Tuesday, May 20, 2008

More on the Manassas

The more that I look at the Manassas picture, the more that it is obvious that it was an advanced concept. The ship was intended to be six feet above water and 17ft below the water line. The curved deck was almost an early example of a protective deck, with a bit more arch than was typical. One problem was that the armour was too thin. It seems to have been all that the displacement could carry. The Manassas was about 143ft long and had sharp ram shape forward, where the curve of the deck came down to a point below the water. The ram protruded 10 feet forward and seems to have been part of a solid block of wood about twenty feet long. In service, the ram seems to have been not solid enough to penetrate the side of a ship, since in about three attacks, ships were damaged but not holed. I was interested to read that David Dixon Porter had hoped to save the Manassas as an "engineering curiosity", but the ship was on fire, drifted downstream, blew-up, and sank before it could be rescued.

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