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Firing While Tacking


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#21 Brian Weathersby

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Posted 05 December 2017 - 10:59 PM

That whole "As an aside..." line was a throwaway that I was going to come back to.  When I realized that I was getting towards book review length in that response, I left it.  

 

What brought it about was a comment in Lavery's Ship of the Line (i, p. 121) where he says, "The dissatisfaction with British shipbuilding spread even to civilians, and a Society for the Improvement of Naval Architecture was formed by a bookseller named Sewell, after he 'was so impressed with the many grave complaints which reached him as to the inferiority of our warships as compared with those of France and Spain.' "  Call me cynical, but I couldn't help being reminded of the old DIA publication Soviet Military Power back in the 1980s.  In other words, their stuff is great and always works as designed, whereas our stuff is old, or worn out, or generally just not as good as theirs.

 

Cpt M and Phil are both on the money when you're talking about the differences in design between the French and British builders. French ships were built according to more scientific principles, and many (but not all) of the prizes sailed better than their British counterparts.  What they did not have, however, was strong enough scantlings and deep enough holds to let them spend months at sea like British ships had to do.  Lavery points out something, however that we don't consider in the usual conversations about this.  "Why, then were they so popular among naval officers? Partly because they suited the immediate tactical needs of the 1790s." (ibid., p. 122-23)  Since Howe didn't institute a close blockade of Brest, what he needed were ships that had the speed to catch the French, and that long term seaworthiness was a secondary  consideration at that point.  Also, "Almost all the criticism of British design can be traced back to the sea officers...." (ibid., p. 123).  In contrast, "The officials of the Navy Board, the dockyards, and the various other organisations which helped keep the Navy afloat. . . were concerned with maintenance, reliability and cost rather than spectacular performance." (ibid.).  Maybe, in retrospect (and with more reading), I should have said that the situation is closer to the perpetual conflict between aircraft/helicopter pilots and mechanics.  You know, something like this:

 

"My aircraft isn't as fast as it could be."

"Maybe, but it also hasn't fallen out of the sky lately, either."



#22 Lonnie Gill

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Posted 22 February 2018 - 08:56 PM

G' Day Gentlemen,

 

Recently returned fro a trip "down under"  - never had a chance to be on the Tasman Sea before!  Glad I've got a chance to get caught up on this one; really quite an interesting discussion with lots of research on this topic.  Through your collective efforts, we can determine that stability is not a factor by the late 18th/early 19th Century.

 

None of us were there, but the issue seems to come down to this:  a) tacking was largely an "all hands" evolution B) one tar can fire a gun, but adjusting elevation and training heavy cannons to deal with the relative movement of a target while a ship platform tacked certainly required a lot of muscle from a lot of bodies c) the thought of 1,000 - 3,000 lb guns recoiling on the upper deck (main deck for frigates and smaller) amid groups of tars tailing lines, etc. would be fraught with danger and gruesome to imagine.

 

Thus, my sense is that firing while tacking - which is a major change in the direction and heel of a ship platform (significantly more than a normal turn) - would be quite inaccurate and probably dangerous to a number of the crew.  "One tar can fire a gun" works for situations such as firing a loaded off side broadside, when a ship (and target motion) are relatively stable and the decks not crowded with sailors handling lines, but not here.  Sea lawyers can note the rules do allow that one tar can pull the lanyard or apply the linstock, but such a broadside would be highly inaccurate when tacking. 

 

So, my ruling is that you can't fire while tacking. I will confer with Captain M to ensure we have a consensus on this.  A somewhat similar issue has come up recently during play testing some gunboat actions.  Should a gunboat be able to abruptly reverse course and fire its heavy - and highly mounted - cannon without allowing some amount of time to stabilize the gunboat?   Brian, you said it well, there's always room for some additional clarifications.  It is our expectation, and hope, that Post Captain will evolve and improve with lots of bright, informed minds using it, much as GQ has.

 

Cheers,

 

LONNIE



#23 Brian Weathersby

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Posted 23 February 2018 - 03:31 AM

Mr. Gill,

After being away from this topic for a couple of months, and rereading it, I must admit that I now agree with Phil and yourself.  I do stand by my research, but my conclusion about being able to fire is incorrect.  There is a good drawing in Adkin's Trafalgar Companion about what a gun captain could see at different ranges that makes it clear how much adjustment could possibly be needed.  I can't get the book now, but if anyone is interested I can post a picture of it tomorrow.  There's just no way the guns can be adjusted sufficiently without a full crew to do it.

