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"East India Company Frigate - GHQ 1:1200" Topic

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3,023 hits since 21 Jun 2013
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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whitejamest21 Jun 2013 7:20 p.m. PST

Hi guys, I finished working on GHQ's 1:1200 44 Gun East Indiaman and wanted to share more pictures.

This is a pretty large ship for a frigate, in the same class with the heavy American frigates like the Constitution, about as long as a 74 gun 3rd rate.

I wanted to paint it in such a way that (at least to my not-so-informed mind) it would be able to fill a role of a private vessel from an indeterminate country. I've read that British EIC warships were painted just like Royal Navy vessels, and I didn't want to tie it down to one nation.

More images can be seen on my blog here:

- James



galvinm Inactive Member21 Jun 2013 7:50 p.m. PST


Very nice!

Personal logo War Artisan Sponsoring Member of TMP21 Jun 2013 8:44 p.m. PST

A work of art.

idontbelieveit Supporting Member of TMP21 Jun 2013 9:37 p.m. PST

Wow, that's incredible!

Volunteer Fezian Inactive Member21 Jun 2013 10:34 p.m. PST

Lord James! Can your ships get any more beautiful? I painted mine like an American frigate, but this paint scheme is just so much better! Are you going to flag it as EIC? That would be really cool. What color is that on the gun port strakes? You have the contrast and shadow down on the port hatches. I didn't think I could be anymore impressed with your skill than I already was. I was wrong! What are you going to do next?


Ben Walton Inactive Member21 Jun 2013 11:08 p.m. PST

Amazing wourk!

plutarch 6422 Jun 2013 2:26 a.m. PST


whitejamest22 Jun 2013 3:20 a.m. PST

Thank you for the compliments guys. I'm glad you like the ship.

Vol, I painted the hull a little while back, but if I remember correctly, I think I painted the gun strake Reaper Bronzed Flesh Shadow, washed with a little Citadel Ogrynne Flesh Wash, and highlighted the ports with Reaper Golden Flesh Highlight

It probably sounds creepy knowing those are flesh tones, but they happened to be the colors I needed!

I need to figure out what sorts of flags and other marking EIC vessels actually carried. Anyone have any knowledge about that?

rmaker22 Jun 2013 8:06 a.m. PST

This is a pretty large ship for a frigate

Actually, it's NOT a frigate. It is a large, relativley well-armed merchantman. While the HEICo did have naval vessels, th largest was a 38 gun frigate (HEICoS Bombay) built in 1793 and sold to the RN in 1805 because the Company couldn't justify the cost of operating her.

Indiamen were heavily armed (at least as far as number of guns goes – they were usually mostly 6-pdrs), because they operated in dangerous, pirate-infested waters.

For flags, see:

Mark Barker22 Jun 2013 1:04 p.m. PST

I use flesh/sand tones a lot, they work nicely.

The big Indiamen could actually be taken for a 74 (i.e. they had 2 decks) – there is one record of an aggressively handled group of "John Company" ships seeing off French warships by forming line of battle and looking like they knew what they were doing !

Mark Barker
The Inshore Squadron

devsdoc22 Jun 2013 3:40 p.m. PST

I've said it before and say it again here. James your ships just beautiful. I take my hat off too you. My painting and modelling is richer for knowing your work. Thank you.
Be safe

Khusrau22 Jun 2013 7:16 p.m. PST

I hate you for setting me something to aspire to, that I suspect I am never going to achieve. The standard of the rigging alone is spectacularly good. Thanks for sharing.

