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SS Imperator was the pride of the Hamburg America Line as it surpassed the RMS Titanic in length and became the largest passenger ship in the world.  Imperator was an imposing and inspiring sight upon her completion in June 1913.  A monstrous eagle perched upon the tip of the bow with wings spread.   This beast had a real purpose besides intimidating: the length of it made the Imperator longer than the RMS Aquitania, allowing the Germans to proclaim Imperator as the largest ship in the world.

Designed by architect Charles Mews, the Imperator's interiors were specifically designed to beat Cunard line.  Kaiser Wilhelm II was adamant about Germany dominating the ocean liner trade as magnificent new passenger vessels were seen as a country showing their strength and the president of Hamburg America Line Albert Ballin agreed.  Imperator was made decorated like a floating palace.  Huge, sprawling public spaces adorned with skylights and eloquent marble, wood paneling and plasterwork were all over the ship.  The Imperator's iconic Pompeiian-style swimming pool festooned with vividly colored tiles and a metric mountain of marble-work is one such example of the overindulgence in extravagance present in the design of the liner.  The first class dining room was absolutely transcendent, gleaming in creamy white marble and dome-topped. The ship's various lounges, fitness rooms and cabins were equally grand and imposing much like those of the Normandie over two decades later.


During World War I, Imperator remained in port in Hamburg.  After the war, she was briefly commissioned into the United States Navy as USS Imperator and employed as a transport, returning American troops from Europe.  After that, Imperator was handed over to Britain's Cunard Line as part of war reparations, and she sailed as the flagship RMS Berengaria for the final decade of her career. 

SS Vaterland was an the second of three sister ocean liner ships built for Germany's Hamburg America Line for their transatlantic passenger service.  She sailed as Vaterland for less than a year before her early career was halted by the start of World War I.  In 1917, she was seized by the U.S. government and renamed Leviathan.  She would become known by this name for the majority of her career, both as a troopship during World War I and later as the flagship of the United States Lines. 

The last sister ship of the trio--the SS Bismarck was launched in 1914.  At 56,551 gross tons, she was the largest ship in the world and this record was not surpassed until the completion of SS Normandie more than 20 years later, in 1935.  Her completion was delayed by World War I. Bismarck never sailed under the German flag except on her sea trials in 1922.  Following the war, she was finished by her German builders, handed over to the allies as war reparations and became the White Star Line flagship Majestic.  In the later years of her service, Bismarck served the Royal Navy as the training ship HMS Caledonia.  She  caught fire in 1939 and sank. 

Albert Ballin, utterly distraught at the thought of having to hand over Imperator, Vaterland and Bismark in repayment for Germany's role in the war, took an overdose of sleeping pills just days before the armistice.  In his passing, the peace-loving director of Hamburg America Line left parting words in a note "Better an end with dread than dread without end."

With the death of Albert Ballin and Charles Mews (1914), the special era of majestic German oceangoing atmosphere died with them.  Per writer Corry Reed: We need to remember that these liners were built by hand.  As hard as the shipyard workers pounded those rivets and fashioned steel, the architects and designers of these grand vessels forced their minds and hearts in equal measure to venture into uncharted and exhilarating territory.

These primarily wooden ocean liner model ships feature:

- Hollow hull construction (very important), each weighs less than 15 lbs  (A solid hull of this model would be over 40 lbs which feels like a heavy log rather than an art piece.)

- Windows are cutouts (not black decals), thanks to the hollow superstructures.

48" (122 cm) long $5,990 Shipping and insurance in the contiguous USA included. Other places: $500 flat rate.

Model is built per commission only. We require only a small deposit (not full amount, not even half) to start the process $500  The remaining balance won't be due until the boat is completed, in several months.

For display case, please click here: Model Ship Display Case

Do not assume anything. These ships are very difficult to make and many makers do not dare to show their models at all angles. Whenever you see a missing angle, you can safely assume that that model has very bad details or misses important features in that section. We have seen plenty of junk out there. They are so wrong, not only details but also hull shape, colors, many basic principles of ocean liner design.