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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Pete M at work ALERT! All Armchair Sailors (82* d) RE: ALERT! All Armchair Sailors 08 Apr 01

Hi Grab,

the standard weapon for long range (over a cable or so) was the "long nine" (9 pdr). These were often mounted in the bow ports of frigates so as the engage any bloody Frenchie that wasn't sporting enough to stay still and be shot at. ;-) Ships of the line did not mount anything so light, and were not expected to engage at long range.

As Les has pointed out, half pistol shot was normal fighting range and frequently engagements ended with opposing ships locked together firing into each other with barely enough room to run the lower deck guns out. One principal differneces in fighting tactics was when to fire your broadside, on the up or down roll. Generally speaking the Royal Navy tried to fire on the down roll to inflict maximum hull damage and casualties, whilst the French (as they were usually trying to get away) fired on the up roll to damage masts and spars. One of the reasons the RN didn't take too many prizes in major engaements, they were too riddled with shot to get back to port in one piece!

The idea of engaging at long range was taken up very slowly even when the guns and projectiles were capable of accurate fire at extended range.

The establishment of HMS Excellent as a gunnery school had a geat affect on accuracy, but it was the introduction of the practical torpedo rather than the capabilities of guns which was the determining factor in dictating long range for inter ship actions.

Sir Percy Scott was one of the main drivers of the adoption of "Modern" gunnery over the period 1895 - 1910. Possibly his most famous (notoriuos?) exploit was when Rear Admiral 1st Cruiser squadron, to signal to one of his ships the "Since paintwork was more important than gunnery, they'd better come back and make themselves pretty." which went down like a lead penguin with the CinC Channel Fleet!

I came across the following (author unknown) about him, which mentions most of his achievements, technical and military. (For the uninitiated HMS Excellent was a stone frigate located on Whale Island, the "dotter", deflection taecher, loading tray, and director firing were all introduced by Scott, and the references to Ladysmith and the ZBoxer rebellion refer to the involvement of 'bluejackets' from Sir P's ships in those conflicts manning ships main guns dismounted and put on to land based conveyances of his design.) A Terrible Creed

I belive in Percy Scott, Captain ubiquitous, Lord of Humility, Maker of gun-carriages, And of all things advertised and not advertised And in the Terrible's, the heroes unlimited, the breakers of records, And in one Dotter, invention of one Captain, the only begotten son of modesty, by whom most things are puffed; Who, for the navy and our salvation, came down from Whale Island and was self-incarnated reformer of evils, And was made Captain, and was persecuted under the Admiralty. Captain of the Scylla, Captain of the Terrible, Percy Scott of Percy Scott, born not made, being one with himself and forever with the Daily Mail. Saviour of Ladysmith, he suffered at Durban and was insufficiently rewarded. And the next time he arose in China to slay Boxers according to the papers; And in the fourth year he returned to Portsmouth, And he ascended unto Balmoral and sitteth on the right hand of the King; And he shall be heard of again, with glory belated, to teach self-sepreciation to a nation whose adulation shall have no end. And I believe in the Deflection-Teacher, the Lord and Giver of Points, who proceedeth from the Scylla and the Terrible, who with the Terrible's together is feted and glorified, who spake by the newpapers; And I belive in one Loading-Tray, the key for Selection; I confess to one Flashing-Lamp, electro-mechanical, light of lights, very flash of very flash; I acknowledge one shutter form the emission of signs, And I look for the Paying-off of the Terrible and the distribution of more honours to come. Amen.

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