Friday, April 30, 2004

Converting from English to Dutch Dimensions 

In answer to an inquiry from Frank Fox, I wrote a paper that analyzed the relationship between English dimensions and Dutch dimensions, for those ships which had been captured. Converting English To Dutch Dimensions

Posted by Jim at 6:47pm

Thursday, April 29, 2004

The introduction to the Line of Battle paper from 2000 


The conventional wisdom is that fighting in a single line of battle is a break-through tactic, and is superior to other tactics.  This view was propagated by Julian S. Corbett, and others.  In this century, this view was predominant, with no one to speak up to challenge the idea.


Not only has this view been held by students of naval history, but has also, at times, been the view held by senior naval officials.  For example,  at the Battle of Jutland, the British and German battle fleets were formed into single lines, at the initial encounter.  You also saw, however, squadrons operating independently:  the British Battle Cruiser Fleet and the German Scouting Force.

We will examine this issue from the Seventeenth Century to the end of World War II for evidence regarding the performance of the single line of battle versus other tactical systems.  The competing tactical systems are often thought of as the unstructured melee, fighting by squadrons, either by squadrons in line, or squadrons en mass.  For melee tactics, an important issue is whether there is any attempt to use concentration and mutual support.

Another factor on the viability of tactical systems is the numbers of ships involved.  There is evidence, from the outcome of battles, that for small numbers, the single line is the most rational choice of formation.  On the other hand, there is vast amounts of evidence to show that for large fleets, that fighting by squadrons, operating in support of each other, is a more rational choice than a long, single line.  This is an issue that transcends time and technology.  The main effect of time and technology is that the numbers that comprise a large fleet are fewer than in the Seventeenth Century.

The first war to be examined is the First Anglo-Dutch War.  The last war of relevance is World War Two.  The first battle to be examined will be the Battle off Dover, in the spring of 1652.  The last battle to be examined is Surigao Strait, during the larger Battle of Leyte Gulf, in late 1944.

An interesting subtext of this examination is the effect of prestigious opinion on the discussion, especially since the 1890's.  The work of analysts such as Julian S. Corbett and Brian Tunstall have stood, unchallenged, in their opinion that the single line of battle was the only viable tactical system, at least during the age of sail.

We hope to demonstrate here, that the signal successes of the last three hundred years were achieved outside of the model where there were two, fairly equally matched fleets, both in a sigle line of battle.  In fact, there are numerous examples, especially in the first half of the Eighteenth Century, where battles fought in single lines of battles were indecisive.  It was only in the mid-Eighteenth Century, where there was a new energy and system, and where admirals felt confident of being able to leave the line of battle and, by so doing, achieved significant victories. 

The Battle of Jutland was a more recent example of a tactically drawn battle due to fighting in single lines.  That the British felt that was the case is evident by the radical change that was made, after Admiral Beatty was made fleet commander, to fight in squadrons, not in a single line.

So, we will commence our examination of battles from the First Anglo-Dutch War up to and including World War II, looking for evidence about the performance of fleets using melee, single line of battle, and fighting by squadrons, either in line, or unorganized groups.  We will be alert to see issues raised by changing technology, and the expanding gun range, starting in the mid-Nineteenth Century.



Posted by Jim at 8:30pm

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Calculating "Lasts" (a kind of gross tonnage)  

I was just looking over what papers that I might be able to make available on the Internet. I have linked to a paper about calculating "lasts". Jan Glete says that a good rule of thumb is that one last is about equal to two lasts. Knowing how to calculate lasts, and what the issues are is useful for making estimates about ship dimensions, when you only know the lasts figure. Typically, for Dutch warships between 1628 and 1633, all I have are last estimates. Sadly, they seem to largely be estimates, not precise calculations. You might excuse that, given that one method of determining lasts was to load barrels, as "lasts" were intended to portray the cargo carrying capacity of a ship. Lasts Calculated  

Posted by Jim at 8:08pm

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Another experiment with the Battle of Plymouth 

I just went through and modified the crew effectiveness for the Battle of Plymouth scenario and did a simulation run. The result was that the Dutch were badly beaten, despite the elevated crew effectiveness. I treated the Dutch as if they were as strong as the English and repeatedly broke the English "line", although it would be more accurate to say that the Dutch broke the English group, repeatedly, on opposite tacks. All I proved is that 12-pdr armed ships can't fight ships armed with culverins and demi-cannon, with much chance of success! Admittedly, many of the English hired merchantmen were armed with demi-culverins and sakers, but it didn't really help. They were lost first, in this "fight to the finish", but the Dutch were written off as fast as the hired English merchantmen.

Victorious English ships after winning the Battle of Plymouth (in this simulation run).



English survivors after he Battle of Plymouth. This is the battered Success with the slightly less battered fireship Charity in the background.

These are part of the defeated Dutch remnants retreating after the Battle of Plymouth.

