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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Forum Resources > Armchair Attacks! > Warships Campaign 2017-2018

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Warships Campaign 2017-2018 Debate the Great Ships of Naval History

View Poll Results: Which of these two warship types had the greatest merit?
16. Byzantine Dromon, 7th - 11th Centuries 5 13.16%
28. English "Race-Built" Galleon, 16th - 17th Centuries 33 86.84%
Voters: 38. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 14 Oct 17, 11:29
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T1 FINAL! - R5, Prng 31: Byzantine Dromon vs English "Race Built" Galleon

In your opinion, which of these two warship types was most significant, influential and/or effective?
Feel free to apply those criteria as you please, along with any others you think appropriate.
Note: Suggestions for some additional criteria are at the foot of this post.


According to the criteria as you see and apply them, please vote for your preferred candidate in the attached poll.
If your chosen criteria are significantly different from those suggested, telling us what they are and why you used them would be helpful.






16. Byzantine Dromon, 7th-11th Centuries


The Byzantine ships shown here are those of the Byzantine Empire, also sometimes referred to as the "Eastern Roman Empire".
(It was a continuation of the Roman Empire in the East, following the fall of the "main" or Western Roman Empire in the late 5th Century AD.)
The Byzantine capital was Constantinople (today's Istanbul); originally founded as Byzantium, a Greek colony; around 657BC.
The Byzantine Empire lasted until it eventually fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453.
For most of its existence, it was the most powerful economic, cultural and military force in the region.

The illustration below shows an early, medium-to-large sized Byzantine Dromon, of a bireme type but with a single mast and one large lateen sail.
It has a "crows nest" atop the mast and a small fighting platform in the bow behind the stem post.
The pointed spur sat just above the waterline and was designed to help the galley ride up and over the oars of an opposing ship.





The next picture shows how the "Greek Fire" weapon is believed to have worked.
The possession of this weapon was a significant advantage to the Byzantines for most of this period; being a carefully guarded secret.
Eventually as inevitably happens, the Arabs did get their hands on it but not until about the mid 9th Century.

Key:
1. Sealed tank containing incendiary liquid.
2. Brazier for heating the liquid.
3. Bellows (for boosting brazier heat output).
4. Two-handed pump, for pressurization of the heated liquid.
5. Release valve.
6. Hand-bar for aiming/adjusting direction of fire.
7. Wick lamp (to ignite liquid upon release).
8. Siphon nozzle.




This drawing shows a later and (again) larger Byzantine Dromon from around the late 9th Century.








28. English "Race Built" Galleon 16th - 17th Centuries


The English were - naturally enough - engaged in developing and improving their galleon designs, in the effort to remain competitive and have an "edge" in battle.
Some of their earlier galleons were improvised re-builds of galleasses. Others were very similar in design to those of the Spanish and Portuguese, and essentially competitive in that respect.
However, it is arguably the compact, so-called "race-built" English galleons that are most noteworthy.
These were developed in an attempt to combine the best possible firepower, maneuverability and speed with relatively modest size and weight.
One of the key figures in these developments was Sir John Hawkins. Herewith a short extract form the wiki article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_H...aval_commander)

Aside from designing warships to be as compact and hard-hitting as possible, in the effort to improve speed and maneuverability but still retain good stability, Hawkins experimented with different hull designs.
For example, along with testing varied ratios of length to beam, he also experimented with deeper hulls.
Although this increased draft, requiring more caution in shallow waters, it offered better counterbalance to the forces of wind, reducing the effect of "heeling" (the leaning of the ship). It also provided a more stable gun platform.
Another experiment, when setting out hull framework on some of the ships, was to shift the largest frame somewhat further forward than usual, giving the hull a more graceful taper towards the stern.
This did offer greater speed but also reduced buoyancy at the stern, somewhat reducing the weight of armament that could be carried there.
Nevertheless, to quote from Osprey New Vanguard #149, Tudor Warships (2) Elizabeth I's Navy:


