The Secret of the Unicorn
Boat: Three-mast ship
The Unicorn (French: La Licorne) is a fictional 17th-century three-masted armed Royal Navy vessel appearing in The Adventures of Tintin, the comics series by Belgian cartoonist Hergé. The ship plays a leading role in both The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure, published in 1943 and 1944, respectively. The Unicorn also appears in the 2011 film adaptation The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.
In the Tintin adventures, the Unicorn is the setting of a battle between pirates and sailors followed by a duel between its captain, Sir Francis Haddock (an ancestor of Captain Haddock) and the pirate Red Rackham. The Unicorn is scuttled and sinks, only to be discovered years later by Tintin and his friends in an attempt to locate Red Rackham’s treasure.
The Unicorn was inspired by Le Brillant, built in 1690 at Le Havre, France by the shipwright Salicon and then decorated by the designer Jean Bérain the Elder. In 1942, Hergé had decided that his latest Tintin adventure, The Secret of the Unicorn (1943), should depict images of his fictional Unicorn as detailed precision drawings.  He used the services of his friend and local model ship maker Gérard Liger-Belair, son of a former naval officer and who owned a shop in Brussels that specialised in model ships,[a] to find an appropriate historical vessel that he could customize to meet his historical needs. Liger-Belair’s research produced three possibilities: A British frigate, a Dutch merchant vessel, and a French battleship. As Hergé preferred the battleship, Liger-Belair continued to research and discovered a historic document titled ArchitecturaNavalis, which contained detailed drawings of French battleships. One in particular was from 1690, in the navy of Louis XIV of France: a fourth rank battleship with 56 cannons: Le Brillant. Liger-Belair soon completed a plan on a 1:100 scale followed by an extremely precise model.