'The Second Rolle...of the Kynges...Galliasses'. 1546.
This picture of The Swallowe comes from a scroll of vellum, called the Anthony Roll, which describes and illustrates all the ships of King Henry VIII's navy. Two were later split up and made into books.
The Swallowe was listed as one of the Queen's ships of 308 tons during the preparations for the Armada campaign and it was commanded by Richard Hawkins, son of the famous John Hawkins. When Lord Howard divided his fleet into four squadrons the Swallowe joined the one led by John Hawkins.
The Swallowe was an example of the new type of warship which had been designed by Matthew Baker, the Queen's Master Shipwright. He cut down the height of the castles, which made the ships less top heavy and easier to manoeuvre. The hulls were designed in the shape of a fish, with a full body tapering towards the stern. There was an old saying that recommended that a ship have 'a cod's head and a mackerel's tail.'
This new design, as well as making the ships lighter and more weatherly, enabled them to fire broadsides. This meant bombarding the enemies ships with cannon shot from a distance, instead of the older fighting technique, where ships grappled at close quarters and there was hand to hand fighting.