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Looking for plans or possible models of Magellan's ships.

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Does anyone know of any resources for plans or possible models of Magellan's ships that circumnavigated the globe on his historical voyages?  Seems there isn't much available for ship plans on the net but basics, in hopes I can track down historically accurate plans or even someones model renditions.

Quality image would be great also if historical detail is present. Thanks in advance for any help or suggestions!



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You are asking for something almost impossible: in thta period ships were not built accordi g to plans, butbased on main dimensions, experience and rules of thumb. There are some (but ot many) artists impressions ofships around that period, but those drawings, however interesting, are hardly usefull to reconstruct the ships of that period.

No ships survived, and acheological evidence isvery scarce.

In other words: historically accurate plans are not available.

Your best line will be search for reconstructions ofspanish/portugese ships of that period. Quite a number of reconstructions of Columbus ships exist, there is a reconstruction of a Portugeseship (the pepper wreck) that can provide a starting point for your model, but that one is a bit too late. (1600 in stead of 1500)



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The best that you can probably do is a reconstruction. 

Seaways did a 2 sheet 4 plan of a Manila galleon of about 1575.  It would be a hundred year later off spring but it would carry echos.

If you look carefully, the heavy footprint of Roman merchant bulk carriers can be seen in Medieval seagoing vessels. 

We have had several threads going here on this period.  Do a search for Louie da fly for a view of what we know.

The series of volumes covering the Red Bay wreck gets close.  There is the AOTS volume  doing a guess about Columbus' vessels.

Texas AM has some data.  Get to know what is in the Subjects built Up to and including 1500 AD forum.

What you seek will not be a simple one off fire and forget.  It will involve serious academic immersion in speculative and arcane subjects.

It will involve drafting and lofting.  It will involve scratch building - tools and wood.  It will be a whole world of its own to do correctly. 

You will do the work that would earn you an advanced academic degree in most other fields,  but there will be no robes, diploma, or accolades for the effort.

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I’m going to have to agree with the others, I’m not well versed in the history of Magellan but a quick google search mentions 5 ships, the most notable being the Nao Victoria. The Victoria was the first ship to circumnavigate the globe and a 1:1 recreation was made in the 1990s. As far as recreating the original Victoria might be a very difficult if not impossible task. I suppose you could use other ships from the early 16th century as a reference, the Victoria or the San Salvador as mentioned before might be a good starting point. If you do decide to pursue this I will happily watch with interest as the project unfolds! Good luck!


Btw I also saw a few models on the internet that may be useful for you, I’ll attach the link for you of the nicest one I saw but the website is in Spanish so honestly I’m not sure how much it will help:






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I'm afraid I have to agree with Jaager regarding the scarcity of information and the amount of work needed to produce a worthwhile model that is accurate to the time and type of ship.


However, there's more known than you might imagine.  Firstly I'd recommend you read and become familiar with

Woodrat's superb Carrack or cocha here: https://modelshipworld.com/topic/4915-venetian-carrack-or-cocha-164-by-woodrat-completed/

This is of an earlier vessel, taken from a drawing of 1445, but many of the features hardly changed, if at all.


We know the number and types of ships that took part - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magellan's_circumnavigation - four naos (carracks) and a caravel - and the number of crew per vessel, which might give us an indication of their size. And we know they set out in 1519.


Presumably they weren't brand-new ships - it's unlikely the king would have had them especially built for the voyage, as he was strapped for cash and had to get loans to pay for the expedition - but they wouldn't have been more than, perhaps, 10 years old. So that gives us a rough idea of when they were built - maybe 1510 or thereabouts. Given the size of the crews they weren't all that big, and probably would have had three masts, not four as larger and later carracks had.


So what do we have from that time, keeping in mind that this was a period of considerable evolution in carrack design - they were getting bigger and adding decks, and starting to be pierced for heavy cannon. With the crew sizes quoted they  wouldn't have been as big as the Santa Caterina do Monto Sinai (see https://modelshipworld.com/topic/25590-santa-catarina-do-monte-sinai-by-robert-taylor-pyro-1144-scale-plastic/), and she's a bit late anyway - launched in 1520.


