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"The Last Victorian Leviathan Steam Ship " Topic


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1,197 hits since 22 Jul 2012
©1994-2014 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP22 Jul 2012 12:23 p.m. PST

"Take a good long look at this ship. Built in 1858, it was capable of bringing 4,000 people around the world, without ever once needing to refuel…

An Iron Monster, framed in a cloud of billowing white sails, or looming through the hellish black smoke this was the ultimate Victorian luxury Trans-Atlantic liner, affectionately called the "great babe" by its eccentric designe"

From here with much more about Victorian Era.
link

Hope you enjoy!.

Amicalement
Armand

Personal logo GreyONE Sponsoring Member of TMP22 Jul 2012 6:55 p.m. PST

I always wondered if the "Great Eastern" was too far ahead of her time, or just a big white elephant of an idea. She was a huge vessel, but rarely did she make the kind of money required to keep her afloat, and she was also an unlucky ship, with constant, costly accidents happening to her. I find her a beautiful ship, but a misconceived one at the same time. Still, I suppose someone learnt something from the venture.

I am surprised at how big she was for her time, and the number of years it took before another ship eclipsed her size and bulk. Very impressive.

The G Dog Fezian22 Jul 2012 7:02 p.m. PST

Big monster.

Used to ferry British troops to Canada during the 'war scare' associated with the Trent Affair.

Big Martin Back23 Jul 2012 2:29 a.m. PST

Unfortunately, I think Brunel was a bit ahead of his time in building such a big ship. A few years later, had he lived, he'd have seen sufficient advances in technology to run such a monster more successfully.
All we have left of his shipbuilding skills is the Great Britain in her drydock about a mile from where I'm sitting now.

Personal logo Virtualscratchbuilder Supporting Member of TMP Fezian23 Jul 2012 5:21 a.m. PST

Give you some idea how big this ship was….. Here she is among some of the biggest ironclads of her time:

picture

That's Captain, Monarch, Temeraire, Alexandria and others around her. (1/600 scale)

Dogged Supporting Member of TMP23 Jul 2012 6:50 a.m. PST

Great find, Armand. What a beast of a ship. I wonder if a conversion couldn 't make a huge ironclad battleship of it…

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP23 Jul 2012 9:23 a.m. PST

Happy you had enjoy it boys!.

Amicalement
Armand

Personal logo GreyONE Sponsoring Member of TMP23 Jul 2012 11:19 a.m. PST

Virtualscratchbuilder

Thank you for the photo comparison! It really puts The "Great Eastern" into perspective. She certainly was a massive vessel. I can only imagine the impact she must have had on the world stage when she was finally launched and seen afloat.

Is there any information available on how she was fitted out? I have yet to come across photos of her interior accommodations, food services, etc. Always curious about how vessels from the 1850s were completed internally, for the comfort of their passengers.

tsofian Sponsoring Member of TMP23 Jul 2012 12:39 p.m. PST

I wrote this for Space 1889 many years ago. A much modified version of this is now part of the Hive, Queen and Country back story


Some Useful Work

The Great Eastern in Space: 1889

by Terry Sofian

"But we will not give up hope that some useful work will be found, as she is
a noble ship and has done good service in the past."

