David King

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    David King

    She was a far superior frigate after her re-armament. The 32lb carronade is around twice as effective as the 12lb gun it replaces, and the main issue faced by the frigate was being disabled by mishandling sail in squally weather, and then being unable to keep a spring on her anchor when driven towards a lee-shore and unable to continue to manoeuvre with her foretop lost.

    Because her anchor spring was repeatedly shot away she fell off the wind, and could bring no broadside guns to bear. (I.e. no carronades, mounted on slides attached by fighting bolts to the ship’s side could be brought to the existing and newly cut ports in the quarter where the 6 12 lb guns could be manhandled and set to fire from improvised positions).

    Cherub was engaged on Essex (and received and delivered damage) using 32lb carronades, 18lb carronades and a single pair of 6lb guns, so ‘being outranged and unable to use 32lb carronades’ is obviously not a correct interpretation of her problems. Neither is the range from which Phoebe was engaging (roughly that of the line of metal of both guns and carronades) an impediment to the fire of carronades.

    The line of metal of a carronade is a 3-3.5  degree elevation by quadrant, giving a pointed range of around 700 yds.
    The line of metal of a gun is close to 1 degree by quadrant, giving a pointed range of no more than 700 yds, for smaller guns, a shorter range.

    The range potential and penetration of a gun is always better than the carronade of the same bore (carronades are weak and short ranged).
    The range potential and penetration of the gun which is fitted to the same battery as a carronade which can replace it (eg 9lb gun & 32lb carronade, or 4lb gun & 18lb carronade) is as much inferior to the carronade as the carronade was compared to the larger gun. (carronades are real smashers).

    There is no contradiction here, just a difference of the use.
    When all ‘big gun’ armament replaces mixed calibres in the 1830s – the middling and small 32lb guns are significantly superior to the 32lb carronade, so it was deprecated except in the smallest batteries.

    The other usually quoted example of carronades being inferior to guns was the battle of Platsburg, where a British squadron with mixed mostly 9, 6, 4lb and 2lb guns and 24lb, 12lb carronades was defeated by an American squadron with a smaller weight of gun shot, and a much larger weight of carronade shot, the important difference really being the size of the ordnance used. (US guns mostly 32lb, 24lb and 12lb, carronades 32lb).

    David King

    While each carriage design would vary, and accurate drawings of carronades in situ on the standard slide carriage are tricky to find, those I have measured have had a maximum elevation of 14 degrees or more, which is slightly more than the port-limited elevation of guns (seldom much above 10 degrees).

    That 5 degrees is the highest value recorded in the table of ranges is no evidence that the piece cannot be elevated to fire on masts at shorter distances, among other uses of high elevation (inlcuding firing at low elevations above the horizon with leeside ordnance comfortably while under a press of sail)

    I would also note the fitting of dispart sights was common by 1780 on carronades (and carronades alone), because without these, the piece was hard to shoot accurately, being prone to firing high because of the steep line of metal (3+ degrees elevation) and the mounting high on the ship (quarterdeck and fo’c’sle – and sometimes also the roundhouse), rather than low down in the main battery. (with some exceptions for smaller vessels and the occasional ‘rare bird’ frigate or 4th rate).
    A gun with a line of metal of around 1 degree would range to slightly less by line of metal than the carronade, despite the higher velocity and longer ranges for equal angles of projection.

    At this line of metal, the natural aiming would meet the target at 700-800 yds, with shots at 400 yds going considerably above the line of pointing… unless adjustment by sights graduated to several lesser angles of elevation and direct pointing was used.

    Notably the gunnery of Sybille showed more hits from the carronades than from the long guns at 350 yds (and also a possible carronade casualty – 19 shots recorded from the carronades, with 28 from the guns).

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