Probably the best available pictures the right size and from about the right time are below:




 1495-1500 carrack fleet from Story of the Destruction of Troy the Great, French.




1492-3 Jonah and the Whale Nancy, France BNF MS Lat. 10491 f. 166v.




1494 reprint 1518 Consolat de Mar Barcelona, Catalunya (Spain)




1500 approx.Octavian de Saint Gelais France


556380469_1500BarbariveniceItalycarracks8.jpg.ecb5f24233f4df3d5a8b6042961e24ee.jpg  313183158_1500BarbariveniceItalycarracks9.jpg.cb117dbcc8faf7706c18147e880c76c3.jpg  434251291_1500BarbariVeniceItalycarrack.jpg.ec1816284e499c95e7d7235122a6b2b4.jpg


                                                                                     1500 Jacopo Barbari Panorama of Venice (details)




1504 Return of Vasco da Gama from India, Tapestry.  Tournai, Belgium (detail)




1514 Jonah by Bellano. Basilica of San Antonio, Padua, Italy




1515 Panorama of Antwerp Roadstead, Holland (detail). This one might be a bit late - it seems somewhat too advanced and sophisticated.

These are probably the most appropriate for the time period you're looking at. However, it has also to be kept in mind that different regions had different details - for example the shrouds of carracks serving in the Atlantic had ratlines and were fixed to the hull with deadeyes, while carracks of the Mediterranean had a single rope ladder per mast, and the shrouds were fixed to the hull with blocks. Also, contemporary pictures very often show the bow as too "tubby" compared with the reality, and exaggerate (often dramatically) the sheer of the decks and particularly the forecastle. For an accurate carrack shape, look at Woodrat's build referenced above.


I've put together a Pinterest page on carracks at https://www.pinterest.com.au/lowe1847/carracks/ which you might find of use. And there's a collection of archaeological reports on carrack wrecks at https://modelshipworld.com/topic/10190-archaeological-studies-on-carrack-wrecks/



And don't take too much notice of modern reconstructions - they have no more information than you do, and often get it very wrong indeed.


But to get something that is as close as possible to Magellan's ships given the lack of information, you'll need to draw your own plans based on what is available, and build from scratch. The alternative would be to get a Santa Maria kit and bash it to be more in line with what we know. Some of them would probably be suitable for this and end up with a ship that was pretty close to the reality of Magellan's vessels - but choose one with a round stern, not a flat one. Though caravels had flat sterns, carracks didn't begin being built with them till later.


The only other thing I'd recommend is to get hold of the contemporary account of Magellan's voyage, to see if they mentioned anything about the ships or their rig or characteristics (for example, Columbus's account describes the rig of Santa Maria and how they changed the rig of one of the caravels from lateen to square, so perhaps there's similar information in the Magellan accounts).


For the caravel, you could use a kit of Pinta or Nina. Apart from getting bigger, caravels didn't change much over the period they were in use.


Edited by Louie da fly
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The best representation of a sixteenth Century Iberian ship is the Red Bay Galleon, but she is too late, 1570’s.  For an earlier Iberian built ship consider the Newport Medieval Ship thought to have been built in the 1450’s and discovered in Bristol UK.  Probably too early but another viewpoint.


You can find reconstruction information on the web.



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That's very true. The Newport ship is thought to date to 1468 and you can get all their archaeological information here: https://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/view/newportship_2013/downloads.cfm


 However I have serious reservations about their reconstruction. It appears to have been drawn by someone much more familiar with 18th and 19th century ships and just "looks" wrong for a carrack. I would also dispute their contention that she was flat-sterned. The evidence is equivocal, and could just as easily support the idea of a round-sterned vessel with the "tuck" close to the sternpost - as we see on contemporary representations of carracks.


By all means work off the archaeological drawings, but don't take their extrapolations from the remnants too seriously. Use contemporary pictures as your guide, for preference.


