Saturday, 11 August 2018

British Ironclads for Broadside and Ram

I really enjoyed the Breakout from Cherbourg Broadside and Ram game so I've decided that I'll devise another scenario as a follow up to the French escape from the British blockade. The Gloire, Provence and Flandre are now at sea, threatening all sorts of trouble in the Western Approaches. They could attack and sink merchant shipping to disrupt trade with the rest of the British Empire or they might bombard ports along the English SW coast like Falmouth, Weymouth or even Bristol? Who can say what the Frogs might be up to? The honour and prestige of the Her Majesty's Royal Navy has also been tarnished, a slight which must be rectified without further delay!

So, with a definite scenario plot in mind, I now need some statistics for a number of contemporary British ironclad warships that are not otherwise provided in the Broadside and Ram rules. With no further ado, whatever an 'ado' is, here are some numbers that I've crunched for the warships that I'm going to be deploying, now that HMS Warrior is being towed away for repairs and HMS Northumberland is sitting on the bottom off Cherbourg. I've based the details on the system in the rules, comparison with other ships in the lists and some logical reasoning, so feel free to put me right if you think I've screwed things up!

HMS Captain (1869)

Type    CS       AS      AF       DF       Points

AS        4          5         5T        7           16

This is based on her twin turret armament of 12'' MLR. I should really include some special rules about stability and firing in less than flat conditions but that's a bit more detail than I can do with for the moment. It would be an interesting random factor, as she had an unfortunate tendency to capsize and sink, due to a combination of low freeboard, heavy turrets and a full sailing rig.

HMS Monarch (1869)

Type    CS       AS      AF       DF       Points

AS        4         5         5           7          16

Despite having twin turrets with 12'' MLR's the eventual design of HMS Monarch prevented her from firing fore and aft, so I have given her an AF for a broadside instead. I should really restrict her rate of firing as well, given that she would have to traverse her turrets to fire on the opposite broadside and they weren't exactly quick to rotate.

HMS Achilles (1864)

Type    CS       AS      AF       DF       Points

AS        4         5         4           6          14

This is the bog standard profile for a broadside ironclad, with a slightly reduced AF and DF to reflect the relatively weak armour belt and average armament of 7'' or 9'' MLR's, depending on the date. She was rearmed at least twice, once in 1868 with the 7'' MLR's and again in 1875 with the 9'' MLR's but her firepower was roughly the same due to the smaller number of the latter in her main battery.

HMS Royal Oak (1862)

Type    CS       AS      AF       DF       Points

AS        3         4         4           6          13

These numbers are representative of the Prince Consort class of wooden hull broadside ironclads, rapidly converted in the 1860's in response to the French ironclad construction programme. They varied in armament but had a consistent fit of belt and battery armour. They were all placed in reserve in the mid to late 1860s but then redeployed to the Mediterranean. 

I hope to be able to have a crack at the new scenario at some point over the next few days.


  1. An interesting period. I knew of HMS Captain capsizing in a storm off Cape Trafalgar on her maiden voyage. I wonder if a war with France would've resulted in regular deployment with the Channel Fleet in which her unfortunate failing would have been addressed.

  2. I would probably err on the side of conservatism re CAPTAIN, the conditions in which she was lost were pretty severe so I'd restrict chance of loss to bad weather only.That said I'd think about a special rule for susceptibility to flooding damage given her low freeboard

  3. Yes, that's what I was thinking, given that she went over in a Force 8-9. I was also wondering about the turret arc of fire, which was very limited fore and aft, even when compared to Monarch. It's more interesting to give the two ships different capabilities, however, if only to distinguish between them for wargaming purposes.

    Love the rules David...great fun and very easy to play. Thank for publishing them and providing the inspiration!

  4. AJ,

    Desperate times call for desperate measures and the reputation of the Senior Service is at stake! Actually, I have no doubt that the most modern and capable warships would have been deployed to hunt down the French menace, alongside every other ironclad that could be dispatched for the chase. It's all a bit like the Hunt for the Bismarck...only 70 years earlier!

  5. A very good analogy. Yes, after HMS Northumberland went down off Cherbourg I can see Victoria's navy's reaction to her fate being the equivalent of the poor Hood's.

  6. I have now decided to give HMS Captain the same broadside DF as HMS Monarch, as her turrets really could not fire 360 degrees. This means that Monarch and Captain are virtually identical, so I may also work out a low freeboard rule for the latter, as suggested, to make them a little different?



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