Our first example is Tiger, which was originally built as a galleass and launched in 1546.
She was rebuilt twice; the second time more comprehensively and much more successfully in 1570, in accordance with the design ideas of John Hawkins.
As such, she was greatly changed from her original build, finishing up with a high degree of the "race-built" attributes previously mentioned.
I have so far found conflicting information on Tiger's displacement. However, she was one of the smaller, more compact English galleons.
She measured approximately 70ft (21.3m) along her keel with a beam of 28ft (8.5m).
Her armament totalled 43 guns but more than half this number (probably 23) were smaller, secondary weapons which gives us 20 main guns.
The precise basic crew strength is uncertain too but would have been in excess of 100.
The illustration below shows Tiger as she would have looked in 1580. (The inset shows how her hull is believed to have looked after the first conversion.)





One of the best examples to illustrate the adoption of some of Hawkins' ideas was the Ark Royal.
She was built just in time to fight against the Spanish Armada and represented the latest in English warship design at that time.
Ark Royal displaced 550 tons and carried a potent main armament of 38 guns.
She had a crew of 300, plus up to 100 soldiers.
The Ark Royal was one of the larger English warships and the flagship of Lord High Admiral Howard in the fight against the Spanish Armada.
Following the initial Spanish defeat, she led the chase of the fleeing enemy.
Ark Royal had quite a lengthy service, being rebuilt (and re-named "Anne Royal") in 1608.
She sank in an accident, when she struck her own anchor in shallow water in 1636, and was written off.
Ark Royal, 1587:





Possibly the most famous English fighting galleon of this period is the Revenge.
In common with Ark Royal, she was completed and ready for service just in time to meet the Spanish Armada in 1588.
Revenge had a reputation for being somewhat more stoutly built than most other English galleons of this general type, as well as being a tad slower and not quite so maneuverable.
However, she was reckoned to be more than a match for any Spanish galleon and her performance in combat seems to bear this out.
Revenge displaced 464 tons and for her size, carried a very formidable main armament of 40 guns.
She measured 110ft (33.5m) along her keel and had a beam of 34ft (10.4m).
Her crew was 240.

Revenge was the flagship of Sir Francis Drake against the Spanish Armada.
As such, she was heavily committed from the first engagement off Plymouth on 31 July, through to the fierce close-range fighting near Gravelines on 8 August.
Under Drake's command, Revenge forced the surrender of one of the more powerful Spanish galleons, the Neustra Senora del Rosario.
As soon as the surrender had taken effect, Drake and his men promptly looted the Spanish ship.

However, Revenge's most famous battle was without doubt her last one.
This occurred in September 1591, when she engaged a formation of Spanish ships near the Azores. At this time, her commander was Sir Richard Grenville.
Grenville and his crew put up an exceptionally spirited and prolonged fight, maneuvering and shooting to the best of their ability and inflicting a great deal of damage on their opponents.
However, this engagement - known as the Battle of Flores - could only end one way if any of Grenville's crew were to survive. To quote from the wiki article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Grenville

With Grenville mortally wounded and many of his men already dead, dying & wounded, the battered hulk of the English ship was finally surrendered.
(By this stage, Revenge had no powder or shot left for any of her guns, to fight with anyway.)
The Spanish were not to have the pleasure of keeping Revenge as a prize for long. She sank in a storm a few days later, near the island of Terceira.

In the illustration below, the closest ship to the right is one of the Spanish galleons. Revenge is next nearest to your eye, a bit further back and more to the left, with her bow pointing left.
Revenge, 1587; shown here shortly before she met her end in 1591:








Well then, my friends ... what will be your verdict?
Each of these warships has faced off against some excellent opposition and made it all the way to this Final!
Which of them will take the ultimate prize and become the champion of our first warships tournament?


