HMS Mary Rose 1545 
by Jim Baumann 

1/400 HMS Mary Rose 1545 (Airfix)

HMS Mary Rose as in 1545

A departure from my usual offerings of early pre-dreadnought or unusual steel ships! HMS Mary Rose, at 800 tons was one of the largest warships of her time in Tudor King Henry VIII's navy, with only the 'Henry Grace a Dieu' ( popularly known as the Great Harry) exceeding her in tonnage and number of guns. Contrary to popular myth, HMS Mary Rose did NOT sink on her maiden Voyage in 1545. HMS Mary Rose was launched in 1511, and successfully partook in a number of naval engagements in the wars with France After a major re-build in 1536 she was one of the first ships able to fire a broadside. In the third French war, on 19 July 1545 a very large French fleet with intention to invade England, advanced to engage the becalmed and anchored English fleet in the Solent off Posrtmouth

The Mary Rose,now with the beginnings of the freshening afternoon sea-breeze astern, led the English fleet to attack the oar-powered French Galleys. After firing her port-side guns, she turned to fire her starboard guns whilst re-loading the port side battery As to what happened next, a variety of theories abound; either a sudden gust of wind or perhaps too sharp a turn,- the French even claimed it was their cannon fire... After her turning manoeuvre, she suddenly heeled over dramatically; with water rapidly entering the still open leeward gunports, causing her capsize and sinking in the shortest time, taking around 500 crew and soldiers to their death, most of whom were trapped under the anti-boarding netting strung over the main decks preventing their escape. This sudden and shocking tragedy was witnessed by Henry VIII, who was only a few hundred yards away at Southsea castle, Portsmouth.

Far more informative detail can be gleaned here.

The remains of the Mary Rose and the very considerable trove of artefacts were raised in 1982, and after 30 years of conservation work, the remaining 3/4 of the starboard side are preserved in a brand-new state of the art museum complex at the Portsmouth Naval dockyard which is well worth a visit,especially f contemplating a build of this famous ship.


The quite recently released Airfix 1/400 model is a simplified ,very cheap and cheerful little kit-- though overall dimensionally pretty accurate ==> ( as far as is possible to know ! ) The kit was prepared and designed with the aid and approval of the HMS Mary Rose trust. With the aid of the dedicated Photo-etch set from I envisaged a quick and easy build; after all how hard could it be...? To read how wrong I was, please read the detailed build account here at

The model has all-metal scratch-built masts and spars of stainless steel tube and tapered brass spars. The search for a suitable anti-boarding netting alone was a protracted affair; with much learnt about the world of small hole-size netting! A contentious and much discussed but ultimately open-ended issue was the disposition of the lateen yards to windward, though this was borne out by many drawings and illustrations of the period .

The sails were made of fine plain newsprint-paper, with the panel lines drawn on both sides, with the furling martinets and bowlines crows feet applied in stretched sprue on enamel matt varnish to the sails ; thereafter the whole model was rigged with stretched sprue of various browns. with my usual methods described as a step-by-step right here at here.  The ship was mounted to her sea using my usual method of watercolour paper-over-cockstail sticks directly onto the base of the display case. The method described in detail here.

The main sources for ( sometimes conflicting ) information came for the Mary Rose Anatomy of the ship book, the Haynes publishing " workshop manual" Mary Rose along with the two classic in-depth volumes by Marsden--along with much support from my e-friends all over the world!

All in all a most challenging, educational and wholly satisfying project to produce a model of a ship from a period of naval history often overlooked by smaller scale modelshipbuilders.

Jim Baumann

Gallery updated 4/13/2017