Sivut kuvina

show that there still is room in naval warfare for tactics, and the chances will favor the tactician, other things being equal; that the gun first, and afterwards the ram, are the principal weapons, and that the fundamental principle of naval as of military tactics is to combine our force against a portion of the enemy. The evolutions and manoeuvres must be simple, the tactics must be plain; the enemy may readily answer every move, but should he fail to be a tactician or make a wrong move we can seize the advantage and should defeat him. On the other hand, if we fail to adopt any tactics and rely on the prowess of individual vessels, our fleet will be a confused mass, and a skillful enemy will surely hold us at a great disadvantage.

There have been great strides made in naval weapons, but in looking over the field with an eye to tactics, it appears to me that the love of novelty and invention has carried us too far in both guns and torpedoes. Our high-power guns are magnificent weapons, but are they entirely designed to meet the work they must accomplish? Their great range is of no advantage in an ordinary naval combat, as the necessarily limited supply of ammunition will prevent us from firing at an enemy until the probable chances of a hit are within reasonable limits. If, as seems highly reasonable, the opening range hereafter will be about 2000 yards, cannot we save in weight of gun without greatly lessening the penetration or increasing the height of the trajectory, diminishing the efficacy and the accuracy of fire? As all know, this weight might be used to great advantage in many ways—in more guns, more ammunition, more armor, or more coal. The supposed terrible effect of torpedoes has led to their adoption on board any and every vessel. It seems to me that torpedoes on the ordinary type of vessels are likely to prove more harmful to friend than to foe; that their main use should be on specially designed vessels; for in armored vessels and above-water tubes, and in any kind of tube in unarmored vessels, the rain of missiles from rapid-fire and machine guns that will be poured in before the range of the torpedoes is reached will make it probable that they will explode on board, while only possible that they will explode under the enemy. The chances should be at least the other way before a weapon is generally adopted.

Our great need is to study strategy closely in time of peace, and to adopt simple formations and evolutions, in order to ascertain carefully the limits of our weapons. Much must be left to conjecture, and can be demonstrated only in battle; and even then tactics can only be outlined, a few broad general principles laid down, and the rest left to the admiral of the fleet. It would be impossible to provide for every case, and he should not be hampered with binding instructions. With the general plan of attack in his mind, the tactician will be ready to take advantage of every mistake of his opponent, and will hold victory in his grasp.



[Reprinted from the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers.]

At the commencement of the Russian war in 1853-4, several points in relation to the defense of ships against projectiles had been established, by experiment, to the full satisfaction of the naval experts. It had been settled that war-ships must be built of wood; iron was an altogether unsuitable material, as the captain of H. M. S. Excellent reported, 1850, that " whether iron vessels are of a slight or substantial construction, iron is not a material calculated for ships of war." Seventeen iron ships, which had been in process of construction for fighting purposes, were thereupon condemned as useless for war service. It had been decided that protection by armor-plates was of no value. Iron plates 6 inches thick, placed in front of the wood, had failed to protect it. Admiral Sir Thomas Hastings had reported that wrought-iron plates (6 inches thick) riveted together and fixed over the planking of a ship's side, would give no protection at 400 yards against shot fired with 10-pound charges from 8-inch guns and from heavy 32-pounders. The favorite guns were therefore shellguns.

The armament of a three-decker of 121 guns consisted of one-half of 65-cwt. shell-guns and one-half of 32-pounders, with one 68pounder pivot-gun. The shell-guns were placed on the lower and middle decks. In a two-decked ship the lower deck was armed throughout with shell-guns, and the other decks with 32-pounders of from 42 to 58 cwt. In some cases the main deck was partially armed with shell-guns. The frigates were armed with 8-inch 65-cwt. shellguns on the main deck and with 32-pounders on the upper deck. All shot were of cast-iron. No one knew what the result of an action with these shell-guns would be, but all agreed that the struggle would be short.

