The central battery ship, also known as a centre battery ship in the United Kingdom and as a casemate ship in European continental navies, was a development of the (high-freeboard) broadside ironclad of the 1860s, given a substantial boost due to the inspiration gained from the Battle of Hampton Roads, the very first battle between ironclads fought in 1862 during the American Civil War. One of the participants was the Confederate casemate ironclad CSS Virginia, essentially a central battery ship herself, albeit a low-freeboard one. The central battery ships had their main guns concentrated in the middle of the ship in an armoured citadel. The concentration of armament amidships meant the ship could be shorter and handier than a broadside type like previous warships. In this manner the design could maximize the thickness of armour in a limited area while still carrying a significant broadside. These ships meant the end of the armoured frigates with their full-length gun decks.
In the UK, the man behind the design was the newly appointed Chief Constructor of the Royal Navy, Edward James Reed. The previous Royal Navy ironclad designs, represented by HMS Warrior, had proven to be seaworthy, fast under power and sail, but their armour could be easily penetrated by more modern guns. The first central battery ship was HMS Bellerophon of 1865. Great Britain built a total of 18 central battery ships before turrets became common on high-freeboard ships in the 1880s.
The second British central battery ship, HMS Hercules, served as model for the Austrian navy, starting with their first design SMS Lissa (6,100 tons) designed by Josef von Romako and launched in 1871. The Austrian SMS Kaiser—not to be confused with German Kaiser—was built along a similar design, although the hull had been converted from a wooden ship, and it was slightly smaller (5,800 tons). The Austrian central battery design was pushed further with SMS Custoza (7,100 tons) and SMS Erzherzog Albrecht (5,900 tons), which had double-decked casemates; after studying the Battle of Lissa, Romako designed these so more guns could shoot forward. Three older broadside ironclads of the Kaiser Max class (3600 tons: Kaiser Max, Don Juan D'Austria and Prinz Eugen) were also officially "converted" to casemate design, although they were mostly built from scratch. The largest design yet was Tegetthoff, later renamed to Mars when the new dreadnought battleship Tegetthoff was commissioned. The Austrian records distinguish between the category of older broadside ironclads and the newer designs using the words Panzerfregatten (armoured frigates) and respectively Casemattschiffe (casemate ships).
The German navy had two large casemate ships (about 8800 tons) of the Kaiser class built in UK shipyards. The first ironclad of the Greek navy, Vasilefs Georgios (1867), was also built in the UK; at 1700 tons, it was a minimalist casemate design having only two large 9in guns, and two small 20 pounders. The Italians had three casemate ships built, Venezia, converted from broadside during construction, and the two Principe Amedeo-class ironclads.
The disadvantage of the centre-battery was that, while more flexible than the broadside, each gun still had a relatively restricted field of fire and few guns could fire directly ahead. The centre-battery ships were soon succeeded by turreted warships.
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Algernon McLennan Lyons (30 August 1833 – 9 February 1908) was a senior Royal Navy officer who served as First and Principal Naval Aide-de-Camp to Queen Victoria.
Lyons also served as Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Station, Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies Station and then Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth.
He was the nephew of the eminent Admiral Edmund Lyons, 1st Baron Lyons, who served as Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet, under whom he served for a time, and the cousin of Richard Lyons, 1st Viscount Lyons and Richard Lyons Pearson, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.Box battery
The box battery disposition of the main armament in a battleship was commonly used in ships built in the latter half of the 19th century; it was an interim disposition between full-length broadside guns and turret-mounted artillery.Canon de 274 modèle 1893/1896
The Canon de 274 modèle 1893/1896 were a family of French naval guns developed in the years before World War I that armed a variety of warships of the French Navy. Guns salvaged from scrapped ships found a second life as coastal artillery and railway artillery during World War I.Canon de 65 mm Modèle 1891
The Canon de 65 mm Modèle 1891 & Modèle 1902 were a family of widely used naval guns of the French Navy that were also used by the Ottoman Navy during World War I. Guns removed from decommissioned ships also saw use as coastal artillery and as fortress guns in the Maginot Line fortifications during World War II.Casemate
A casemate is a fortified gun emplacement or armored structure from which guns are fired. Originally, the term referred to a vaulted chamber in a fortress. In armoured fighting vehicles that do not have a turret for the main gun, the structure that accommodates the gun is termed the casemate.French ironclad Redoutable
Redoutable was a central battery and barbette ship of the French Navy. She was the first warship in the world to use steel as the principal building material. She was preceded by the Colbert-class ironclads.
Compared to iron, steel allowed for greater structural strength for a lower weight. France was the first country to manufacture steel in large quantities, using the Siemens process. At that time, steel plates still had some defects, and the outer bottom plating of the ship was made of wrought iron.
