Following on from my modelling of a Merchant brig (2 masted ship), I have made a Royal Navy Brig Sloop. This will represent two very similar vessels, HMS Vulture, which took part in the Battle of the River Forth (described in my post on the Merchant Brig) and HMS Hazard, which was captured in Montrose Harbour in November 1745.
Montrose was being used by the Jacobites to receive French ships bringing troops, money and equipment from France. In November 1745 HMS Montrose sailed into the harbour to prevent this. Unfortunately she was trapped in the harbour by an easterly gale, which also blew a French transport vessel (La Renommée) into the Harbour.
La Renommée was carrying some 150 men of the Royal Ecossais Regiment, siege artillery and other equipment and money for the Jacobites.
The French ship became stuck on a sandbank but unloaded some on its guns onto the southern cliffs overlooking the harbour and the Jacobites seized the harbour entrance guns. The combination of these forced HMS Hazard to surrender.
HMS Hazard was sailed to France with a prize crew, where she was renamed “Le Prince Charles” and in March 1746 was recaptured after being chased by the Royal Navy Frigate HMS Sheerness into the Kyle of Tongue in Northern Scotland where it was beached. It was carrying weapons for the Jacobites and, most importantly £13,000 in gold, worth £25 million today). The crew of Le Prince Charles attempted to escape along the shore, with the gold, but a skirmish with loyalist troops of a company of 64th Foot (Loudoun’s Highlanders) plus two Highland Independent Companies resulted in the French surrendering and most, but not all, of the gold being recovered.
The model I used to create this Royal Navy brig was the same one I previously used to create the Merchant Brig, the Aurora “Black Falcon”. I had used the SMER reissue for the Merchant Brig, but an original, but identical, Aurora model for the Royal Navy Brig.
Here is the box art from the Aurora kit.
I felt it was a good match for HMS Hazard, a sketch of which is here:
It was also a good match for the very similar HMS Vulture, whose deck plan is here:
I decided to start by making the Royal Navy crew, then I could work out any modifications needed to the model to allow for positioning of the guns and figures.
I converted the Royal Navy Captain from an Accurate AWI British Infantry Officer (the same sets are issued by Revell and IMEX).
I changed his coat slightly, by plastic welding, to remove his sash and give him a longer waistcoat. I mounted him on a 15mm square of planking (from Wills, now Peco model railway accessories) to represent decking.
The helmsman was converted from a Hät Napoleonic Royal Navy sailor, by removing his pike, repositioning his arms and turning his head. In the 1740s sailors were still wearing baggy shorts and trousers did not come in until the 1770s but I accepted the anachronism.
I also modelled two Royal Marines, converted from Accurate AWI British Infantry. I welded the tricorne into a Marine cap, closed the front of the coat more, removed the cartridge box, welded a new one onto the waist and changed the position of the musket.
Here are all of the figures for the Quarterdeck, Captain, Helmsman and two Marines (the latter painted as 7th Marines, with white facings). I made one further modification to all of the figures, to cut the bases down to 12mm square, as shown below, since when I came to place them on the deck, I discovered that 15mm bases were slightly too large for some of them.
I modelled RN Lieutenant to command the guns on the gundeck. He is also converted from an Accurate AWI British Infantryman.
The red figure is actually an identical IMEX figure.
The gun crews are Hät Napoleonic Royal Navy figures, unconverted apart from welding rolled up sleeves for shirts, since Scotland in the winter is too cold to go bare chested. This figure is pulling the lanyard to fire the gun.
The second gun crew figure has a ramrod. I modelled two figures per gun, as I have with my other 18th Century artillery.
Here is the painted Lieutenant with his gun crews, again all now on 12mm bases. The sailors have a variety of horizontal, vertical and checked patterns on their shirts, plus different coloured neckerchiefs.
Both HMS Hazard and HMS Vulture originally had 10 x 6 pounder guns, later upgraded to 14 guns. The Black Falcon model has 12 gunports, a good compromise between these two. One of the gunports on each side is below the Foc’sle and two more on each side are below the Quarterdeck, so just have notional guns sticking out of the hull. The other three on each side are real gun models. My 6 gunners would therefore crew the three actual gun models on one side of the ship, but since my normal artillery system is for the number of gun crew to represent the number of real guns, they do represent all six guns on one side of the ship, with casualties reducing firepower. Ships of that era normally fired the guns on one side, but if they did have to fight on both sides simultaneously they would split the crews in half, thus reducing their effectiveness. I would do exactly the same with my models.
