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Thread: The 50 - Gun Ship

  1. #1
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    Default The 50 - Gun Ship

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    Book Title:
    The 50 - Gun Ship
    Author:
    Rif Winfield
    ISBN:
    1 84067 3656
    Category:
    History
    Format:
    Hardback
    Summary:
    This book covers the period from the early 1600's to the end of the Napoleonic Wars on a size of ship that that eventually fit between the cracks of the Royal Navy. As with all his books Rif Winfield has researched every aspect of the subject from the politics of the Admiralty and Navy Boards of the time to the details of construction, armament, masting and rigging, man-power and funding. Not a light read.

    Very detailed history of 50-gun ships. HMS Leopard featured throughout and also as the pull out ship plans that are tucked into the back cover in an additional pocket. If you're into technical illustrations and detailed facts on this size ship there is no better resource.

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    Last edited by Bligh; 08-13-2020 at 00:42.

  2. #2
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    Thanks for posting - an often neglected ship rating!

  3. #3
    1st Lieutenant
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    My wife says she just picked up this book from our post office. Can't wait to get home and start reading it!

  4. #4
    Former Admiral of the Fleet
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    Thanks Paul. I am interested in frigates in general. This will be one to order.

  5. #5

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    It would have been interesting to see how the 50-gun Leopard would have faired if it had taken on an American 44 instead of Chesapeake and with a bolder captain than Barron.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Coog View Post
    It would have been interesting to see how the 50-gun Leopard would have faired if it had taken on an American 44 instead of Chesapeake and with a bolder captain than Barron.
    Or William Bainbridge.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coog View Post
    It would have been interesting to see how the 50-gun Leopard would have faired if it had taken on an American 44 instead of Chesapeake and with a bolder captain than Barron.
    Well, I have only my _WS&IM_ games to go by, but: Assuming the British get a free first shot (the Americans are not looking for a fight, but are better-prepared than that idiot Barron was; so the Brits get one broadside off before the Americans can start firing), it's a close-run match; unless the British completely whiff that opener, they usually do well. (The victory conditions are a little weird -- the British just want to look for the "deserters"; if they do too much damage, they start a war. The same applies to the US ship -- they're on a diplomatic mission; wiping out a British ship could mean war. So each side is trying to disable the other without inflicting too many crew hits; or worse, blowing up a magazine. This leads to a lot of anti-rigging fire, as each side tries to cripple the other's maneuverability so it can place itself in a position to force a surrender.)

  8. #8
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    I received my copy of this book yesterday and am very excited to start reading it. I've always had a preference for the idiosyncratic versus mainstream (e.g. prefer the Hurricane to the Spitfire, though I love both) and have an increasing soft spot for the unloved 50-gun ships, especially of the Napoleonic period, such as HMS Isis. Their combat record is also quite interesting, with notable engagements featuring Romney, Leander and Isis, among others.

    If I feel inspired I'll provide a review after I've read it.

  9. #9
    Admiral of the Blue.
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    Yes please Rhys, a review would be great. I have also re attatched the cover picture which had been pixilated in the hack we had.
    Rob.
    Last edited by Bligh; 08-13-2020 at 00:44.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

  10. #10
    Captain of the Fleet
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    I got a few 50s and they only been used once or twice, so I would appreciate a review of this book as with limited funds have to pick and choose.
    Last edited by Capn Duff; 08-25-2020 at 05:33.

  11. #11
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    Thanks both. With your interest I'm developing a review in my head as I read it and will post a written review here when finished (it's my technical, not main, read so probably in a month or so).

  12. #12
    Admiral of the Blue.
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    Just ordered mine from Amazon this morning.
    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

  13. #13
    Admiral of the Blue.
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    Arrived this morning. Glancing through, it looks superb. Just what you would expect from Rif.
    Rob.
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

  14. #14
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    I don't think you'll be disappointed Rob. I'm about to start the chapter 'The 24pdr Fifties', which are the variant I'm most interested in (specifically Portland class), which I'm excited about, but it's been an excellent, if technical and dry, read so far.

    I'm thinking of reading these titles, for the other branch of the evolutionary tree, so to speak, next:
    - The First Frigates: Nine-Pounder and Twelve-Pounder Frigates, 1748-1815 (Conway's Ship Types) - https://www.amazon.com/dp/0851776019...v_ov_lig_dp_it and;
    - The Heavy Frigate: Eighteen-Pounder Frigates, Vol. 1: 1778-1800 (Conway's Ship Types) - https://www.amazon.com/dp/0851776272...v_ov_lig_dp_it

  15. #15
    Admiral of the Blue.
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    Thanks for the info Rhys. Those are a bit rich for my pocket at the monent.
    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

  16. #16
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    It’s a bit later than intended but I finished this book last year and have finally made the time (Easter by the beach) to pen a review.

    The book was excellent overall, if somewhat technical and dry. It starts with the very interesting evolution of the 50-gun ship from the frigate (or Dunkirker), with the earliest two-decked Fourth Rates actually converted from single-decked warships “after their original quarterdecks were extended forward to turn them into full two-decked vessels”. This process took place in the second half of the 17th Century. It also notes that frigates, and their Fourth Rate offspring, initially shared a keel-to-beam ratio of 3.3-3.5 to 1.

    It then follows the evolution of the Fourth Rate to the development of a reasonably standardised ship of around 50 guns from the 1690s onwards, through 12-, 18- and 24-pound main batteries by the mid-1700s. The 50-gun ship reached its ultimate expression in the Romney, Salisbury, Portland and Antelope classes, designed from 1759-1790 and gaining renown during the conflicts of that period. Interestingly, the keel-to-beam ratio of these ships was closer to 3.0 to 1, versus the original frigate-derived Fourth Rates.

    It provides a brief summary of these ships’ service during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars but I would have appreciated more detail, especially considering these vessels fought a number of notable actions, such as Leander at the Battle of the Nile and its subsequent capture by Genereux, among others.

    The book then looks at the configuration of all classes of 50-gun ship in exhaustive detail, including layout, manpower, masts and rigging, fittings, armament, stores, and costs and funding. This is incredibly detailed, probably too much in parts, but includes many interesting facts applicable to other ship classes and the age in general. For example, the main mast length was ultimately “the product of a fixed constant and the breadth of the ship. For 50-gun ships this constant was at first 2.36, but the 1745 Establishment altered it to 2.22”.

    This book is obviously the product of a true expert in the field and that expertise shines through on every page. It is the comprehensive study of the entire evolution of the 50-gun Fourth Rate, with much information, especially in the latter part of the book, useful to understanding ship design and configuration for the period in general. However, the level of detail may be too much for someone who is not genuinely interested in the 50-gun ship and everything about it. I bought the title because of an initial interest primarily in the Portland class but learnt a lot more than anticipated. I would recommend this book to true fans of the 50-gun Fourth Rate but suggest those with a less than specific interest in this class of ship consider carefully before taking the plunge and buying, as it may be overwhelming.

  17. #17
    Admiral of the Blue.
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    You have beaten me to it Rhys. I am still about three quarters of the way through it, but am finding it most instructive. I was distracted by my book on the American sailing navy, which proved to be more immediate to the scenarios on which I am engaged at the moment.
    Thanks for posting.

    Rob.
    The Business of the commander-in-chief is first to bring an enemy fleet to battle on the most advantageous terms to himself, (I mean that of laying his ships close on board the enemy, as expeditiously as possible); and secondly to continue them there until the business is decided.

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