Working out weapon facings of 16th century Galleons

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Demi-Saker
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Working out weapon facings of 16th century Galleons

Post by Demi-Saker » Thu Dec 13, 2018 10:40 am

Greetings all, I'm designing a wargame covering naval combat from 1550 - 1815 (I've published around 20 wargames), and I have been researching Galleons of around the Spanish Armada period. I've found a few sources that give odd numbers of guns (like 9 or 7). I can imagine even numbers of guns easily spread among the port and stardboard broadside, but I'm not sure where the extra guns might go.

I'm aware of Stern-chaser guns, but I assumed these would be of the same type (usually 1 gun either side of the stern post).

For example, Tudor Warships lists the Elizabeth Bonaventure as having 9 Demi-Cannon, 4 cannon-perier, 14 culverin, 7 demi-culverin, 6 saker, 2 minion, and a variety of smaller guns.
The cannon-perier, culverin and saker are easy enough to guess where they might be mounted, but the 9 demi-cannon and 7 demi-culverin I'm having trouble working out the facing of them, and which weapons might be the stern chasers.

I know the heaviest guns are usually placed on the lower decks for stability, and pictures of the Bonaventure show 7 gun-ports along the lower gun deck (that's where I'd assume the 14 Culverin are mounted).

Any help on this and generally deciding where odd-numbered guns should be placed would be much appreciated.
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Navclio
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Re: Working out weapon facings of 16th century Galleons

Post by Navclio » Sun Dec 16, 2018 3:47 am

I don't have any specialized knowledge about these very early sail-era warships, but I would bet that when they had two gun types with an odd number of each, that was because they simply did not have enough of one of them (probably the larger) to put the same number on each broadside, and they had to fill in with the next smaller size (or the next smaller size that was still available). Even if you found out that this was the case, you might not ever find on which broadside had the lighter piece and which had the heavier. You could average them, so if you are talking about, effectively, a 12-pounder and an 18-pounder, put one 15-pounder on each broadside. Since sailing battles usually involve long approaches, you could also allow the game player commanding Elizabeth Bonvaventure to choose in advance, i.e., before the first game-turn, which broadside would have the heavier and which the lighter piece. Of course, if he gets into a melee with enemy ships on both sides, he's stuck with the lighter piece , but he would be anyway. If the tactical situation turns out differently than he expected, and he has to use the broadside to which he assigned the lighter piece, well, in naval as well as in land warfare, $h!t happens!

Does it really matter? Unless you talking about the difference between a cannon-of-7 and a saker (using 1666 terminology from Fox, A Distant Storm on the Four Days' Battle; I have no information whatsoever about Elizabethan artillery type terminology), i.e., a 42-pounder and a 5¼-pounder, how much difference will it make in the overall combat power of a ship with over 40 guns?

I suspect that you are very lucky to have as detailed an ordnance inventory as you cite, and that finding out which guns were assigned to which gunports or broadside is simply something that was not recorded. It would probably have been up to the captain, in consultation with the master if he captain was not a mariner himself. The Queen's ordnance officials, responsible for keeping track of valuable national assets, would record which guns EB got and for which her officers were responsible, but wouldn't care about where they were placed on board.

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Re: Working out weapon facings of 16th century Galleons

Post by Demi-Saker » Sun Dec 16, 2018 4:34 am

Thanks for the reply Navclio, I definitely agree that the exact facing and weapons aren't all that important in the scope of this game. I'm just going to simplify things a little. It seems the armaments were quite fluid depending on the captain and/or mission so I don't mind lowering the number of a certain type of gun by 1 to make it easier to work with in the game.

