ページの画像
PDF
ePub

guns; the

4000 tons.

The American ship was to carry nine-inch Inconstant was supplied with a battery of the same calibre. The estimated speed of the Wampanoag class was fifteen knots, so was that of the Inconstant ; but means were employed which rendered it probable that the latter would exceed that speed on the measured mile, and she has since done so. It was intended that the American cruisers should be efficient under sail ; the Inconstant was supplied with sail-power equalling that of our latest wood frigates, which had earned the highest praise for their sailing performances. Measures were also taken to secure a large coal supply, and to embody all the other features on which both English and American authorities were agreed as essential to efficiency in this special class. But while there were these similarities, there were also many important differences in the designs of the Inconstant and the Wampanoaz. Experience with our longest and swiftest wood frigates had shown us that a wooden hull could not sustain efficiently the great strains which the powerful engines intended to be put into the Inconstant would cause ; hence it was determined to construct the ship of iron. “But iron ships rapidly become foul,” says the reader, " and foulness means a great falling off in speed; surely this could not have been overlooked ?" It has not been, and the freedom from fouling of a coppered ship has been combined with the strength of an iron ship, by covering the iron hull with wood planking, and then nailing on the copper sheathing outside the wood. This plan has been carried out also in our other two cruisers, the Volage and Active; so that all those ships can keep the sea for long periods without any decrease in speed being caused by foulness of bottom, and their hulls are not at all likely to be weakened and strained, as those of the American ships have been.

Another most important difference between the Inconstant's design and that of the Wampanoag is, that in our ship the screw propeller can be listed out of the water when the ship is under sail; so that there is no hindrance whatever to her progress. The want of this feature in the American cruisers has been the subject of much faultfinding, and in them the drag caused by the propeller is increased considerably by the fine pitch of the screw, which stands almost directly across the ship's path, and with its four blades causes great loss of speed under sail. In our other two ships care has been taken also to avoid this fault.

A few words will suffice respecting the actual performances and qualities of our first cruiser, which has now been completed at Portsmouth, and tried on the measured mile and at sea. Her speed on

the measured mile was a little over sixteen and a half knots—that is to say, was rather more than a knot and a half above her estimated speed. In this respect, therefore, she is all that can be desired. As to her sailing capability it is not as yet possible to speak with great authority, as no sufficient accounts of her recent trials at sea have been published; but the “enormous" spread of canvas that she actually has, will doubtless give her—if not, as Dr. Boynton says, “ the utmost speed attainable by vessels under sail”-yet a very high speed ; and she easily out-sailed all the iron-clads in the squadron during the Autumn cruise. Her resemblance in sailpower to ships that have succeeded so well, places her satisfactory performance under sail almost beyond doubt; and it is interesting to know that she proves very handy and steady as well as speedy. With respect to her armament, the only fear is that she is too powerful, for she has a battery of nine inch twelve-ton guns, throwing as heavy a broadside as the iron-clad frigate Bellerophon, and would blow any unarmoured ship belonging to our own or any other navy almost out of the water." Her coal supply is, as it was intended to be, excellent, and, in proportion to her rate of consumption, is very large-in fact, quite out of proportion to that of her American rivals. In all these respects, therefore, she does not fall much short of the beau idéal of a swift cruiser. Speedy under sail or steam ; capable of keeping the sea for a long period, and of economising her fuel; able to overhaul nearly every vessel afloat; more than a match for any unarmoured ship; and "fleet enough to avoid a conflict" with any iron-clad, the Inconstant is a vessel which reflects credit upon her designers, and is a valuable addition to our navy.

Although not strictly connected with the subject with which we have been dealing, it may be interesting to call attention to the contrast between the Inconstant and the Bellerophon-the one a typical unarmoured ship, and the other a typical iron-clad—as a very good idea will thus be gained of the sacrifices that must be made in order to reach the extremely high speed of the cruiser. The Inconstant is more than thirty feet longer, yet six feet narrower, than the Bellerophon; so that alongside the trim, sharp cruiser, the iron-clad looks dumpy and unhandsome. Although so much shorter, the Bellerophon weighs altogether about one-third as much again as the Inconstanta difference of nearly 2000 tons existing, of which more than one-half is put into protective armour. The two ships have engines of the same nominal power and have almost identical armaments; so that we may roughly say that 2000 tons of carrying-power is the price paid in

Vol. IV., N. S. 1870.

order to pass from an iron-clad, protected with six-inch armour and steaming fourteen knots per hour, to an unarmoured ship steaming sixteen and a half knots per hour. In steam propulsion, truly, c'est le dernier pas qui coute.

