Model Battle Ships 

USS MissouriUSS Missouri

Model battle ships include a variety of different warships, such as aircraft carriers and destroyers. They are popular among hobbyists and collectors, alike. Most nautical museums own a collection of naval vessels. The models make it easier for museum patrons to understand some of the displays and to see how ships have changed over the years.

While a variety of scales is available, the most popular choice in the U.S. and Japan is 1:700. With this scale, a WWII aircraft carrier is about 12 inches in length. The smaller size is easier to display than the scale of 1:400 that remains popular for European hobbyists and collectors. Even larger scale replicas may be chosen for museums. 

Practically all battleships have been recreated in model-form. Famous battleships and aircraft carriers are understandably the most popular. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the armored battleship with its heavy caliber guns was the most powerful kind of warship. In terms of power, aircraft carriers overtook the battleships during World War II.

Some hobbyists and collectors prefer vessels with a unique story, whether or not they are particularly famous. Others prefer a specific type or those vessels from a specific date. 

The categories listed below and the names mentioned are by no means the only battle ships to choose from. But the list may give you some ideas for your next project. If you are looking for a gift for a hobbyist or collector, these are good choices.

Model Battle Ship Origins 


From the 17th to the mid-19th century, large vessels with numerous broadside guns were the weapons of choice for a naval tactic called the “line-of-battle”. The tactic involved bringing the ships alongside each other and unloading the cannons in order to destroy the enemy’s ship. The heaviest ships with the ability to resist the most damage and the ones with the most guns were almost always the winners in these engagements.

The warship used in the line of battle tactic came to be known as the ship-of-the-line or the line-of-battle-ship. Sometime during the late 1700s, “line of” was dropped from the phrase and the term “battleship” was coined. Examples of model battle ships classified as line-of-battle include the HMS Hercule and the HMS Indefatigable of Great Britain, the Valmy of France and the Mahmudiye of the Ottoman Empire.     


Iron CladIron Clad

Ironclads were the first steam-propelled warships and were first used during the American Civil War. The most popular model battle ships of the ironclad type are the CSS Virginia (also referred to as the Merrimac, the name it was given after being captured by the U.S. government) and the USS Monitor.

The Monitor and Virginia met at the Battle of Hampton Roads, the first battle between two ironclads. Previous battles involved a single ironclad and a traditional wooden sailing ship. The wooden ship often surrendered quickly.


HMS Dreadnought 1906 Source U.S. Naval Historical Center Author U.S. NavyHMS Dreadnought 1906 Source U.S. Naval Historical Center Author U.S. Navy

Dreadnoughts are a class of ship named after the HMS Dreadnought of the British Royal Navy. Her design revolutionized the navy and made older designs obsolete; so much so that previous designs became known as “pre-dreadnoughts”.

She was built in 1905 and in service from 1906-1919. She was the first to use steam-powered direct-drive turbines, rather than the older triple-extension steam engines. You can find models that replicate her design and the designs of other dreadnoughts. 

Picture Source U.S. Naval Historical Center. Author U.S. Navy

Famous U.S. Battleships

USS MissouriUSS Missouri

Popular choices for U.S. model battle ships include the USS Wisconsin and the USS Missouri. They were the last two, as the value of the battleship had been questioned for a number of years. They were primarily considered “fire support” for the more powerful aircraft carriers.

Almost all model battle ships available today fall into one of the four categories listed above. Although some collectors refer to the aircraft carrier as a battleship, it is technically a different type of ship.  

HMS Victory Museum 

Hms VictoryHms Victory

HMS Victory Lord Nelsons Flag ship at the Battle of Trafalgar, Victory currently has a dual role as the Flagship of the First Sea Lord and as a living museum to the Georgian navy. Vist Portsmouth Naval Base United Kingdom.

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