Improvements to Ships

Your beautiful ship will be obsolete: Josh tells Thomas, that, “Within the next fifty years, for example, my Lord, your beautiful ship will be obsolete. I do not mean worn out, tired and old. I mean useless against her enemies, as new forms of guns will be invented soon, new forms of hull design and construction, new forms of propulsion and, were you to see Bit-by-Bit, it is doubtful that you would recognize her as a ship, at first.”
HMS Warrior is moored in the Historic Dockyards
and was the world’s first iron-hulled ship.
HMS Warrior
For twenty-two years from her launching in 1860, she was the world’s most powerful weapon. Dickens described Warrior as: ‘A black vicious ugly customer as ever I saw, whale-like in size, and with as terrible a row of incisor teeth as ever closed on a French frigate.’

Napoleon III obviously agreed, for he abandoned his plans to invade England when she was launched. Warrior never fired a shot in anger, an example of how owning the biggest stick sometimes means you don’t have to use it. She was powered by steam and sail and was capable of more than 17 knots, using both. She carried 26, 68-pound muzzle-loaders and 8 new-fangled, rifled, breech-loaded, 110-pounders. Both of these refinements were important: the rifling made the shell rotate in flight and produced much higher accuracy, and the breech loading meant the gun could be loaded from the rear, as opposed to down its mouth like all previous canons. This mean the gun could be loaded in place without losing it’s aimed at spot, and was also reloaded more quickly. Although, as is often the case with new improvements, not without danger, for the shells sometimes exploded in the breech killing the gun crew.

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