Volunteer Fezian Inactive Member22 Jun 2013 10:47 p.m. PST

It wasn't just "looking like" they knew what they were doing. The battle of Pulo Aor was a real battle. The East India China fleet sailing to India near the Malacca Strait under command of Nathaniel Dance consisted of 16 company and 11 "country" ships faced off a French Squadron commanded by Charles Alexander Leon Durand Linois of the 74 gun Marengo, 40 gun Belle Poule, 32 gun Semillante, 22 gun corvette Berceau, and a 16 gun brig. The company ships ranged 30 to 36 guns of 9 to 18 pounders. The country ships had 12 or so 9 pounders. Dance had the fleet lower the company flag at first sighting and raise the blue RN ensign to make Linois think he was facing RN frigates. Dance signaled the fleet to form in lne of battle and start firing before the ships closed within range. Only Dance's ship the Royal George came within close range and traded several broadsides with the Marengo. The Royal George took damage but the ships in line behind him maneuvered to surround the Marengo firing broadside after broadside. The other French vessels stood off and Linois beat away counting himself lucky to get away.

This would make a great game scenario.


whitejamest22 Jun 2013 11:54 p.m. PST

Thanks for the compliments guys, and for the corrections rmaker. So a ship such as this one would not be just a warship, but carry merchant cargo as well? I was wondering about the fact that the ship has a continuous upper deck, rather than open beams in the waist over the lower gun deck – perhaps that is a related issue. Thanks also for the link to the flags, I appreciate it.

Mark and Vol, thanks for the historical detail. You're right Vol, that would be a great scenario for a game. So far I have yet to run a game where capturing merchant vessels plays a real part. It would be a great feature to incorporate in to a campaign….

mollinary23 Jun 2013 5:50 a.m. PST

Is it this action which features in one of the Aubrey-Maturin novels?


Ben Walton Inactive Member23 Jun 2013 10:53 a.m. PST

I think that bit of the book takes inspiration from that action. There are a qite a lot of real stories behind the audrey-maturin novels

Mark Barker23 Jun 2013 12:24 p.m. PST

Yep, Dance's Action as I think we have it in the histories.

Tricky to put on without some subterfuge concealing what the French player is actually facing.

The main difference between the EIC ships and warships is the number of crew. The EIC ships had only enough to work the ship and was a fraction of the RN complement.

In modern terms an Indiaman has low combat persistance (i.e. no ability to absorb casualities).

Once the French realise the the fragility of what they are facing any frigate is going to be confident of its chances.

Mark Barker
The Inshore Squadron

devsdoc23 Jun 2013 8:46 p.m. PST

A idea for a scenario. Side A must move X tons of goods. This can only be done with a fleet of all merchants. The more warships used the less goods moved. Side B must stop side A from doing this, but does not know how many warships or merchants he/she will face. Plus points for side B for using less ships. Plus points for side A the more goods they get across the table. Needs more work but a start?
Be safe

devsdoc25 Jun 2013 3:17 p.m. PST

Hi James
Can you help me? Can you post a photo of your ship from above? I have been given 6 old Navwar SOL, I plan to make them into merchant ships. They all have waists so must be filled in. It would help me, to see the deck of your ship.
Be safe

whitejamest25 Jun 2013 5:40 p.m. PST

Rory, I've got this one shot from a higher angle that shows some of the deck, so let me know if that helps. If not I'll try to do another photo shoot soon. Really the only noticeable difference is that it's continuous, no fancy apparatus or anything.

The wake here is definitely too great, I really am going to tone that down – as soon as I can get around to it!


devsdoc25 Jun 2013 11:27 p.m. PST

Thanks James
It helps a lot
Be safe

1968billsfan Supporting Member of TMP27 Jun 2013 6:17 a.m. PST

The East Indiamen were first of all transport ships meant to carry cargo for the company and the arming was (as stated above) to defend against pirates and up to sloop type men of war. from Winipedia:

The East India Company (EIC), originally chartered as the Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies, and more properly called the Honourable East India Company, was an English and later (from 1707)[1] British joint-stock company[2] formed for pursuing trade with the East Indies but which ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent, North-west frontier province and Balochistan.