Posted by Jim at 7:25pm.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Picture from Battle of Plymouth simulation 

I have been experimenting with the Battle of Plymouth scenario, running in the simulator. I just had a very successful run for the Dutch. When I shut it down, the Dutch still had 75% of their fleet, while the English were reduced to 64%. Most of the surviving Dutch were still in very good shape, except for two stragglers that might have been picked off by the pursuing English. A feature of this battle was that the two English 2nd Rates were both disabled, and not able to participate.

I have found, through nasty experience that the Dutch cannot really afford to stand and fight, after giving the English a sharp hit. When I have tried to stand and fight, the Dutch are quickly decimated.

This picture shows the English hired ship, the Malaga Merchant (30 guns) sinking. You know the ship is sinking because she has lost her name label. To the left of the Convert (32 guns), there is another ship, with only her mainmast, also sinking. In the distance, there is the Vanguard (56 guns), disabled. To the far right of the picture is the heavily damaged Guinea frigate (32 guns). In the far distance is the Dutch fleet.

Posted by Jim at 8:31pm.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Dutch Losses in the First Anglo-Dutch War 

I have had to link to the page that actually has the table of losses, as the tool I am using for content management and web publishing is struggling with such a large table. DutchLossesInFirstAngloDutchWar  I have been amazed at some of the estimates that have been published for Dutch losses. They just can't be substantiated. I have given my references for those that I have listed. The primary contemporary source was the Hollandsche Mercurius for 1653. The rest are secondary sources, but which reference primary sources that I have not yet been able to obtain.

Posted by Jim at 8:09am.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Pictures from the Battle of the Sound (1658) 

I ran the Battle of the Sound scenario, tonight, with the simulator (Privateers Bounty). I tried to be more true to life, in that I have started not using the line formation. I use an irregular formation so that I can easily select the entire group, but I maneuvered using the rudder, rather than destination points. The Dutch were winning, amazingly enough, when I shut it down. If I had not gone back, "looking for trouble", the Dutch would have had close to a 2:1 margin.

These are armed Dutch transports headed for Copenhagen under full sail.


This is the large Swedish ship, the Kronan (74 guns), pretty badly shot up, although showing almost no hull damage.


This is the Swedish fleet, with the Caesar (50 guns) in the foreground.

This picture shows the Swedish ship Leoparden (32 guns) approaching the Wapen van Rotterdam. Note the ship approachiing in the background, under full sail.

This picture shows the Dutch Wapen van Medemblik raking the Leoparden. The Leoparden has taken a good deal of damage, since the previous picture.

This picture shows a famous Swedish ship in the foreground, having lost her foremast. The label for the surrendered Dutch ship, the Gouden Leeuw is confusing, as it appears to be attached to the Amarant. The surrendered ship is actually obscured by its label.

Posted by Jim at 9:20pm


More pictures for the Battle of the Kentish Knock 

This picture shows the Convertine (44 guns) pursuing the heavily damaged Prinses Louise (36 guns). The previous post shows the Convertine shortly before this time. At this point, the Convertine has taken more damage.


The small vessel, minus its foremast, in the right foreground, is the 5th Rate Warwick.

This picture shows the Warwick sinking alongside the Hound. Note that the simulator shows English ships with yellow while Dutch ships are shown with the red stripe above the white.

Posted by Jim at 6:40am.

Monday, April 19, 2004

More Privateers Bounty pictures for the Battle of the Kentish Knock 

I have many more pictures from running the simulator. Sadly, 1MB files are not suitable for the web, so we need to reduce them drastically. I may be able to get by with larger, but for now, these are what we have.


These are some English ships that are heavily damaged in the fighting. The four that are visible are the Advice, the Exchange (a hired merchantman), the Mary flyboat, and the small 3rd Rate Convertine (a Portuguese prize).

 This picture is Claes Sael's ship, the Maria, in visible trouble. She has lost her foremast and is on fire. The big splash is from a large caliber shot, at least 18pdr. The smaller shots are either saker or demi-culverin shot. She is not sinking. Short, wide sailing ships tend to pitch, in any sort of sea at all.

Posted by Jim at 9:11pm

Privateers Bounty pictures for the Battle of the Kentish Knock 

I have a series of pictures, taken over last weekend, that were taken during one simulation run for the Battle of the Kentish Knock scenario.

This picture shows the 1st Rate Sovereign (90 guns) in a starboard turn. Notice that she has lost her mizzen mast, in the battle. In the distance, in the center, is the hired merchantman, the Richard and Martha. On the right is the hired merchantman, the Golden Dove, which has lost her mainmast and has taken some damage. Behind the Golden Dove is the 2nd Rate Triumph.


This picture is a scene from the battle where the small 5th Rate, the Little President is approaching the Amsterdam ship, the Engel Gabriel (36 guns). To the left, the Amsterdam ship, the Vrede (44 guns) is turning to approach.

Posted by Jim at 8:10pm

A new website for Anglo-Dutch Wars 

This site may change, over time, but I wanted to get this out, so that I can start posting pictures and longer articles.   I will still reserve KentishKnock.com for the more polished work.

Posted by Jim at 8:10pm