the masthead, nor have I seen such an example in contemporary art of the period, I would be interested if evidence of this is available.

 

Cheers,

 

B.E.

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Red, white, blue and common pennant (RN) are all commission pennants and one is flown at the main mast truck 24-7 from commissioning ceremony until the ship is decommissioned, unless an admiral's or other rank flag needs to be flown.  If under the command of an admiral, the color would match his squadronal color.  If under Admiralty orders, as was Endeavour, the striped, private ship or common pennant was flown.

Edited by jbshan
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