The ship was named after Philipp V of Spain, the first Bourbon ruler of Spain, who in the War of the Spanish Succession managed to defend his throne against the claims of the Austrian Habsburgs.
The ship was built by Ciprián Autrán and Pedro Boyer using the system and the new design specifications of Antonio de Gaztañeta. The work on the shipyard of Guarnizo in Santander was finished in 1732. This three-decker was a giant of 1965 tons that could take up to 114 cannon. At that time only the French Foudroyant was larger.
In a register of 1740 the crew was stated to be 1152 men. The "Real Felipe” proved to be a firm vessel of great firepower. In the battle of Toulon on 22 February 1744 she was repeatedly attacked by British ships. She could repulse all attacks and fought "like hell”, according to English sources. However, the ship was damaged so badly that she was never completely repaired, due to high cost. In 1750 she was finally broken up.
The „Real Felipe" is supposed to be the largest and most beautiful ship of the Spanish fleet at that time. Strangely, despite of that there is no proven contemporary illustration of her. In books, articles or Internet one can find many depictions, but they are all different and none of them is contemporary. Jose Ignacio Gonzales-Aller Hierro, the former curator of the Museo Naval in Madrid, provided some information. He has published several books about the Spanish fleet, and about the inventory of the Museo Naval. In his publications „Navío Real Felipe" and „El navíos de tres puentes en la Armada española" he in detail outlined the history of the ship. So he should know about contemporary sources. He told me that there are indeed no proven contemporary drawings or paintings of the ship. Even with the most prominent drawing of the ship one does not know when the drawing was made and by whom.
The first illustration of the „Real Felipe" was made in the second half of the 18th century by José Manuel de Moraleda y Montero. The artist was born only in 1750, the year when the ship was broken up.
In 1796 a series of engravings about the battle of Toulon 1744 was made by some artists. The "Real Felipe” is depicted differently each time, depending on the artist. Jose Ignacio Gonzales-Aller Hierro stated to me that the ships depicted do not correspond to Spanish ships of the line during the first half of the 18th century.