The 408' long, 5-masted Preussen (Prussian) was the largest ship without auxiliary engines ever to sail. The steel-hulled Preussen displaced 5,081 tons and was launched in 1902 at Geestemünde, Germany. She was built for the nitrate trade between Europe and Chile, and carried up to 8,000 tons of bulk cargo. Known for her speed (in one eleven-day period she reeled off 3,019 miles, an average speed of over 11 knots), Preussen had a 48 man crew and served profitably in Europe/Chile service until she met her end. On November 7, 1910, Preussen rammed the cross-channel steamer SS Brighton. Her bows stove in, Preussen was taken under tow, but her top hamper created so much windage that the tow lines parted, and Preussen met her end on a reef near Dover.

The impressive 1:48th scale Preussen is on display at the San Francisco Maritime Museum. The model is noteworthy for its extensive detail and dramatic underway presentation. Note the many crewmen depicted at work and play, and the intricate rigging. Interestingly, the builder (I neglected to get his name) used pool cues to fabricate the masts, and manufactured many parts using a lathe built from vacuum cleaner components. The swells lapping against the ship and the non vertical positioning of the model convey motion and, if one tries hard enough, a hint of seasickness. This model rewards study, so take a close look at my photos.
Rob Mackie 23 August 2003


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