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PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2008 3:02 pm 
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Links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Constellation_(1797)

Here is how she may have appeared from her commissioning in 1797 with her hull painted in yellow ochre. Her hull was later painted black with a yellow ochre or white gun deck stripe when she participated in the War of 1812:


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File comment: 1/48 scale USF Constellation as it appeared on display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington DC, in 1987
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 3:47 pm 
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Thanks for starting this thread, Steve. I'm a big fan of the "Six Frigates," particularly Constitution, which has its own thread, and now Constellation.

I do have a couple of questions that I'm going to throw out.

Does the Smithsonian model depict Constellation during the War of 1812, or the Quasi-War with France in 1797? I ask this because of the color scheme. I was under the impression that the frigates' original late 1700's as launched had the entire upper hull in that sort of buff shade, and during the War of 1812 had the stripe around the guns.

I have the the 1/196-ish or so box scale version of Constitution sitting in my to-do pile. I'm wondering how much modification it would take to build it as Constellation as she was during the Quasi-War with France. I have "Six Frigates" by Ian Toll, and the impression I have is that Constitution, United States and President were built as the 44 gun size, and Constellation, Congress and Chesapeake were a sort of cost cutting compromise and downsized to the 36 gun size. Is that correct? I realize that there are very many subtle differences, particularly in rigging, armament, etc., but how is the comparison considering the somewhat smaller size? Are the later three basically the same design, just scaled down?

How should I approach the rigging? I have rather rough drawings and the Anatomy Of A Ship book on Constitution so I have a pretty good starting point. The issue I have is with those awful molded ratlines. I'm thinking of using them as a template and using white glue and thread to construct them from scratch. Any suggestions on that?

Constellation was initially armed with mostly 24 lb. cannons. How well would the kit supplied guns work? Or would I have to go aftermarket or even scratchbuild? Or, considering the scale of the kit, would it matter that much?

Thanks in advance. I'm sure that I'll think of other questions to post as time goes by.

Best regards:
Charlie


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 7:25 pm 
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Hi Charlie!

DD-393 wrote:
Does the Smithsonian model depict Constellation during the War of 1812, or the Quasi-War with France in 1797? I ask this because of the color scheme. I was under the impression that the frigates' original late 1700's as launched had the entire upper hull in that sort of buff shade, and during the War of 1812 had the stripe around the guns.


My understanding is that the Smithsonian model reflects Constellation's 1797-1805 appearance. She would have looked like this during the Quasi-War with France when, while assisting American merchant ships at sea, captured the French frigate L'Insurgente of 36 guns, defeated the French frigate La Vengeance of 54 guns, took two other French prizes and recaptured three American merchant ships. The model is consistent with Constellation's building plan as shown between pages 121 and 122 of Howard I. Chappelle's seminal work The History of the The American Sailing Navy. Chappelle also reports that Constellation was designed to a very fast, narrow design. Her hull was strengthened and widened by 13" between 1805 and 1809 due to hogging (hull weakening leading to a humped-back appearance caused by the weight by her heavy armament), but still not as wide as Constitution (see dimensions below).

As you know, she was first commissioned in yellow ochre ("buff"). Some time later, the exact date is not exactly clear but probably about or just before 1809, as a deceptive measure in her role as a raider, she and the other members of the Famous Six were repainted with the now familiar black hull and white or yellow ocher gun deck stripe to look more like ships of European navies. It is likely that, like Constitution, her gun deck stripe and other white markings alternated between white and yellow ocher during the War of 1812.

DD-393 wrote:
I have the the 1/196-ish or so box scale version of Constitution sitting in my to-do pile. I'm wondering how much modification it would take to build it as Constellation as she was during the Quasi-War with France.


It depends on how accurate you want the model to be. Although not accurate, simply building the Revell kit in Constellation's markings is certainly doable and would look very attractive with the yellow ocher "buff" coloring.

DD-393 wrote:
I have "Six Frigates" by Ian Toll, and the impression I have is that Constitution, United States and President were built as the 44 gun size, and Constellation, Congress and Chesapeake were a sort of cost cutting compromise and downsized to the 36 gun size. Is that correct? I realize that there are very many subtle differences, particularly in rigging, armament, etc., but how is the comparison considering the somewhat smaller size? Are the later three basically the same design, just scaled down?


The 38s were built to a different design. Chapelle states that the 38s (sometimes referred to as 36s) were not scaled down versions of the 44s but built to a very different design and provides detailed drawings of the two designs in his book. Chapelle states that the designs of both classes can best be described as a collaborative effort between three talented designers, Joshua Humphries, Josiah Fox and William Doughty. The original class design for the 44s, known as a "master draught" was probably made by Joshua Humphries alone (Chapelle pg. 123). From this master, Josiah Fox (Admiralty-trained and a better technical designer than Humphries) and William Doughty made detailed construction plans, known as "builders draughts", and provided those draughts to each of the ship's builders (Chapelle pp. 124-126). William Doughty probably designed the 38s under the supervision of Josiah Fox, each giving the other credit for the design (Chapelle pg. 126). Each builder then made subtle changes to the plans they were given so each ship is a bit different from the other even if built to the same plan. This is nothing unique, however, even modern sisterships differ a bit, e.g. no two Essex class or even Nimitz class carriers are identical.

