HMS Birkenhead.

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About ten years ago my youngest son wrote a ballad about the tragedy of the HMS Birkenhead recounting the gallantry and chivalry of Lt Col Seton and men of the 74th Foot Regiment. At that time I promised to do a painting for him of that event, but I had committed to do some other paintings for his brothers before that. He has waited patiently all these years and it’s time to get going.
So to have something to draw and paint from I’m building a model.
The HMS Birkenhead started out as the Vulcan. Before it was launched, however, the name was changed to Birkenhead, evidently in honor of all of the workers who built her at Johnathan Laird’s shipyard in Birkenhead. Originally she was conceived as a two masted Barque rig, with an iron hull and side paddle wheels, to Mr Laird’s displeasure the Admiralty directed the paddle wheels moved further forward, which Mr Laird said would cause her to trim by the bow. Nonetheless that is how she was built. Later a third mast was added making her a barquentine rig. While originally conceived as a frigate, she was commissioned as a troop ship. This was due to the Admiralty conducting tests of shells against iron hulls. At lower velocities jagged shell holes would result that would be nearly impossible to plug. This later proved to be the Birkenhead’s undoing as she struck a hidden jagged rock formation off Danger Point in February 1852. When she was converted to a troopship a poop and forecastle were added.
Apparently there are no technical drawings or hull models of the ship, although a number of paintings and drawings exist.

Uwek found a half hull model of what was apparently the ship built by Laird right after the Birkenhead that was named the HMS Vulcan. It was slightly longer and wider. Given the similarities between this ship and the drawings and descriptions of the Birkenhead this is probably very close. So I begin my research and will start drawing some plans and trying to figure out the best way to build this model.

F58AAB51-472D-4B31-8A4A-CF4AB4A6C048.jpeg
 
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I'm currently trying to get some understanding of ships of that period, particularly those built by Laird so that I might make some sort of educated guess at the lines of the Birkenhead. It was listed in Wikipedia as a ship of 210' length, 37'-6" wide and a draft of 15' 9". I was thinking of maybe getting plans of a similar ship and scaling them up or down to measure the length that I wanted. At 1/8"=1' scale (1/96th) the ship would be 26 1/4" in length, 4 11/16" wide and just under 2 1/4" in draft.
If anyone has any ideas, I'm all ears..
 
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10A97427-1262-4D48-93AE-9E1350B523AA.jpegI found a set of plans on the shipmodell.com website that I think will serve as a starting point. It was a side paddle wheel steamer built in 1848 called the California. It was 200’ long on deck and had a beam of 30’, with a fully loaded draft of 15’. I’m going to use it, as I said, as a starting point using the other paintings and drawings that I have found to correct what I have. The California has a more raked bow, and from what I have seen the Birkenhead had more of a clipper bow.
Any suggestions or helpful comments are appreciated.
 

Uwek

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Very good that you found some drawings

I found an other interesting model which could be of interest for you, also built in 1849, which is fitting your Birkenhead very close

f7747_001.jpg

f7747_002.jpg f7747_003.jpg

HMS Tiger (1849); Warship; Frigate; Paddle​

Scale: 1:48. A contemporary full hull model of the paddle frigate HMS ‘Tiger’ (1849), complete with stump masts, twin funnels and a number of deck fittings, the whole of which is mounted on its original wooden baseboard. An interesting feature of this model is that it has a pair of lifeboats stowed upturned on top of the paddle boxes. For a short time only, the lightweight boats were kept in this position for ease of launching and to relieve space on the already crowded deck.

Designed by Mr J. Edye, Assistant Surveyor to the Navy, the ‘Tiger’ was launched at Chatham in 1849 and cost nearly £65,000. Measuring 205 feet along the gun deck by 36 feet in the beam and a tonnage of 1221 burthen, it was fitted with side lever engines of 400 horsepower producing a speed of 9 knots. During the Crimean War, the ‘Tiger’ was on patrol off Odessa and ran aground in thick fog, the crew struggling to get it off again before the weather cleared. When the fog lifted the Russians batteries opened fire at close range and Captain H. W. Giffard had no alternative but to surrender, which he did immediately after setting fire to his ship. The Russians later completed the destruction by gunfire and the action cost the lives of Captain Giffard and four of his crew


or the Argus, where several drawings are existing, unfortunately only one is uploaded

 
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Wow! Thank you! This will be very helpful when I draw out the plans..
 
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About ten years ago my youngest son wrote a ballad about the tragedy of the HMS Birkenhead recounting the gallantry and chivalry of Lt Col Seton and men of the 74th Foot Regiment. At that time I promised to do a painting for him of that event, but I had committed to do some other paintings for his brothers before that. He has waited patiently all these years and it’s time to get going.
So to have something to draw and paint from I’m building a model.
The HMS Birkenhead started out as the Vulcan. Before it was launched, however, the name was changed to Birkenhead, evidently in honor of all of the workers who built her at Johnathan Laird’s shipyard in Birkenhead. Originally she was conceived as a two masted Barque rig, with an iron hull and side paddle wheels, to Mr Laird’s displeasure the Admiralty directed the paddle wheels moved further forward, which Mr Laird said would cause her to trim by the bow. Nonetheless that is how she was built. Later a third mast was added making her a barquentine rig. While originally conceived as a frigate, she was commissioned as a troop ship. This was due to the Admiralty conducting tests of shells against iron hulls. At lower velocities jagged shell holes would result that would be nearly impossible to plug. This later proved to be the Birkenhead’s undoing as she struck a hidden jagged rock formation off Danger Point in February 1852. When she was converted to a troopship a poop and forecastle were added.
Apparently there are no technical drawings or hull models of the ship, although a number of paintings and drawings exist.

Uwek found a half hull model of what was apparently the ship built by Laird right after the Birkenhead that was named the HMS Vulcan. It was slightly longer and wider. Given the similarities between this ship and the drawings and descriptions of the Birkenhead this is probably very close. So I begin my research and will start drawing some plans and trying to figure out the best way to build this model.

View attachment 256492
Hi Mark. I have built a museum quality model of HMS Birkenhead. I live in Hermanus Walker Bay near to Danger Point where the Birkenhead was lost. I built it from the original plans of the ship and it is a very accurate model. I thought you would like to see it. Best regards. David Smith.

Birkenhead1.jpg

birkenhead2.jpg

birkenhead3.jpg
 
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Wow David! Fantastic work! So well done!
This is great!
May I ask for a HUGE favor? If I give you a particular view point, would you mind taking a photo from that view point and posting it for me?

Here is a cropped photo of a painting by Montague Dawson, called the Mary B. Mitchell..

Would you mind posting a photo of your Birkenhead from this view?

Thank you!!!!

Mary B. Mitchell cropped.jpg
 
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