Thursday, July 29, 2010

Trafalgar

On Oct.21,1805 HMS Victory was given a signal indicating that the Franco-Spanish Combined Fleet was coming out of port. The Victory's reply: "England Expects that every man will do his duty" followed by "engage the enemy". Admiral Collingwood in the Royal Sovereign was the first ship to go into action, exchanging shots with the Fougueux. Soon both squadrons had cut through the French line, with the northerly ships all giving their deadly greetings to the French flagship Bucentaur. The Victory became locked in combat with the Redoubtable, one of the latter's sharpshooters mortally wounding Nelson. The Belleisle was surrounded with combined fleet ships, and she fought courageously until other British ships came to the rescue.The Santisima Trinidad soldiered on for hours. A British ship saw her colors obscured by rigging and asked for the Trinidad's surrender. they were politely sent back to their ships, the Trinidad holding out for another few hours before finally surrendering. She sank after the battle but there is a reconstruction of her in Malaga, Spain. It is full size. The Redoubtable was very badly damaged and had to surrender after many hours sandwiched between Victory and Temereire. One of her sharpshooters killed Lord Nelson. Soon the battle had ended, but not before a French ship exploded and sank. Unfortunately for the crews, a storm destroyed most of the prizes, the Spanish later taking back one of theirs. Back in England one person described the scene as this: "the only signs of a great victory are posters saying alas, poor Nelson". After this, the Combined fleet was crushed, and any French hopes of invading England were dashed on the rocks off Spain.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Ship of the Line

In the 18th century, the most powerful ship in most fleets was the ship of the line. They fought huge battles like Trafalgar and Cape st. Vincent. They were First Rates, of 100 guns or more, Second Rates, of 80 to 98 guns, and Third Rates, usually carrying 74 guns. The Spanish owned a warship of around 144 guns, the Santissima Trinidad, which was sunk at Trafalgar. The usual ship in the British fleet was the Third Rate. Only one example survives in full to this day, and that is the HMS Victory. She is a museum in Portsmouth.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Uncle Sam's Dreadnoughts

In 1905 the USN authorized the construction of two all big gun battleships before the Dreadnought. These ships, North Carolina and Michigan, were four years building when finally completed in 1909-10. Soon, the USN had completed its dreadnoughts laid down after them, and soon had six. The Wyoming class that came next had one more turret than the Delawares and the improved Floridas, making for a six turret layout. The following New York class were completed in 1914 and authorized in 1910, so if one counts a ships history from authorization day onward, the Texas is 100 years old. The USN built five classes of dreadnoughts armed with 14-inch guns, among them the New Yorks. The West Virginia class had its last member quelled by the Washington Treaty of 1921.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Challenge of a Continent

In 1865, the United States had one of the most powerful fleets in the world. But it was soon to fall into ruin in the wake of the violent tearing apart and pasting together of the United States. There was more to think about than an oceanic fleet. But it did leave the country open to attack by foreign powers, and even Brazil and Chile had finer ships. But out of the internal struggle the United States had truly been formed as a nation. It has been less than fifty years since the effects of the southern society were finally quelled, and as evil as they were many elements remain with us today. But from all this we emerged a bag of gold sitting on the road, just waiting to be stolen. But in the 1880s, that image changed. We evolved a powerful fleet. And then we felt prepared for anything. Suddenly, in Havana harbor, one of the most powerful ships in the fleet, the battleship Maine, was destroyed by an explosion, taken to be connected to Spanish sabotage. The fire was later found to be a coal dust related accident, but intentional or not it still changed world history. We destroyed the Spanish fleet and took their empire. This was the end of one empire and the beginning of another. The road to the bomb was started. The American Empire had begun.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Warsaw



I have built a Lego battlecruiser! Its name is the Warsaw(it is Polish) and it is huge! It's at least six feet long and is armed with eleven 13.5 inch guns(in Lego scale of course). It also took two weeks to build. It does not yet have its secondary armament or tops for some of its turrets. It is modeled after the Derrflinger class battlecruisers. Its admiral's bridge is also not fitted.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

the empires

Around the turn of the 19th century, a little island was added to the British Empire. Ireland had long been a territory of england, but had yet until then been an official part of the empire. This in my mind started the Imperial Age, in which random European upstarts and the USA rushed to grab land from locals and destroy the old empire, Spain. After the armada Spain had started to crumble, bereft of funds because of the desperate failure to destroy England. Her facade looked magnificent, but inside she was growing old and weak. The wars of the 18th and early 19th centuries helped to destroy her, and along with this her colonies broke away from her, leaving only the Philippines and Cuba. But another country was already setting its eyes on those possessions. The USA soon captured them in the Spanish-American war. Soon countries all over Europe had grabbed possessions in Africa and Asia if they hadn't done it already. Soon rivalries were formed that would tear Europe apart.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Jutland: the battlecruiser is dropped... for the time being