All-steel warships were later built by the Royal Navy, with the dispatch vessels Iris and Mercury, laid down in 1875–1876.Henry Hickley
Admiral Henry Dennis Hickley (11 December 1826 – 22 December 1903) was a Royal Navy officer who became Senior Officer, Coast of Ireland Station.Italian ironclad Ancona
Ancona was an ironclad warship, the last member of the Regina Maria Pia class built in French shipyards for the Italian Regia Marina (Royal Navy) in the 1860s. Ancona was laid down in August 1862, was launched in October 1864, and completed in April 1866. She and her three sister ships were broadside ironclads, mounting a battery of four 8-inch (200 mm) and twenty-two 164 mm (6.5 in) guns on the broadside.
Ancona was quickly readied for combat when Italy declared war against the Austrian Empire in the Third Italian War of Independence in June 1866. The following month, she joined the Italian fleet at the Battle of Lissa. She was stationed in the van of the Italian fleet, which became separated from the rest of the fleet. Ancona was damaged by Austrian shellfire, including one shell that started a fire. Her career was uneventful after the war, resulting from a combination of the emergence of more modern ironclads and a severe reduction in the Italian naval budget following their defeat at Lissa. She was rebuilt as a central battery ship some time after Lissa, and was eventually sold for scrapping in 1903.Italian ironclad Castelfidardo
Castelfidardo was the third of four Regina Maria Pia-class ironclad warships built in French shipyards for the Italian Regia Marina (Royal Navy) in the 1860s. Castelfidardo was laid down in July 1862, was launched in August 1863, and was completed in May 1864. She and her three sister ships were broadside ironclads, mounting a battery of four 8-inch (200 mm) and twenty-two 164 mm (6.5 in) guns on the broadside.
Castelfidardo participated in the Battle of Lissa during the Third Italian War of Independence in 1866. She was stationed in the van of the Italian fleet, which became separated from the rest of the fleet and was not heavily engaged. Her career was limited after the war, owing to the emergence of more modern ironclads and a severe reduction in the Italian naval budget following their defeat at Lissa. She was rebuilt as a central battery ship some time after Lissa, and was modernized several more times in the 1870s and 1880s. From 1900 to 1910 she served as a training ship before being broken up for scrap.Italian ironclad Regina Maria Pia
Regina Maria Pia was the lead ship of the Regina Maria Pia class of ironclad warships built in French shipyards for the Italian Regia Marina in the 1860s. She and her three sister ships were broadside ironclads, mounting a battery of four 8-inch (203 mm) and twenty-two 164 mm (6.5 in) guns on the broadside. Regina Maria Pia was laid down in July 1862, was launched in April 1863, and was completed in April 1864.
Regina Maria Pia took part in the Battle of Lissa during the Third Italian War of Independence in 1866. She attacked the unarmored frigates in the Austrian second division, and damaged two vessels. Her career was limited after the war, owing to the emergence of more modern ironclads and a severe reduction in the Italian naval budget following their defeat at Lissa. She was rebuilt as a central battery ship some time after Lissa, and was modernized again in the late 1880s. Regina Maria Pia was eventually broken up for scrap in 1904.Italian ironclad San Martino
San Martino was a Regina Maria Pia-class ironclad warship, the second member of her class. She was built for the Italian Regia Marina in the 1860s; like her three sister ships, she was built in France. San Martino was laid down in July 1862, was launched in September 1863, and was completed in November 1864. The ships were broadside ironclads, mounting a battery of four 8-inch (200 mm) and twenty-two 164 mm (6.5 in) guns on the broadside.
San Martino saw action at the Battle of Lissa, fought during the Third Italian War of Independence in 1866. There she was in the center of the action, at the head of the Italian main body. Of the three ships in her division, San Martino was the only vessel to survive the battle. After the war, the ship's career was uneventful, the result of the emergence of more modern ironclads and a severe reduction in the Italian naval budget following their defeat at Lissa. She was rebuilt as a central battery ship some time after Lissa, and was modernized again in the late 1880s. The ship was eventually broken up for scrap in 1903.Italian ironclad Venezia
Venezia was the second of two Roma-class ironclad warships built for the Italian Regia Marina in the 1860s. She was armed with a main battery of eighteen 10-inch (250 mm) guns in a central armored casemate. Her lengthy construction time, a result of her re-design from a broadside ironclad, quickly rendered her obsolescent compared to the new turret ships that began to enter service in the 1880s. As a result, her career was limited. She became a training ship in 1881 and served until 1895. Venezia was broken up for scrap the next year.Ottoman ironclad Asar-i Şevket
Asar-i Şevket (Ottoman Turkish: Work of God) was a central battery ship built for the Ottoman Navy in the 1860s. Originally ordered by the Eyalet of Egypt but confiscated by the Ottoman Empire while under construction, the vessel was initially named Kahira. The ship was laid down at the French Forges et Chantiers de la Gironde shipyard in 1867, was launched in 1868, and was commissioned into the Ottoman fleet in March 1870. Asar-i Şevket was armed with a battery of four 178 mm (7 in) Armstrong guns in a central casemate and one 229 mm (9 in) Armstrong gun in a revolving barbette.
