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HMS Prince Regent - the Lake Ontario super-frigate

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While it is still an addition to my warship collection, the process behind this model turned out so complicated I thought it deserves a separate post.


The Prince Regent was built in Kingston, Canada, on the Lake Ontario during the War of 1812 and even saw some action then.


At some point after the war the ships on the lake were surveyed by Thomas Strickland, who made the plans later conveyed to London and they ended up in the NMM collection:



The plan shows a very straightforward ship, literally - flat sheer, and the widest point well forward of the midship, features, apparently, characteristic to the builder. Unsuspecting and relying on the fact somebody definitely built a model to those plans, and even one relatively contemporary:



I set off with my own build.


And then the problems began.



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Apart from the plans, there are two images of the Prince Regent known - both illustrations of the attack on Oswego.


1459875696440.jpg.8fd945be1cfe5a247c7496e3dc210fd1.jpg 1459875665249.jpg.2381915674d007b01caddca72197d3ff.jpg

And the more the model was taking shape, the less it looked like the ship portrayed on both of the images. The absence of tumblehome, for one, the and avery, very sharply narrowing stern. And overall sense of too light a structure for that number of heavy guns.



So I went to investigate and found a thesis by a Mr. Daniel Walker concerning the wreck of the Princess Charlotte, the smaller lake frigate. It makes a fascinating reading itself, but it gave me a crude revelation: Strickland's plans are endeed completely inaccurate comparing to the surviving frames of the ships. They seem to get the profile right and the main dimensions, but everything else is doubtful.


Unfortunately, I wasn't able to contact Mr. Walker himself, perhaps due to an outdated email address, so I do not have any information if he attempted to make a frame reconstruction of the Prince Regent, but I did notice that the reconstructed lines of the Princess Charlotte, given in the above thesis do look rather close to the form of the Prince Regent as it is depicted on the engravings.


Thus I set to the wild speculation I am about to present. Of course, I am aware my reconstruction attempt may be erroneous, but the resulting frigate looks feasible enough for it's size, it's battery and the contemporary images by somebody who, apparently, saw her in action.

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First I overlayed the reconstructed Princess Charlotte on the drought of Prince Regent, and widened it to fit the dimensions.



It is possible to see, there are definite similarities, but the lines are much fuller at ends and the curvature of the upper works is different.


Then I made the new frames and positioned them roughly according to their position on the Princess Charlotte and referencing so that the deck line will be more or less even and added a slight tumblehome:



It turned out even the positions of the gunports had to be altered relatively to the plan, and the final result looks like this:


prince_regent_2_1.png.00853d05c6ed63c6279d7709e65ffb9d.png prince_regent_2_2.png.0c5b595d37a6e29e510d9656b6b2f2a8.png



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And especially for comparison with the engravings:


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I can't say I am totally sure this is how the Prince Regent looked like, but it certaily looks like a heavy frigate, capable of carrying her battery of 28 24-pounders. Slightly shallow, but it would look well enough on the Baltic, Mediterranean, or the French Coast blockade. Compare with an ocean-going frigate (Liffey, roughly the same armament, on the right on both images):





Some techincal remarks.

1. The plan does not show a figurehead at all (a scroll), and the engraving shows something like a swan figurehead, so I retained the standard model I use for all other ships to keep it uniformed.

2. The stern decoration is, in fact, taken from the plans of Imperieuse as refitted, it was the closest to the one depicted on the engraving.


Curiously, the Prince Regent looks rather futuristic for her times - in my reconstruction, at least, I got certain similarity to the Inconstant and the Pique built in the 1830s, without the elliptic stern, of course.

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There were some reasons for tumblehome (the French especially) with one of the main ones (besides stability in heavy seas) was to make boarding difficult.  The Great Lakes had different issues, with small yards often very temporary.  A lack of shipwrights and the quick building of these ships on both sides.  


You may be right on your interpretation, though as drawing in many cases were "after the fact".



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To be entirely correct, I started by experimenting with adding a tumblehome and then my concern turned over to the terrible lack of buoyancy of the stern, especially considering the weight of armament - and that's when the Princess Charlotte plans came in. I supposed that they would be close to each other being built by the same Mr. Goudie, and thus they have to share at least some design principles.



Left - Princess Charlotte as reconstructed by Mr. Walker, right - Strickland's lines

Longitudinal positions of the frames are more or less the same.


Here we do see a tumblehome and a substantial stern, and the midship section looks very much like the Prince Regent.


It has to be noted (again, quoting Mr. Walker):

This maybe explained by the fact that when the Strickland plan was produced, the ship was in the water and the view of the stern post was obscured.

So much for accuracy, as no one bothered even to get the ship out of the water to measure the hull. But then it was 1817 and the lake was demilitarized so nobody, I guess, saw any importance in these ships.


