Talk:Téméraire-class ship of the line

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In reality, there were only two models distinct enough to be categorised as sub-classes - the standard Le Téméraire design of 1782, and the "petit modele" design initiated by Le Pluton in 1803. Naturally, in a class so numerous and built over such a long period, there were a large number of small variations or improvements incorporated as the years rolled by. Rif Winfield (talk) 11:57, 30 December 2007 (UTC)

The subdivision here was taken from the French page, on which it is not justified. As far as I know, the Pluton sub-class is clearly the most significant one (and also subject to criticism by users, if I remember correctly). I would certainly support specific attention to this question, and changes if necessary.
On another matter, please don't put articles in French ship names. Articles are not part of the name, except in a few debatable cases (when the name is an adjective, it could be argued that the name is Le Téméraire for "temerarious one", rather than Téméraire for "Temerarious"). But in general this is not the case: it is definitely Pluton, not Le Pluton. Furthermore, the gender of the adjective is difficult to acertain (can be "Le Ville de Paris" but always "La Couronne", ...), generates mistakes (never could "L'César" occur), and in general looks weird, like one is trying to "sound French" by putting articles, just like Tex Avery makes fun of the Mayflower by writing Ye Mayflower to sound 16th century-ish. Rama (talk) 15:30, 8 January 2008 (UTC)


To the best of my knowledge these ships displaced "only" about 1600 tons. --Cosal (talk) 16:21, 7 September 2009 (UTC)

Actually, the displacement was around 3,069 tons. But you have to appreciate that "displacement" is a more modern concept, and was not used as a measurement of ship size during the sailing era. Rif Winfield (talk) 10:03, 25 April 2014 (UTC)

Class according to whom?[edit]

The article has no sources to support the basic scope the article, a unified ship class that had a unified "production run" from 1782-1813. I tried searching for this at Google Books and came up empty except for two historical novels.

Did ship classes as we define them today actually exist in pre-industrial times?

Peter Isotalo 17:41, 24 April 2014 (UTC)

