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Ship Models Display

Ship Model Display

Ship Models Display

The museum has a display of ship models along with the history of models and information on the different classes of model making.

Ship Model Display

Ship Model Display

Ship Model Display
Ship Models - A Voyage Through Time

Ship Models Have Ancient Origins
The ship models that you see in museums or private collections are sometimes hundreds, even thousands, of years old. Real ships and boats only last a few years or decades, but models often last long after their real-life counterparts have disappeared. Some of the oldest surviving models are from ancient Egyptian tombs. The oldest known Egyptian model dates to about 2600 B.C.

Why Are Ship Models Made?

Divine Protection

At different times throughout history, ship models have had spiritual or symbolic functions. For example, in ancient Egyptian tombs, ship models were important for transporting the dead person's soul to the afterlife. In the ancient Mediterranean, sailors made models as offerings to the gods, in the hopes of ensuring themselves a safe passage at sea.

Sailors as Craftsmen

For hundreds of years, sailors have made models as a way of passing the time. Sometimes sailors made models to give to their families or sweethearts. Sailors even made money selling their models. French sailors, imprisoned by the British during the French Revolutionary Wars (1803-1815), sold exquisitely crafted ship models made from their beef bone rations.

Design Prototypes

Models have often been used to test new ship designs or to gain funding for new ships to be built. Depending on the purpose, models ranged from half-hull versions, showing only half of a ship, to detailed replicas of an entire vessel. Historians think that by the 1500s, shipbuilders used half-hull models to assist in designing their vessels. By the 1870s, shipbuilders began using large-scale models to test hull designs in pools. The designers of Queen Mary tested a variety of designs in a simulated Atlantic Ocean before they built the real vessel.

Symbols of Status and Wealth

In years past, ship models were used to signify the wealth and prestige of individual people or companies. Models often served as a miniature showpiece of the owner's or captain's original vessel. For example, in the 18th century, wealthy Dutch patrons commissioned models of their ships to display in their homes. Status models were common in England and the United States by the 1800s.

Attractive Advertisements

Ship models can be effective advertisements for exhibiting a shipwright's talent. Shipbuilding yards once used models as an advertising tool, much like salesmen's samples. Today, cruise lines often exhibit models of their ships in travel agencies to entice tourists.

Models Today

Nowadays, most ship models are built for display or recreation. Some are very high-tech and are operated by remote control. Modelers are usually employed by museums, commissioned to work for a patron, or simply make models for their own pleasure. We hope you enjoy our ship model collection.

Ship Model Display
Modelmaking -- A Classy Affair

Modern models range from pre-cut plastic kits to handcrafted detailed reproductions. A modeler may piece together the simplest kit in a matter of hours, or spend years building an intricate model. Models are typically organized into four separate "classes," depending upon their type of construction.

Class A Models
These scratchbuilt models use no commercially manufactured items, except basic materials like thread, chain, nails, sheet metal, wire and tubing. The museum's remote-controlled models, made by Dwight Brooks, are categorized as Class A models.

To reproduce a ship in miniature, modelers often rely on blueprints, plans, photographs, paintings, and old manuscripts for their information. In many cases, the modeler first researches the vessel, draws plans, and makes a quick experimental version. He or she is then ready to begin work.

Other modelers carve the hull from a solid piece of wood, in a solid hull style. In another method, called bread and butter, the modeler stacks the planks on top of each other like slices of bread, using glue to hold the planks together.

Depending on the type of ship, the modeler's next step is to build the masts and rigging. Modelers can make rigging from human hair, linen thread, wire, or many other materials. The blocks and tackle can be carved from wood, bits of plastic, metal, or even bone.

Sails are difficult to reproduce accurately, so many ship models show the sails tied up, or furled. Sometimes a ship modeler may choose not to include the sails at all. If the model is remote-controlled, the modeler may buy or build an engine for the vessel. Some of the museum's ship models are powered by electricity, internal combustion, or steam.

Class B Models

Modified scratchbuilt models are built mostly from scratch, but also use some commercially made parts in their construction like blocks, cannons, anchors, and other fittings.

Class C Models

Modified kit models are built from a packaged kit, but are also partly customized with some commercial or scratchbuilt parts that are not from the kit itself. These extra parts may be handmade miniatures or pre-fabricated pieces that are added separately.

Class D Models

Kit models are built entirely from a commercially packaged kit. These ready-made kits can be purchased in hobby stores or catalogues worldwide.

Brooks Models

Dwight Brooks

Dwight Brooks

Dwight Brooks
Dwight Brooks

"I love to create things in miniature that look real, that always work, and are always in control. I have really been doing it all my life, since I made my first model at the age of five."
--Dwight Brooks

Dwight W. Brooks began his life-long love affair with models at the age of five, when he built his first airplane model. He was born in 1929, and grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota. After serving in the U.S. Marines and Air Force during the Korean War, he joined his family's newsprint business in 1955. He left the company in the 1960s to move to southern California. After a successful career as a pilot, real estate developer, and entrepreneur, he devoted his energies to model building.

Brooks was an expert modelmaker of both model ships and airplanes. He usually began work on his models in October, at his home workshop in Los Angeles. He liked to complete his models by summer, so he could test them at his cabin on Gull Lake in Minnesota. He averaged 1200 to 1500 hours of work for a ship model, and employed a wide variety of materials. He thoroughly researched a vessel before he began work, looking for plans, keeping notes, and taking a number of photographs. Most of his models represent real models, past and present. His ship models range in size from three to ten feet. Each is seaworthy and powered by gas or electric engines. All of his vessels are remote controlled. He was proud that his ship models could do almost anything that a real vessel could do.

Brooks had fun with his models. He liked to take them out on Gull Lake and surprise unsuspecting fishermen. His remote-controlled models had many interesting capabilities. Some functions included ringing bells, squirting water, and honking horns, just to name a few.

Besides making models, Brooks also had a passion for restoring cars and airplanes. His first airplane restoration project was a 1944, V-77 Stinson Gullwing, which won 37 trophies in two years of air shows. His biggest restoration project was a World War II-era British Lysander airplane. Brooks donated the restored aircraft to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum.

Dwight Brooks died on March 7, 1996 in Los Angeles. At his memorial service, he was honored by a fly-over of seven T-6s, two P-51 Mustangs, one Lear jet, and other airplanes.

In accordance with Brooks' wishes that his creations be kept together and become available for public enjoyment, Dwight Brooks' family donated his collection of 32 model ships and powerboats to the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum in 1997.