Swedish gunboat, 1777


Swedish Gunboat, 1777

The Swedish Gunboat, also known as a kanonjolle, or gun yawl, is a model of a typical gunboat used by the Swedish archipelago fleet, otherwise known as the Fleet of the Army, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It was one of many vessels designed by the famous Swedish naval architect Fredrik Henrik Chapman.

The gun yawl measured roughly 55 feet long and carried a single 18 or 24-pounder cannon in a fixed carriage at the stern, requiring the ship be maneuvered to aim it. Due to the location of the heavy cannon, an extension of the hull at the stern was necessary. The vessel was equipped with a pair of collapsable masts carrying dipping lug sails, and 7 pairs of oars with one man at each oar. The vessel carried a crew of around 20.

In 1790, the archipelago fleet was made up of 285 armed vessels including galleys and prams, but primarily gun yawls and sloops.

The archipelago fleet was a branch of the Swedish Army, tasked with the protection of the nation’s coastal waters.

The fleet was made up of fast small vessels and agile vessels such as the kanonjolle, or gun yawl. This was a typical boat of the fleet equipped with lug sails as well as oars and a single stern-chaser gun.

The Model

My Swedish Gunboat is a 1/48-scale wooden model kit manufactured by Amati Model of Italy. It measures roughly 13-1/2” long. It is a plank-on-bulkhead kit made from beech, walnut, tanganyika, and other woods. The model was built as part of a group project of ship modelers, where each of us built the same kit, sharing advice and ideas for construction. The subject was interesting in its unusual design.

I strayed from the kit design in a few minimal ways in an attempt to make it appear closer to models that appears in Swedish museums, but primarily built the kit as is. I chose not to use any paint on the model except for some metal fittings and for the black strake below the deck.

This model was built to be displayed at the physical shop of the ship model seller and distributor Ages of Sail, located in San Lorenzo, CA, in the San Francisco Bay Area.