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„Święty Jerzy” („Sankt Georg”) 1627 – reconstructing an opponent of „Vasa”


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Posted (edited)

 

The vessel  “Święty Jerzy” (eng. “Saint George”) was an admiral ship of the Polish fleet in the 3rd decade of the 17th century, so it can be said she was an indirect opponent of the Swedish “Vasa” of 1628 in the struggle between the two then belligerent nations.

 

She took a major part in the battle of Oliwa in 1627, capturing by boarding the opponent admiral ship “Tigern” (eng. “Tiger”). The following year, in a retaliatory land-borne attack on the fleet base, led personally by the Swedish king, she was smashed, set on fire and eventually sunk by heavy artillery – large calibre demi-cannons (24-pdrs). Perhaps rather short operational story, nevertheless quite intensive (detailed descriptions of both epic fights have survived).

 

Ultimately, the intention is to build wooden scale model, and a 3-D reconstruction in Rhinoceros is currently underway. The starting point is the two extant fleet’s inventories and contemporary iconography of the battle, mainly a painting made only a few years after the battle.

 

While many details are sourced – of necessity – from various depictions and written works, I have also tried to retain the general layout of the ship as depicted in the painting of the battle, such as the large counter with a bas-relief (or painting) associated with the ship’s name and the low-lying gunroom (entirely below the gun deck). Given the rather low sternpost, this implies that the rudder must have been operated from the level of the gun deck, and not (as usual?) in the steerage located one level higher.

 

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Swedish, Polish and Dutch ships at the Battle of Oliwa 1627; painting by Adolf Boy, contemporary resident of the fleet base

 

 

Local documents of legal nature suggest that the ship was built using a skeleton technique (as opposed to the shell method), and I have made efforts to shape the underwater body of the hull so that it could be achieved by most of the known skeleton methods (as can be derived from contemporary Iberian, French and English works on shipbuilding). At the same time the assumption was made no scale drawings on paper in the construction process were made, only true-scale tracing on the shipyard platform/ground.

 

On the other hand, it is believed that ships built in the southern Baltic area had many features in common (structural, decorative, rigging) with other ships built in the north of the continent, as exemplified by the Dutch built Swedish “Vasa”, Dutch manuscript (mainly on rigging) of around 1650 or the Dutch monumental work on shipbuilding by Witsen, so masterfully interpreted by Ab Hoving. As a result, in contrast to the conceptual features of the ship (hull shape), these are the main sources used for the reconstruction of structural and rigging elements, besides the Scandinavian early 17th century contracts for building men-of-war and the French works containing data on timber scantlings (largely Atlantic-oriented Construction des Vaisseaux du Roy of 1691).

 

Some visualisations of the 3-D model in the present (unfinished) state:

 

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Cheers,

Waldemar

Edited by Waldemar
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Thank you. That’s right, Kevin. Upon completing the 3-D model, it could later provide all the necessary 2-D projections of each single part, assemblies or intersections. I have put a few quickly made samples below. Please note some strange lines may still appear, as many parts are not already cut to their final shape, masts are still a simple dowels, gunports are not yet pierced etc.

 

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Right. I’m taking care to get all the polysurfaces closed and ready even for such undertaking as 3-D printing, although – to be honest – I would be much happier with a model of “noble” wood, which is actually planned. Also had the same idea of 3-D printing, but some parts, being long, thin and/or curved in all directions, could be very cumbersome to print, and even more so with filament flatbed printers.

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I think some pieces are better made using resin and others using filament, but neither are ideal for every part and in some instances, e.g. masts and spars, neither are particularly suitable at all. Resin gives much better fine detail but filament is better for structural strength, at the expense of surface finish. Personally, I won’t be too surprised if I eventually find myself using 3D printed for a frame and detailed parts but with wood planking for the aesthetics.

 

In any case I’ll follow yours with interest. 3D seems to be coming into play quite quickly, with more and more model makers heading in this direction.

