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Unlike most merchant ships, she also has naval quarter-galleries and a full head just like the gun ship has as well. A very strange design indeed, but one that could be useful when a mix of armament and firepower in a small package with cargo capacity is needed such as a heavily armed supply ship or transport.

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The only problem is he got the wrong ship. She was feet long, with a tonnage of tons builder measure, and an armament of 22 x pounder carronades and a mix of 9-pounder cannons and pounder carronades on the quarterdeck and forecastle. The ship Chapelle presented and modified was the previous Cyane , an gun Bittern -class quarterdeck ship-sloop commissioned in and laid up a decade later.

This smaller ship was That class did later replace the 6-pounders on the gun deck with pounder carronades like the Banterers. The real Cyane was classified as a or gun frigate by the US Navy and served for two decades in that capacity.

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Eckford proposed that they cut her down to a flush-decked sloop, but that was never done. She served in squadrons from Africa to the Caribbean, Brazil, and the Mediterranean, until sinking at her moorings at the Philadelphia Dockyard in the winter of She was raised and scrapped the following year, and a new Cyane , the sloop mentioned earlier, commissioned in The primary difference between a classical frigate and a sloop was the lack of an armed forecastle and quarterdeck above the gundeck.

Many sloops had an open deck again, meaning that there was no structure at all above the gundeck, just open air. This is not ideal, however. The movement of the sail handlers, the boats stored in the waist, and the guns in the middle of the ship all tend to interfere with one another. Additionally, in a ship without a forecastle, the sea in rough weather comes up over the bow and washes over the deck. One compromise with smaller sloops was a small unarmed forecastle platform that both gave room for sailors to handle the forward sails and also made the deck and sections below dryer in a rough sea.

A small unarmed quarterdeck was also often seen, commonly called a poop in these situations. As sloops got longer, these raised sections of the superstructure were connected together by a pair of gangways across the waist from the forecastle to the quarterdeck. These eventually widened until there was essentially a continuous, unarmed deck above the gundeck.

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During battle it kept debris such as falling rigging and yards from coming down on top of the gun crews. Later sloops were often designed with these from the start, but many had enough free tonnage to support the extra weight of the light deck and received them in refits. Sloops were light warships from the start, beginning with guns in the 4- to 6-pounder range.

This may not sound like much, but against period lighter ships they were perfectly fine.


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There were some sloops that kept the long guns, preferring the range advantage when hunting other vessels. Later, larger sloops regained the use of cannons of various longer lengths but maintaining the heavy firepower of pounders like the carronades. The next major shift in armament was the introduction of the shell-firing cannon, which added explosives to the mix. Most American sloops carried up to a half-dozen of the 8-inch guns to supplement the pounders. The availability of newer weapons provides several interesting possibilities.

The first are more advanced rifled guns than the ones normally carried on period sloops. We already have the presence of advanced breechloading 8-inch cannons in USE naval service thanks to Commander Cantrell in the West Indies. One or two of these would be lighter than the original pivot guns and fit well in those positions.

For a more advanced sloop, perhaps a steamer, down the line, four 6- or 8-inch breechloaders mounted on protruding sponsons for much larger fields of fire, would be effective and futuristic. The impending Hotchkiss guns, in the lightweight naval 37mm version, would also make useful close-in tertiary weapons for any sloop. Another potential upgrade to sloops to look at is steam power. They all rely exclusively on sail power, but that does not mean they cannot be converted. Many early steam warships were converted from conventional sailing vessels and there are suitable examples in Chapelle to use as a base.

Several sloops in the book were considered for conversion in real life, including Constellation and Plymouth. Either a paddlewheel or screw propulsion conversion would be suitable, with an increase in length providing both buoyancy for the new engines as well as space for the coal bunkers. Even an already-constructed sloop can be converted, literally slicing it in half and adding in the new section with the engines. Paddlewheel conversions would be easier and have their own advantages like increased maneuverability, but screw propulsion has perks, too, despite the difficulty in designing and building the propeller, prop shaft, and reconstructing the stern of the ship.

The sloops might not have captured the imagination the same way Old Ironsides and the other American frigates did, both at home and abroad now, but at the time the victories of Wasp , Hornet , and others were just as known as Constitution and United States. They were generally larger and more heavily armed than their British counterparts, that navy requiring larger numbers to fight more global commitments.

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The sloop proved to be the sweet spot of cost, ability, effectiveness, and power and formed a vital part of the fleet for the entire nineteenth century. With the advent of newer, heavier guns that sloops could carry more easily than frigates, they had an ever-increasing role. By the time of the Civil War and for over a decade afterward, most of the major steam warships in the US Navy were sloops. They are a good candidate for heavier, more advanced cannons, allowing fewer guns to do more damage on hulls of that size.

A good example is Plymouth and her successful cruise with an armament of four 9-inch and one inch Dahlgren cannons, a devastating amount of firepower in that era or even more so over two centuries earlier. The versatile ship-sloop would enable cost-effective ships that can carry that firepower anywhere in the world, comfortably crossing and operating in distant stations on the other side of the planet for extended periods of time.

At the same time, not only are they cheaper to operate, they are more affordable and easier to build than the larger and more robust heavy frigates. With the wide variety of ship-sloop designs in Chapelle, covering just about fifty years and a variety of sizes and armaments, there are plenty of good options for any navy in post-Ring of Fire Europe for any niche.

Perhaps in this timeline, the sloop of war will finally get the recognition and widespread adoption it deserves. Ships marked with II are administrative rebuilds actually new construction.


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  6. Later 16 x pounder ML rifles in place of shell guns. Brown, David K. Oxford: Conway Maritime Press, Canney, Donald L. Annapolis, Md: Naval Institute Press, Chapelle, Howard I, and Leon D. The Constellation Question. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, Chapelle, Howard I. The History of American Sailing Navy. Dahlgren, Madeleine V. Memoir of J. Boston: J. Osgood, James, William. London: Printed for T. Egerton, Roosevelt, Theodore. United States: publisher not identified, Toll, Ian W.

    New York: W. Tucker, Spencer. Arming the Fleet: U. Navy Ordnance in the Muzzle-Loading Era. Winfield, Rif. Barnsley: Seaforth, You must be logged in to post a comment. Grantville Gazette 79, Aug The Stillborn Voice of John the Baptist. Uprooting the Seed.


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      The Age of Chapelle: Warship Design After the Ring of Fire, Part 2: Ship-Rigged Sloops of War

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