Apart from the Newport ship and the Red Bay wreck, the carrack wrecks in my link above are Mediterranean and I would use them with a pinch of salt, simply because design principles were so different. In the Atlantic (and particularly Iberia, but also England - the Mary Rose is an example) the shape of the hull was determined by a process called "hauling down the futtocks" involving drawing arcs which were moved as you moved forward and aft from the master frame. The Mediterranean technique (the right-hand image) was different, and resulted in a rather differently shaped hull (see attached PDF)




However, there is another wreck which I didn't provide a link for, the Cavalaire wreck of 1479 -  https://modelshipworld.com/topic/10191-the-cavalaire-wreck-basque-carrack-of-c-1479/?tab=comments#comment-303295 . Unfortunately the on-line archaeological report doesn't include the images referenced in the text. However, this article I think includes much of the pictorial data -  https://www.academia.edu/6921643/Oak_growing_hull_design_and_framing_style_The_Cavalaire_sur_Mer_wreck_c_1479



hauling down the futtocks.pdf

Edited by Louie da fly
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This is very rare and with heart felt thanks for all the data and information on these Magellan ships from the members here. It was brought to my attention that there was hardly any pertinent ship information on his ships along with possible models, well now thanks to you guys I have some excellent references and a model to work from.  


Louie da fly, that is a wealth of data to go threw and will be chewing it up like candy, thank you for the time and effort to give me such a complete starting point and report which would have taken me months to find and figure out. Got a couple more sails to work on tonight and will also be building the Magellan file from these references.


Here's a pdf ESO site article which some of you might enjoy reading which pertains to Magellan and the stars they used to navigate by:


Another to add to this type of research subject. I hope you enjoy it as I have.


Those early ships were beauties, along with building them from scratch using rule of thumbs. From some of the earliest accounts of sea monsters seems to come from this era first, which is remained in the sailors minds even to this day.

Very exciting and interesting topic with a great learning curve. One day I might just be able to come up with a scratch built model close to what was actually used. I will also put any other new information I find here in the blog along with some prototype drawings when I do get started on this long term project. Got a few ship kits to put together now but will be researching during "off the table" time to correlate the data and see what I can come up with. Maybe someone else also wants to give it a try as to produce this model along with his other ships, this would do model history a great service.





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Just as an additional note, my understanding from Loewen's paper is that in "hauling down", all the curved timbers at a particular point were the same radius no matter what frame they were on - they were just placed and angled differently - whereas in the Mediterranean method the radius was different from frame to frame. This obviously made "mass production" of futtocks much more practicable in the Atlantic method.


Jonathan, your investigations, and particularly your building a physical model, would be a valuable addition to the body of knowledge on these wonderful and sadly overlooked craft. Oftentimes the construction of a model will bring to light issues that would otherwise have gone unnoticed or whose significance and importance would not have been recognised. 



Edited by Louie da fly
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Just found this - a translation of the account of the voyage by Pigafetta, one of the members of the expedition.



 It may contain some useful information on the ships, I've had a quick look through it and found the following:


"when he wished to take a tack on account of the change of weather, or if the wind was contrary, or if he wished to make less way, he had two lights shown; and if he wished the others to lower their small sail,[10] which was a part of the sail attached to the great sail, he showed three lights. Also by the three lights, notwithstanding that the wind was fair for going faster, he signalled that the studding sail should be lowered; so that the great sail might be quicker and more easily struck and furled when bad weather should suddenly set in, on account of some squall[11] or otherwise. Likewise when the captain wished the other ships to lower the sail he had four lights shown  . . .  Also when he wished the studding sail to be replaced with the great sail, he showed three lights."


but it would probably be best to get this in the original language. Looking at the footnotes it appears that the translator uses the terms "small sail" and "studding sail"  to describe a bonnet attached to the bottom of the mainsail.


The rest of the text seems to describe the voyage and not mention the configuration of the ships, but I only skimmed over it very quickly and there may be more I missed.

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I didn’t get into details with my post but I too question the flat transom stern on the Newport ship when you consider that no part of the stern exists.  If I understand things correctly the flat stern was extrapolated from the curvature of existing planking; ie. some of the recovered side planks do not exhibit enough curvature to have extended into the more typical of the time round stern.  


