Saturday, March 29, 2008

Italian battleship Dandolo

This is a rather interesting photograph of the Italian ironclad battleship Dandolo. The Dandolo was launched in 1878, but not completed until circa 1882. The Dandolo was a rather small turret ship equipped with four 17.7in (45cm) 100 ton guns. The Dandolo could reach 15 knots and had a 21.5in iron belt and 18in iron armour on the turrets. The dimensions were 340ft-11in x 64ft-9in x 26ft-7in. The nominal displacement was 10,434 tons. The IHP was 7,500.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The impact of aggressive copyright enforcement

In 2003 and 2004, there were many more photographs of old ships on various websites. I hypothesize that vigorous copyright enforcement by the owners of over 100 year old photographs has drastically reduced what can be found. The entire concept of copyrighted photographs over 100 years old is pretty amazing, but perhaps that is one of the "great things" brought to use by the folks in Britain. I am certain that I had seen a photograph of the Chinese armoured cruiser King-Yuan in the past, but there is nothing at all "out there", right now. The King-Yuan was a small, armoured cruiser of 2,850 tons, with dimensions of 270ft x 40ft x 16ft-6in. The King-Yuan had a belt that was 9-1/2 inches thick. The King-Yuan had a top speed of 16-1/2 knots. Her armament consisted of 2-8.2in/35 10 ton guns, 2-5.9in guns, one submerged 18in torpedo tube and 3 18in torpedo launching carriages. The King Yuan was built at Vulkan at Stettin. By digging around in my archives, I found this picture of the King-Yuan.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The cruiser Olympia

I have been looking for a photograph of the cruiser Olympia with gray paint over the prewar livery and decorations for the war in 1898. This picture seems to be the only thing that is readily available. The evidence for the picture being from 1898 is that the picture I have from 1899 shows the same tops, yards, masts, searchlights, and gun sponsons as the picture in gray paint. The Americans had hastily put a coat of gray paint on their ships before attacking the Spanish fleet in Manilla Bay.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The battleship Maine: the real proportions

I have seen many drawings of the battleship Maine, destroyed in 1898. They generally seem to be based on guesswork or else on extrapolations from photographs that show a perspective view. If you pop the large image, you should be able to scale off the exact proportions from this long-range photograph.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Phillip Watts' fast cruiser Piemonte

The Piemonte, designed by Phillip Watts, was a very early attempt at a very fast cruiser. Considering the date, 1888, he succeeded quite well, just by achieving a 21 knot speed. The Brassey's nominal data gave a displacement of 2500 tons, dimensions of 300ft x 38ft x 15ft. 12,000 IHP produced the required speed. The armament was fairly substantial: 6-6in QF, 6-4.7in QF, 10-57mm (6pdr) QF guns. There were apparently 3 torpedo launching devices.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Purchased steamers as warships

The Spanish-American War in 1898 was right at the edge where merchant steamers might be purchased for service as cruisers. One of the last examples where this occurred was the American cruiser Topeka.

The Topeka had been launched by Howaldt at Kiel in 1881. The ship had been built for Peru as the Diogenes, so perhaps the intent was to be a cruiser from the beginning. Peru did not take delivery and the Thames Iron Works acquired her. She sat idle until the Sino-Japanese War when the Japanese almost bought her. The deal did not go through, so she sat longer until the Americans bouth her for service in the war with Spain. Her original commander, Lieutenant Knapp, described her as a good seaboat. He felt very uncomfortable, though, in the newly purchased ship, as she was unarmed. The sponsons were plated in, probably as a preservation measure when the ship sat, laid up. She looked very much the "tramp steamer", as the New York Times reporter characterized her. She was very sad-looking and needed attention, including a new paint job.

The original American armament consisted of 8-4in/40, 2-57mm (6pdr), 4-47mm (3pdr), and 2-1pdr guns. The dimensions were something like 250ft x 35ft x 17ft-9in, so the ship was very cruiser-like in appearance, size, and armament. The ship was unarmoured, however. The maximum speed was 16 knots, but that was fairly compatible with the older and smaller American cruisers and gunboats. The nominal displacement was 2,372 tons.

The Topeka was only finally sold for scrap in 1930, after being periodically commissioned and decommissioned. Her latter career had been spent mostly as a training ship.