Matchstick Fleet


This webpage showcases an incredible (and unique) collection of ship models, depicting warships from the Second World War to the present day. The models were scratchbuilt by Phil Warren to a constant scale of 1/300 over a period of 60 years, starting in 1948 - entirely from matchsticks and wooden matchboxes! Hulls are built up from the wooden sheet from matchboxes, aircraft carved from laminated matchsticks, and smaller parts assembled from fine slivers of matchstick wood. Despite the very limited range of tools and materials used, the models have an extremely impressive standard of detail, with intricate structures such as lattice masts, radars and railings rivalling those made from photo-etched brass. Aircraft and helicopters are also represented in very fine detail, including hand-painted squadron and serial markings.

The collection is focused on the Royal Navy from WW2 onwards and includes models of virtually every class of ship, from carriers to MTBs, used by the Navy in the last 60 years. It also includes warships from many other post-war navies, including some very impressive USN aircraft carriers, and a sizeable collection of individual aircraft models.

I photographed the collection at the Tadley model show in October 2008, and Phil Warren kindly gave me permission to post the photos on my website. The models displayed at the show, and shown here, are actually only about half of his total collection - despite occupying two sports hall-width tables!

This page is grouped into several sections, showing the ship collection, the aircraft, and the materials and techniques used to construct the collection. A separate page has high-res photos of individual ship models. This last section is a work in progress, so is not currently complete.


Individual Ship Models - - - Ship Model Collection - - - Aircraft Models - - - Construction


Individual Ship Models

Close-up photos of ships in the collection, grouped by navy and era. Click the photo below to go to the index.




Overall Photos of the Ship Models

Photos showing the entire display (about 50% of Phil Warren's complete collection!) at the 2008 Tadley show. Click on each image to view a higher-resolution photo.



















Aircraft

As well as the carrier airwings, there is an impressive collection of individual aeroplane and helicopter models - not all of them naval types! It is hard to believe that these models are only 1/300 scale, half the size of 1/144 the smallest "standard" military aircraft modelling scale.
Click on each image to view a higher-resolution photo.








Construction

These photos show the construction techniques and very basic set of tools + materials used to build the fleet. Click on each image to view a higher-resolution photo.








Individual Ship Models - - - Ship Model Collection - - - Aircraft Models - - - Construction - - - Return to top