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The use of iron in the construction of Warrior also came with some drawbacks; iron hulls required more regular and intensive repairs than wooden hulls, and iron was more susceptible to fouling by marine life. By , navies across Europe had adopted ironclads. Britain and France each had sixteen either completed or under construction, though the British vessels were larger. Austria, Italy, Russia, and Spain were also building ironclads. The use of ironclads by both sides in the American Civil War, and the clash of the Italian and Austrian fleets at the Battle of Lissa , had an important influence on the development of ironclad design.
The first use of ironclads in action came in the U. Civil War. The U. Navy at the time the war broke out had no ironclads, its most powerful ships being six unarmored steam-powered frigates. She had been converted from a commercial vessel in New Orleans for river and coastal fighting. The first battle between ironclads happened on 9 March , as the armored Monitor was deployed to protect the Union's wooden fleet from the ironclad ram Virginia and other Confederate warships. The battle attracted attention worldwide, making it clear that the wooden warship was now out of date, with the ironclads destroying them easily.
The Civil War saw more ironclads built by both sides, and they played an increasing role in the naval war alongside the unarmored warships, commerce raiders and blockade runners. The Union built a large fleet of fifty monitors modeled on their namesake. Only CSS Stonewall was completed, and she arrived in American waters just in time for the end of the war. Through the remainder of the war, ironclads saw action in the Union's attacks on Confederate ports. On the western front, the Union built a formidable force of river ironclads, beginning with several converted riverboats and then contracting engineer James Eads of St.
Louis , Missouri to build the City-class ironclads. These excellent ships were built with twin engines and a central paddle wheel, all protected by an armored casement. They had a shallow draft, allowing them to journey up smaller tributaries, and were very well suited for river operations. The Union ironclads played an important role in the Mississippi and tributaries by providing tremendous fire upon Confederate forts, installations and vessels with relative impunity to enemy fire. They were not as heavily armored as the ocean-going monitors of the Union, but they were adequate for their intended use.
More Western Flotilla Union ironclads were sunk by torpedoes mines than by enemy fire, and the most damaging fire for the Union ironclads was from shore installations, not Confederate vessels. The first fleet battle, and the first ocean battle, involving ironclad warships was the Battle of Lissa in Waged between the Austrian and Italian navies, the battle pitted combined fleets of wooden frigates and corvettes and ironclad warships on both sides in the largest naval battle between the battles of Navarino and Tsushima.
The Italian fleet consisted of 12 ironclads and a similar number of wooden warships, escorting transports which carried troops intending to land on the Adriatic island of Lissa. Opposing them, the Austrian navy had seven ironclad frigates. The Austrians believed their ships to have less effective guns than their enemy, so decided to engage the Italians at close range and ram them. The Austrian fleet formed into an arrowhead formation with the ironclads in the first line, charging at the Italian ironclad squadron.
The battle ensured the popularity of the ram as a weapon in European ironclads for many years, and the victory won by Austria established it as the predominant naval power in the Adriatic.
The battles of the American Civil War and at Lissa were very influential on the designs and tactics of the ironclad fleets that followed. In particular, it taught a generation of naval officers the lesson that ramming was the best way to sink enemy ironclads. The adoption of iron armor meant that the traditional naval armament of dozens of light cannon became useless, since their shot would bounce off an armored hull. To penetrate armor, increasingly heavy guns were mounted on ships; nevertheless, the view that ramming was the only way to sink an ironclad became widespread.
The increasing size and weight of guns also meant a movement away from the ships mounting many guns broadside, in the manner of a ship-of-the-line, towards a handful of guns in turrets for all-round fire. From the s to the s many naval designers believed that the development of the ironclad meant that the ram was again the most important weapon in naval warfare. With steam power freeing ships from the wind, and armor making them invulnerable to shellfire, the ram seemed to offer the opportunity to strike a decisive blow.
Those who noted the tiny number of ships that had actually been sunk by ramming struggled to be heard. The revival of ramming had a significant effect on naval tactics. Since the 17th century the predominant tactic of naval warfare had been the line of battle , where a fleet formed a long line to give it the best fire from its broadside guns. This tactic was totally unsuited to ramming, and the ram threw fleet tactics into disarray.
The question of how an ironclad fleet should deploy in battle to make best use of the ram was never tested in battle, and if it had been, combat might have shown that rams could only be used against ships which were already stopped dead in the water. The ram finally fell out of favour in the s, as the same effect could be achieved with a torpedo , with less vulnerability to quick-firing guns.
The armament of ironclads tended to become concentrated in a small number of powerful guns capable of penetrating the armor of enemy ships at range; calibre and weight of guns increased markedly to achieve greater penetration. Throughout the ironclad era navies also grappled with the complexities of rifled versus smoothbore guns and breech-loading versus muzzle-loading.
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Warrior highlighted the challenges of picking the right armament; the breech-loaders she carried, designed by Sir William Armstrong , were intended to be the next generation of heavy armament for the Royal Navy, but were shortly withdrawn from service. Breech-loading guns seemed to offer important advantages. A breech-loader could be reloaded without moving the gun, a lengthy process particularly if the gun then needed to be re-aimed.
Warrior ' s Armstrong guns also had the virtue of being lighter than an equivalent smoothbore and, because of their rifling, more accurate. The weakness of the breech-loader was the obvious problem of sealing the breech. All guns are powered by the explosive conversion of a solid propellant into gas. This explosion propels the shot or shell out of the front of the gun, but also imposes great stresses on the gun-barrel. If the breech—which experiences some of the greatest forces in the gun—is not entirely secure, then there is a risk that either gas will discharge through the breech or that the breech will break.
