Roman Steam Ship "Vesuvio", 52 AD

Started by nönöbär, September 20, 2020, 01:50:50 AM

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Roman Steam Ship "Vesuvio", 52 AD

The ship

Inspired by the ideas of Heron of Alexandria, the Roman scholar Marcus Thomasius the Younger began to conduct his own experiments with steam mechanisms in the year 42.

Seven years later, this led him to develop a machine with which he could convert the power of steam into movement - the "vapor machina". His idea was to use such a machine to facilitate the transport of military goods for the legions over the well-developed Roman road network. However, the machine he designed was too big, so he suggested that it be built into a ship to replace the oarsmen.

The search for (financial) support for his idea proved to be difficult, so he finally had no choice but to build his machine into an older Trireme, even though he was aware that this was not the ideal ship for his project.

The ship known as "vapor navis" was given the name "Vesuvio" and could put to sea for the first time after the conversions in 52. The steam engine and charcoal store occupied the space below deck previously required by the rowers, and the boiler was installed on deck. In addition, the ship was fitted with a number of smaller superstructures on deck for a better overview.

The Vesuvio was able to reach a speed of about 8 nautical miles per hour with the "vapor machina". This meant that in the long term it was possible to achieve about the same speed as a rowed Trireme could achieve for a short time. The charcoal carried along made it possible to cover a distance from Ostia (the port of Rome) to Sicily.

After its completion, the Vesuvio was intensively tested by Marcus Thomasius and some minor improvements were made to the ship. During the whole test phase the ship was commanded by the experienced triarch Flavius Catius.

Due to her construction the Vesuvio had the same disadvantages as a conventional Trireme, her low freeboard affected the seaworthiness in higher seas. As a result of the additional installations, the ship was deeper in the water than before the conversion.

During the next three years the "vapor machina" proved to be very reliable and useful, so that the ideas for an improved ship based on a merchant ship became more concrete. This implementation did not come to a successful conclusion after the Vesuvio capsized in heavy seas on 11 August 55 and sank with the entire crew. Since her designer Marcus Thomasius was also on board, his idea of the "vapor navis" was not pursued further and it took many centuries before a ship was again powered by a steam engine.

The model shows the Vesuvio after launch in the year 52

The model:
The ship is based on the 1/250 Imai model of a roman warship. While I took most of the ship parts besides the oars, additional parts like the superstructure and stream engine were 3D printed. The roman crew is made from of Z-scale model train figures (1/220 scale) that were repainted as Romans. The model is painted with Revel Aqua color.

Daily updates from my engineer: https://twitter.com/Scratchbr1

German Naval History               : www.german-navy.de
Bärenreisen                             : www.barenurlaub.de


Where's a Scale Reference Cat when you need one?

If those dudes on the deck are 1/220, that's one VERY small ship!  :o

Amazing work.  :thumbsup:
Kit's Rule 1 ) Any aircraft can be improved by fitting longer wings, and/or a longer fuselage
Kit's Rule 2) The backstory can always be changed to suit the model

...and I'm not a closeted 'Take That' fan, I'm a REAL fan! :)



The ship hull is about 14 cm, with all sails etc, its close to 20cm.
Daily updates from my engineer: https://twitter.com/Scratchbr1

German Naval History               : www.german-navy.de
Bärenreisen                             : www.barenurlaub.de


Fantastic.  But surely this is true?  Where's the whiffery?


- Can't be bothered to do the proper research and get it right.

Another ill conceived, lazily thought out, crudely executed and badly painted piece of half arsed what-if modelling muppetry from zenrat industries.

zenrat industries:  We're everywhere...for your convenience..


That is an absolutely brilliant build and great backstory  :thumbsup:

For some reason I particularly like the crenellations on the funnel, just gives it a period look.
Do not condemn the judgement of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.

Old Wombat

Has a life outside of What-If & wishes it would stop interfering!

"The purpose of all War is Peace" - St. Augustine

veritas ad mortus veritas est

Rick Lowe

Joe C-P

Would they have had a steam bath on board?  ;D

I like this, very nice, a variation on something that had been in my head.   :thumbsup:

In want of hobby space!  The kitchen table is never stable.  Still managing to get some building done.