Suggested additional criteria you might wish to consider, along with any others you deem appropriate.
(Note: Some of these could be considered already covered by Significant, Influential and Effective)

Which warship type ...
  • was the best?
  • was the greatest?
  • was the most widely used?
  • had the greatest longevity in service?
  • was the most versatile?
  • represented the best value for the cost/effort invested ("bang for the buck" in today's language)?
  • was the easiest to operate?
Any other criteria you have applied (please tell us what they were).
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Last edited by panther3485; 15 Oct 17 at 11:43..
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  #2  
Old 17 Oct 17, 13:47
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Gotta go with the "Race Built" Galleon. The Spanish Armada's defeat had effects still echoing today
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Old 17 Oct 17, 13:55
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Ditto!

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Old 17 Oct 17, 13:56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Desiree Clary View Post
Gotta go with the "Race Built" Galleon. The Spanish Armada's defeat had effects still echoing today
I agree.
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Old 18 Oct 17, 02:41
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Damn... a VERY tough choice, for me.
I can imagine the Dromon taking on a Galleon and winning in certain circumstances. Such as the circumstances prevalent in the Med., and it had such a long run!

But, it was just holding the line, an increasingly thin and pointless line as time went on.

The English ships set the modern world's first superpower back on it's heels, and did indeed change the world (instead of just holding their ground).

Win to the racy galleons.
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Old 18 Oct 17, 07:26
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Over four centuries of usage as opposed to one? Selection for the Dromon is a no-brainer. Had the "Race Built" never been developed no one would have noticed it's absence from naval history.
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Old 18 Oct 17, 07:40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 101combatvet View Post
"Over four centuries of usage as opposed to one? Selection for the Dromon is a no-brainer. ... "
Members who choose longevity in service as a primary and over-riding criterion will probably agree with you.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 101combatvet View Post
" ... Had the "Race Built" never been developed no one would have noticed it's absence from naval history."
Couldn't that reasoning be applied to most (at least) of the warship types we've been asked to consider in this tournament?
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"England expects that every man will do his duty!" (English crew members had better get ready for a tough fight against the combined French and Spanish fleets because that's what England expects! However, Scotland, Wales and Ireland appear to expect nothing so the Scottish, Welsh and Irish crew members can relax below decks if they like!)

Last edited by panther3485; 18 Oct 17 at 09:07..
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Old 18 Oct 17, 07:55
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How much impact did the race built galleon have on the future development of warships? I imagine quite a bit but don't really know. (The deciding factor for me on this one.)
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Old 18 Oct 17, 08:59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonny87kz View Post
How much impact did the race built galleon have on the future development of warships? I imagine quite a bit but don't really know. (The deciding factor for me on this one.)
Just found one article that might help towards answering your question:

https://deadliestblogpage.wordpress....built-galleon/

It's a blog and reflects a combination of factual content and the blogger's opinion so take that into account.
Not a bad idea to read the whole thing if you've got the time but it concludes with this statement:
Quote:
"The race-built design revolutionized naval warfare, ushering an age of naval gunnery and maneuver.
It also heralded the beginning of English naval superiority.
Over the next two centuries, the Royal Navy would surpass Spanish, Dutch and French rivals; till Britannia would truly "rule the waves".
That dominance began with ships like the Revenge."
To be fair and balanced, there is much of merit to be said for the Byzantine Dromon too.
If you want to know more, a google will probably bring up some interesting stuff.
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Last edited by panther3485; 18 Oct 17 at 09:08..
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Old 18 Oct 17, 12:22
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Which in itself is one of the most critical factors as a whole if you really think about its overall success.

