Monday, 8 July 2013

BUILDING HMS TERROR

On June 29th, two hundred years ago, HMS Terror was launched in Topsham, Devon. The Terror was originally built as a bomb vessel and saw noteworthy action during the War of 1812. However, her destiny lay in exploring the ice pack at both ends of the earth, and she was arguably the most successful polar vessel ever constructed by the Royal Navy.


With their exceptionally strong frames, bluff bows, shallow draft, and spacious holds, bomb ships were ideal vessels for conversion to polar exploration. Nearly wrecked several times, the diminutive, but sturdy, Terror withstood more punishment from the natural environment than any Navy vessel of the era. When she was finally abandoned in 1848, after three years locked in grinding pack ice (during some of the worst Arctic winters on record), evidence suggests she was still afloat. Her wreck, and that of her sister ship, HMS Erebus, has never been found. The story surrounding their abandonment remains one of the world’s great historical mysteries.

This blog will document my project to scratch build an accurate 1:48 scale plank on bulkhead model of HMS Terror, as fitted for her final 1845 voyage. To my knowledge, no complete plans or models exist of the Terror as fitted in 1845; this log will document the process of creating both accurate plans and an accurate scale model. As you will see, both require detailed historical research.

Below are some images of a (rather crude) paper and card mock-up (of the bulkhead arrangement) I’ve created as a proof for an early draft of my plans. I expect it will take at least two years to build the model – maybe more.


View of the bow – an early version of the inboard profile plan can be seen below it.

View of the stern.

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