Model of submarine HMAS AE1

Unit E Class Submarines
Accession Number REL48093
Collection type Technology
Object type Model
Physical description Brass, Nylon, Paint, Resin, Wood
Location Main Bld: First World War Gallery: Australia Goes To War: The ANMEF
Maker SD Model Makers
Place made United States of America: California
Date made 2014
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Model of the submarine HMAS AE1 realised in 1:48 scale, mounted on a wooden base on two nickle plated stands. The model's hull is made from Philippines mahogany with accessories made from brass and epoxy resin. The upper deck and conning tower are finished in a light grey with the lower hull in a dark grey. A painted white waterline mark (or boot strap) separates the two, with the ship's name 'AE1' and the roman numeral depth markings also in white paint. The pair of brass-finished propellers are made from resin. The submarine's communication masts, aerials, support cables and deck handrails are also represented, and the submarine is flying the White Ensign at the bow and an Australian blue ensign at the stern.

History / Summary

This model represents HMAS AE1, one of the Royal Australian Navy's first two submarines, (the AE2 being the other), both of which were built by Vickers Armstrong at Barrow-in-Furness, England and launched in 1913. They were manned by composite Australian and British crews.

At the outbreak of the First World War the two submarines were sent from Sydney to German New Guinea with the Australian Naval & Military Expeditionary Force and helped to capture the German colony. On 14 September, a day after the official German surrender of the colony, the AE1, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Thomas Besant, left Rabaul harbour to patrol Cape Gazelle and never returned. The fate of the submarine has never been discovered but it is probable that it was caught on a coral reef and sunk.

This model was commissioned from SD Model Makers who worked in consultation with the Memorial to accurately represent the AE1's configuration as an early E Class submarine, highlighting a number of details such as the early pattern of upper deck and conning tower, transverse torpodeo tubes, distinctive white boot strap line and radio mast configuration. In matters such as the jackstaff, which is far longer in the original plans than shown on the model, reference was made to contemporary photos, which confirm that the constructed version was shorter.

The model is depicted with jackstaff, ensign staff, railings and radio mast deployed, the intention being to show a compilation of these details as they would have appeared in a ceremonial context while in port. In action all these items would have been stowed.

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