Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: 74-gun Ships of the Line

  1. #1
    Midshipman
    United States

    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Log Entries
    341
    Name
    Jason

    Default 74-gun Ships of the Line

    In some thread the name and exact topic of which I don't recall, someone called 74s "the backbone of the fleet." Can you guys elaborate the typical roles of 3rd- and 4th- rate ships?

  2. #2
    Vice Admiral of the Red.
    Admiral
    UK

    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Norfolk
    Log Entries
    5,572
    Name
    David

    Default

    I think that it simply refers to the fact that during the Napoleonic wars the 74-gun third-rate was the commonest type of ship-of-the-line.

  3. #3
    Admiral of the Blue.
    Baron
    England

    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Notts
    Log Entries
    13,870
    Blog Entries
    22
    Name
    Rob

    Default

    The workhorse of the Navy.
    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.

  4. #4
    Midshipman
    United States

    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Log Entries
    341
    Name
    Jason

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bligh View Post
    The workhorse of the Navy.
    Rob.
    Can you elaborate?

  5. #5
    Admiral of the Blue.
    Baron
    England

    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Notts
    Log Entries
    13,870
    Blog Entries
    22
    Name
    Rob

    Default

    Here is a quick synopsis Jason.


    The 74-gun ship is an excellent blend of firepower and handling. It is a stable gun platform and has more guns than many armies!
    The 74 is a supremely practical naval weapon and regarded as the best balance between defensive strength and manoeuvrability. A two-deck design, it is strong enough to mount very heavy 32-pounder cannons on its lower gun deck. These, when combined with the upper deck’s 18-pounders, give it a devastating broadside, although this is best delivered at close quarters.
    The French developed the 74-gun ship concept in the mid-18th Century. The design was so good that other navies lost no time in copying it for themselves or taking French ships in action. Many French vessels were made from green timber that “worked” in heavy seas and therefore leaked; the French accepted this because they believed the green timber made the ships resilient. British 74s were well built too, although there was a regrettable tendency to save money by recycling timbers, along with their woodworm and rot, from older vessels!
    The last 74, HMS Implacable, was finally scuttled in 1949! Built in 1800 by the French, and then captured by the British at Trafalgar in 1805, she stayed in active service until 1842. She ended her days as a coal hulk.
    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.

  6. #6
    Ordinary Seaman
    United States

    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    California
    Log Entries
    25
    Name
    Bruce

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jasonb View Post
    Can you elaborate?
    Figures from The Illustrated Companion to Nelson’s Navy.
    1811
    74 gun: 80
    All ships 60 guns or more (ships of the line): 107

    You can see the proportion is exceedingly high. Now, I am not sure if the author really meant 3rd rate rather than 74 gun specifically, but still you get the idea that 74 gun SotL were numerically far and away the most common. Thus, workhorse or backbone, since this is what they depended on the most. Now, the proportion was less as you move back towards 1790, but basically, the 74 was the ideal balance of maneuver, cost, and firepower. Bang for your buck...ummmm....pounding for your pound?

  7. #7
    Captain of the Fleet
    Master & Commander
    UK

    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    South Glos
    Log Entries
    1,710
    Name
    Chris

    Default

    To add a little more toyour question, as far as I am aware anyway.

    Third rate ships of the line were the main battle ship making up the line of battle, in the 18 and 19 centuries these main battle ships were 64 gun ships, these were superseded by the 74 gun battleship as has been already stated. So these 3rd rate ships were large heavily armed ships designed to fight other battleships in a line of battle and could lend heavy support to other ship and land forces.

    4th rates were larger frigates or vesels under 64 guns but more than the light 38 gun frigates. Their role would be supporting the main battleships and be the command ships of frigate flotillas, to beef these up without taking away ships from the main battleline.

    5th and 6th rates were the frigates, their role was recce, shadowing enemy fleets, basically the same role as light cavalry on land.
    They generally did not take part in the main battleline and it was considered bad taste for battleships to engage and fire upon the lighter frigates.

    Hope this helps and is justa brief synopsis of my inyerpretation. If others have a different idea i am sure they will join in.

  8. #8
    Admiral of the Blue.
    Baron
    England

    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Notts
    Log Entries
    13,870
    Blog Entries
    22
    Name
    Rob

    Default

    Good overall consideration of the role of the various ships Chris.

    I would just add a couple of things. The few 80/ 90 gun ships which often acted as Flagships in the less active theaters of action such as the Indies, Caribbean or the Cape Squadron. Also the other uses of Frigates in the Main Battle as Repeaters for the Flags of the Admiral and Vice/Rear Admirals. Plus giving succor to stricken Liners, either in removing crews or in towing them off, and at the conclusion of a battle, standing off enemy Liners sterns or Bows to ensure their surrender.

    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.

  9. #9
    Midshipman
    United States

    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Log Entries
    341
    Name
    Jason

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Capn Duff View Post
    To add a little more toyour question, as far as I am aware anyway.

    Third rate ships of the line were the main battle ship making up the line of battle, in the 18 and 19 centuries these main battle ships were 64 gun ships, these were superseded by the 74 gun battleship as has been already stated. So these 3rd rate ships were large heavily armed ships designed to fight other battleships in a line of battle and could lend heavy support to other ship and land forces.

    4th rates were larger frigates or vesels under 64 guns but more than the light 38 gun frigates. Their role would be supporting the main battleships and be the command ships of frigate flotillas, to beef these up without taking away ships from the main battleline.

    5th and 6th rates were the frigates, their role was recce, shadowing enemy fleets, basically the same role as light cavalry on land.
    They generally did not take part in the main battleline and it was considered bad taste for battleships to engage and fire upon the lighter frigates.

    Hope this helps and is justa brief synopsis of my inyerpretation. If others have a different idea i am sure they will join in.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bligh View Post
    I would just add a couple of things. The few 80/ 90 gun ships which often acted as Flagships in the less active theaters of action such as the Indies, Caribbean or the Cape Squadron. Also the other uses of Frigates in the Main Battle as Repeaters for the Flags of the Admiral and Vice/Rear Admirals. Plus giving succor to stricken Liners, either in removing crews or in towing them off, and at the conclusion of a battle, standing off enemy Liners sterns or Bows to ensure their surrender.

    These are exactly what I wanted to know. Thanks!

  10. #10
    Captain
    Sweden

    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Linköping
    Log Entries
    2,977
    Blog Entries
    6
    Name
    Jonas

    Default

    The nature of wood as a material and the construction techniques made the length of a ship limited. This meant that 74 was a practical size. The Tonnant class and Buccantaur class 80 gun ships were tries to make bigger ships that still were as good, but they weren't structurally and lost some manoeuvrability. The three deckers caught the wind in the hull more and due to more weight over a not much bigger area in the water they were much more cumbersome and had a bigger draft. In the battle of Copenhagen the heavier ships couldn't partake due to their draft and the Dutch used their lesser draft in some instances. It was an advantage.

    And naturally you do want to get as many guns as possible per length of the line, but still keep space between the ships to avoid collisions. Guns and manoeuvrability...

    Not to forget that a 74 was a true show of force but still cheaper to maintain due to fewer men and less maintenance than bigger ships. It was also an economical sweet spot.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •