Admiralty Style Ship Models

Admiralty style ship models were built by ship builders from the 15th to the 19th century. They served as a design aid for the engineers, a simulator for those responsible for operating the vessel and as a “show and tell” display to be used for those raising funds from investors.

An Admiralty model will have some parts of it un-planked exposing the framing and internal and deck furnishings. Usually masts, spars and some rigging are in place. The keel, stern post and stem are erected and the ribs are attached to the keel. This will then represent the general form of the hull. Some of the planks are then applied to the ribbed frame. In some Admiralty boat models the entire hull will be planked while only a portion of the deck will be planked. In other models, a side of the hull will be left un-planked while the deck is planked. Another version will have the entire hull un-planked while the deck is planked. An Admiralty style model could also be a cross section of the hull. This is where all the planking is in place however the model would only represent part of the ship such as the bow, mid section or stern.

The advantage of building an Admiralty ship model to the ship model builder is that you can add detail to better represent the purpose and era of the ship. Using the Bounty as an example, representation can be made for the galley, armament room, carpentry shop, hold, captains quarters etc. The Bounty’s botanical mission was to pick up bread fruit plants so some plants can be added as well as an area that would have been used for the studying of plants and animals discovered along its journey. Prior to starting the ship model the builder should not only study the ship that is being represented but also the era in which the ship was built. Ship building changed from century to century. More realism could be added like ballast placed in the hold prior to adding cargo.

As an alternative to the standard plank on bulkhead that most ship model kits utilize, the builder can either convert the kit to a plank on frame or purchase one of the few plank on frame kits that are available. Exposed ribs can be fashioned using the bulkhead pieces as templates. Add reinforcement to the ribs between the decks by constructing beams. Some of the plank on frame kits that are available are the US Frigate Confederacy, Bounty, US Essex, America, Victory, USS Constitution and Santisimo Trinidad.

Scratch building a plank on frame ship model is also possible. Ensure that you have good quality drawings and are familiar with how ships hulls are designed.
If you do build a plank on frame model, you’ll probably achieve more satisfaction. The beauty of any ship model is the intricate detail. A plank on frame ship model allows you to provide detail not just on the upper deck but also on the decks below.

Author: Jacqueline Louise Gagnon