The Rejects' Guide to Ark Royal's 17th Century shipping Part 2


Let's start with code ARD014 Frigates

This code is one of the most popular in the range. It comprises 2 x 38 gun frigates and 1 x 26 gun. These ships are extremely utilitarian. They can be used from the period of the 1620s through to 1700. English, Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Venetian, Swedish, Danish, Ottoman, Berber fleets can all deploy them.

In the Maritime Nations they would be used for scouting, hauling bigger ships out of the line with battle damage during sea battles, colonial policing against piracy, convoy escort, coastal patrol in home waters, raiding, fishery protection, transportation of important people and a variety of necessary tasks.  The 26 gun is the optimum size for a large privateer such as a Dunkirker, St Malo or Basque. Caribbean afficionados can put Morgan or Jack Sparrow in a 26. The English fleet usually didn't place anything below a 40 in the battle fleet but the Dutch would use 38s. French privateers often used these ships. Berber pirates had many captured and bought ships of this type. Dutch colonial operations in South America and Indonesia were often protected by these vessels. 

If you want vessels which will fit almost any scenario these are they. The hull of the 38 is identical to the hull of the East India 38 in Pack ARD013 except the Indiaman had a rounded bulkhead behind the mainmast and a canvas roof cover over the quarter deck.

ARD015 Galley Frigate and smaller ships

The galley frigates is a 26 gun with sweeps (oars). The English fleet built  three custom galley frigates for use in Tangier against pirates. Many other English frigates of 30 guns or less carried oars and had their carpenters adapt the ships for their use. Oars are very useful in shallow waters, river estuaries, calm conditions etc. Other nations would use them too. Berbers would adapt captured ships as sailing galleys. The basic smaller ship is a pinnace (pinas) it has 14 guns but could be used as a 16 or even 20 to bump it into the next gun group. Class it as a category 3 or 4 vessel. This is a typical fleet scout ship or transport for VIPs etc. It is also a classic privateer or pirate vessel. The hull is the same size as the yacht (jacht) in  ARD011. These ships are ideal for fireships, small merchants, privateers, river and coastal raiding, harbour protection, fishery protection etc. The version with sweeps combines everything summarized so far for both the galley frigate and pinnace.

ARD16  Armed fluyts

Do not flick past this code!

This is the ship type responsible for making a tiny country like The Netherlands as rich as it is today. Ever wondered about that? The Dutch designed a cargo ship, bulbous at the bottom, thin at the top which avoided sea taxes based on deck width. It is easy to sail so needs very few crew. It moved in convoys with escorts so needed few or no guns maximizing hold space, it had enormous cargo capacity so sold the space cheap and cornered the market. It dominated world trade for nearly 100 years and made the new Dutch Republic rich beyond measure. It really annoyed the English!  In time of war the Dutch realized that as they had literally hundreds of these ships they had to convert some to warships. They simply pierced them for cannon. The Dutch fleets from the time of the Sea Beggars in the late 1580s until the massive fleets of de With and Tromp, were composed of dozens of converted fluyts (pronounced flute). They were no match for the English leviathans in a sea battle and so the arms race began in the early 1650s with the Dutch building bigger warships to counter the English threat. Fluyt design was copied everywhere. The English, French, Danish and Swedes all built fluyts. You can use these fluyts for the VOC, GWC, Dutch African Company, Dutch Fleet in the 1st Anglo Dutch War, general merchantmen, convoy escorts, English, French, Venetian, Swedish, Hanseatic, Courland, Danish, Berber or Ottoman fleets. They are the white van of the 17th century. In this pack are 20-24 gun and 14-16 gun versions. Easy to paint, one piece castings. 

ARD017 Fireships aflame!

The terror weapon of the seas. Fireships were converted ships usually old, captured, small, or otherwise not required. They had some guns but most of the inner space was reconfigured to carry combustible materials which, when ignited, produced an inferno which was pointed at the enemy and abandoned. They were so feared that ships had equipment and drills to fight them off. The terrorized battlefleets and although their success rate was relatively low, the disruption created and the notable successes haunted sailors. These ships are on fire with flames modelled on. They are of two types a small fluyt and a pinnace. Most fireships were smaller than a frigate. Crews were minimal and they often carried between 0 and 12 guns. Captains were usually attempting some sort of redemption for crimes, misdemeanours or attempting to make a name for themselves. All cultures used them including the Ming/Qing Chinese navy although their version did not look like this!

ARD021 Small merchants and coasters

This pack includes crompsters(cromster) - the smallest squat vessel, hoeker (hooker) with tall mainmast and lateen mizzen, galeas (not to be confused with galeass which is a heavy galley) with tall mainmast and fore/aft rig sail on the main and, a galiot. These could also cover ships called ketches, sloops etc. These are some coastal and short haul cargo ships. Hugely common all along the coasts of Europe, in the Baltic, North Sea and Channel. They would be found anywhere in the world with European colonies. They can be used as merchantmen, fleet victuallers, privateers, pirate ships etc. They are ideal for river and estuary actions. These should cover most pirate fleets.

More in Part 3