Book review Sovereign of the Seas 1637-John McKay

NMBROOK

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Sovereign of the Seas by John McKay 1637 Part 1

Hardcover:296 Pages
Publisher:Seaforth Publishing 3rd March 2020
Language:English
ISBN-10:1526766299
ISBN-13:978-1526766299
DIMENSIONS:254x295x25mm
RRP:£40

SYNOPSIS

Sovereign of the Seas was probably the most lavishly decorated warship ever built.She was constructed at the order of King Charles I.Her history is significant,not for her service record,but for the fact that her construction contributed to the English Civil War.


Residents of coastal towns used to pay a "Ship Tax" to the King for upkeep and construction of the nation's Navy.The vast expense of building such a richly decorated vessel led to the King imposing "Ship Tax" on everyone,nomatter where they lived.The vast taxes imposed by King Charles I was the catalyst for the English Civil War.

In the book,John explains the little factual evidence still in existence detailing Sovereign's construction and appearance.He uses Deane's Naval Doctrine of Naval Architecture(1670) to establish her hull lines and framing design.Further references are used for her masting and rigging,these are detailed at the end of the book.At each stage of the book he explains what reference is used,be it that actually relating to the vessel,or one which detailed standard practice.

The book contains many line drawings,some in isometric,some in 2D.Some of the drawings showing the Decoration are in colour.Large scale plans can be purchased directly form John,details of his email are contained in the book.

sos1.jpgsos2.jpg
 

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CONTENTS

Acknowledgements
1-Introduction
2-History
3-Biographies and Sources
4-Hull Design
5-Hull Construction
6-Pumps
7-Steering
8-Ground Tackle
9-Deck Arrangements and Accomodation
10-Decoration
11-Masts and Yards
12-Sails
13-Rigging
14-Ordanance
15-Ship's Boats
Appendix 1-Trinity House protests
Appendix 2-Sail Carrying Capacity
Bibliography
Inbex

EXAMPLES OF THE MANY DRAWINGS

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CONCLUSION

This book is extremely detailed and covers every detail of the vessel.Even if you pay full retail(currently cheaper on Amazon) it is exceptional value for money.If you plan on scratchbuilding a model using this as reference then purchasing larger drawings from John would be a good idea.The hull lines drawings span two pages so inaccuracies may occur when trying to photocopy them.

I spent well over 1000 hours researching this vessel whilst I was building my model,some of the conclusions I drew tie in with John's but some don't.There is no right and wrong here as the information just doesn't exist.John does admit that he used Deane's Doctrine which was first published in 1670,33 years after Sovereign.I personally feel that this cannot be relied on as it is too late.However,no establishments existed in 1637 so this is the earliest available reference.

Can you build a model from the book?
Most certainly yes.Buying the larger plans from John will make things easier.If you are going POB route then this is straight forward.Make no mistake though,if you want to build a fully framed model you will have a lot of Draughting to do using the hull lines plans.There are cross sections every five frames but you will need to develop the shapes for the ones in between.This is partly why the book is cheaper than a Monograph from Ancre.

One point to mention though,if you plan on building Sergal's kit or Deagostini's Partwork,this book is worth the money just for the masting and rigging drawings.They will compliment both kit's instructions and you will end up with something historically accurate for the period.Being familiar with Sergal's rigging plans,the one's in this book are far easier to follow.

Kind Regards

Nigel
 

Uwek

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There are cross sections every five frames but you will need to develop the shapes for the ones in between.This is partly why the book is cheaper than a Monograph from Ancre.
Hallo Nigel,
Many Many thanks for the interesting Book Review - it is good, that you made it, knowing so much about the ship.
Only one additional word referring your comparison to ancre publications. From acre you get for the money a complete monograph incl. a complete set of drawings in the usual modeling scale, means f.e. 1:48. This book about the Sovereign has no drawings attached, you have to buy them in addition via direct contact to the author John McKay. Interesting to know would be, how much the planset of the Sovereign would cost? I think there is nothing written in the book.
 

NMBROOK

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Thanks Uwe.
I am contemplating buying the plans,but I am waiting until this Coronavirus lockdown is over before emailing John.Yes you do get a full planset from Ancre including drawings of the individual frames.There is enough information and drawings in the book to build a model,however it would be an awful lot easier if you buy the full size plans.I am assuming that John just has these as an electronic file so if that were the case I assume they could be printed in any scale you like.Sovereign in 1/36 would look amazingROTFROTFROTF

Kind Regards

Nigel
 
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Ahoy!
About 2 weeks ago I corresponded with the author of the book.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Thank you for this, it was good hearing from you.
I have attached an information sheet to this that I hope will answer your need. The drawings were not generated using a computer they were created manually.
Kind regards,
John McKay
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 

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  • SoS INFORMATION SHEET.docx
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Maarten

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Just a small edit to my original review.Cross sections are given for every third frame,or 31mm at a scale of 1/72;)

