Antique Builder’s Half Model Atlantic Transport Line

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Builder’s or Naval Architect’s
Transport “WAR RIDDLE”



The ship model 48″ L x 3 1/2″ W x 6 1/2″ Depth
Weight 16 1/2



Presented is an exceptional builder’s half hull model of what
was originally built as a wartime Standard “N“ type transport that was the first ship launched from the Harland
& Wolff Belfast yard
The name she was ordered under was “War Riddle” but she was not finished until March, 1920 after
the War had ended, and never sailed under that name. After launch, she was immediately sold by the government to the Atlantic
Transport Line, her new owners, who renamed her “Maine IV“.
As the Maine IV, she sailed from either London
or Antwerp to New York on a regular schedule until 1927 when she was briefly laid up at Southend. Shortly thereafter she was
returned to service until May, 1931 when she was returned to Southend. After this she was sold to a ship broker who in turn
sold her to Russian owners who renamed her “SKALA“. This name and the notation 1:48 are written in pencil on the
model’s back near the propeller cutout. Little is known of her subsequent career, but the records show she was in service
for at least another 24 years. It is our opinion that the half model was made for a refit by the Russians though there is
no documentation to this effect. Skala was broken up in 1955, and deleted from Lloyd’s Register of Shipping in 1978. How this
carefully made, near 100 year old model, ended up in San Francisco, CA is lost to history.

If you have an interest
in half hull models you may find our essay on them helpful. See

Looking from the bow
Looking from the


MODEL’S CONSTRUCTION: Rarely seen in models of
this type made after 1860 is the use of dowels to hold the lifts together. There are two prominent dowels used in this model
which can be seen on it’s bottom, one forward, the other aft. They do not show on deck because there is a thin wood covering
that makes the molding along the sheerline rubbing strake. There are eight lifts of nearly knot free Pine, not counting the
detailed rubbing strake. That and the molding on the counter gives her a finely finished look. Her varnished hull has acquired
a pleasing patina of age which further enhances her appearance.
There is no backboard, but there
are four holes in the back which indicates one was fitted at some time in the past. The hull is hung by two brass hooks as
is seen in the images.




The name Skala and 1:48 is forward of the propeller cutout


Names: War Riddle, Maine IV, Skala
Harland & Wolff Ltd, Belfast, yard number 565
Launched November 27, 1919; delivered March 4, 1920; broken up 1955
length 413′; beam 55′ 8″; 6,600 tons
Power: single screw; triple expansion engine by builder with cylinders of 27″, 44″,
and 73″ diameter and a stroke of 48″;
steam pressure 180 p.s.i.; 517 n.h.p.; coal consumption 45 tons per day
in Belfast; official number 142495


Propeller cutout
One of two large dowels
Detail of the bow
Ship’s name and scale



Overhead deck view


Purchased at a San Francisco area nautical auction without provenance.Nothing else is known of its origin
other than the quality of workmanship and age.


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