Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Russian scout Novik

I see that William Hovgaard credited the Russian scout Novik, lost in the Russo-Japanese War, with a 26 knot speed. That was achieved, apparently, by using a very light hull structure and destroyer-like machinery. The hull was even shaped like a German torpedo boat, as the ship was built by the German firm Schichau, at Elbing in the Baltic. The ship had some problems, as the steering gear was unprotected and the hull lacked a double bottom to save weight. The unprotected steering gear resulted in the ultimate loss of the ship. The Japanese subsequently raised the wreck and put the Novik back in service. I liked the armament of 6-4.7in QF guns for a small scout.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Russian ships

I had thought that the improved Russian battleship designs originated after the start of the Russo-Japanese War. That is not the case. As far back as 1903, Russia was planning new battleships with a 11in belt, 4-12in/40, 12-8in/45, and 20-12pdr QF guns. The deck armour would have been an impressive 100mm (3.9in). The ships were projected to have a displacement of 16,000 tons. The dimensions were not yet public knowledge, even as rumour.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Jane's Fighting Ships

I am a great fan of the old Jane's Fighting Ships. The volumes form 1899 to 1904 are especially good. The volumes from 1919 to 1921 are also very useful, as were the volumes from 1936 to 1945. A general feature of the older Janes were that they did not actually reflect the ships as they were completed, but were more like intelligence reports or even press reports. They aided and abetted the British navy in the 1905 to 1914 period, when they printed disinformation designed to fool the Germans. They have a different slant, being more graphically oriented than Brassey's, which I also like. For a long time, I didn't appreciate Brassey's, as I was looking for the drawings and photographs, but I came to appreciate how much good information they had. The older volumes, such as from the 1880's up to 1905 are good sources of ship and gun information that go below the level of detail that is the Conway's volumes.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The original sketch design for the Republique class

The original sketch design for the French Republique class battleships looked very impressive. They were described as being "the best protected ships in existence". They were to have a 11in belt and a 10in upper belt, with 2in upper and 3in lower deck armour. The decks would enclose coal, backing up the belt to make them very strong. The guns would be 4-12in/45 and 18-6.4in/45. Of the six ships projected, the Republique was launched in 1902 and the Patrie in 1903. The other four ships were eventually completed to an improved design. The last ship, the Verite, was only launched in 1907, when the class was already obsolescent. The first two were completed in December 1906 asnd t6he last four were completed in 1908. They had already been superceded by more modern designs. The belt actually tapered, and was just 12ft-6in high and tapered from 11in down to 9.5in, not 10in. The original concept appeared to have an armoured height of 16ft, but that was not the case. The speed was better than the apparent 18 knots, as the ships could make 19 knots.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The French battleship Suffren, prior to 1904

This a photograph of the French battleship Suffren, which was a more modern design than the ships the French had been producing with the lozenge arrangement of single turrets. The Suffren still had the complete belt and high, unprotected sides, with considerable tumble home.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The American cruiser Boston

The American cruiser Boston looked like an 1880's design, with a low freeboard and rigging, as built. The Boston relied on 2-8in and 6-6in guns for hitting power. The Boston was a 15 knot ship built in 1884. The protective deck was a thin 1.5 inches. The Boston took part in the Battle of Manilla Bay in 1898, at the start of the Spanish-American War.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The American torpedo boat Porter

The torpedo boat Porter was one of the fastest American ships in service in 1898. The Porter exceeded 28 knots on trials. The photo is from the year 1897, when the Porter was completed. The Porter was a 165 ton vessel that was 175 feet long. The armament consisted of 3-1pdr QF guns and 3-18in torpedo tubes.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The gunboat Concord, from

Patrick McSherry has a nice page on about the American gunboat Concord that fought in the Spanish-American War in 1898. He has a good drawing, as well, which I took the liberty of cleaning up a bit, as it was "dirty":

I have my old photograph of the Concord, which I consider to have actually been a small cruiser, despite her designation as a gunboat:

Monday, September 10, 2007

The American torpedo boat Cushing in 1890

I have this photograph of the American torpedo boat Cushing taken in 1890. The Cushing was nominally 105 tons and could reach 22.5 knots when new. I remember seeing the Cushing listed in an OOB for the Battle of Santiago Bay in 1898, and I believe that was correct.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The American cruiser Raleigh

I have this photograph of the USS Raleigh, a protected cruiser that fought in the Battle of Manilla Bay in 1898. This photograph was taken in 1895. The Raleigh displaced a nominal 3,183 tons, was about 300ft long, and had a maximum speed of about 21 knots.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The gunboat Castine

The gunboats Castine and Machias were built by Bath Iron Works. The Castine was really a small cruiser. The Castine had a maximum speed of 16 knots, displaced 1,177 tons, and carried 8-4in guns. This photograph shows the Castine painted gray for service in the Spanish-American War, in 1898.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Isla de Luzon

The other small Spanish cruiser captured by the Americans was the Isla de Luzon. The Isla de Cuba and the Isla de Luzon seem to have been built to the same design. The Isla de Luzon was built in 1887, but only made 11 knots on trial.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The small Spanish cruiser Isla de Cuba

Spain had a number of small cruisers built abroad. The Isla de Cuba was built in Great Britain in 1886. The ship was just barely a cruiser, being over the 1,000 ton mark at 1,030 tons. The armament was 2-4in guns and six smaller. The speed was very low at 13 knots. The ship was an unarmoured cruiser. This is a photograph of the Isla de Cuba painted in the Spanish style:

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A rather indistinct photo of the Russian cruiser Variag

I have this photograph of the Russian cruiser Variag, sunk early in the Russo-Japanese war. I need to see if I can get a sharper picture, but this is worth posting, as I have not seen this particular picture before.

Monday, September 3, 2007

A better Stiletto picture

I was able to capture a better copy of the photograph of the wooden torpedo boat Stiletto, taken in 1886.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The American gunboat Petrel

I have this photograph of the American gunboat Petrel, taken in 1890. The Petrel took part in the Battle of Manilla Bay in 1898. The British would have classed the Petrel as a sloop, although the Petrel was really just a very small steel cruiser. The Petrel displaced just 890 tons. Her dimensions were 181ft-4in x 31ft x 11ft-6in. The power was only 1000 IHP. The trial speed was only 11.4 knots. The main armament consisted of 4-6in BL guns. The crew was 8 officers and 130 men. The Petrel was "built by Columbian Iron Works, Baltimore, Md., 1889". Fighting in the Battle of Manilla Bay was probably the only notable feature of the Petrel.