Swedish gunboat, 1777


Swedish Gunboat

The Swedish Gunboat, also known as a kanonjolle, was a small, maneuverable boat equipped with oars as well as a sails. The boats were used by the nationals Sweden, as well as Norway, Denmark, and Russia, for coastal defense. The boats were inexpensive to build and could be built quickly in large numbers.

The typical kanonjolle was equipped with a rear-firing, medium sized cannon in a fixed mount. Typically, these boats were operated by about a dozen men. Because of the fixed mount, the aiming of the cannon was done using oars to steer the ship into position. The aft position of the heavy gun required the unusual feature of a “tail extension” of the hull.

These gunboats were the smallest vessels of the Swedish Archipelago Fleet, which was actually part of the Swedish Army, since it was tasked only with coastal defense. The fleet was active in wartime from 1757 to 1814.

The Model

My Swedish Gunboat model is based on a kit from Amati Model of Italy. It is constructed mostly straight from the kit with a few small modifications. The wooden model is roughly 1/48-scale (1/4” = 1’) and was built as part of a group project, where a group of local ship modelers each built the same model kit, and sharing information and techniques along the way.

This is a small plank-on-bulkhead model that features a single-planked hull using walnut strips. I found the oars to be a bit on the short side, so I replaced the shafts with longer dowels. I also replaced the kit’s catheads with posts that look more like those found on all of the contemporary models of these boat types. There was also a small capstan included in the kit which I chose to omit, as it is not a feature that appears on any contemporary model or drawings. I left the model unpainted, except for the black spritsail yards as well as the strakes at the wales and the rail at the edge of the deck.

The model kit was provided by the ship model kit supplier Ages of Sail, and now sits on display in their store.

The Swedish Gunboat, also known as a Kanonjolle, is small, maneuverable boat armed with a single medium-sized cannon on a rear-firing slide mount.

It was design naval architect Frederick Henrik Chapman for operating in fjords.

My model, a roughly 1/48-scale wooden model based on a kit, measures roughly 14” long and 8-1/2” high.