The Rejects' Guide to ARK ROYAL'S 17th century shipping


It's a while since I have blogged but that is simply because social media and life are not always compatible. Live one, neglect the other! Trying to do both is NO LIFE at all.  This post gets to the nub straight away. It is a Noobs guide to the Ark Royal range and its models. It provides, context to the use of each in gaming terms. It may have a few parts as I am writing this off the cuff...

REMEMBER, many warships of this period survived in service for up to 100 years! They were constantly rebuilt, repaired and modified so the dates are only a guideline to 'get your eye in'

Start at the top...

AR001 - Royal Sovereign and Prince Royal pre 1660.

Royal Sovereign as built

Prince as a Spanish Manila galleon

Royal Sovereign is almost unique. Another ship was designed to be a copy and very slightly larger the Sophie Amelia of Denmark. This is the benchmark 1st rate and served through till the late 17th century. She is a massive category 10 vessel in Mad for War. The Prince Royal also survived from her launch in the reign of James I(VI) through various incarnations till the time of the Anglo Dutch Wars. In this form with the 4 masts, she could be used as a large Spanish, Portuguese or Ottoman galleon, a TYW era Danish or Swedish great ship. She is a category 8 or possibly 9 vessel. The beak head is the long prow. These long beakhead ships were rebuilt in the Royal Navy after the 1640s but remained in service long after with other fleets.

AR002 - Royal Sovereign and Prince Royal after 1640s/50s rebuilds.

English 1st rate Royal Soveriegn model

English 2nd rate - Resolution/Prince Royal model

Both these models can be used as standard English 1st and 2nd rates of the Anglo Dutch Wars. There are plenty to choose from. 2nd rates from 70 -80 guns, 1st rates from 90+ (use the Sovereign). Can also be used for large Swedish ships of the same size (there were several) and large from Ships from the 1670s. Biggies like this should be restricted to one or at the max two, per squadron of 10.

AR011  70, 60 and Jacht/Yacht

76 as Prince Rupert's flagship of the 1650s Constant Reformation

66 as a Dutch flagship

These ships have gun ports for up to a 78 and 66. This is the standard LARGE battleship code for all fleets - English, Dutch, Swedish, French, Danish. Use in the Spanish and Portuguese navies restricted to after the 1670s/80s. These would normally be classed  as 2nd and 3rd rates in the English fleet. The 76 represents the largest size of Dutch ship. The yacht can be used in any navy including privateers. They are fast, carry between 6 and 14 guns and make for good pirate ships. Ships of this size might constitute roughly 30% of a squadron of 9 or 10 vessels.

ARD012  50s and 40s

English 44 gun universal usage from 1630s to 1670s

English 50 with double reefed sails no top gallant

English 50 with top gallants

The 50 gun is of the flush deck, low profile design favoured by navies from the 1650s. She looks small but is packed with guns. The 40 is actually a 44. This is the standard design warship for most fleets in the period up to the 1660s. You can safely use the 44 for every fleet. Remember, ships were frequently captured, renamed and reused in the victor's fleet so ships of English design served in the Dutch navy, French in the English Dutch in English, Danish in the Swedish etc, etc, etc. These ships use the smallest size of masts. There are two types, the masts with 3 sails (upper sail is the top gallant) and masts with 2 large sails which are shorter. These are the double reefed sails(look at the rows of lines on the sails which are gathering points for the canvas). Fighting ships started to prefer the shorted masts and double reefed sails as the period progressed. Left hand ship in the picture above has the two sail, double reefed type. This ships would be classed as 4th rates in the English fleet and make up the majorty of the fighting ships 30-50% in a group of 10. Packs offer an 12a and 12b version.

a = 1 x 50, 2 x 44 with top gallant masts

b = 2 x 50, 1x 44 with shorter masts, double reefed sails.


Dutch 66 gun Indiaman serving with the fleet

Dutch 38, 66 and a 44 gun from pack 12 - captured English ship

Much of the Dutch fleet in the 1st and 2nd AD Wars was composed of hired ships from the VOC - Dutch East India Company. Many of its ships were bigger than the admiralty ships. This pack represents a large Indiaman (66 guns) and two standard Indiamen (38 guns). These models are essentially the same as the 66 in pack 11 and the 38s in pack 14, but their deck layout is different. They have canvas sun covers on the quarter deck and a curved bulwark behind the mainmast. Use these for Dutch, French, Danish, Swedish and English prizes. Many served in the Royal Navy. The large ship is typical of a Dutch admiral's ship or larger vessels in a battle squadron. The 38s are a Dutch equalivalent 4th rate or large 5th rate.

More in Part 2