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Little Known Detail - - Bulwarks, What, Where and Why?

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  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Monday, April 4, 2022 9:58 AM

Hi Bill!

      Great to hear from You!  You are right of course. They are lower, but there. I think a lot of times it was somewhat abitrary too. They needed them, but, there was the added cost of Hardware and Scupper design and Edge hardware need as well.

       Having lived on vessels as both an maritime Officer and Crew before that, and as just a resident, I always preferred the Bulwarks only at the Bows, Sterns and where the Main Cabin Sides were, if the Vessel only had say, two deck levels.

  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Saturday, April 2, 2022 10:29 AM

Gloucester, Grand Banks etc. schooners had very low ones, since the dory men had to toss big heavy cod up over the side into the boat.



 Modeling is an excuse to buy books.


  • Member since
    March 2022
  • From: Twin cities, MN
Posted by missileman2000 on Saturday, April 2, 2022 9:16 AM

The better kits do have these supports molded in, at least in 1:350.  I guess I can understand why few 1:700 kits lack them.  In 1:350 and larger, I use them to judge the quality of the kit.

Speaking of bulwards, I just posted latest progress on my Lucia Simpson, a 1:90 Great Lakes 3 mast schooner, in the Ships forum .  The bulwarks took far more time and effort than I expected!

  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Little Known Detail - - Bulwarks, What, Where and Why?
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Saturday, April 2, 2022 8:44 AM

Hi Ya'll;

      There is a detail in  Model-Shipbuilding that I realised most builders forget. I first noticed this Years ago and promptly forgot it. That is, When I started building ships out of Card ( Paper or Thin Plastic Sheet) Like .010 and such.

       When we build most plastic models, the one thing missing a lot of times is the support both at the edge and behind the Bulwarks on a ship. To most, Bulwarks are the " Solid Railings" not the open ones! Many models in this area are too thick! 

     This is unique because at the various scales a lot of Modelers build ships in It doesn't seem relevant! But it really is. When you build a model of a ship say in 1/96 or 1/48 or even 1/72 this will be a noticeable feature in any medium. In 1/350 or 1/700 not so Much.

     Why? Well just imagine if you will, the real thing. You have an oval or round Pipe like edge that is on top center, or offset to the outside or inside of the Bulwark. Then you have the triangular or beam looking support and strengthening structure every six feet.

    This is very noticeable in Workboats and Freight carriers. It is also present in any other type of vessel having them except maybe yachts that will have a double wall type of structure to cover up that support.

 What purpose do Bulwarks actually serve anyway? The primary reason they exist is to shed water BEFORE it comes aboard. That's why Flush Deck Destroyers are so much wetter to those aboard than a ship built with them at the Bows and near or at Midship.

      If you notice, Most fishing vessels have them all the way around the deck level.That's so, even though water will come over the side, it serves to protect the deck hardware and be also a safety device for the crew.

   You have less chance of being swept overboard if you are behind a Bulwark than just an open Cable/Stanchion rail. Plus in the early Cruise Ships and Liners it served another very mundane function. It served to finish or enhance a line the designers wanted to impart to the observer of the ship's beautiful lined generated by Deck sheer and Smooth curves at certain decks!

    The best example I can give of that today is the Photos of the Normandie( Before her demise) and the Andrea Doria as well as some of the larger Liners of the early fifties, Like the S.S. United States and the Q.E.2.

    Solid bulwarks smooth the deck lines at the ends of Promenades and other passenger decks as well as the Bows and Sterns of these Beautiful ships. It was very prominent as well on the vessels that Supported Fleets.(Oilers,Reefer Ships and Supply vessels of other types).

     With the tankers it was a way to try to keep the decks reasonably safe for crews when loaded and in rough seas. Many times I have seen the older types of tanker so loaded her decks were level with ours and we were a Gearing Class destroyer of late war construction. And she was a ship Much bigger than we were in length, width and  many times if she was light, the tanker's deck( main) would tower over us.

     Bulwarks - Very important and present. Don't neglect their presence or need for detail.


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