Quote:
Originally Posted by panther3485 View Post
Members who choose longevity in service as a primary and over-riding criterion will probably agree with you.
Perhaps, but what we are judging primarily about the "Race Built" is its success against the Spanish Armada. Had the British Navy not used the "Race Built" during that engagement the outcome would still have been a defeat for the Spanish in my opinion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by panther3485 View Post
Couldn't that reasoning be applied to most (at least) of the warship types we've been asked to consider in this tournament?
If I had wanted to vote on the sexier ship, it would have been the "Race Build" hands down. However, logic says otherwise.
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Old 18 Oct 17, 12:25
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Not much, in my opinion, it would have been difficult for the Spanish to pull it off all things being considered.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jonny87kz View Post
How much impact did the race built galleon have on the future development of warships? I imagine quite a bit but don't really know. (The deciding factor for me on this one.)
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Old 19 Oct 17, 05:35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 101combatvet View Post
"Which in itself is one of the most critical factors as a whole if you really think about its overall success."
I'm rather inclined to agree.
However, given that these ships are from very different eras I also think it's worth taking the steadily increasing pace of technological advancement into account.
That pace was considerably faster in the period represented by the galleons and it continued to accelerate as time went on.
What this means is that generally, weapon systems and technologies of a later era are naturally going to become obsolete quicker than those from an earlier era.
It's just one of many variables we should take into account.

Add in the fact that longevity is only ONE of numerous factors to weigh in the balance, and it starts to get much more complicated ... which it is!

Quote:
Originally Posted by 101combatvet View Post
"Perhaps, but what we are judging primarily about the "Race Built" is its success against the Spanish Armada. ... "
I don't make that assumption.
Yes, it was very successful indeed; not just against the Armada in 1588 but on a number of other occasions over a period of time.
But there is more to it than that.
There are those who would say that the English race-built galleon represented the beginning of a new age of the sailing warship;
an age that - within a couple of centuries - helped the British to become THE dominant naval power in the World.
Whether one agrees with that or not, it's just one example of a number of other angles that people can consider, when evaluating a warship type.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 101combatvet View Post
" ... Had the British Navy not used the "Race Built" during that engagement the outcome would still have been a defeat for the Spanish in my opinion."
Well, I guess it's reasonable to assume that in the absence of the "race-built" galleon they would have had galleons with a more "ordinary" (for the time) overall combat performance.
By this I mean, galleons that did not have the race-built's considerable performance and fighting power advantage.
You could be right; but I'd expect some varied opinion on this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 101combatvet View Post
"If I had wanted to vote on the sexier ship, it would have been the "Race Build" hands down. However, logic says otherwise."
I would say, it's a combination of logic, information & knowledge, understanding, estimation, guesswork and opinion. For all of us.
Then there are other factors; such as the one you have mentioned, when some may indeed let themselves be swayed, to a greater or lesser extent, by looks and even "sexiness".

Small wonder we get so many different kinds of comments and responses in discussion; and many who don't say anything about why they voted as they did.
Of course, that is fine as nobody is under any obligation to talk about it ...
... but for me, it's nice when they do.
(Nature of the game, here, I would say. )
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Last edited by panther3485; 19 Oct 17 at 05:58..
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Old 19 Oct 17, 12:07
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Cool

I believe that the 'race built' galleon would have it all over the dromon in anything but a calm sea. Much more maneuverability, more firepower, able to load more combatants, etc.
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Old 19 Oct 17, 13:35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 101combatvet View Post
Over four centuries of usage as opposed to one? Selection for the Dromon is a no-brainer. Had the "Race Built" never been developed no one would have noticed it's absence from naval history.
There was nothing special about the Byzantine Dromon in itself. It was Greek Fire that gave the ship its edge, which was also employed on land in a variety of forms.

If there was a poll on weapon systems, GF would probably be right near the top, along with the Gladius, Mg and Cavalry.
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Old 19 Oct 17, 16:13
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Yup, took the flamethrower into my consideration as well. What a thing of beauty!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
There was nothing special about the Byzantine Dromon in itself. It was Greek Fire that gave the ship its edge, which was also employed on land in a variety of forms.

If there was a poll on weapon systems, GF would probably be right near the top, along with the Gladius, Mg and Cavalry.
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