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Wooden Warship Construction: A History In Ship ... LINK

The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich houses the largest collection of scale ship models in the world, many of which are official, contemporary artefacts made by the craftsmen of the navy or the shipbuilders themselves, and ranging from the mid seventeenth century to the present day. As such they represent a three-dimensional archive of unique importance and authority. Treated as historical evidence, they offer more detail than even the best plans, and demonstrate exactly what the ships looked like in a way that even the finest marine painter could not achieve.This book takes a selection of the best models to both describe and demonstrate the development of warship construction in all its complexity from the beginning of the 18th century to the end of wooden shipbuilding. For this purpose it reproduces a large number of model photos, all in full colour, and including many close-up and detail views. These are captioned in depth, but many are also annotated to focus attention on interesting or unusual features, which can be shown far more clearly than described. Although pictorial in emphasis, the book weaves the pictures into an authoritative text, producing an unusual and attractive form of technical history.

Wooden Warship Construction: A History in Ship ...

An ironclad is a steam-propelled warship protected by iron or steel armor plates, constructed from 1859 to the early 1890s. The ironclad was developed as a result of the vulnerability of wooden warships to explosive or incendiary shells. The first ironclad battleship, Gloire, was launched by the French Navy in November 1859 - narrowly pre-empting the British Royal Navy.

They were first used in warfare in 1862 during the American Civil War, when ironclads operated against wooden ships and, in a historic confrontation, against each other at the Battle of Hampton Roads in Virginia. Their performance demonstrated that the ironclad had replaced the unarmored ship of the line as the most powerful warship afloat. Ironclad gunboats became very successful in the American Civil War.

Ironclads were designed for several uses, including as high seas battleships, long-range cruisers, and coastal defense ships. Rapid development of warship design in the late 19th century transformed the ironclad from a wooden-hulled vessel that carried sails to supplement its steam engines into the steel-built, turreted battleships, and cruisers familiar in the 20th century. This change was pushed forward by the development of heavier naval guns, more sophisticated steam engines, and advances in metallurgy that made steel shipbuilding possible.

In the 18th and early 19th centuries, fleets had relied on two types of major warship, the ship of the line and the frigate. The first major change to these types was the introduction of steam power for propulsion. While paddle steamer warships had been used from the 1830s onward, steam propulsion only became suitable for major warships after the adoption of the screw propeller in the 1840s.[2]

The introduction of the steam ship-of-the-line led to a building competition between France and Britain. Eight sister ships to Napoléon were built in France over a period of ten years, but the United Kingdom soon managed to take the lead in production. Altogether, France built ten new wooden steam battleships and converted 28 from older ships of the line, while the United Kingdom built 18 and converted 41.[2]

The era of the wooden steam ship-of-the-line was brief, because of new, more powerful naval guns. In the 1820s and 1830s, warships began to mount increasingly heavy guns, replacing 18- and 24-pounder guns with 32-pounders on sailing ships-of-the-line and introducing 68-pounders on steamers. Then, the first shell guns firing explosive shells were introduced following their development by the French Général Henri-Joseph Paixhans. By the 1840s they were part of the standard armament for naval powers including the French Navy, Royal Navy, Imperial Russian Navy and United States Navy.

It is often held that the power of explosive shells to smash wooden hulls, as demonstrated by the Russian destruction of an Ottoman squadron at the Battle of Sinop, spelled the end of the wooden-hulled warship.[5] The more practical threat to wooden ships was from conventional cannon firing red-hot shot, which could lodge in the hull and cause a fire or ammunition explosion. Some navies even experimented with hollow shot filled with molten metal for extra incendiary power.[6]

The use of wrought iron instead of wood as the primary material of ships' hulls began in the 1830s; the first "warship" with an iron hull was the gunboat Nemesis, built by Jonathan Laird of Birkenhead for the East India Company in 1839. There followed, also from Laird, the first full-sized warship with a metal hull, the 1842 steam frigate Guadalupe for the Mexican Navy.[7][8] The latter ship performed well during the Naval Battle of Campeche, with her captain reporting that he thought that there were fewer iron splinters from Guadalupe's hull than from a wooden hull.[9]

