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Wooden Warship Construction (Paperback)

A History in Ship Models

Maritime > Seaforth Publishing > Seaforth: Modelling Maritime > Ship Modelling Military > Modelling

By Brian Lavery
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 128
Illustrations: 130 colour photos
ISBN: 9781399024853
Published: 21st August 2023


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The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich houses the largest collection of scale ship models in the world, many of which are official, contemporary artefacts made by the craftsmen of the navy or the shipbuilders themselves, and ranging from the mid seventeenth century to the present day. As such they represent a three-dimensional archive of unique importance and authority. Treated as historical evidence, they offer more detail than even the best plans, and demonstrate exactly what the ships looked like in a way that even the finest marine painter could not achieve.

This book takes a selection of the best models to both describe and demonstrate the development of warship construction in all its complexity from the beginning of the 18th century to the end of wooden shipbuilding. For this purpose it reproduces a large number of model photos, all in full colour, and including many close-up and detail views. These are captioned in depth, but many are also annotated to focus attention on interesting or unusual features, which can be shown far more clearly than described. Although pictorial in emphasis, the book weaves the pictures into an authoritative text, producing an unusual and attractive form of technical history.

"Excellent photographs throughout make this a well presented and highly informative book."

The Society of Model and Experimental Engineers Journal - Volume 31 No. 6, December 2023

"...this book is all about accuracy and information and we are given a quite staggering and unique excursion into the mysteries of the shipwright’s art."

The Society of Model and Experimental Engineers Newsletter - November 2023

"In summary, in this book Brian Lavery has exploited the best of contemporary publishing skill, especially in colour illustration, to provide a synthesis of the insights available in his earlier major works such as The Ship of the Line and The Arming and Fitting of English Ships of War, 1600-1815. Here his years as senior curator at NMM bear further fruit, and this authoritative account in affordable and handy format cannot be commended too highly."

Read the full review here.

Naval Review

Nowadays, it is possible to produce books with superb colour illustrations at a rather reasonable
price. This is one of the best. If you have the other two books in the series, you should add this one. It would also interest and perhaps, inspire ship modellers as well as making a good addition to any nautical library.

The Northern Mariner, Winter 2018 – reviewed by C. Douglas Maginley Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia

Admiralty models have always been inspirational to artist and model makers, so this book with its illustrations can, in a way, be considered a respectable book on art. That the author uses the photos as a vehicle to explain ship building makes it even more worthy.

International Journal of Maritime History, May 2018: reviewed by John McKay - Langley, British Columbia, Canada.

★★★★★ In a book so copiously illustrated, the reader expects only a brief overview of the parts and processes that follow. Incredibly, so many details are presented you can’t possibly remember them all after one reading. Anyone considering building an authentic wooden ship model or researching any aspect of ship construction would do well to begin with this excellent book. This is also a reference that writers and readers of fiction can consult time and again whenever their hero’s ship sustains damage.

Read the complete review here.

Pirates and Privateers, Irwin Bryan

A great volume

STORIA militare, September 2017

As a former curator, the author knows his way around the outstanding collections of the National Maritime Museum. – This is a well researched, beautifully produced and impeccably illustrated work that will become a standard in its field – Highly Recommended.

Read the full review here.

Firetrench - Julian Stockwin

Students of naval history will find this book invaluable for understanding how Great Britain maintained its maritime pre-eminence through the long eighteenth century, while those looking to understand and to revive ancient crafts have a comprehensive, readily intelligible, and lavishly illustrated guidebook. Secondly, the illustrations and the written text are integrated to create in print a narrative that is equal to and which often surpasses those of multimedia productions. Brian Lavery has demonstrated that the printed book is as flexible and as user-friendly a medium as the tablet and the television, but he also gives the reader an inducement to visit the museum in Greenwich or to explore its website.

Australian Naval Institute, John Johnson

The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich houses the largest collection of scale ship models in the world, many of which are official, contemporary artefacts made by the craftsmen of the Royal Navy or by the shipbuilders themselves. These models offer more detail than even the most meticulous plans, and as well demonstrate exactly what the ships appeared like. Lavery discusses a selection of the best models from the beginning of the eighteenth century to the end of wooden shipbuilding. As you’d expect, superbly illustrated throughout.

Julian Stockwin action-adventure historical fiction

About Brian Lavery

BRIAN LAVERY is the bestselling author of more than thirty books on maritime history including the highly successful Nelson’s Navy and Empire of the Seas. He was for many years senior curator at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, and he served on the advisory committee that dealt with the most famous preserved ship in the world, HMS Victory. His recent title, Anson's Navy, has just been published by Seaforth.

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