Sir Daniel Gooch 1874


Even before the completion of HMS Vulcan, the Royal Navy's first purpose built flyer tender, the aviation community was clamoring for a larger, more capable vessel. The economics of constructing a new experimental ship as large or larger than a battleship were clearly prohibitive. By 1886 it appeared that aviation operations by the Royal Navy would be constrained by the lack of available large surface support vessels. This unsatisfactory situation might have continued indefinitely had not fate
intervened in 1887. During that year the SPS (screw and paddle ship) Great Eastern became the focus of world naval attention. The Great Eastern, at 692 feet overall and 32,000 tons displacement, had been the world's largest vessel when launched in 1858. Thirty years later she had still not been surpassed in
size. Both the French and Russian navies were said to be eying her massive hull with grandiose hopes of converting it into a warship. When news of these negotiations was leaked, the conservative press began an immediate and strident call for the Royal Navy to purchase the vessel. The arguments in Parliament that followed were often bitter. The Great Eastern was well known to be hard luck ship that had killed her designer, I. K. Brunel, and drowned her first captain. She had been a commercial failure and had only turned a profit as a cable layer, something even her worst critics had to admit she did very well.
In 1887 she was nearly derelict, laying on the grid at Liverpool, irritating the townsfolk and disrupting harbor traffic. The climate of international tension that prevailed at the time, and fear of what the Russians or French could do with such a ship, won the day. Great Eastern was purchased on Wednesday the 19th October 1887 for 30,000 Pounds Sterling. The Royal Navy, one of the loudest critics of the purchase, was now saddled with a 30,000 ton paperweight stranded on the mud at Liverpool. For almost a year she sat there while naval surveyors examined her and William Henry White, Director of Naval Construction, drew up and discarded numerous plans for the great ship's conversion. The possibility of rebuilding her as a mammoth torpedo ram, like a greatly enlarged HMS Polyphemous, was considered, as was reconstructing her as a huge ether flyer capable of carrying an entire expeditionary force anywhere in the inner solar system. Finally, White himself drew up blueprints for her conversion into a massive flyer tender. She was towed to Milford where one of the few dry docks in the world big enough to handle her was located. The dry dock had been constructed in 1876 around the Great Eastern's hull, using her decks as work platforms. With her giant paddle boxes she was too wide to enter or exit. This was not a problem, since White's plans called for the removal of the six masts as well as the paddle wheels and boxes.
She entered the dock, in which she would remain almost two years, on August 22nd, 1888. The ship's original machinery consisted of an oscillating engine to drive the now removed paddles and a horizontal direct-acting engine for the single 24 foot screw. Together these generated 8300 IHP and drove the ship at approximately 12 knots, a remarkable speed for 1858 but far too slow for fleet work by 1890. White replaced the ancient power plant and its eight boilers with a modern one of three-cylinder triple expansion engines and cylindrical single-ended return tube boilers of the type used by contemporary battleships. Her new power plant produced 50,000 horse power using the same internal volume as the original. This was sufficient to make 20 knots on natural draft, 22.5 on forced. Six small funnels, three on each side aft of midships, replaced the five original stacks. The funnels were placed as far from the centerline as possible to keep the deck clear for use in flyer operations. Since Brunel's original design had a deck remarkably uncluttered with superstructure, removing the masts and rerouting the funnel uptakes over the side cleared the huge expanse of teak for other purposes. A superstructure similar to that of HMS Renown was placed well forward. This and a pair of 10 inch twin barbettes mounted forward of midships were the only obstructions on the main deck. All other weapons and ancillary equipment were either mounted on the compact superstructure or on long narrow sponsons along the deck edge. The main deck was the vessel's strength deck and was composed of 1/2 inch iron plating covered with teak planking. The deck was preserved, with the exception of three large openings, one right aft and the other two spaced at intervals forward of it on the centerline, which were to hold lifts to transport flyers and supplies from the holds to the main, or as it was now called flyer, deck. The ship had been gutted and the entire after end, to one deck above the waterline, was turned into a cavernous area filled with storage and workshops for small flyers. The overhead was almost 22 feet above the deck. The hanger deck was reinforced with 6 inches of armor, but topweight problems prevented the flight deck from carrying armor. The ship also carried a full length belt comparable to contemporary battleships of the Revenge class, 14 inches thick. Her bulkheads were of the same resistive power. Brunel's design and Russel's construction in 7/8 inch iron plates was doubled-hulled to 6 feet above the waterline. This made her the most torpedo resistant vessel in the world. She had survived striking an uncharted rock in American waters in 1862 that left an 80 foot gash in her outer skin without penetrating her inner hull. An additional inboard holding bulkhead was fitted, and greater internal subdivision provided to further enhance her ability to withstand underwater attack.