Yes, they did. The Russian Sail Navy details a three-ship class of 80-gun ships built in the 1720s. The bigger ships tended to be "one-offs" because of their expense, but why wouldn't a shipwright build to a standard design if it was successful and he had a steady demand for ships of that type?--Sturmvogel 66 (talk) 21:01, 24 April 2014 (UTC)
A three-ship series is a class? To me it sounds like your ordinary building contract. I think the English term might have been "charter". In Swedish, there's a cert (same etymology), which is even compared to a class in SAOB. But calling any random group of similar ships a class? It seems like back-dating the term quite a bit. Was it even possible to build identical wooden ships of this size before industrialization? I'm extremely skeptical.
Regardless of whether pre-industrial ship classes existed or not, who named this class? Was it used by contemporaries? And why does it have "groups" instead of just being several classes? And how on earth can the measurements be so exact? All of this needs proper sources.
Peter Isotalo 21:57, 24 April 2014 (UTC)
Two-ship classes were quite common later on. If they're all built to the same design, then they're a class, not a random group of similar ships. What you're talking about would be if a navy issued a requirement that each shipwright could design independently, but it didn't always work like that, even in the 1700s. I'm not an expert on this period, but I don't see why shipyards couldn't build ships to the same design before industrialization. I suspect that they'd vary in trivial ways, but still be essentially identical. Cutting string/rope to specific lengths as needed is one way that could effectively guarantee duplicate measurements over time and in different shipyards. Sub-groups in a class are usually semi-minor variations on the basic designs and are very common as they allow gradual improvements to be to made. The modern USN uses "Flights" in several of its current designs to track changes in armament, provisions for helicopters, etc. Why not call them a separate class? Dunno, but that's the terminology that it uses. As for what the contemporary usage was, I dunno, but I think that you're over-analyzing things in that respect. Hopefully, Rif will respond as he knows far more about this than I do.--Sturmvogel 66 (talk) 22:19, 24 April 2014 (UTC)
And the article desperately needs sources, I agree.--Sturmvogel 66 (talk) 22:20, 24 April 2014 (UTC)
Well, "random group" was a poor choice of words. I'm trying to stress the risks about shoehorning every military shipbuilding contract or minor series into a "class" just because it reminds you of how it worked from the 19th century onwards.
Btw, I checked Glete's Navies and Nations (pp. 589-92) for the total number of French ships of the line (2500-3000 tonnes) built 1781-1815. It's 114. I can scrape together an additional 15 if I include the entire 2000-3500-range. It seems as if every single 74 built in France from 1782-1813 is listed here.Peter Isotalo 23:16, 24 April 2014 (UTC)
Doesn't really surprise me, although the Brits tinkered with their 74s quite a bit more and didn't have classes anywhere near the numbers of this one.--Sturmvogel 66 (talk) 23:32, 24 April 2014 (UTC)
Not quite true, Sturmvogel. The British Armada Class 74s of 1806 ran to 40 units completed (others to the same design were cancelled), and were certainly all built to the same design. And if you look at the brig-sloops, the Cruiser and Cherokee classes of the Napoleonic Wars (the Cherokee Class continued after 1815) ran to over 100 units each. Yes there were minor differences, but so are there differences between individual ships in the same class in modern construction - in fact, sometimes they can be greater in modern construction - look at the RN's Broadsword Class, where "flights" have quite different dimensions due to redesigns.
Of course, wood is a different material to work with; notably, wooden structures "settle" during construction, and while master shipwrights tried to take this into account, there were inevitably small differences in the dimensions of individual ships within the same class, but usually only an inch or so. There was extraordinary care taken to keep to specified dimensions, and measurements were extremely accurate - note that many ships' dimensions were measured (this was done immediately after their launching) to the nearest quarter inch, and in some cases to eighths of an inch. Please see my own series of books on British Warships in the Age of Sail where I've listed the dimensions as built of each individual ship (where they can be traced) as well as their design dimensions. These were measured in somewhat different ways for different navies, but for the British Navy they were quite standard in how they were taken.
Building to the same set of plans goes back to the seventeenth century, when the Commonwealth (Cromwellian) Navy certainly built ships to the same sets of plans. Of course, there were no photocopiers around then, to produce duplicate sets of plans for different shipyards; but then (surprise, surprise!) there weren't any during WW2 either! Copies had to be made laboriously by hand, but this hardly presented a problem - simply a large amount of skilled clerical work. In my books, I have specifically reserved the term "Class" for those ships or other vessels built to a common set of plans, and I have used "Group" where they were only built to a common specifified set of dimensions. For certainly that is what we mean by "Class", in exactly the same way as we (usually) do for modern ships. As an aside, I would instance that the RN ships of the "Establishment Era" were built as a Group (although there were certainly Classes within each Group) up to 1745, when designs were centralised and all ships were built to designs by the Office of the Surveyor of the Navy (although there were 19th century departures from this).
Some of the contributors to this string really ought to spend some time in the archives of the NMM at Greenwich, or at Anapolis or similar facilities elsewhere, and actually look at the draughts (as they were called throughout the Age of Sail, rather than "plans") drawn up of ships' designs. It would, I'm sure, be an eye-opener for some individuals to look at the many thousands of ships plans, drawn in extensive detail. Peter, this is not meant as a slur on you, but your comment does display a lack of basic knowledge about naval shipbuilding of the 17th/19th centuries. And for good order, can I point out that the undefined term "industrial times" certainly originated in the 18th century, if not earlier!
The valid question was raised as to how far the "Class names" were used. There was certainly inconsistency in the records, but generally the term can be identified by the use of "to the lines of the XXX" in records, with the XXX referring to the first ship built to the same plans. And luckily, for many classes the draughts actually have written on them (contemporaneously) the names of those ships which were built to that set of plans. But there were certainly variations in the popular use of the term - however, this also applies to some modern 'Classes'.
Can I turn to the French Téméraire-class ships of the line, as this is how this string originated? It is certainly true that, like the British, the French Navy - certainly during the Napoleonic era - built dozens of ships to common designs, from common sets of plans. I'm right in the process of producing a volume on French Warships of the period (equivalent to my series on British Warships) and this week's puzzle is actually identifying exactly how many Téméraire-class ships were built from the same sets of plans - it was certainly over a hundred, far more than any other capital ship design of either the Sailing era or the 20th century. When I (and my co-author) have finished verifying the details, I'll update this article. Regards, Rif. Rif Winfield (talk) 08:58, 25 April 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for your comments, Rif, good to hear from a real authority.--Sturmvogel 66 (talk) 10:13, 25 April 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, thank you, Rif. That cleared up a lot, actually. And I can only agree with Sturmvogel. I wish more dedicated expert authors would take the time to contribute their results.
I'm aware of the existence of plans and certainly the ambition for uniformity, btw. Take a look at some of my recent uploads at Commons. What I'm skeptical about was if it was actually feasibly. Ambitions and reality often don't match up even in modern society.
I have a few core concerns regarding the Téméraire-class: Do contemporary sources say that the intention was to actually make copies of the original Téméraire? How do the "groups", particularly the small and large ones, come into this? Why are they still the Téméraire and not just a separate series/class?
Btw, If this is based on interpretations that are made by you and your co-author as historians I believe it should be clarified somewhere in the article. I'm not questioning the conclusion per se (I don't have the experience nor access to primary sources), I just think it's appropriate to disclose interpretative aspects of historical research.
Peter Isotalo 11:44, 25 April 2014 (UTC)
Time is very limited (which is why "export authors" may not be able to contribute, much as they may wish to) and I'll reply on the Téméraire Class when my current research is finished - not before. For example, you may find it of interest to note that, besides the Téméraire Class units built for the French Navy and its dependent services (the Napoleonic Dutch and Italian services) which are recorded in the article, further ships to the same designs (i.e. copies of the same plans) were built in Istanbul (for the Ottoman Navy) and in Russia (for the Czar's Navy). The 'groups' are relevent because for some ships the designs were modified for various reasons, while all being based on the same plans. Frankly, this happens with modern shipbuilding of multi-unit classes too, and for similar reasons. But basically all research that require expertise to explain is interpretive to some degree, as the primary sources archived for any purpose two centuries ago were never designed with the aim of being clear to the general (non-professional) public, but were written with one or more of a variety of other motives (often the financial or career "interests" of the writer). And frankly, the archived material is generally partial and incomplete, and requires familiarity to fill in the gaps. Rif Winfield (talk) 12:36, 5 May 2014 (UTC)

74 Gun Rating[edit]

Slightly curious as to how these ships which are noted as 74-Gun Ships of the Line are armed with 78 cannon. It is noted from the model of Achille that it has a thirty-seven gun broadside (x2) and four carronades, presumably mounted both bow and stern for chasing-chased situations. Are ships rated for their total broadside cannon number which in the case of the Achille is 74 guns, thirty-seven firing each way? Are the 8-pounder Long Guns carriage mounted or swivel mounted? Marquis; 06:22 14/08/2014 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:22, 14 August 2014 (UTC)