Interesting Facts About Model Ships

Model Sail BoatModel Sail Boat

Model ships are popular for decorating, especially when people are using a maritime theme. Building them has been a hobby for hundreds of years. Almost all naval museums in the world have at least a small collection and there are private collectors who purchase models built by hobbyists. So, whether you like building them or displaying them, you’re not alone. Here are some interesting facts on the subject.

Two of the largest known collections belong to the hobbyists who built them. Philip Warren of England has a collection of 432 ship models built on the scale of 1:300, all of which he constructed himself. Erick Navas of Peru has a collection of 480 warships, some of which he built from scratch.

The materials used to construct ship models vary widely. Historically, they were built from wood, clay or even bronze. Today, plastic is a popular material, especially when the design comes from a kit. If sails and rigging are a part of the design, they may be constructed of fabric and cord. 

Galleon Stern SectionGalleon Stern Section

Model Ship Materials and Replicas

Some non-traditional materials have been used to make models including paper tubes, mailing labels and duct tape. The hobbyist will sometimes use whatever material is available to complete his or her model. Some hobbyists construct models of towns, castles and oceans to go along with their ships. This is similar to how a model train enthusiast creates a scenario that goes along with the trains. 

Figures of people are sometimes crafted to “operate” the various features of the ship. In one example, the sailor figurines are operating a capstan, a vertical axel used to make it easier to raise ropes or cables.

The smallest model ships are the size of a quarter, built on the scale of 1:6000. The largest are full-sized vessels that may be only slightly smaller than the original. These large models can sometimes be seen floating in harbors and are commonly used as tourist attractions. They may also be called replicas, if they are built on the 1:1 scale.

Some of the oldest surviving models were found in Egyptian tombs and date back to the Old Kingdom, a period from approximately 2686 BC to 2181 BC. It was during this time period that the Step Pyramid of Djoser was constructed. Boats of the Old Kingdom were square-cut designs with two rudders. Archaeologists believe that these models were built as a means of transportation along the Nile River for the spirits of the dead. 

Of the many models  found in ancient Egyptian tombs, most were too small to actually be useful. The Royal Ship of King Cheops is an exception. It was large enough to carry the King’s human form, as well as 10 rowers and their supplies. The ship was dismantled and buried in a sealed pit carved into the limestone bedrock. The Ship was discovered in 1954 and has since been “re-constructed”. It is a piece of ancient history come to life, the only known surviving example of the papyri-form boats commonly used for transportation on the Nile and it was actually built by Ancient Egyptian ship-builders.


Model Ship Engineers and Designers

Today, engineers and designers usually create working models before the full-scale design is built. This was also a common practice in shipbuilding of the 18th and 19th centuries. One specific example of model ships constructed to depict the proposed design of a warship is called the Admiralty Models. The acceptable warship designs became part of England’s Royal Navy.

The modern hobby of today can be traced back to the public interest in the naval supremacy of Great Britain during the 18th and 19th centuries when individuals not involved in shipbuilding began carving models that were sometimes crude, sometimes fanciful. Model ships of today cover a wide range of designs, materials and levels of expertise. This is truly a great hobby for anyone.

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Another great hobby is model trains read all about them here at Bills Model Rail Road Infoguy beginner’s and  seasoned model rail road builders it’s all here Including pictures and videos.

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