Kind Regards

Nigel
Hi Nigel,

I already bought the plans from John in scale 1:48 which makes this already a hudge model. My first idea was to use them to redesign my de agostini kit but I think I prefer to go for a 1:48 scratch build in the future .
You can order them in any size you like.
The defaults are 1:48 and 1:96 at respectively usd 15 and usd 10 per drawing.
For building a scratch model I ordered drawings 4 to 15, 20 to 23, 32 to 34, 48 to 52 and 66 to 68.
With these you have all model build related drawings and this is including shipment at a cost of Usd 465,-.
You see the value you get from Ancre for their monographs is great, but this book of the sots is going much more into detail about the ship, background building methodes etc whereas the ancre monographs are more meant to build a model from.
I bought the plans to have them for a future build as you never know how long these still will be available, and building the sovereign is still on my list for a future project.
When I receive the drawings I will post some pictures of these.
 
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Thanks! The Mantua SoS is my next project and reading this book will make the project a lot more interesting (and probably make me do more bashing than I currently plan!)
 

NMBROOK

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Hi Maarten

I believe it would be easier to start from scratch using this reference rather than modifying Deagostini's example to suit the drawings.You would have to rework every bulkhead and the keel to get anything near the shape in the book.

Kind Regards

Nigel
 

Maarten

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I d like to discuss more about the design of John McKay. I am reading the book and it is really a very detailed discription about English shipbuilding in the 17th century following Deanes doctrine of the 2nd half of that century.
I found sofar some question about John s design, first the lower transom which is drawn very low at the stern towards the keel instead of half way the stern.
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Secondly the frame design with single frames with fully open spaces in between and butt connections between the individual frame parts. With the floor and futtocks all placed in one line without any direct structural connection between the frame parts.
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I don t know English ship design of that era to give an answer to these questions, but from my knowledge of Dutch ship design of the 17th century it doesn t look right.
In Dutch shell first methodes there also was now connection between the frame parts except for there connection to the outside planking which brought the ridigity to the hull, was this also the construction in early English ships?

For the rest a very detailed book, for me worth every penny.
 

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Maarten
I am with you,I have not seen a Transom that deep on Any English built ship before.I cannot find an explanation from John in the book as to why he drew it like that.

Regarding the framing,I cannot refute nor agree with the framing method.There is an abyss regarding English ship construction from the Mary Rose right up to the Restoration Period of Charles II.Richard Ensor details thoroughly the framing of Lennox in his book which consists of sistered frames with 4 filler frames between.This was late 17th Century.John McKay does mention in his book that there were no standard establishments in existence at the time of Sovereign which is correct.Even if there were,this ship was something radical in it's time and I feel they would have perhaps rewrote the rule book.You are correct that the framing in the book mimics Dutch design and we have living proof in that design in the correct time period in the form of Vasa.It is feasible that it may not be a coincidence.

We have to remember that for all the fabulous appearance of English Navy Board models of the 17th Century,the exposed framing they illustrate is stylised fiction.The models were presented to Trinity house for approval to construct the ship,they were used to illustrate the ship's lines and gun placement above all else.Funny that Trinity house dismissed the model of Sovereign as far too much excess but Charles I had her built anyway.Trinity house knew they could build several less ornate warships for the same cost as Sovereign.

Kind Regards

Nigel
 

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Maarten
I looked at Goodwin's book which only goes back to 1650,15 years after Sovereign.He illustrates typical framing of 1650 which matches John's depiction with one addition,the futtocks are joined with a single Scarph.Both Authors agree with one another in that 1635 was far too early for Chocked joints,this did not come about until towards the end of that Century.

Kind Regards

Nigel
 

Maarten

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In his book John mentions that the frames would have been temporary fitted together during setting of the frames, afterwards the planks would create a ridged construction.

I expect to receive my drawings coming week, I will then send an email to John with a question about the stern construction.

I also bought a second hand version of Sephton s book of SotS
 

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In his book John mentions that the frames would have been temporary fitted together during setting of the frames, afterwards the planks would create a ridged construction.

I expect to receive my drawings coming week, I will then send an email to John with a question about the stern construction.

I also bought a second hand version of Sephton s book of SotS
Great news,
so we hope, that you show us the drawings as well the new-old book you purchased.....
 
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We have to remember that for all the fabulous appearance of English Navy Board models of the 17th Century,the exposed framing they illustrate is stylised fiction.

So why don't use this stylized frames. There are a lot of models, which show this frameing. Sure all models are younger, but you don't have any problems with a not corect frame design.

The stern of his recinstruction I don't like. I am quite sure that this is not correct. I couldn't find any hint in the paintings and information I have, about this design.
 

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So why don't use this stylized frames. There are a lot of models, which show this frameing. Sure all models are younger, but you don't have any problems with a not corect frame design.

The stern of his recinstruction I don't like. I am quite sure that this is not correct. I couldn't find any hint in the paintings and information I have, about this design.

Christian
I was meaning that these original Navy Board models offer no evidence as to how the ship's framing was constructed.I actually find some of the stylised framed examples more attractive than historically true construction.

Kind Regards

Nigel
 
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