Classic junks are built of built from softwoods with multiple compartments accessed by separate hatches and ladders, reminiscent of the interior structure of bamboo. Traditionally, the hull has a horseshoe-shaped stern supporting a high poop deck. The bottom is flat with no keel (similar to a Sampan), so that the boat relies on a daggerboard or very large stern-mounted rudder to prevent the boat from slipping sideways in the water.

The interior compartments were not built for extra storage so much as for reinforcing the ship's structure and reducing the rapidity of flooding.

The structure and flexibility of junk sails make the junk easy to sail, and fast. Unlike a square rigged ship, the sails of a junk can be moved inward, toward the long axis of the ship, allowing the junk to sail into the wind.

The sails include several horizontal members, called "battens", which provide shape and strength. Junk sails are controlled at their trailing edge by lines much in the same way as the mainsail on a typical sailboat; however, in the junk sail each batten has a line attached to its trailing edge where on a typical sailboat this line (the sheet) is attached only to the boom. The sails can also be easily reefed and adjusted for fullness, to accommodate various wind strengths. The battens also make the sails more resistant than traditional sails to large tears, as a tear is typically limited to a single "panel" between battens.

Historic Junks (OOC)

  1. "Treasure ships", used by the commander of the fleet and his deputies (Nine-masted junks, claimed by the Ming Shi to be about 420 feet long and 180 feet wide).
  2. "Horse ships", carrying tribute goods and repair material for the fleet (Eight-masted junks, about 339 feet long and 138 feet wide)
  3. "Supply ships", containing food-staple for the crew (Seven-masted junks, about 257 feet long and 115 feet wide).
  4. "Troop transports" (Six-masted junks, about 220 feet long and 83 feet wide).
  5. "Fuchuan warships" (Five-masted junks, about 165 feet long).
  6. "Patrol boats" (Eight-oared, about 120 feet long).

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