With regards to the cannon-of-7, I assume you're talking about the top-most gun shown below, 7" with 42 lb shot?
Image

From what I can tell these heavier guns weren't used in the late 16th C ships, and the heaviest gun they used were the Demi-Cannon, as shown below:
Image

I'm kind of starting from the other end, knowing very little about age of sail ships or weapons, I decided to start at the start with galleys and Galleons :)
I look forward to learning more about the Anglo-Dutch Wars and the 17th century after I finish my 16th C research and stat out the ships needed.
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Cy
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Re: Working out weapon facings of 16th century Galleons

Post by Cy » Sun Dec 16, 2018 10:57 am

Of course, you also have to be aware that gun lists change from time to time, especially during the seventeenth century. For example Three Decks has four different ordanance lists for the Elizabeth Bonaventure between 1567 and 1588. The one you quote matches that for 17th July 1585, unfortunately though Childs fails to provide a source.

Also the Cannon of 7 was in use until the mid C18, as the 42-pounder, as the lower deck aramament on First Rate ships. If you check out the lists noted above, even the EB carries 2 at various times. https://threedecks.org/index.php?displa ... ip&id=4069 with broadside weights varying from 105KG to 133 KG. It's worth noting that a Cannon Perrier (nominally firing stone shot) is roughly equivalent to a 42 pounder, although actual shot-weight varied, and is not a light weight anti-personnel weapon at all.

As an example of the spread of use, Three Decks notes the following vessels as carrying Cannon of 7 during the Armada campaign.
White Bear, Nonpariel, Elizabeth Bonaventure, Dreadnought, Revenge and Hope.
The last use of 42-Pounders I can find is when they were replaced by 32-Pounders on the Royal Sovereign in 1793.

Cy
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Re: Working out weapon facings of 16th century Galleons

Post by Demi-Saker » Sun Dec 16, 2018 12:50 pm

Very interesting! thanks Cy.

I was definitely aware of the Cannon-Perier being a very heavy weapon, although close range.
Thanks for the info on the Canon of 7 and the link to the more accurate EB armaments. I'm guessing those 2 cannon of 7 would be stern chasers.

Looks like I'll need to add the Canon of 7 to my 16th Century weapons table, which currently looks a bit like this (I'll be adding in the Spanish names / equivalents next):
Image

One issue I've been having is finding the specific guns on some of the Spanish ships, this doesn't seem to be as well documented as the English in the sources I've found. Any ideas where to look? I had a look for Spanish galleons here on Threedecks and didn't find very much.
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Re: Working out weapon facings of 16th century Galleons

Post by Navclio » Mon Dec 17, 2018 5:28 am

Demi-Saker, as I said, I don't know anything specific about 16th-century artillery, naval or military; the Anglo-Dutch wars are as far back as my naval history library extends (except for Mattingly, The Armada), so I was using 17th century artillery as an example of a possible extreme combination of two sizes with odd numbers. There are other problems with determining the exact armament of a ship on a specific date in later periods. I'm involved in wargame scenario design for the 18th and early 19th centuries, and often it is necessary to make reasonable guesses or take an average because the specifics were never recorded or, if they were, would be very expensive to research. An example is the Swedish navy in the 1740s. Advances in manufacturing methods enabled the Swedish navy to reduce the windage of their guns. They did this by keeping the bore constant but increasing the size, and therefore the weight, of the shot. But instead of having, say, 18-pounders and 19¼-pounders, they called them all 18-pounders but designated a new “shot pound” of 510g for the newer guns. They had to keep track of which ship had what to issue the right ammunition, but the records, if they still exist, are presumably in Stockholm, and it would take a lot of research on site there—and perhaps at the naval base at Karlskrona also—to establish what each ship of the line in a fleet of 12–16 actually had—for each of three annual summer/autumn campaigns. The solution, suggested by a leading Swedish naval historian, is to assume an average shot weight of 500g per pound.

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Re: Working out weapon facings of 16th century Galleons

Post by Cy » Mon Dec 17, 2018 8:54 am

I'm guessing those 2 cannon of 7 would be stern chasers.
Definitely a guess, and given the general tactics of the Armada period my guess would be bow chasers, although for the sailing balance of the ship might have actually been on the broadside. We'll probably never know.