The East India Company traded mainly in cotton, silk, indigo dye, salt, saltpetre, tea and opium. The Company was granted a Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth in 1600,[3] making it the oldest among several similarly formed European East India Companies. Shares of the company were owned by wealthy merchants and aristocrats.[4] The government owned no shares and had only indirect control. The Company eventually came to rule large areas of India with its own private armies, exercising military power and assuming administrative functions.[5] Company rule in India effectively began in 1757 after the Battle of Plassey and lasted until 1858 when, following the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the Government of India Act 1858 led to the British Crown assuming direct control of India in the era of the new British Raj………………….The HEIC's ships were well built, with the result that the Royal Navy bought several Company ships to convert to warships and transports. The Earl of Mornington became HMS Drake. Other examples include:
HMS Calcutta (1795)
HMS Glatton (1795)
HMS Hindostan (1795)
HMS Hindostan (1804)
HMS Malabar (1804)
HMS Buffalo (1813)

The Glatton for example was made into a 56 gun SOL, armed at one time with carronades…."twenty-eight 68-pounder carronades on the lower deck and twenty-eight 42-pounder carronades on her upper deck." I like to slip this ship into wargames and let people find out for themselves how much more weight a carronade armed ship could throw.

"…. Bonhomme Richard, formerly Duc de Duras, was a warship in the Continental Navy. She was originally an East Indiaman, a merchant ship built in France for the French East India Company in 1765, for service between France and the Orient. She was placed at the disposal of John Paul Jones on 4 February 1779, by King Louis XVI of France as a result of a loan to the United States by French shipping magnate, Jacques-Donatien Le Ray…………….Little is known about the early career of Bonhomme Richard other than she was originally an East Indiaman named Duc de Duras; a merchant ship built in France for the French East India Company in 1765. In that capacity she sailed between France and the Orient until purchased by King Louis XVI of France in early 1779 and placed under the command John Paul Jones on 4 February.[2] The size and armament of Duc de Duras made her a rough equivalent of half of a 64-gun ship of the line[3]

whitejamest27 Jun 2013 8:19 a.m. PST

Thanks for the great info Billsfan.

I'm wondering, is GHQ's indiaman distinctively British in its size and lines, or would the EICs of the other European powers have built and used similar vessels.

Volunteer Fezian Inactive Member29 Jun 2013 4:04 p.m. PST

Although I don't usually use Wikipedia as a reference, there is a table that lists East Indiamen, Nationality and sizes on link
Most are of course British, but it includes French, Dutch, Batavian, and Swedish ships. I do believe the East Indiamen were all pretty large for merchant vessels. Wiki says between 1100 and 1400 tons. I seem to recall reading about one that was built in India that was over 1700 tons. The French EIC built some in India too. As for whether they were all of similar design, I can't say. Size yes.

This is an interesting link to a Sweedish EIC replica ship: link

Here is a link to the official catalog of British EIC ships: link


devsdoc29 Jun 2013 5:37 p.m. PST

Hi Vol,
Lots of browns, Vol. Lots of brown.
Thanks for the information.
Be safe

whitejamest30 Jun 2013 8:02 a.m. PST

Vol, thanks for the links, it's good to know that it's probably not unreasonable for this model to represent an indiaman from a variety of nations, as a scenario will determine.

The Gotheborg is a great looking ship!

Red Line Inactive Member23 Aug 2014 3:15 p.m. PST

Felt I had to correct a few points here…

Classes of Indiamen;
1200 ton ‘China Ships' –38 guns (18Lb) resemble a 64 gun 3rd rate, 16 ships.
800 ton ‘Classic' –32 guns (18Lb) resemble a 50 gun 4th rate, 25-33 ships.
500/600 ton ‘Extras ~16 12Lb cannonades, resemble a 32 gun frigate, 31-39 ships.
~600 ton Bombay ‘country ship' 6-16 guns, (6/12 Lb) carry cotton, 29 ships.
~400 ton Calcutta ‘country ship' 18 guns (match Dutch sloop) rice to Madras, or Opium to Canton 77 ships.