The ship saw action in the Russo-Turkish War in 1877–1878, where she supported Ottoman forces in the Caucasus, and later helped to defend the port of Sulina on the Danube. She was laid up for twenty years, until the outbreak of the Greco-Turkish War in 1897, which highlighted the badly deteriorated state of the Ottoman fleet. Asar-i Şevket was not included in the major reconstruction program that saw most of the other ironclads rebuilt after the war, and she was decommissioned in 1903 and broken up for scrap in 1909.Ottoman ironclad Avnillah
Avnillah (Ottoman Turkish: Divine Assistance) was an ironclad warship built for the Ottoman Navy in the late 1860s. The lead ship of the Avnillah class, she was built by the Thames Iron Works in Britain. The ship was laid down in 1868, launched in 1869, and she was commissioned into the fleet the following year. A central battery ship, she was armed with a battery of four 228 mm (9.0 in) guns in a central casemate, and was capable of a top speed of 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph).
Avnillah saw action during the Russo-Turkish War in 1877–1878, where she supported Ottoman forces in the Caucasus. After the war, she was placed in reserve and allowed to deteriorate; by the outbreak of the Greco-Turkish War in 1897, she was in unserviceable condition. Avnillah was modernized in 1903–1906 during a major reconstruction program begun after the war. She became a harbor defense ship stationed in Beirut. She was sunk by the Italian armored cruiser Giuseppe Garibaldi in the Battle of Beirut during the Italo-Turkish War in February 1912.Ottoman ironclad Hamidiye
Hamidiye was a unique ironclad warship built for the Ottoman Navy in the 1870s, the last vessel of the type completed for the Ottomans. She was a central battery ship, mounting most of her armament in a central casemate. The ship, built by the Ottoman Imperial Arsenal took nearly twenty years to complete; she was laid down in December 1874, launched in 1885, and completed in 1894. Due to her lengthy construction period, she was already obsolete by the time she was launched. Her poor handling and low quality armor contributed to a short career, spent almost entirely as a stationary training ship. She was briefly activated in 1897 during the Greco-Turkish War, but she was already in bad condition just three years after she entered service, as was the rest of the ancient Ottoman fleet. The Ottomans embarked on a reconstruction program after the incident humiliated the government, but Hamidiye was in too poor a state by 1903 to warrant rebuilding, and she was accordingly decommissioned that year, placed for sale in 1909, and sold to ship breakers in 1913.Ottoman ironclad Muin-i Zafer
Muin-i Zafer (Ottoman Turkish: Aid to Triumph) was the second of two Avnillah-class casemate ships built for the Ottoman Navy in the late 1860s. The ship was laid down in 1868, launched in 1869, and she was commissioned into the fleet the following year. A central battery ship, she was armed with a battery of four 228 mm (9.0 in) guns in a central casemate, and was capable of a top speed of 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph).
Muin-i Zafer saw action during the Russo-Turkish War in 1877–1878, where she supported Ottoman forces in the Caucasus. After the war, she was placed in reserve and allowed to deteriorate; by the outbreak of the Greco-Turkish War in 1897, she was in unserviceable condition. Muin-i Zafer was reconstruction by Gio. Ansaldo & C. after the war, and was later converted for secondary duties, including as a training ship in 1913, a barracks ship in 1920, and a depot ship for submarines in 1928. The ship was ultimately decommissioned in 1932 and broken up in 1934.Roma-class ironclad
The Roma class was a pair of ironclad warships built for the Italian Regia Marina (Royal Navy) in the 1860s and 1870s. The class comprised two ships, Roma and Venezia. Roma was a broadside ironclad armed with five 10-inch (254 mm) and twelve 8-inch (200 mm) guns, while Venezia was converted into a central battery ship during construction, armed with a much more powerful battery of eighteen 10-inch guns. Neither ship had an eventful career, due in large part to their rapid shift to obsolescence. Venezia and Roma were withdrawn from service for auxiliary duties in 1880 and 1890, respectively. Both were stricken from the naval register in 1895 and broken up for scrap the following year, Roma having been badly damaged in a fire in 1895.SMS Mars
SMS Mars may refer to one of two ships in the German and Austro-Hungarian Navies:
SMS Mars (1879), a German gunnery training ship in the 19th century
SMS Tegetthoff (1878), an Austro-Hungarian central battery ship, renamed Mars in 1912
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