In the late Fifteenth and early Sixteenth Centuries the people of the Basque region of Spain were the masters of the then high tech art of wooden shipbuilding.  With that in mind, I recommend the book Vanguard of Empire (Ships of Exploration in the Age of Columbus) by Roger C. Smith.  It describes the Iberian system of calculating rising and narrowing lines by the half circle method.  The archeological report for the Red Bay Galleon published by Parks Canada also describes this.




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That's good, Jonathan. But the same caveat applies regarding modern models as modern reconstructions. Use primary sources in preference to modern interpretations and follow your own judgment if there seems to be a conflict. A modern model is only as good as the modeller's understanding of the original sources.


Roger, I thought the "flat stern" idea for the Newport ship was based only on the shape of the sternmost frame (of which very little survives, and which is about 2.1 metres forward of the extrapolated position of the sternpost), but I could be wrong.


Looking further through Pigafetta's account I find references to more than one mast (the foremast and mizzen of these ships were often very small, used more for manoeuvring than propulsion) and several references to their artillery, including swivel guns (Versi), and 


"when they went away we fired several bombards in their honour . . . Sunday the 8th December, we fired many bombards, rockets, and fireballs to celebrate the Conception of our Lady . . .  Afterwards the King of Giailolo came to see again our gun exercise."


Unfortunately I couldn't see any footnote regarding what the original words were for these things, so we're left to wonder what they were.


I also found (from https://books.google.com.au/books?id=n24NlWkm65sC&printsec=frontcover&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false) :



So the ship had clew garnets on the mainsail (assuming the translation is correct),







I hope this helps you with your research.


Oh, and to get an idea of the characteristics of Spanish carracks here are some pics - a bit early, but probably these features didn't change much i the interim. Sorry about the picture quality - these are the best resolution I could get. But note the swivel guns on the gunwales of the two lower depictions, and the triangular deadeyes and the ratlines in the shrouds.




                                              1465 Tavola Strozzi. Aragonese fleet returning from the battle of ischia




                                              1465 Tavola Strozzi. Aragonese fleet returning from the battle of ischia




1475 Spanish carrack from a retable celebrating the battle of Zumaia battle (off Gibraltar)




1475 Spanish carracks from a retable celebrating the battle of Zumaia battle (off Gibraltar)


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Thanks guys for the new info. Went over many of the references and images last night along with some of Woodrat's build which is extremely helpful for construction purposes and ideas. I am amazed at how many representations of the Carracks there are along with the different sail interpretations. 


I'll try to find out who constructed the five ships at the archive along with what historical basis they had used. Hopefully I'll find out next week.


It's interesting that the weapons are mentioned, as I was wondering just how many large and small type weapons of the era were on board the different types. Does seem that the artistic representations around that era do show weapons, that is a great find @Louie da fly. Read threw about half of his logs and will finish them today hopefully. 


It does seem that the early type carracks did have flat bottoms, but a few of the representations seems to show rounded bottom hulls also in that era. So I'll try to pick the brains at the archive for this information also.

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Interestingly I have found a kit for Magellan's ship:




Looks nice and detailed but research is still ongoing as this image shows a early carrack model I have found on a auction site:






I do also have the info from a museum that has a full replica of another style carrack named Magellan's ship:




Also many more references to his ship and others which i will post when the data is completed.


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The auction model is what they call a "decorator model", based on imagination and that's about all.


The other looks pretty good, the hull shape is ok but probably a bit late in sail plan - it looks like the sail plan is based on a galleon rather than a carrack. More likely not to have topmasts or a bowsprit, and the mainsail and mainmast need to be huge.


Is that 161 Euros and 16 cents? You could probably re-do the masts and sails to make it pretty close to right. But of course it's a generic carrack, not the Victoria, because nobody knows what she really looked like.

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Interesting on the decor model. Seems it went for a steep price. That's 161.00 Euro's on the other model.