I also modelled a Petty Officer to command the mast crews, needed to adjust the sails. He is also a Hät Napoleonic RN sailor, wearing a short jacket, which looked right for a Petty Officer. He was converted by removing his musket, adding a rope “starter” to his right hand, repositioning his left hand to point and welding his hat into a tricorne.
I made four mast crewmen, two for each mast, all from identical Hät Napoleonic RN sailors. I wanted them to look as though they were hauling on ropes, so removed their axes.
Here is the painted Petty Officer and his four mast crewmen, again with their bases reduced to 12mm square.
The guns which came with the Hät set are too large for this 18th Century brig.
I have used the larger gun tubes as 18 or 24 pounders for my siege artillery (see here) and plan to shorten the smaller tubes and use then as Napoleonic Carronades (with scratch built carronade carriages). All of my fortress artillery (see here) has used these Hät gun carriages with Airfix Napoleonic Artillery gun tubes.
The guns which came with the Black Falcon model are fine to represent 6 pounders, but their carriages are much too small for my 1:72 figures. Here are RN gunners with a Hät carriage (with an Airfix gun tube), the original Black Falcon gun and a Black Falcon gun modified by adding a scratch built larger carriage.
To make this scratch built carriage I used pieces of flat sprue labels, which come with some Italeri and Esci sets.
Here are the parts I used to convert the original Black Falcon guns.
The carriage sides are 10mm long and the gun wheels are cut from pieces of sprue.
Having made the guns higher, I had to also enlarge the gun ports in the hull so that the guns could fit through them. The centre port has been converted by plastic welding.
Looking at a model of HMS Hazard online, I could see that the Quarterdeck was a little shorter than that on the Black Falcon model, so I decided to convert my model, which I needed to do to make room for all of my gun crews on the main gundeck.
Here is the original Black Falcon hull:
I shortened the Quarterdeck on this. You can also see all of the enlarged gun ports.
Here is the original Black Falcon deck:
Here is the converted deck.
I had previously removed the gratings, for use on my Merchant Brig, which gave more deck space for my gun crews. I moved the bulkhead to the Quarterdeck to the rear and repositioned the cabin skylight to the rear, to give more room for the Quarterdeck figures to stand. The cabin skylight has a small hold below it.
I then glued the hull and deck together, using rubber bands to hold it until it dried.
I then cut the hull down to a waterline model, using my miniature soldering iron.
I made a weighted base from a sheet of plastic bought from my local Hobycraft store, with weights from a number of metal washers glued onto it. I used two stacks of three heavy washers in the centre with stacks of four smaller washers either side.
I then glued and welded the base onto the hull and added the superstructure of masts, yards and ratlines. I added the figurehead plus the steering wheel, the latter repositioned to the front of the Quarterdeck and raised to the height of my helmsman’s arms. I also added open gun ports from pieces of the same plastic which I had used to make the base.
The Black Falcon model does not come with sails but I wanted my RN Brig Sloop to have them. Both HMS Hazard and HMS Vulture were rigged as Snow Brigs so I looked up a sail plan of that online.
The name Snow Brig has nothing to do with the white stuff falling from the sky, but is a corruption of the Dutch “Snauw”. Snow Brigs did not have a boom below the Gaff sail (fore and aft at the rear).
The Black Falcon instructions do include guidance to add quite a lot of rigging from thread. I added the minimum to look right without making it too difficult to position my figures on the deck. I also added sails cut from a strong white shopping bag.
Here is the painted RN Brig Sloop (HMS Hazard or HMS Vulture) and crew. I have added the ship’s boat slung at the rear (on two thin wires) and a RN Ensign. RN ships based in home waters and the Mediterranean used the White Ensign, whereas those based elsewhere used Red or Blue Ensigns in this period. The Brig Sloop has a black hull and superstructure with the masts and a stripe on the outside of the gundeck in yellow ochre. The inside walls of the gundeck and quarterdeck are painted red with the decks themselves in natural wood.
Here is a close up of the Quarterdeck figures of Captain, Helmsman and two Marines:
Here is a close up of the Lieutenant and his Gun Crews:
Here are the two figures of the Foremast Crew:
And finally the Petty Officer pointing at his two figures of the Mainmast crew:
For my next project I want to model the French crew of “Le Prince Charles”, which was the renamed HMS Hazard after it had been captured in Montrose harbour.