Off Denmark in 1916, a ship called Invincible was hit on its P-turret, starting a fire that spread to her magazines. The ship was blown in half, the two torn ends resting on the seabed, their points sticking out of the water like steel icebergs. Eventually, the pieces came to rest in their entirety on the seabed, the A- turret's roof blown completely off. For many, the four battlecruisers sunk during the course of the huge battle mark the beginning of the end for the concept. But there is a catch. one of four light battlecruisers under construction, Furious, was taken in hand for a series of modifications that would change history. But the effect upon the battleship was, on the outside, minimal. No Dreadnoughts had been lost by either side. But there's the rub. battleship-versus-battleship combat, with the addition of the dreadnought factor, is indecisive unless one side drastically outnumbers the other. With combat between battleships and the descendants of Furious the results would be different. The dome was broken. That was the effect of Jutland.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Glass Dome

Apart from Jutland, most of the Naval Engagements were fought between Battlecruisers in the First World War, thus keeping alive the notion of Battleships as the supreme weapons. This also preserved the idea that Battleship warfare could affect the balance of war. There had been minor actions, like the encounter between Yavuz Sultan Selim ( a Turkish Battlecruiser) and the pre-dreadnought Russian Black Sea Fleet. Also, a British pre-dreadnought was briefly involved in the Battle of the Falklands. At the Dardanelles, Allied Battleships pounded Turkish Forts. But it was Jutland that, if those who were totally obsessed with the idea were right, would decide the Naval War 1914-18, and as it turned out its results would shatter the dome of supposed invincibility that shrouded the big gun.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Christopher Forum, July, 1910

The Royal Navy And the High Sea Fleet are engaged in an arms race that may even lead to war. Sir John Fisher has also retired from his post as First Sea Lord. But the USA is caching up and has just authorized the first of a new class of battleship to be called the Texas. The Imperial Japanese navy is also expanding, and the naval bug seems to be catching on all around the World. The Balkans are splitting off from the Ottoman Empire, and so are the Greeks. Greece has ordered a powerful Armored Cruiser to harass Turkish shipping. Stay tuned,this is The Christopher Forum.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The two Battlecruisers

In 1908, it was announced that, due to the new German dreadnought program, the royal navy would embark on a program that would result in no less than eight Battleships and Armored Cruisers. From 1906, the Royal navy was working on a new type of Armored Cruiser that would eventually not only replace the Battleship, but replace the Battleship concept itself, possibly the oldest military concept of all. Its name is Invincible, and it lies on the seabed where it was destroyed in 1916 during the battle of Jutland. Although they were lightly armored and as ships they seemed to be failures, their German adversaries being strong and powerful ships, in my mind at least the British concept wins the day, for out of it rose the first of a kind that would destroy the age old clash of surface fleet vs surface fleet. There are two kinds of these ships, those deemed failures by many interested in the subject. The first is ships like Invincible, those that carry heavy guns. The second has examples all over the world, prowling the seas in peaceful and violent operations alike. Today, I will examine the sole example of what is usually called an "Aircraft Carrier" that I have seen, the USS Lexington, a museum ship in Corpus Christi, Texas( Please Visit!) Lexington was commissioned in 1943, and served with distinction in the Pacific Theater of World War Two. Originally to be named Cabot, she was renamed in honor of the CV-2 sunk in 1942. She served under Halsey at Leyte,and thus engaged Ozawa's decoy squadron. She also has the distinction of being hit by a Kamikaze. That is all, Christopher.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fisher's Revolution

On October 21, 1905, the hundredth anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar, the British announced to the world their laying down of a Battleship that would change the course of not just battleship history but the history of the twentieth century. HMS Dreadnought was not the first all-big-gun design, or for that matter the first ship of that type to be laid down. But as it turned out , she was the the first one to be completed, otherwise her type would be known as "Satsumas" instead of "Dreadnoughts"( the Satsuma, by the way, was laid down by the Japanese before Tsushima even happened, but was completed a Pre-Dreadnought). Jackie Fisher, the brilliant first lord that dreamed up Dreadnought, was a very Eccentric man. He had once commanded one of the most powerful ships in the fleet, which was scrapped in 1903. Eventually becoming the first lord, he scrapped most of the out dated ships in the Navy, starting the development of the modern Royal Navy, and indirectly setting an example for many other navies all over the world.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Tsushima

On May 27, 1905, a huge Russian fleet steamed through the mist off the coast of Korea, where unbeknown to them a Japanese fleet lay in anticipation of battle. The two countries had been at war for over a year, and the Russians were sailing for Vladivostok to replenish their pacific fleet, which, although it was more powerful had been almost totally destroyed. Soon the battle-squadron, with the battleship Kniaz Suvorov leading the first division, Oslyabya leading the second, and Nicolas 1 leading the third, was met by the Japanese. First, the Mikasa and Asashi zeroed in on the Suvorov, the rest engaging Oslyabya, which was quickly set on fire. She was the first battleship of the Modern Era to be sunk entirely by gunfire. Worse, admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky aboard the Suvorov was wounded, throwing the Russian fleet into disorder. The Japanese, however, still had full command in their fleet and eventually sank most if not all of the Russian Battleships.