Encouraged by the positive reports of the iron hulls of those ships in combat, the Admiralty ordered a series of experiments to evaluate what happened when thin iron hulls were struck by projectiles, both solid shot and hollow shells, beginning in 1845 and lasting through 1851. Critics like Lieutenant-general Sir Howard Douglas believed that the splinters from the hull were even more dangerous than those from wooden hulls and the tests partially confirmed this belief. What was ignored was that 14 inches (356 mm) of wood backing the iron would stop most of the splinters from penetrating and that relatively thin plates of iron backed by the same thickness of wood would generally cause shells to split open and fail to detonate. One factor in the performance of wrought iron during these tests that was not understood by metallurgists of the day was that wrought iron begins to become brittle at temperatures below 20 C (68 F). Many of the tests were conducted at temperatures below this while the battles were fought in tropical climates.

The early experimental results seemed to support the critics and party politics came into play as the Whig First Russell ministry replaced the Tory Second Peel Ministry in 1846. The new administration sided with the critics and ordered that the four iron-hulled propeller frigates ordered by the Tories be converted into troopships. No iron warships would be ordered until the beginning of the Crimean War in 1854.[10]

Following the demonstration of the power of explosive shells against wooden ships at the Battle of Sinop, and fearing that his own ships would be vulnerable to the Paixhans guns of Russian fortifications in the Crimean War, Emperor Napoleon III ordered the development of light-draft floating batteries, equipped with heavy guns and protected by heavy armor. Experiments made during the first half of 1854 proved highly satisfactory, and on 17 July 1854, the French communicated to the British Government that a solution had been found to make gun-proof vessels and that plans would be communicated. After tests in September 1854, the British Admiralty agreed to build five armored floating batteries on the French plans.[11]

The batteries have a claim to the title of the first ironclad warships[1] but they were capable of only 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) under their own power: they operated under their own power at the Battle of Kinburn,[14] but had to be towed for long-range transit.[15] They were also arguably marginal to the work of the navy. The brief success of the floating ironclad batteries convinced France to begin work on armored warships for their battlefleet.[13]

By the end of the 1850s it was clear that France was unable to match British building of steam warships, and to regain the strategic initiative a dramatic change was required. The result was the first ocean-going ironclad, Gloire, begun in 1857 and launched in 1859. Gloire's wooden hull was modelled on that of a steam ship of the line, reduced to one deck, and sheathed in iron plates 4.5 inches (114 mm) thick. She was propelled by a steam engine, driving a single screw propeller for a speed of 13 knots (24 km/h; 15 mph). She was armed with thirty-six 6.4-inch (160 mm) rifled guns. France proceeded to construct 16 ironclad warships, including two sister ships to Gloire, and the only two-decked broadside ironclads ever built, Magenta and Solférino.[16]

The first use of ironclads in combat came in the U.S. Civil War. The U.S. Navy at the time the war broke out had no ironclads, its most powerful ships being six unarmored steam-powered frigates.[18] Since the bulk of the Navy remained loyal to the Union, the Confederacy sought to gain advantage in the naval conflict by acquiring modern armored ships. In May 1861, the Confederate Congress appropriated $2 million dollars for the purchase of ironclads from overseas, and in July and August 1861 the Confederacy started work on construction and converting wooden ships.[19]

On 12 October 1861, CSS Manassas became the first ironclad to enter combat, when she fought Union warships on the Mississippi during the Battle of the Head of Passes. She had been converted from a commercial vessel in New Orleans for river and coastal fighting. In February 1862, the larger CSS Virginia joined the Confederate Navy, having been rebuilt at Norfolk. Constructed on the hull of USS Merrimack, Virginia originally was a conventional warship made of wood, but she was converted into an iron-covered casemate ironclad gunship, when she entered the Confederate Navy. By this time, the Union had completed seven ironclad gunboats of the City class, and was about to complete USS Monitor, an innovative design proposed by the Swedish inventor John Ericsson. The Union was also building a large armored frigate, USS New Ironsides, and the smaller USS Galena.[20] 041b061a72


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