As for Spanish galleons I would suggest two Spanish sites as possible sources, although a brief look doesn't show a lot for the period.

https://www.todoababor.es and http://www.todoavante.es/index.php?title=P%C3%A1gina_Principal

I do recall reading in one source that analysis of the ammunition used by the Spanish Armada indicate that the larger guns, mounted on land carriages so of little practical use anyway, averaged a single round per day. The crew had to climb outside the ship to reload which is not a practical proposition when under fire.

Cy
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Re: Working out weapon facings of 16th century Galleons

Post by Demi-Saker » Mon Dec 17, 2018 11:06 am

Great, thanks guys - I see a few lists of weapons on tolobador.es, so thanks heaps for that!

@Cy From what I've read so far, the English tended to have the heaviest chaser gun in the stern, and the bow chasers were usually longer range, but lighter. That's why I guessed canon of 7 in the stern.

@Navclio - yes simplifying / educated guesses are what I'm looking at with this period; I'll try to stat out the specific ships I can based on the information I can find, but I'll also include generic ship stats for each side. I certainly wont be going to any archives for this project! :mrgreen:

Here's the current WIP list of ship stats I have (obviously the Spanish 1618 ship is out of place - a placeholder until I integrate more specific information):
Image

Another thing I'm roughly guessing / feeling out are the speeds - obviously not all race-built galleons could do 8 knots (I remember reading the Golden Hind could make 8 knots), but for the game I'd like them to be comparably faster than other galleons, so 8 kts seems about right.

I read that the average sized Galleys (Galia Sottil) could row at about 4 kts, and could do bursts of speed up to 7 kts, so I thought I'd use that as a reference point, as well as the various sources saying that English Race-built galleons could do 7 - 8 kts. So 2 or 3kts seems a good speed for a very slow Galleass, then 4 kts for the Galia Sottil, then 5 kts for slower carracks and large galleons, then 6 kts for smaller galleons, 7 kts for things that were faster than a ~500 ton Galleon but not as fast as the race-built galleon (perhaps the Caravel?), and 8 kts being the top speed for the period (unless there were faster ships than the Race-Built Galleon?).
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Re: Working out weapon facings of 16th century Galleons

Post by Demi-Saker » Mon Dec 17, 2018 3:17 pm

I've managed to find a very good source on 3 of the Spanish ships from the Armada, thanks to one of my players;

https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/83960101.pdf

Quite a good little thesis, from page 114 it deals with the history and archaeological wrecks of 3 ships, listing exactly the weapons on board!
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Re: Working out weapon facings of 16th century Galleons

Post by Demi-Saker » Thu Dec 27, 2018 1:41 pm

Ok I have the Spanish Armada & Lepanto pretty well covered and the stats completed, so I'm moving on the Anglo-Dutch Wars.

I've been able to find good data about the difference between drake guns and their heavier counterparts, but one thing I'm struggling with is the ratio of regular guns to drakes on Dutch ships. Wikipedia has a few detailed entries on English ships, showing the split of regular guns to drakes (sourced from Lavarey's "The Ship of the Line vol. 1"), but I'm not sure where to find Dutch sources for this.
From what I can see the information here doesn't discriminate between drakes and regular guns, and I don't really want to guess. Osprey's "Dutch navies of the 80 years war" mentions that drakes of all calibers were common, and that 24-pdr and 6-pdr drakes were widely used, but I'm not sure what the specific split would have been. If I can get a rough idea of the split, I could extrapolate to the rest of the ships.

This is the one of the English ships I've statted out. If I was to go by this example for the Dutch ships too I would make all the broadside guns drakes, and only have regular guns in the chaser positions:
Image

Any ideas on where to look for this information, or educated guesses on Dutch drake / regular gun splits would be greatly appreciated!
Tom Jensen - ostfrontpublishing.com

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