After reading E. Keble Chatterton's The Sea Raiders, I found myself wanting to add some civilian merchant ships to my scratch-built navy. When I went looking for plans, I immediately encountered the edge of the Internet. The trouble seems to be that no plans of simple merchant ships from the early the 20th century really exist. So after some detective work and few guess-timations, I came up with my own.
By taking the ship recognition profile images from an old US Navy site and combining them with a few aerial photographs, I was able to sketch out a top-down plan to pair with each profile. All that remained was to scale them to 1:1500 to make them ready for production.
I chose to do a couple of samples of a variety of ships based on what commonly appeared in Chatterton's account, so I went with some coal colliers, a couple fruit refrigeration ships, cargo ships, and even a few of the rare (for WWI) tankers. This should give me a good mix of civilian ships for my games.
Painting them was quite fun as it was a break from the usual grey tones. I deliberately stayed away from Dazzle camouflage for now as I'm not mentally ready to tackle that challenge just yet!
Anyway, I hope this article finds its way to anyone looking to build some small civilian ships from the early 20th century. Please leave any comments if you happen to know of a source of information that I had missed!
Download my merchant ship plans (1/1500 scale) here...