 

Some videos of period pieces being fired show just how great the recoil was, and there are accounts that mention how gun crews could be damaged by recoiling pieces even at their posts and paying attention.  It would be way too dangerous to fire guns while the crew is running around trimming sails and generally not watching the deck.  Also, even the firing of individual pieces offer the possibility of an important command being missed due to noise.  It's just not practical or practicable.

 

So, I owe Phil a tip of the bicorne and the admission that I drew the wrong conclusion and he is correct.  To you, I say "thank you" for designing a great system for small to medimum battles that has finally let me put my old copy of  Heart of Oak to rest!



#24 RazorMind

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 08:25 PM

There is a good drawing in Adkin's Trafalgar Companion about what a gun captain could see at different ranges that makes it clear how much adjustment could possibly be needed.

 

Very interested in seeing this image

 

Adam


"I wish to have no Connection with any Ship that does not Sail fast for I intend to go in harm's way.

Capt. John Paul Jones

#25 Brian Weathersby

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Posted 12 March 2018 - 10:43 PM

Adam,

Glad to oblige.  First though, an explanation.  Turns out there is more than one of those guides.  The first one is indeed from Adkin's book, and shows what the approach of Victory looked like to a French gunner.  

Attached File  IMG_20180312_221315.jpg   119.18KB   0 downloads

 

It's not the one I was thinking of when I made that comment though.  I was thinking of the diagram in Boudriot's volume IV.  Here it is:

Attached File  IMG_20180312_221208.jpg   131.75KB   0 downloads

 

If clicking on those doesn't make them readable let me know, and I'll send you the actual photos of the pages.



#26 RazorMind

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Posted 13 March 2018 - 07:52 PM

loverly indeed!  thanks!  


"I wish to have no Connection with any Ship that does not Sail fast for I intend to go in harm's way.

Capt. John Paul Jones

#27 Brian Weathersby

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Posted 15 March 2018 - 01:40 AM

Glad to be of assistance!



#28 larry tei

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Posted 25 October 2018 - 01:17 PM

I know I'm very late to this conversation, but I wanted to make one observation. I have seldom, in all my years on internet forums dealing with various subjects, encountered a group of individuals like the ones who commented here. Not only is everything presented based on research, but the entire conversation, even when individuals disagreed, represents a standard of intellectualism and good manners we should all strive for. Thank you for all your research, and striving to make a great game better.



#29 Brian Weathersby

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 01:57 PM

Mr. Tei,

Thank you for that.  As one of the participants, I enjoyed the conversation.  I don't think it would have been possible on most internet forums; the people here are all nice and, like you said, just want to make a great game better.  Besides, if the real life captains were civil to their opponents after tying to kill each other, I think it's the least we can do here!  :D  



#30 Brian Weathersby

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Posted 27 October 2018 - 01:58 PM

Mr. Tei,

Thank you for that.  As one of the participants, I enjoyed the conversation.  I don't think it would have been possible on most internet forums; the people here are all nice and, like you said, just want to make a great game better.  Besides, if the real life captains were civil to their opponents after tying to kill each other, I think it's the least we can do here!  :lol:   


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#31 larry tei

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Posted 28 October 2018 - 07:54 AM

Mr. Tei,

Thank you for that.  As one of the participants, I enjoyed the conversation.  I don't think it would have been possible on most internet forums; the people here are all nice and, like you said, just want to make a great game better.  Besides, if the real life captains were civil to their opponents after tying to kill each other, I think it's the least we can do here!  :lol:   

Please, call me Larry. The civility of the conversation reminded me of exactly that, and that is one of the reasons that I enjoy the study of this subject. Yes, there were many ills during this time period, and the world was involved in a brutal war, but naval officers behaved with honor, discipline, and civility, no matter how fierce the action. When I finished reading the entirety of the conversation here, the behavior of Admiral Duncan at Camperdown popped into my head. I love this game, and know that I am in good company here, if I have questions, or comments.



#32 Brian Weathersby

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Posted 29 October 2018 - 11:25 PM

Larry,

OK, and thanks.  I was brought up that everyone was "sir" or "ma'am" until they told me otherwise.  

 

As I've said before (either here or on my blog, I don't remember), the first book that I can remember my father reading was Hornblower and the Hotspur.  I was a big history buff even as a kid, and so I was reading those novels and naval history when other kids were reading, I don't know what. :huh:   I guess reading those books so early kind of etched into my mind the idea that code of honor was the way to live.  I haven't always lived up to it, but I've tried.  You're right that I would not have wanted to live back then (health issues and such), but I still think that people like Duncan, Isaac Hull, or the fictional characters like Hornblower and Aubrey are worth emulating today.

 

EDIT:  And yes, I think you're in good company here.  Of course, I may be a bit biased.... :lol:


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