Reaction to ‘Suspicious Sail';
Turn towards the sail and hoist as much canvas as possible, then beat to quarters.
This presents a large rapidly approaching vessel, near indistinguishable from a SoL. The broadside can't be seen from the potential enemy and they must therefore choose to engage or retreat without being able to count the guns first. This usually results in the enemy fleeing over the horizon.

The vessel shown here would appear to be an 800 ton, at first glance.
Langton do a Large Merchant which closely resembles the Gothenberg, though for an English 1200 ton Indiaman I'd go for the 64-gun ex-Indiaman in the British hulls.
Langtons Medium merchant is a good match for the 32 gun frigate so is likely the 500 ton class.

Blutarski23 Aug 2014 6:32 p.m. PST

The larger EIC ships were taken into RN service from time to time, as occasion demanded. Being about 1400 tons burthen and built with two gun decks, they were typically armed as 64 gun ships. Hughes commanded at least one in the Coromandel campaign and Duncan had one or more in his squadron at Camperdown.

Oh … BTW … just a superb piece of modeling. Far too nice to trust to ham-fisted, half-drunk gamers.


Volunteer Fezian Inactive Member23 Aug 2014 8:48 p.m. PST

Thank you Red Line, great information.

James, it is good that this one is bumped to the top again. She is gorgeous.

ModelJShip Supporting Member of TMP24 Aug 2014 3:10 a.m. PST

A small masterpiece !!!
whitejamest, I love it really … a choice of great colors and perfect stringing …
Congratulations !!!

Red Line Inactive Member24 Aug 2014 11:09 a.m. PST

"So a ship such as this one would not be just a warship, but carry merchant cargo as well? I was wondering about the fact that the ship has a continuous upper deck, rather than open beams in the waist over the lower gun deck – perhaps that is a related issue. Thanks also for the link to the flags, I appreciate it."

Indiamen by the Napoleonic period were being built to a 'flush-deck' design this makes them less likely to founder in a storm as water simply rolls off the deck instead of getting trapped in the waist.
The Flush-Decked hull and lack of tumblehome were derived from the Calcutta rice ships, via Mr. G. Snodgrass.
Usually only the upper deck would have guns, the lower deck when laden with cargo would be too low for the guns to be run out, and would in any case be buried in the cargo stored on that deck. As such the lower ports on Indiamen are fake and intended to deceive and intimidate.

whitejamest25 Aug 2014 7:48 p.m. PST

Thanks for the new compliments and the information guys. Red Line, I didn't realize that about lower gun ports on Indiamen. That would be a fun thing to tell only one player about…

Volunteer Fezian Inactive Member02 Sep 2014 5:47 p.m. PST


In regards to your Bonhomme Richard post, imagine your East Indiaman above painted like an early American frigate.


Red Line Inactive Member06 Sep 2014 7:46 a.m. PST

If looking for single ship actions involving Indiamen;
The Caroline vs. remnants of the 3rd Fleet in May 1809 provides one template, the 3 Indiamen were all 800 tonners, badly overloaded with saltpetre and undermanned due to RN impressment at Madras. link
Most of Marine Nationale were more timid than this though which gives a large number of 'what-if' scenarios.
French privateers were more dangerous, usually sailing 20 gun corvettes.

There is also the practice of spice smuggling as the Dutch fleet protected the VOCs monopoly of the spice trade vigourously. The smuggler was usually a Calcutta Country Ship of ~400 tons, mounting 18/20 guns, flush decked with a supply of muskets and grenadoes in the fighting tops. In addition to the Lascar crew she would carry 1 havildar (sgt) 2 naiks (cpl) and 20 sepoys (soldiers) with the expected opponent being a Dutch sloop of 18 guns.

Also someone mentioned an action in a Jack Aubery novel, the basis of that is the capture of the Lord Nelson;

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