A doubt with USS Essex

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    So, I’m mainly a land guy despite living close to Cape Trafalgar and the Cadiz Bay, and in a neighborhood where all the streets have naval battle names 🙂

    I’ve recently bought Victory at Sea, but there’s also a group of Black Sea players who have been bugging me to join them and I have decided to give it a go.  Not being very knowledgeable in the topic, I simply ordered Santisima Trinidad from my local store (because of course) and started looking around for information in the web. I chanced upon USS Essex and decided to purchase it because I liked its story and figured that it could be used as a a literal test vessel, both for modelling and painting and running some small scenarios to get the feel of the rules.

    However this is my issue, if the information I have is correct, USS Essex was supposed to be basically armed only with carronades; a very powerful but short ranged broadside. Yet its stat card is the same as any other frigate and doesn’t seem to contemplate this.

    Since my knowledge of the rules is still pretty superficial, and I’m not certain of the accuracy of the online info.  Is the card right? Am I wrong? Any house rules?

    Once I have butchered the paint job and the rigging, I’ll try to post pictures.


    Hi Antonio. You’re right, the card is wrong. Black Seas is great fun, but the cards don’t always reflect history. I think it would be more accurate to play the USS Essex with three carronade dice and one heavy cannon die on each side. Congrats on adding those fine and famous ships to your fleet!

    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).

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