This in turn reduces the muzzle velocity of the weapon and can also endanger the gun crew. Warrior ' s Armstrong guns suffered from both problems; the shells were unable to penetrate the 4. Similar problems were experienced with the breech-loading guns which became standard in the French and German navies. These problems influenced the British to equip ships with muzzle-loading weapons of increasing power until the s.
After a brief introduction of pounder or 9. The decision to retain muzzle-loaders until the s has been criticised by historians. However, at least until the late s, the British muzzle-loaders had superior performance in terms of both range and rate of fire than the French and Prussian breech-loaders, which suffered from the same problems as had the first Armstrong guns. From onwards, the balance between breech- and muzzle-loading changed.
Captain de Bange invented a method of reliably sealing a breech, adopted by the French in Just as compellingly, the growing size of naval guns made muzzle-loading much more complicated. With guns of such size there was no prospect of hauling in the gun for re-loading, or even re-loading by hand, and complicated hydraulic systems were required for re-loading the gun outside the turret without exposing the crew to enemy fire. The calibre and weight of guns could only increase so far.
The larger the gun, the slower it would be to load, the greater the stresses on the ship's hull, and the less the stability of the ship. The size of the gun peaked in the s, with some of the heaviest calibres of gun ever used at sea.
American ordnance experts accordingly preferred smoothbore monsters whose round shot could at least 'skip' along the surface of the water. Actual effective combat ranges, they had learned during the Civil War, were comparable to those in the Age of Sail—though a vessel could now be smashed to pieces in only a few rounds.
Smoke and the general chaos of battle only added to the problem. As a result, many naval engagements in the 'Age of the Ironclad' were still fought at ranges within easy eyesight of their targets, and well below the maximum reach of their ships' guns.
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Another method of increasing firepower was to vary the projectile fired or the nature of the propellant. Early ironclads used black powder , which expanded rapidly after combustion; this meant cannons had relatively short barrels, to prevent the barrel itself slowing the shell. The sharpness of the black powder explosion also meant that guns were subjected to extreme stress. One important step was to press the powder into pellets, allowing a slower, more controlled explosion and a longer barrel. A further step forward was the introduction of chemically different brown powder which combusted more slowly again.
It also put less stress on the insides of the barrel, allowing guns to last longer and to be manufactured to tighter tolerances. The development of smokeless powder , based on nitroglycerine or nitrocellulose, by the French inventor Paul Vielle in was a further step allowing smaller charges of propellant with longer barrels. The nature of the projectiles also changed during the ironclad period. Initially, the best armor-piercing projectile was a solid cast-iron shot.
Later, shot of chilled iron , a harder iron alloy, gave better armor-piercing qualities. Eventually the armor-piercing shell was developed. The first British, French and Russian ironclads, in a logical development of warship design from the long preceding era of wooden ships of the line , carried their weapons in a single line along their sides and so were called " broadside ironclads".
Because their armor was so heavy, they could only carry a single row of guns along the main deck on each side rather than a row on each deck. A significant number of broadside ironclads were built in the s, principally in Britain and France, but in smaller numbers by other powers including Italy, Austria, Russia and the United States.
Broadside armament also had disadvantages, which became more serious as ironclad technology developed. Heavier guns to penetrate ever-thicker armor meant that fewer guns could be carried. Furthermore, the adoption of ramming as an important tactic meant the need for ahead and all-round fire. There were two main design alternatives to the broadside. In one design, the guns were placed in an armored casemate amidships: this arrangement was called the 'box-battery' or 'centre-battery'.
In the other, the guns could be placed on a rotating platform to give them a broad field of fire; when fully armored, this arrangement was called a turret and when partially armored or unarmored, a barbette. The centre-battery was the simpler and, during the s and s, the more popular method. Concentrating guns amidships meant the ship could be shorter and handier than a broadside type. Centre-battery ships often, but not always, had a recessed freeboard enabling some of their guns to fire directly ahead. The turret was first used in naval combat on the USS Monitor in , with a type of turret designed by the Swedish engineer John Ericsson.
A competing turret design was proposed by the British inventor Cowper Coles with a prototype of this installed on HMS Trusty in for testing and evaluation purposes.
Ericsson's turret turned on a central spindle, and Coles's turned on a ring of bearings. The fire arc of a turret would be considerably limited by masts and rigging, so they were unsuited to use on the earlier ocean-going ironclads. The second problem was that turrets were extremely heavy. Ericsson was able to offer the heaviest possible turret guns and armor protection by deliberately designing a ship with very low freeboard. The weight thus saved from having a high broadside above the waterline was diverted to actual guns and armor.
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"Astride Two Worlds: Technology And The American Civil War" by Howard J. Fuller
About this product. Stock photo. New other : lowest price The lowest-priced item in unused and unworn condition with absolutely no signs of wear. Will include dust jacket if it originally came with one. Text will be unmarked and pages crisp. Satisfaction is guaranteed with every order. See details. Buy It Now. Add to cart. Fuller , Paperback.
Be the first to write a review About this product. New other : lowest price. By Britain and France had 16 ironclads completed or under construction, and Austria, Italy, Russia and Spain were building them as well. It was generally recognized that iron-clad warships would be the future of ironclad warfare.
Although they were not the first of their kind, the Civil War ironclads were very important. They were used for the first time in ship-to-ship combat. It was shown exactly how invulnerable their plates were to shot, and how helpless traditional wooden ships were before them. It caused England and other naval powers to question their supremacy on the seas. America emerged from the war as an important player in maritime affairs. In the video, we talk about about a monitor that crossed the Atlantic and gave Britain a scare.
This ship was the USS Miantonomoh. Launched in from Brooklyn, she crossed the Atlantic in 11 days in June,
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