top of page
  • Writer's pictureMike at SBS

Merchant Ships

Updated: Jan 16, 2021

2x Tankers, 2x Large Cargo Ships, 4x Small Cargo Ships

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!

168 views2 comments

Recent Posts

See All

2 commentaires

Mike at SBS
Mike at SBS
03 déc. 2019

Hi John!

Yes, the scaling tool is still active, but I had not added the civilian merchantmen above until just now. Thanks for the reminder!

I've updated the database and you can access the merchantmen by calling up any of the following in the Ship Class (they belong to the WWI historical category):

535 Trooper (troop transport/liner)

Design 1013 (cargo freighter)

Fjord (civilian steamer, Battle of Jutland)

Type A Standard (cargo freighter)

Type AO Standard (oiler)

Type B Troopship (troop transport)

Type F1 Standard (cargo freighter)

I've also added the SMS Wolf and SMS Mowe, as they were auxiliary cruisers that were built on freighters of the period (interestingly, the Wolf ended up seizing a sister ship of its type…


03 déc. 2019

Hey Mike, Looking for your excel sheet that provides scale sizes for ships. Is it still here?

Heading to library tomorrow to try some merchant ship outlines on the laser cutter. Will let you know how it works out.


bottom of page