With such a huge hull and tremendous reserve buoyancy the DNC was able to incorporate the heaviest array of weaponry ever fitted to a single warship. On the foc'sle and just aft of the superstructure, twin 10 inch/32 Mk II guns were fitted in twin Barbette MkIII. These open backed mounts allowed elevation to 35 degrees, but loading was manual and only while trained fore and aft at a fixed angle of elevation. An additional pair of identical weapons barbettes was emplaced in sponsons just aft of the funnels. The flight deck was partially cut away to allow improved rearward firing arcs. A powerful secondary battery of 6 inch MkI/II was provided in unarmored casemates just above the belt, six to a side. 10 4.7 inch QF HA/LA guns were on the "rail", or narrow sponson, on each side of the flight deck. 14 Hale rocket batteries and 28 1pdr pompoms completed the anti-flyer armament. Eight 18 inch torpedo tubes, four on each beam above the water line, completed the armament. Newspaper claims that the vessel was a one ship squadron were only a slight overstatements. The transformed ship was to operate as a base for the Royal Navy Air Service's flyers. With almost 370 feet of clear deck aft and a hanger as long and 80 feet wide, room was available to support any Royal Navy craft, up to and including the new Intrepid-class cruisers. The assigned air group was to consist of 2 Intrepids, four flyers designed to attack enemy submersibles, four Locust-class gunboats, two Wolfe -class Marine Landing Frigates and up to ten of tiny scout flyers. In actuality, these vessels never all operated simultaneously from the tender due to their being needed elsewhere, but there is little doubt that the facilities for their support and maintenance were available. By 1890 the ship was ready to be returned to service, this time as a commissioned warship in the Royal Navy. To honor her designer, she was renamed HMS Isambard Kingdom Brunel. I.K.Brunel's son Henry was presented with an engraved plaque of the old ship's original hull plating and his daughter christened the vessel.
HMS Brunel's career as a warship was to be as exciting, and far more successful, than the one she had enjoyed as a merchantman. For a relatively small sum, the Royal Navy had acquired the most powerful single warship in the world. With a full squadron of assorted flyers, the HMS Brunel could defeat the massed military forces of most nations. It also rendered the entirety of the world's fleets obsolete overnight, including those of the Royal Navy. For the next twenty years the naval architects of the Major Powers would struggle to emulate Brunel's brilliant solutions to the problems of mammoth construction in metal. It would be 1903 before Fischer's 27,000 ton turbine battleship Dreadnought would surpass the "Bruin" in combat potential. Upon commissioning the Brunel was made flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet. With her high speed, powerful gun armament, strong antiflyer batteries, and large squadron of Royal Navy Flyer Service liftwood craft, her arrival caused a panic among the nations of the area. France, Italy, Austro-Hungery and Turkey were all reduced to the level of second-, or third-, class naval powers by a single vessel. Diplomatic efforts were made by several nations. It was hoped that the pen might suffice where torpedo and shell would clearly be inadequate. The British government refused to remove their ship, and the bluff having been called, the lesser naval powers backed down. Without firing a shot or launching a single flyer, the Brunel had already had an impact on naval events. Due to her huge size, no navy, not even her own, could afford to immediately duplicate her dimensions. Other navy's attempted to produce hybrid (main gun armed and flyer tending) warships of similar effectiveness on smaller displacements.
But these were all failures to a lesser or greater extent being "neither fish nor fowl". Not only did the Brunel's huge size allow a powerful gun armament and commodious flyer accommodations, but her size also made for an excellent sea boat as well. She was able to conduct operations in weather that reduced lesser vessels to storm-tossed wrecks. That same bulk was sometimes a curse, and even the seamanship of the Royal Navy was inadequate to keep the 32,000 ton ship out of trouble. In the Med HMS Brunel thrice sank smaller ship's by simply running them down. The Admiralty paid the bills, knowing that if worse came to worse, they possessed the most powerful ram in history.
The value of her ability to operate flyers became apparent during Kitchner's campaign to avenge Gordon in 1898. Flyers captained by such rising stars as Beatty and Hood lifted from the great teak deck again and again in support of the mobile columns. They scouted, flew in supplies and out wounded and many a Fuzzy Wuzzy attack was blunted by the massed machine gun fire of the aerial gunboats. These successful operations up the Nile highlighted the advances made in flyer technology and tactics since Col Fred Burnaby's gallant but futile efforts to support Gordon in Khartoum during 1884. Dervish forces could not move without being seen, could not stand without being harassed. After the defeat of the Dervish Brunel received a new air group, composed of smaller flyers designed to operate expressly from the great ship. These were 200 ton Vospers and Thornycraft ships capable of 100 knots and carrying powerful gun and gravity weapons such as bombs or torpedoes. No sooner had the new group of thirty aircraft been worked up then war broke out in South Africa.
