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Old 11-20-2010, 09:19 AM   #11
Kraydak
 
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Default Re: Ship warfare before cannons

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Originally Posted by Victor Maxus View Post
Yes, very true. I am not certain about the numbers, but I believe at least something like 90% of ships defeated during the age of sail and cannon were boarded, or had their sails damaged beyond being useful. Less than 1 in 10 ships were actually sunk. This includued ships having long time running gunner battles lasting hours.

Boarding is the top way of stopping the enemy, and disabling the sails number two, and would remain so until the mid to late 1800's.
This isn't entirely fair. Sinking a ship requires holing it below or at least near the waterline. Cannon firing solid shot can only do this by hitting the side near the water as a ship rolls, difficult to achieve even if the target doesn't have a crew for damage control; or by doing enough structural damage that the target more-or-less disintegrates, which is not really viable. In a situation where ships are almost impossible to sink, and very valuable to capture, it isn't surprising that ships tended to get captured.
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Old 11-20-2010, 01:06 PM   #12
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Default Re: Ship warfare before cannons

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Originally Posted by Sir Tifyable View Post
why would you want to conduct naval warfare without boarding actions?
Ships that have dangerous cargoes spring to mind: fire ships, plague ships and so on.
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Old 11-20-2010, 11:08 PM   #13
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Default Re: Ship warfare before cannons

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
It should be noted that only lightly built galleys were ever likley to be sunk by ramming. By the time you approach the european seasoned timber sailing ship being rammed by a galley won't stave in the sides. Ramming was a smple way to set up boarding.

Either yoiu're trying to capture the target ship by boarding or you're trying to escape it or drive it off with fire arrows. The masts and sails were particularly vulnerable to catching on fire.
Not always so simple given that the numbers on each galley were roughly equal. Finding the right place to board was important.

See Gunpowder and Galleys by Guilmartin
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Old 11-21-2010, 08:18 AM   #14
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Default Re: Ship warfare before cannons

The problem with anythng fire is that it poses as much a risk to the enmy ship as it does to your own, if not more. On age of sail ship both fire and powder were practically fortified from the rest of the ship because of the danger it posed. Likewise when it's being used you need to ensure that it's protected enough that being pelted with arrows/shot/whatever doesnt set your own ship on fire (things become increadily difficult when you have people trying to hurt you).
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Old 11-21-2010, 08:22 AM   #15
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Default Re: Ship warfare before cannons

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
Covered in detail in Low-Tech Companion 2, actually.

Brief summary: Attacking a warship is effectively the same as attacking a fortified building and uses the same tools: the ram, the catapult, the ladder or tower, the incendiary, and eventually the petard. About the only thing you can't do is undermining!

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Do stats for warships of TL 0-4 appear in LTC2?

I was gaming yesterday and one of us was browsing LT and noticed that there was no trireme or (Viking) longship in the book.
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Old 11-21-2010, 01:57 PM   #16
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Default Re: Ship warfare before cannons

Biremes and Triremes were primarily Ramming ships,and would attempt to "pull out" after ramming(unless fighting same ship class),due low number of combatants(10-20) on them.Trireme II

While Quadriremes and Quinqiremes were primarily boarders(regardless having Rams),due high number of combatants(80-200).

Some bigger ships had catapults/balistaes,but they were not very effective weapon-systems.

Than,transition to Gallies happens Dromon,Venetian galleys(cca 1500 y)...etc),where ram was rised above water to act as "boarding bridge".
Also early guns were implemented as "oneshoot weapons" on those galleys(right before ramming).

Than,comes battle of Lepant with first "broadside"(in very lose terms;incorect historically) ships made specifically fior that battle: Galleases. which were actually converted merchant galleys.

Than ,rapidly(considering rest of evolution of ships),in several decades comes transition to Sailing broadside ships,and thus "Age of Sail" begins.

First with Galleons/Caravels...
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Last edited by Agramer; 11-21-2010 at 02:22 PM.
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Old 11-21-2010, 07:37 PM   #17
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Default Re: Ship warfare before cannons

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Originally Posted by lexington View Post
If you're a really big ship the thing to do is get one of those cranes from Fantasy Tech.
Archimedes actually did this. Kinda cool.

http://cominganarchy.com/2005/12/07/...of-archimedes/
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Old 11-21-2010, 10:32 PM   #18
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Default Re: Ship warfare before cannons

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Archimedes actually did this. Kinda cool.

http://cominganarchy.com/2005/12/07/...of-archimedes/
Archimedes' cranes of course being the origin of the cranes in Fantasy Tech 1...
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Old 11-22-2010, 06:30 AM   #19
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Default Re: Ship warfare before cannons

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Originally Posted by Polydamas View Post
The ancient Athenian and Rhodian navies made a specialty of ramming their enemies in the sides or rear, or shearing their oars, and leaving them to sink.
The brutality of shearing oars cannot be overestimated. If a rower or rowers on the rammed ship doesn't lift his/their oar fast enough then they will be struck in the chest by their oar, with all the weight of the ramming ship on the other end of a well braced lever.

Nigel Tranter described the tactic quite graphically in his novel The Lord of The Isles.
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Old 11-22-2010, 07:46 AM   #20
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Default Re: Ship warfare before cannons

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The brutality of shearing oars cannot be overestimated. If a rower or rowers on the rammed ship doesn't lift his/their oar fast enough then they will be struck in the chest by their oar,
...well,... or in the back by the oar of the crewman sitting behind him.
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