If you’re even just a passing fan of classic sailing ships, you should be familiar with the unforgettable H.M.S. Victory, the famous ship-of-the-line that Lord Nelson commanded at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. More readily recognizable by the novice than even the U.S.S. Constitution, this ship has been a subject for virtually every major model maker in the last century, manufactured in metal, wood or plastic.
With her keel laid down in1759 and ultimately launched in 1765, she served actively in the Royal Navy until 1824, when she was relegated to serving as a harbor (cargo storage) ship and even briefly as a prison ship. In 1922 she was moved to a drydock in Portsmouth where she was refurbished as a museum ship. She is still commissioned with the Royal Navy to this day and remains their oldest commissioned ship with 244 years of service so far. For a ship made at a time when the active life of the typical ship-of-the-line was roughly 20 years, this is a remarkable achievement indeed.
A massive high-flanked ship with four gun decks, she was found to be surprisingly maneuverable despite her size and was consequently favored by many captains for her seaworthiness. Because of this relative nimbleness, she was able to close with an enemy quickly on the high seas and discharge a particularly murderous broadside at close quarters. At her peak she had 104 guns of various calibers on all decks, making her formidable by any definition.
Victory: 100-Gun First Rate 1765, is a nautical book aimed directly at the modeler, and in its 64 pages it offers a capsule history of this famous ship as well as discussing the visible changes that have occurred over its 250-year history. It includes not only broadside drawings of these changes, but also thumbnail renditions of such items as the head and the stern to clearly display these modifications. Just as important for the modeler, perhaps, the book also reviews virtually every commercially available model made of this ship, from the tiny 1/1200th scale metal miniature offered by Langton Miniatures to the impressive 1/64th scale miniature by Amati. In between they review the more familiar Airfix and Revell offerings as well as the elegant 1/100th scale Heller rendition, still one of the largest plastic sailing ship models on the market.
Each model offering is examined in detail, with inaccuracies pointed out and recommendations for upgrades or modifications. Beyond that, after-market items that can enhance each version are also discussed. As a nice addendum, several masterful handmade renditions of this ship by noted modelers are shown in colorful detail to whet the appetite. About the only thing missing in this book is any real information regarding the extraordinarily complex rigging of this model in any of the larger scales. For that, I would personally recommend The Anatomy of Lord Nelson’s Ships, by Nepean Longridge (ISBN 0870210777) which gives a comprehensive overview of this process with some 200 line drawings as well as numerous pictures and detailed explanations. These two books actually serve very well as companion references if you plan on adding this particular masterpiece of a ship to your collection.
I heartily recommend Victory: 100-Gun First Rate 1765 for anyone interested in nautical modeling. It really is an excellent introduction to this fascinating ship and the models that replicate it. Highly recommended.
I would like to thank Pen and Sword books for offering this lovely book for review, and to IPMS/USA for entrusting it to my trembling fingers. Stay safe, everyone, and happy modeling!
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