Shackleton’s Endurance

  • Scale:                            1:48
  • Release:                        2002
  • Limited Edition:              50
  • Model Size:                   46”L x 12.5”W x 26”H
  • Base Type:                    Black Walnut
  • Base/Case Size:           50”L x 16.5”Wx 28”H
  • Availability:                    Sold Out

Shackleton.  His very name evokes images of hardship and survival under the most desperate circumstances, as does the name of his ship—derived from his family’s motto, “Fortitudine Vincimus” – “by endurance we conquer,” the Endurance.

In 1901, Captain Robert Falcon Scott undertook the first attempt to reach the South Pole in the Discovery, launching the heroic age of polar exploration.  First to actually reach the pole were four (4) Norwegians, led by Roald Amundsen, on December 14, 1911 (Scott and four (4) companions also reached it about a month later, only to die from exposure and hunger during their return).  By 1914, 40-year-old Sir Ernest Shackleton had already participated in Scott’s first polar expedition as well as one other, and understood the extreme hardships involved.  Amundsen’s accomplishment notwithstanding, he recruited men and support for a new Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, intent on crossing the continent on foot.  He chose the 300-ton 144-ft. wood hull barkentine Polaris, built at Norway’s Framnaes shipyard, whose extreme-strength ships were favored for polar exploration.  The Endurance, as he renamed her, was built of oak and fir up to 2 ½ feet thick and sheathed in greenheart—a wood so tough that special methods were needed to work it.

Sailing south as World War I broke out in August 1914, the Endurance became icebound just short of the Antarctic coast, then frozen fast as the ice became tightly packed by several days of high winds from the northeast. Immobilized for ten months, the crew abandoned her as she was crushed and finally lost on October 27, 1915.  Stranded on the ice, Shackleton and his crew of 28 made their way with their lifeboats to barren Elephant Island, which offered no shelter, food, nor the prospect of rescue.  On April 24, 1916, Shackleton chose five (5) crewmen and embarked in the 22 ½ foot James Caird on one of history’s most fantastic voyages: despite being able to take only four (4) star sightings, they traveled 800 miles over 17 days through seas up to 70 feet and “miraculously,” in their own words, reached their objective, South Georgia Island.

Still 150 sea miles short of the whaling station in Stromness Bay on the other side of the mountainous island, with only rags for clothing, Shackleton and two (2) of his men struck out again—this time trekking 22 miles over uncharted alpine terrain—and, to the absolute astonishment of those present, stumbled into the whaling station 36 hours later.  The three (3) men back at the landing were promptly rescued, but not until August 30, 1916, three months and three aborted attempts later, did the trawler Yelcho finally retrieve the remaining crew members from Elephant Island.

Amazingly, Shackleton lost no men on this 22-month odyssey, the last expedition of the heroic age and while he set out again for Antarctica with several Endurance shipmates in 1921, he died of a heart attack the following January.  He is buried on South Georgia Island, and is considered one of the most respected explorers of all time.

About the Model…

Many books and films have been produced about Shackleton’s expedition, but no one had ever modeled the ship before.  Until now.  One of Fine Art Models’ contacts was able to locate her plans, which had been put in storage after the Framnaes shipyard went out of business.  The result, as you see here, is one of the most interesting scale models built to date.

Fine Art Models has built this limited edition, Endurance ship model in a scale of 1:48 with exacting detail.  Each Endurance model is built by a team of eight (8) of the most skilled craftsmen in the world with more than 500 man hours just to assemble.  Computers were used to generate exact scale drawings from the original plans and picture reference of the ship in Antarctica.  All of the materials used to construct the ship meet and/or exceed museum quality standards including a space age, high definition hull, genuine wood deck, masts and yards with additional fabricated wood and brass features.  In addition, all of the paint used is custom-made and impervious to ultra-violet light.  As with all Fine Art Models, the Endurance scale model comes complete with a Black Walnut base and leaded glass display case.