This led me to try and superimpose the Princess' lines over the Prince Regent, which required stretching them a bit:


prince_regent_lines_from_charlotte1.png.f0a5e7c1e508f85dcf270558aca853dc.png prince_regent_lines_from_charlotte.thumb.png.7d6dc8c8667e62aae05c7eb2a530f4f6.png

but I was astonished how well they coincided with the general shape and my experimental tumblehome. Then it was only a question of reconstructing the frames between and shaping the sternpost.



And the final shape turned to look so well balanced I thought I got it more or less right.

Of course, the real wreck can prove it was different, but until then...

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Another factor is that these ships were designed to float in fresh water, not salt: there is less buoyancy.

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49 minutes ago, druxey said:

Another factor is that these ships were designed to float in fresh water, not salt: there is less buoyancy. 


Haven't thought about it, but yes, it also must have influenced the design.


Although the hull from the Strickland plan (post 1) has, I am afraid, problems with buoyancy in any kind of water. :)


It is also interesting, how this design is mostly free of the French influence, something rather unusual for the British at that time.

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Adjusted the stripe and made some other little corrections to the texture - and here she is under sail:


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The ship may still appear a little peculiar, since it's widest point is still well forward of the midships, although it's not as noticeable as before. It seems to be Goudie's trademark form, featuring in all the three designs (Pr. Charlotte, Prince Regent and St. Lawrence) - was he influenced by Stalkartt, I wonder?

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Fixed the transom ports (size and positions) a little, so I am now more or less satisfied with the ship. There will be more cosmetic fixes, but I hope nothing substantial.


A view with the much larger Egyptienne:



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Oh, found a watercolor version of one of the engravings. Original, perhaps?

It is a little different (showing different stern layout, with 9 windows instead of eight) but the width of the after part of the ship and the whole substantiality of her construction is very apparent.

Taken from here.



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Shifted the gunports a little more even - to prevent the overcrowding of the forward part and with better accordance to the side-view engraving.




prince_regent_2_5_1.png.c173b6eb74d29e9fd559c3d98ce19fac.png prince_regent_2_5.png.0f985313b1c1109a1fc2fdd5e411c191.png

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Curiouser and curiouser.


All the sources I saw list the drought of the Prince Regent as 16-17 feet, which is identical to the Endymion, and yet the hull I made was significantly shallower. So I went and increased the depth of the hull:



And at this point the form of the midship section began to remind me something I definitely saw before. And it is possible I was quite wrong about the design having no French influence, because it reminds the characteristic Forfait form of the Le President frigate. But if what I got from my rough reconstruction was closer to Seringapatam, the reconstructed lines from the wreck of Princess Charlotte (which are the only authentic source for those ships at the moment, I suspect) reminded another frigate, the Forte, derived from the Revolutionnaire, as designed in 1801 but not built until 1811:





Moreover, the Forte is almost similar in size to the Prince Regent (157' 2" on gundeck against 155' 10", 132' 1 ½" keel against 131' 1", and this gets solved if we consider the straight vertical stern post as on Strickland's plan (and, in turn, it's confirmed by imagery of the wreck in the thesis above, see figure 5 on page 48) although slightly narrower (40' 6 ½" against 42' 6").

The main discrepancy here is the depth in hold (12' 5" on Forte, 9' 2" on Prince Regent), but due to the proportional difference in burthen (1,155 Forte, 1,293 Prince Regent, 1,277 Endymion) I would attribute it to either measurement error or different method of construction.


So I am very inclined to consider remaking the model completely, using slightly widened  lines of the Forte and, possibly, the more flattened sheer of the Seringapatam. It is, of course, a wild speculation, as before, but there is something plausible in this concept.

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Did some digging on the Forte.


Found several images of her:








And possibly these two as well (one is named Ganges, but Ganges is the battleship she was accompanying, so it is possible the Forte):








Additionally, the site gives some information about the painting of the Prince Regent at Oswego:




Making this version the original and, if we believe the second image in the series:




Painted in place by an eye witness.


And that, in turn, invites a curious comparison.


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The Forte is ready:






And, looking at her in 3d I am almost convinced the Prince Regent was if not a direct copy, but at least very closely based on her (well, anyway, much closer than any other project of similar size):



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Finally got around to finish my interpretation of the Prince Regent:



Under construction



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And in game


It is, essentially, the same hull as the Forte with only differences being a spar deck, different gun and boat arrangements and slightly different stern board, and she looks very realistic to me. Much more so than the first attempts in this thread anyway. Slightly overgunned, but they didn't care for range there, so that might not have been much of a problem.

For the final variant I applied a standard frigate paint scheme with single stripe - the upper stripe, interestingly looking as it is, appears only on one drawing of 3 different pictures of the ship I found, so it might have been a fluke or existed for only a short time.

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