A comparison of the building plans of the three 44s and the building plans of Constellation and Congress found between pages 121 and 122 and indicate that the hulls are indeed different in several significant respects. Chesapeake was built to a third design.

44s / 38s
Length: 175' / 164'
Beam: 43'-6" / 40'-6"
Depth of hold: 14'-3" / 13'-6"
1576 tons / 1278 tons

A comparison of War of 1812 plans of USF President (after Admiralty plans of the ship taken following her capture are shown between pages 264 and 265) and USF Chesapeake (also after Admiralty plans of the ship taken following her capture are shown between pages 280 and 282) is also included in the book.

DD-393 wrote:
How should I approach the rigging? I have rather rough drawings and the Anatomy Of A Ship book on Constitution so I have a pretty good starting point. The issue I have is with those awful molded ratlines. I'm thinking of using them as a template and using white glue and thread to construct them from scratch. Any suggestions on that?


Replacing the kit's ratlines with anything else is a lot of effort but would probably look terrific.

DD-393 wrote:
Constellation was initially armed with mostly 24 lb. cannons. How well would the kit supplied guns work? Or would I have to go aftermarket or even scratchbuild? Or, considering the scale of the kit, would it matter that much?


IMHO, aftermarket is expensive but usually look better than kit parts. You might look around and see what's available and what looks best to your eye.

Chapelle's book is a great reference and they are very inexpensive these days. I can't recommend it enough.

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Complete catalog of over 1900 designs for scale modelers:
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2008 9:26 pm 
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Ian Toll's "Six Frigates" is a wonderful book. It goes into great depth on the design, funding, building and careers of those first six ships. One thing I learned by reading it is that they were not really of a "class" as later ships (such as the Essex carriers, Ticonderoga cruisers, etc.) were. The builders had plans, but that's where the similarities ended. The plans were changed from ship to ship due to political hostilities towards the designer, due to materials availability at the shipyards, and due to weather and time issues. And that was just amongst the 44 gun ships. The 36 gun ships were of a different design completely.

That's all a long way of leading up to saying that, personally, I do not think you could build the Constitution kit, paint it and name it United States or Congress and have it be accurate. Who would know, most of the time, true, but that's up to how deeply you want to dig. To call that kit Constellation would be even more of a stretch.

I read "Six Frigates" about this time last year as I was doing research for a short story, and found it to be one of the best books on the early American navy I have ever read; right up there in quality with Lundstrom's "First Team" series on WWII. Highly recommended for anyone looking to research those beautiful ships.

-Devin

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2008 7:09 am 
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Just got Ian Toll's "Six Frigates" yesterday from the Library. Very good book so far. :thumbs_up_1:

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PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2008 7:09 pm 
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Greetings:

Let's get this subject on the front burner again.

Osprey is coming out with American Light and Medium Frigates 1794–1836 (New Vanguard 147) in August. It's written by Mark Lardas with illustrations by Tony Bryan and Giuseppe Rava. Anyone familiar with their work? Looks like more and more good reference material is coming out on the early U.S. Navy and Constellation.

Details at http://www.ospreypublishing.com/title_d ... itle=T2660

We've talked about several books that would be of value in researching Constellation. Anybody have anything to add to the list?

Best regards:
Charlie


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2008 1:35 pm 
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Greetings:

I was at Barnes & Noble the other day and noticed a new book out: If by Sea: The Forging of the American Navy - from the Revolution to the War of 1812 by George C. Daughan. You can view information at http://search.barnesandnoble.com/bookse ... 14407#TABS

Anyone pick up the book yet? Any recommendations?

Thanks:
Charlie


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 9:42 am 
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I question the boats on outboard davits - a practice that didn't become popular till 1800 or so.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 5:02 pm 
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:smallsmile:
Loved your photos of the 1797 Constellation model, Steve. So much that I have decided to take a trip over to the Smithsonian next weekend to take my own pictures. I wil be in DC on business for 2 weeks and the weekend break will do me good.

I became aware of the original hull designs (before the hulls were built up) when reading "The American Sailing Navy," "American Heavy Frigates 1794 - 1826" and "Anatomy of The Ship... Constitution." Since I had never seen a painting of or read anything like that before I read the books, I wondered if the original 6 frigates were actually put into service/commisioned looking like that (with a rail instead of a planked hull on the spar deck). You cleared that up for me. Thanks for sharing the photos.
:wave_1:


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