Friday, June 25, 2010

Steam and armor

The ship of the line was still the battleship used by the fleets as as factories destroyed the livelihoods of people all over the world. Their designs had gotten some upgrades but their basic principals were the same: Two to three decked wooden sailing ships of usually 74-120 guns, although this era saw the most prolific use of four-deckers, namely the Valmy and Pennsylvania. But things were about to change. The Valmy, while she was powerful, was the last sailing ship of the line built for France. The next ship on their agenda, the 92 gun Napoleon, was powered by steam. The British soon followed suit, and sail was outmoded. The French, having built some floating casemate batteries during the Russian War, soon after that built a ship that would finally force the royal navy and consequentially every other major navy to drop the use of the oldest shipbuilding material forever: the Gloire. The British then built the Warrior, a sixty gun frigate made of iron. No more would the graceful ships of the line be the unchallenged masters of the sea. No more would sails be of any real importance. And no more would that material that made up all the great ships in the British fleet past and present be used: wood.

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