A few remarks respecting our other two cruisers will suffice. Both are now nearly ready for sea, and are being completed at Portsmouth, where one of them, the Volage, has been recently tried on the measured mile, and attained a speed exceeding 15 knots per hour. They are much smaller than either the Inconstant or the IVampanoag, being only a little over 2300 tons burden-in fact are fast corvettes, carrying all their guns on the upper deck, instead of being frigates, like the Inconstant. In structural arrangements, fineness of form, high speed under steam, and great sail-power, they resemble the larger ship, the prime difference, irrespective of size, consisting in the character of their armaments. It has already been stated that the armament of the Inconstant was regulated by that intended to have been carried by the American cruisers, and it is this fact alone which can justify such a heavy armament having been given to her, since she could scarcely hope to do more than “show her heels ” to an armoured ship. The Volage and Active have been armed more with a view to their special service as rapid steam privateers than with the intention of fighting heavily-armed iron-clad ships. Hence they only carry 63-ton guns instead of 12-ton guns; but when we speak of their armament in this way, we only deal with it relatively to the heavier guns now carried on shipboard, for the 61 ton gun is much more powerful than the 68-pounder, which was our most powerful naval gun ten years ago, and which was then considered unnecessarily heavy for use on the broadside, since 32-pounders could smash in the side of a wood ship. It should be stated also that from what is known of the guns actually carried by the American cruisers, and the speeds at which they can proceed, it appears that our vessels, though smaller, could venture to engage their rivals; their superior speed enabling them to take up any position they might desire, say at long range, and to severely damage their less active foes. On the whole, then, it appears that their lighter armament is quite heavy enough for all the purposes these ships have to serve; and for privateering service, which after all is their special vocation, their armament is more powerful than it need be, while that of the Inconstant is out of all proportion to the necessities of the case. The Alabama was not wanting in gun-power, so far as we know, and until her fight with the Kearsage no doubt was entertained of its sufficiency, yet it consisted only of one 68-pounder, one 120-pounder Blakely gun,

and six 32-pounders, the united force of which is far below comparison with that of the guns carried by the Volage and Active. Still, it is satisfactory to know that in armament as well as in other particulars, our specially constructed cruisers are much more than a match for any of the improvised cruisers into which fast ocean steamers might be turned, and that such vessels might consequently be soon swept off the seas, even if they should have inflicted some damage before that event occurred. In view of all the facts, however, we are of opinion that the smaller and more lightly-armed cruiser of the Volage type will, in case of war, be found to do better service, proportionately to the cost of their maintenance, than the Inconstant; and in adding to the number of these vessels we trust the smaller type will be conformed to, especially as in time of peace these ships will be capable of performing economically the distant and cruising services now undertaken by wood ships.

The facts set forth in this article show that although the Americans led the way in the construction of these swift cruisers, and are still considerably ahead of us as far as numbers only are concerned, we stand above them in the quality and success of our ships, a fact which is owing mainly to the superiority of our engines and of our method of constructing the hulls. There seems no immediate prospect of our equalling the number of these ships completed in America, but this is the less to be regretted as we possess in our sea-going ironclads a description of force which is not to be found in the American navy; many of these vessels, as we have said, being faster under steam than most of the American cruisers, and having besides considerable sail-power. Should war ever break out between this country and America, there is little likelihood of our having to deal with their iron-clad fleet, so long as it continues to consist almost exclusively of monitors; but, these being retained on the coast in shallower waters than most of our iron-clads could enter, our ships would have to deal mainly with their unarmoured cruisers. These might for a time make some havoc amongst our merchant ships; yet having, as we should have, the full command of the sea by means of our sea-going iron-clads, we should probably make short work with these adversaries, and our own unarmoured cruisers would, without doubt, annihilate American commerce before hostilities had been long in progress. While desiring, as all must desire, that the necessity for such action may never arise, it cannot fail to give satisfaction to English readers to find that in all branches of our naval force suited to ocean-warfare we are still superior to America.

N. A.

LOVE IMMORTAL.

HE morn breaks on a thousand hills;

But all the glory of the morn,

Since I was left on earth forlorn,
No more to me sweet peace distils.

The snow a shroud of beauty weaves

For last year's flowers; the wizard earth

Hath lost the secret of its birth, Dead with the dying of the leaves.

I walk among the silent fields,

Which once a footstep trod with mine,

But now a memory pure, divine, Is all to me the prospect yields.

The snows have fallen on my head;

My cup is flowing to the brim

With sorrow, and these eyes are dim With constant weeping for the dead.

Dead ! Dead! Nay, that shall never be,

For every star that lights the sky,

And darkness doth beautify, Proclaims her immortality.

Sleep on, beloved, till above

I fly to meet thee, heart to heart;

And from the throne of God shall dart Eternal summer on our love!

G. S.

« 前へ次へ »