I have always admired the carrack from  http://www.marisstella.hr/gotovi_modeli_galery.php?id=118&tip=2


This one seems to me, a excellent basis to work from as a bash kit for possible Magellan's ship.  But scratch building one like Woodrat's would be much more of a challenge given correct info on Magellan's ships. Oh course piecing together era info with assumptions is a lot more fun. 

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It’s been a while since I read the archeological report about the Newport Ship.  I also have a book, The World of the Newport Ship that illustrates the reconstruction.   W hen I read the book, which is mostly a collection of very dry papers about Medieval economics, I felt that the presence of the transom stern without any justification was a stretch.


I later read a more technical paper on the web where they justified the transom stern.  It had to do with extrapolating waterlines beyond the known remains.  Either by curvature of planking or the last known frame.  Either or both of us could be right.


If they sold the pictured “Carrack” model for even 1% of the asking price it only goes to show that PT Barnum was right about suckers.  It would not be worth anything to me since I don’t have a wood burning fireplace.





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Hmmm, on reflection and re-looking at my picture collection I realise I gave wrong advice in my previous post. Main topmasts and bowsprits were certainly in use by the mid-1460's and main topsails by the early 1480's, at least in larger ships. And I now recollect that the Santa Maria is recorded as having had a main topsail in 1492. However, the main topmast and topsail were quite tiny - you can see them in the pictures below - and the foremast is relatively small and never has a topmast or topsail. And no spritsail on the bowsprit.




1482 Grazioso Benincasa, Italy. Map detail




1490 From the Legend of  St Ursula. Carpaccio, Venice, Italy.


The  Marisstella carrack might be worth bashing - the forecastle and aftercastle seem rather high, more typical of carracks from a little later, but that's something you could probably handle with some judicious kit-bashing. However, it does have a flat stern, which was (almost) unheard of for carracks in 1519.


Roger, I printed off the sheet showing the surviving frames for the Newport ship, with the projected hull shape superimposed. Here's the sternmost surviving frame (F60), which as I understand it is the basis for the "flat stern" theory.:




And here is the side view showing where F60 is (the sternmost vertical dotted line). And I have drawn a curved red line crossing the line of this frame at the point where it becomes concave - showing how a round carrack "tuck" could be fitted in without disturbing either the frame shape or the line of the planking. This line would also mean that the (missing) sternpost would be further forward than they have shown, making the ship somewhat shorter.




By the way, I also have doubts about the  concave waterline at the bow. That seems to fly in the face of all I know of treatises on shipbuilding of the time. And as the shapes of the timbers (presumably including the planking) had to be calculated compensating for the considerable deformation and flattening caused by the weight of soil above it, I don't know how much can be deduced from the shape shown in the picture - how much is reliable and how much (educated) guesswork?



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For what it's worth, there's a full-scale replica of the Nao Victoria at a maritime museum in Chilean Patagonia. I visited it a few years ago and took a series of photos, which you can review here. I don't make any claims about the specific accuracy of this reconstruction, but it does provide a different visual perspective than old drawings or paintings, so maybe it'd be useful as part of your portfolio of information? Example photo:



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Eric, that's a nice reconstruction, but again, has features that make it too late for Victoria - in particular she has a flat stern, the aftercastle's too big and the sail plan  incorporates features that didn't come into use till quite a few decades later - the thinness of the mainmast and the small size of the mainyard, the large size of the main topsail and the height of the foremast and presence of a foretop and fore topsail.


All these things did come into use a little later, and she's a good example of a slightly later carrack, but they aren't appropriate for a ship of Victoria's likely build date.

Edited by Louie da fly
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I appreciate your critique on the reconstruction of that life size ship. Along with the other info you have provided. It helps in narrowing down a general basis for his ship. I'm curious as to what the archive has and will post any info I get from them hopefully this week. 


Also thanks everyone for all the added info and posts. 



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It's no criticism of the reconstruction itself - it's a good representation of a carrack - just rather later than Victoria.


In fact it looks quite like this one from about 1530:




Carracks in the roadstead of Zierikzee circa 1530 


As I mentioned before, this was a time of considerable evolution in carrack design, and a matter of 10 or 20 years produced quite significant differences.

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