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January 2006 - October 2006

Kit : Mantua (Italy) "Caesar"
Scale : 1 : 30 (Length : 620mm)
Drawing : All of the drawings are printed on both side of a sheet.
Manual : Short instructions are written on the drawing sheet. (Italy, English, Germany, French etc.)
Others : The quality of the planks in the kit are too poor. I think that this kit may be too difficult for beginners.

Reference: 1) Robert Gardiner (Editor): The Age of the Galley (2004) Conway Maritime Press
2) Naomi Shiono: The Story of Romans II (1997) Shinchosya (in Japanese)
3) Andrea Miniatures web site: Michigan Toy Soldier and Figure Company
4) Lionel Casson: Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World (1995) The Johns Hopkins University Press

October 28th 2006
Completion
Roman_Bireme
Summary of the Construction Process

I bought this kit from "Wooden kits shop MicroCraft" through the internet in January 2006.

According to the drawing of the kit, the mainmast is designed to be located near the aft. But it must have been near the fore according to the figure in the reference 1. I determined to modify the structures on the deck. Then I started the deck planking using 5mm width planks in stead of 8mm width planks prepared in the kit.
Late in February, I completed the deck planking.

In March, I started hull planking. But the poor quality of the planks racked my brain. These planks are torn easily.
After finishing hull planking, I attached the ram and stern blocks. These blocks are made of bulsa wood.

I made the oarports in April. The position of the oarports had been modified as described at Memo1.

The hull was painted in brown using acrylic paints in May. The patterns on the bulwarks and the eyes at the ram were also painted without use of the printed sheet patterns in the kit. This sheet is shown at Memo2.

I made the "Corvus"2)-4) in June though there is no "Corvus" in this kit. This is a boarding bridge which was invented by Roman Empire at the Punic war so that the Roman soldiers could easily board an enemy galley as described in Memo3.

In July, I made the masts, tower and the frame of tent. I settled the tower on the aft deck. This tower could be carried fore and aft according to the description in p122 of reference 4 as quoted at Memo4.

Although a piece of printed sail cloth, as shown at Memo5, is in the kit, I made the sails of a bed sheet by myself in August.
Because the precise information about the rigging is very scarce, I did it by my imagination.

I remodified the oarport arrangement in September as described in Memo1.
In October, The oarports at the projections were sealed. Then completed.


Memo

1)

box_picture The oarports of this kit are shown in this box picture. But this oarport arrangement is not shown in other materials. Therefore I decided to modify the position of the oarports according to the picture of Resin Kit of Andrea Miniatures' Roman Bireme. (See the photograph of April 23rd at the page of Details.)

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I thought the projections that run along both sides from the bow to stern are outriggers and I made the ports at the projections as mentioned above. However, my thought might be wrong.
I found the descriptions concerning about the projections and oars in reference 4, in August.

On page142;
The light units that Roman writers refer to as biremes must therefore be liburnians.
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The liburnian is a small, aphract galley with no outrigger; the upper oars are worked through a latticed bulwork and the lower through ports just bellow the gunwale.
On page 143-145
Ships in many cases were still fitted with projections that run along either side from the bow to the steering oar and look very much like a rowing frame, but these house no oars - the oars are consistently shown emerging from the side of the hull below the projections.
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We can only guess at its purpose. Perhaps, it served as a massive bumper to shield the oarsmen.
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it was a convenient jump-off point for marines preparing to board.
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oarport_at_outriggerAfter various considerations, I decided to rebuild the oarports following the kit instruction.
Before that, I inserted the oars into the oarports at the projection as shown in the left photograph. Although this arrangement may be wrong, I think that this is cooler than the box picture.



2)

printed_sheet The printed sheet of the patterns in the kit is shown in this photograph.

3) There is a following explanation about the Corvus in Bill Thayer's Web Site
CORVUS, a sort of crane, used by C. Duilius against the Carthaginian fleet in the battle fought off Mylae, in Sicily (B.C. 260). The Romans, we are told, being unused to the sea, saw that their only chance of victory was by bringing a sea-fight to resemble one on land. For this purpose they invented a machine, of which Polybius has left a minute, although not very perspicuous, description.
In the fore part of the ship a round pole was fixed perpendicularly, twenty-four feet in height and about nine inches in diameter; at the top of this was a pivot, upon which a ladder was set, thirty-six feet in length and four in breadth. The ladder was guarded by cross-beams, fastened to the upright pole by a ring of wood, which turned with the pivot above. Along the ladder a rope was passed, one end of which took hold of the corvus by means of a ring. The corvus itself was a strong piece of iron, with a pike at the end, which was raised or lowered by drawing in or letting out the rope. When an enemy's ship drew near, the machine was turned outwards, by means of the pivot, in the direction of the assailant. Another part of the machine which Polybius has not clearly described is a breastwork, let down from the ladder, and serving as a bridge, on which to board the enemy's vessel. By means of these cranes the Carthaginian ships were either broken or closely locked with the Roman, and Duilius gained a complete victory.

Thirty-six feet in length is too long for my corvus. I think that the corvus described by Polybius (Polybius of Megalopolis : Greek historian) was equiped on bigger galleys than mine. So, I scaled down my corvus.

4) The description about the tower in reference 4 is as follows.
Since the ships were so low, to give the marines height enough to sweep an enemy's deck, collapsible towers, which could be swiftly set up or dismantled, were carried fore and aft.
Towers erected on merchantmen are reported as early as the 5th B.C.. The first recorded use in a strictly naval action was at the Battle of Chios in 201 B.C.. Eudamus, admiral of Rhodian contingent that fought Hannnibal's powerful fleet in 190B.C., had turrets on his flagship, which was a "four". When Crassus besiedged Rhodes in 43 B.C., he equipped his ships with "collapsible towers, which were then set up".

towerBy the way, the tower seems to be built of brick. It is strange that the brick tower should be on a ship.
So, I tried to investigate whether this wall pattern was correct or not. Then I found a photograph of the relief which had been found at Praeneste and now in the Vatican Museum, in reference 4. The tower wall of this relief seems to be built of brick.
I suppose that the brick pattern was painted on the wooden wall. I am determined to paint brick pattern on my tower.
This drawing is made by my tracing of the illustration 130 in reference 4.



5)

sails The sailcloth in the kit are shown in this photograph. I do not like these printed black lines. So I made the sails of a bed sheet by myself.

6)

anchor I made the wooden anchor with lead stock based on the illustration 185 in reference 4. This anchor is from 1st half of 1st A.D.. The arms and the shank were held together by a lead collar.


Details of Construction Process:

link_to_details From January 2006 to Now

Close-up Photographs :

Close-up photographs of each section are shown in this page.
link_to_CloseUp