Monday, October 1, 2012

HMS San Josef - GHQ 1:1200

Below are some photos of GHQ's 1:1200 HMS San Josef, a 112 gun first rate ship of the line built by the Spanish, and the terminal point of 'Nelson's Patent Bridge for Taking First Rates' - a humorous phrase referring to the circumstances under which Horatio Nelson, commanding HMS Captain at the Battle of St. Vincent, captured the San Josef. I hope I will be forgiven for copying the National Maritime Museum's (Greenwich) excerpt from Dr. Colin White's (no relation to myself) 'The Nelson Encyclopedia. It will make much better reading than any summarizing on my part. 

The San José was a three-decked Spanish first-rate battleship of one hundred and twenty guns, built in the northern Spanish port of Ferrol to the designs of the French-born naval architect Franciso Gautier in 1783. On 14 February 1797 she formed part of the Spanish fleet at the Battle of Cape St Vincent, when she flew the flag of Rear-Admiral Don Francisco Winthuysen. She was in the thick of the fighting and suffered badly from the heavy British broadsides. Over one hundred and fifty of her crew were killed or wounded, including her admiral who lost both legs and was carried below to die.

At the height of the action the San José was rammed by her next astern, the eighty-gun San Nicolas and the two ships became locked together. It was at this point that Nelson made his famous move, leading a boarding party onto the San Nicolas and capturing her by storm. Seeing the plight of their comrades, the Spanish in the San José tried to help them by firing on Nelson's men, only to find themselves assailed in their turn. This further blow was too much for an already demoralised crew and moments later, a dazed Nelson found himself receiving the surrender of all the Spanish officers on the quarterdeck of the San José. He handed their swords one by one to one of his barge's crew, William Fearney, 'who put them with the greatest sang froid under his arm'.
San José actually enjoyed a long active service in the Royal Navy as HMS San Josef – the only foreign first-rate battleship ever to do so. Her first service was as Nelson's flagship in the Channel in January 1801. Some of Nelson's biographers have suggested that this was done as a special compliment to him, and he certainly asked if she was available. But the most likely explanation is that she was brought into service hurriedly as a replacement for the British first-rate Queen Charlotte, which had been accidentally destroyed by fire the previous year. San Josef remained in active service and after Nelson's death, her association with him meant that she was preserved long after her useful life was over. She lasted until 1849 and when she was finally broken up, much of her wood was made into furniture and other relics.

And here is the San Jose very, very late in life, in a photo published in 'The Royal Naiy in old Photographs' by Wilfrid Pym Trotter. M. C. Naval Institute Press


  1. Stunning! A true work of art. Best, Dean

  2. Would you consider posting a step-by-step, or how-to for one of these?

    I have a large number of these GHQ 1200s, but so far I seem unable to achieve anywhere near the level of deck and hull detail that you're getting. I kept thinking the mold detail was just not sharp enough to get much more, but you've clearly proved me wrong!

    Really great work.

  3. Thanks for the kind words Dean and Carl.

    Carl, I think a how-to would be a good project for me, I just need to get up the energy to do one But I'll make the effort!

    - James

  4. James, I completely agree with DeanM and Carl. This one is your best yet and I, for one, would very much appreciate a Workbench step by step of your process posted here and submitted to The Editor on TMP for the Workbench section. You would be helping a lot of fellow enthusiasts.

    Your fan

  5. James,
    I just discovered a new forum site that's great. It is I joined and they are all into the 1;1200 Napoleonic gaming. Check it out.


    1. Vol,

      Thanks for the link, that looks like an awesome forum. I'll definitely be checking that one regularly! Thanks again,
      - James