This history of the British sailing frigate is unusual, in that it is based around the impressive collection of scale models of ships in the collection of the National Maritime Museum. Many of these models are impressively accurate portrayals of particular ships or classes of ship, and are thus an excellent source for the details of ship construction.
As one would expect this is a beautifully illustrated book, with every page dominated by the full colour pictures of the models. The standard format is to have one or two pictures per page, each supporting the surrounding text. A large number of annotated pictures are included, with captions physically linked to key features of the model to illustrate particular design features (mainly to illustrate significant changes in design). This is an excellent idea, making it clear exactly which part of the ship is being discussed in the captions, something that isn't always clear just from the text, as the naming of parts of warships is an especially complex topic.
There are also several special subject spreads, illustrating particular design features such as the shape of the head or the stern, covering the full time period in six or seven smaller pictures. These are also very useful, bringing together a whole series of developments in a single place.
The models are quite varied in style. Most are fully painted models of the completed ship, but there are also a number of very useful models with the outer skin removed to show the construction methods being used. There is also an impressive modern model that shows the internal layout of the frigates, and helps gives some idea of how crowded these ships were (although the frigate was less crowded than the larger ships of the line, with better quality accommodation provided in the unarmed lower deck).
This is a very impressive book, and a very useful history of the development of the frigate, one of the most important warships of the age of sail.
1 - Prehistory 1600-1689
2 - Guerre de Course 1689-1713
3 - The Establishment Ear 1706-1748
4 - The 'True Frigate' 1748-1778
5 - The Heavy Frigate, 1778-1815
6 - The Last Generation 1815-1859
Author: Robert Gardiner
Year: 2016 edition of 2012 original