In the autumn of 1853 a Turkish fleet, of seven frigates and some smaller vessels, was attacked at Sinope by a Russian fleet of six lineof-battle ships (three of them first-rates), two frigates, and two or three smaller vessels. The Turkish ships had no shell-guns. They were armed with 24-pounder shot-guns. In less than five minutes a Russian ship of the line, Grand Duke Constantine, destroyed a battery and a Turkish frigate anchored near it, chiefly by shell from the lower deck. A short time afterwards the Ville-de-Paris, another Russian ship of the line, blew up, by shells, another Turkish frigate. Of the crews in the Turkish fleet, above three thousand perished. Of the ships, only one small steamer escaped.

In the allied attack upon the forts at Sebastopol in October, 1854, the Agamemnon, London, Sans Pareil.and Albion took up positions within 1000 yards of Fort Constantine, which was armed with one hundred and four of the heaviest guns and was supported by three other smaller heavily armed batteries. In about an hour the Albion, London, and Sans Pareil were so injured that they had to haul off to a greater distance. The Sans Pareil and London soon afterwards resumed their stations to support the Agamemnon; the Rodney, Queen, Bellerophon, and Arethusa also came to her support. The Queen was almost immediately set on fire by a shell, and had to be towed out of action. The Agamemnon and the remaining vessels kept up the cannonade, which had commenced at two o'clock P. M., until it was dark, when they drew off. They had in all three hundred and ten men killed and wounded. The Albion and Arethusa were so damaged that they had to be sent to Malta for repairs. The Albion, Retribution, London, and Queen had all been on fire, chiefly from the effects of shells with time-fuzes.

The destructive effect of the shells and other incendiary projectiles used by the Russians in these engagements led to the immediate use of armor, notwithstanding the previous adverse decisions of English gunnery officers. The adoption of armor led at once to the use of iron in the hull by English architects, in spite of the series of experiments at Portsmouth which have been referred to, and which had brought about the condemnation of the fleet of seventeen iron ships.

The first move in the direction of armored plating was made by the French, in the month succeeding the unsuccessful attack of the allied fleets upon Sebastopol. In an imperial order to the French Minister of Marine, dated from St. Cloud, 16th November, 1854, the Emperor Napoleon III. pointed out that in warfare there must be, in addition to courage and ability, even chances. Actions on land are avoided so long as there is no chance of success. So in naval warfare, if the fleet were risked, it would be in the hope of destroying that of the enemy. An enormous capital is hazarded in order to destroy that which has cost the enemy as much. But, he went on to say, so soon as the fleet is employed in the attack of a fortification the proportions are entirely altered, for not only will a ship be found inferior to a land battery, because a ship offers a large object to strike while the land battery occupies but little space and is protected by parapets, but also the stake is materially different. So it happened that in the Black Sea twenty-five thousand sailors and three thousand guns could not seriously injure the Russian fortifications, and that indecisive attacks were made at other places, entailing serious damage to the ships without doing any material harm to the enemy. Under the existing conditions risks were incurred for nothing. If the ships threw their projectiles at 2000 metres they consumed their ammunition at a dead loss, and gave a false idea of the power of the fleet. If they approached nearer, they exposed the state to sacrifices too considerable in proportion to the object in view, for it would generally be perfectly senseless to risk the loss of a fleet for the destruction of a few forts. To remove this difficulty he proposed to create "une flotte de siige" capable of producing decisive effects, and at the same time of lessening to the state the chances of loss of men and money. The course taken to meet the Emperor's views was to build floating batteries with numerous light broadside guns, and covered from end to end with iron armor-plates.

Table I. shows what changes in distribution armor has undergone since 1854.

There are two periods. In the first period the armor was employed, as has been seen, to make the chances of loss of capital more nearly even in a contest between ships and forts. The ships or floating batteries were to be small, numerous, and armored. In the second period the armor was to protect sea-going ships in contests with the sea-going ships of an enemy. That period is still current, and has reached a fifth phase, a phase which is in fact only a repetition of the first. The illustrations have been confined to the ships of the French navy, as the English are in no way responsible for them and can perhaps regard them dispassionately.

« EdellinenJatka »