The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich houses the largest collection of scale ship models in the world, many of which are official, contemporary artifacts made by the craftsmen of the Royal Navy or by the shipbuilders themselves.
They range from the mid-seventeenth-century to the present day and represent a three-dimensional archive of unique importance and authority.
Treated as historical evidence, these models offer more detail than even the most detailed plans, and demonstrate exactly what the ships looked like in a way that the finest marine painter could not.
This book takes a selection of the best models from the beginning of the eighteenth century to the end of wooden shipbuilding to describe and demonstrate the development of warship construction in all its complexity.
For this purpose, it reproduces a large number of photos, all in full color, and includes many close-up and detail views.
These are captioned in depth, but many are also annotated to focus attention on interesting or unusual features.
Although pictorial in emphasis, the book weaves the illustrations into an authoritative text, producing an unusual and attractive form of technical history.