CJB Boatyard

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Sutcliffe Boats

Hot Air Boats - 16" Battleship - 1920 to 1929

Shortly after the introduction of the 12" model, Sutcliffe introduced the mighty 16" Battleship.   This boat was the 'top of the range' boat (albeit in a range of 2!); Sutcliffe really did start at the top as no future boat would ever match the mightly 'presence' of the 16" Battleship.


The 16" model had 2 hot water coils (the 12" boat just had one ) and a different burner which had 2 wicks, angled to place the flame in the some position. The 16" boat also had 2 rectangular deck vents, fore and aft, to try and get the heat and fumes out of the hull; this was only really partially successful at best.


The most common colour scheme for this boat is light grey with a red underside, but it has also been seen in a wide variety of shades of grey/red as well as cream/red and light grey/black. Sutcliffe was not particularly 'formal' when it came to the specification of their boats like a comany like Hornby would be; they would have painted the boats in whatever paint they had!


The boat would have been very time consuming and expensive to make. The model consists of almost 50 individual parts, most of which are soldered together.  Jigs would have been used to speed up the process but they were still very much 'handmade'; this can be seen in subtle differences when examples are moored side by side! The 'fuelled up' boat weighs in at almost 3lb; to put this in perspective, this is SIX times heavier than a RACER 1!

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Figure 1.2 - 16" Twin Coil Battleship - circa 1922

Figures 1.1 and 1.2 show a very early example of the 16" Battleship. The very early boats where simply stamped 'J.W. SUTCLIFFE MAKER HORSFORTH LEEDS" on the foredeck (the oval logo had not been devised yet) and the they had a small rectangular rudder.  The super structure is the same as the 12" boat; it wasn't until later on the superstructure got an oval cut-out to try and improve hull ventilation even further. This particular example is interesting as its original box has a shop label attached; Gyles Bothers of Bristol. Not only does this shop still exist, but it is also still at the same address! In 1928, this boat cost 15 Shillings. That is equivalent to about £60 in today's money; 'not cheap', and certainly not 'pocket money' territory! Sutcliffe would have to develop some cheaper boats, and that's just whey they did with the small Motorboats.


Figure 1.3 shows a later example of the boat; the rudder was increased in size (presumably to make it more effective) and there is a hole in the removable portion to improve ventilation of the hull.  Figs 1.4 to 1.7 show various details of the 16" Battleship


Fig 1.7  shows another slight variation of the 16" battleship; this example has the penant tube on the bow, but not at the stern. The removable top section has been fitted back to front; this simple error is quite common even in some published books.... The badly masked line is also typical of these boats and whilst some examples are excellent and crisp, others show significant overspray and  very 'blurred' lines.

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Fig. 1.3 Twin Coil 16" Battleship - circa 1925

Fig. 1.4 - Twin Copper coils.

Fig. 1.5 - Twin wick burner.

Fig. 1.6 - Removable Superstructure

Fig. 1.7 Twin Coil 16" Battleship - circa 1924, Not CJB Collection.

The hot air range of boats would finally be phased out in about 1929/30,and replaced by clockwork boats. In the case of the 16" Battleship, its successor would be the 16" Battleship 'Nelson'; very similar but not quite the same. Impressive, but not quite as 'grand' with its slightly cut down hull. (see section of clockwork battleships)


Fig. 1.8  16" Clockwork Battleship - 'NELSON'. This example circa 1932.

Figure 1.1 - 16" Twin Coil Battleship - circa 1922


Fig. 1.7 - Twin coil tube outlets