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Posted (edited)

 

Right, in general, you are correct – the guns were mounted more or less perpendicular to the ports. The exception, however, was the chase ports, which were even made a little wider than the rest, so that the heaviest and tactically most important guns could be directed right forward. This is explicitly recommended (as I recall) in one of the English 17th century shipbuilding treatises.

 

My explanation for this is that it would be impossible to yaw both ways when sailing closed-hauled against the target about to be boarded. It would be perhaps no time for such manoeuvres too, as the artillery fire was opened at the last moment (usually at the musket range, ie. 75–150 m) in order to reduce the risk of missing the target. And we are still at the period of boarding tactics – typically just one artillery salvo and then immediate grappling, at least by determined combatants (Armada campaign with windward English vessels refusing to board opponent ships is not quite typical for this era).

 

Edited by Waldemar
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The angles involved in the bow area are also the reason why long-barreled artillery pieces were preferably chosen as the chase guns. Not quite for its assumed accuracy or range (both not really necessary in a boarding sea fight), but simply to place the gun’s muzzles outside the ship.

 

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Posted (edited)

 

Many thanks for your comment. Building the wooden model by two professional modellers (for the museum exposition) should start within weeks, even without waiting for the completion of the ship’s documentation. Also, in order to speed up the work, the plank-on-bulkhead construction is planned for this very first model. Perhaps I would be allowed to attach some photos of this work-in-progress too.


Just now I am preparing section lines of the hull for them.

 

Edited by Waldemar
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Posted (edited)

 

... just started the upper deck. It is called "koebrug" in the fleet inventory, so I have designed this deck as heavier than "bovenet" (very light deck), and – at the same time – lighter than a regular deck. In practice: a lot of gratings, but still able to carry a few small-calibre artillery pieces.

 

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Edited by Waldemar
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Posted (edited)

 

That's right. There are several Display Modes in Rhino to choose from, some more suited for modelling work, and other helpful for presentation purposes (sorry for the banality). Below I have included a few samples I use most often. Trying not to use external plug-ins to the Rhino, and fortunately the number and look of Display Modes available already in Rhino is more than enough for my needs.

 

Wireframe:

 

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Shaded:

 

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Rendered:

 

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Artistic:

 

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Pen:

 

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Edited by Waldemar
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Posted (edited)

 

Thank you very much for your comment Mark. I completely agree with you that such coamings could be a serious trip hazard. 

 

They are modelled exactly on the "Vasa" coamings, just as many other parts in this reconstruction. Still, this very issue you have raised made me think of the necessity of chamfering their edges (see the updated image below).

 

To be honest, I was more expecting a comment on cannons so close to the rather high coamings, and my explanation would be that these were then the last days of firing on the non-recoil principle and the outboard loading, both closely related to the doctrine and practice of the boarding tactics (as opposed to soon to be widely adopted artillery tactics).

 

 

Section of the „Vasa” coamings:

 

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Updated coamings (much better, thanks again Mark):

 

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Edited by Waldemar
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... even more gratings, with one of the hatch covers upside down. Perhaps this appearance of the deck, featuring some of the hatch covers in place and some not, is somehow related to the etymology of the name of this deck, namely 'koebrug' (a Dutch term, in English 'cow-bridge'), where the hatch covers visually act as 'bridges'.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

 

Many thanks for the likes, stimulating...

 

General construction of the jeer capstan completed – spindle lowered by an inch or two and made to the gun deck (not shown here), pawls added, bars reversed, chamfering of the coamings redone.

 

Below a picture of the real thing for comparison (by H. Sasso).

 

 

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Edited by Waldemar
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Posted (edited)

 

Could not resist placing some infantrymen in the ship's waist. Out of the company totalling 100 men, borrowed from the army for this ship just before the imminent battle, only 27 musketeers are shown here. Some of them, able to throw grenades, were sent to the fighting tops. The sailing part of the crew consisted of additional 50 men.

 

It is difficult to imagine the crowding on board during the battle...

 

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Figurines by Captain_Ahab_62 (Thingiverse)

 

Edited by Waldemar
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