The Boer War was to prove a testing time for the Royal Navy Flyer Service. For the first time the Royal Navy would find itself facing modern weapons in the hands of disciplined troops who knew how to use them. Previously the RNFS had suffered minimal losses at the hands of poorly armed native troops. The Boers were supplied with the best modern weapons from America and Germany. High speed Zeppelins often brought cargoes from the Ruhr and Essen as quickly as Krupp could turn them out. British aircrews soon learned to fear the dreaded 88mm Flak guns and the "flying knitting needles" or surface to air torpedoes. These lethal rockets were fast and carried a heavy warhead. Numbers of them were deployed around Mafeking and Ladysmith as the sieges there dragged on. The RNFS flyers that attempted to resupply those garrisons had to run the gauntlet of these powerful aerial defenses. Many flyers and brave crewmen were lost before effective counter tactics could be evolved. The high loss rate called into question the entire Royal Navy flyer program. The crew of HMS Brunel labored diligently off the coast of Africa, modifying equipment, repairing damaged flyers, and developing new tactics and weapons for use in the widening conflict. She spent months on station. As well as flying supplies into, and wounded out of, the besieged towns, her flyers launched strikes against Boer Kommandoes, provided flank security and scouted for mobile columns.
By the end of the war it was impossible for the Boer to move in the daylight without risk of attack by flyers. Presaging the events of the Great War in 1914, the Boers deployed several small agile aerodynamic flyers. These American and German manufactured flyers took a heavy toll of the less nimble liftwood craft. Their presence necessitated new countermeasures by the British. It was fortunate that these aerodynamic flyers were both primitive and available in only small numbers. During the conflict the Brunel's ancient iron hull proved roomy enough to allow the inclusion of a 150 bed hospital. Countless lives were saved by the dedicated staff of doctors and nurses. Many of the patients would never have lived to see the inside of the operating suites without the bravery of the aircrews that often landed in the midst of battles to evacuate wounded. It was also during this period that the Brunel picked up a nickname that would be with her in this war as well as the next. The German press named her the Iron Maiden. Indeed she was the last iron ship in front line service in any of the major world navies. Her age and the material of her construction rendered her no less useful.
She was an extremely valuable platform and was rewarded by a major refit in 1903. The Bruin again spent more than a year in the dock. Her main battery was replaced with twin 9.2 inch Mk XI dual purpose guns of 51.15 calibers length in enclosed high angle turrets. Her hand-worked 4.7 inch single guns were removed and more modern guns of the same caliber in twin powered mounts with power rammers mounted in their place. The casemate batteries were plated over, the low angle 6 inch had proven to be of limited use in the seaway. Deep anti-torpedo bulges were added, and the vessel lost its own torpedo battery. The forest of assorted automatic weapons that had sprouted around the old ship's deck like metallic bushes was replaced with a uniform battery of 6pdr multiple pom poms on powered mounts. The old Hale batteries were replaced with new UP (unrotating projectile) rocket launchers. The low bridge and forward military mast were replaced with an armored conning tower and a tripod mast, and the most forward pair of funnels were fitted with mast-like tops. Each of these three positions contained fire control and direction instruments. Numerous searchlights were placed on platforms on the mast or funnels. With her new superstructure, the vessel looked much more modern, and her already impressive profile became even more threatening.
1905 saw the Bruin's release from dockyard hands. She was still the largest vessel in the world, and in many ways the most powerful warship afloat. The new breed of Dreadnought battleships, which came into service at the turn of the century, had usurped her place on the battle line. This had allowed the DNC to redesign and refit her into a more efficient aeronaval ship. HMS Brunel now carried not only liftwood flyers but also conducted numerous experiments with the new aerodynamic flyers. This new technology provided the promise of an entirely different type of performance than that available from the liftwood craft. Aerodynes were smaller, faster, and more maneuverable than conventional liftwood flyers. They also had the virtue of being far less expensive, since they were made of mundane Earthly materials, such as pine and canvas. The first years of the century proved a period of increasing tension and advancing technology. New carriers joined the world's navies. The Royal Navy built Dreadnought battleships, liftwood battlecruisers, and flyer tenders to scout for the battleline. The Germans concentrated their efforts on dreadnoughts and fast battleships, counting on land-based zeppelins to win control of the sky. In the Pacific, the American's and their Japanese rivals indulged in a naval arms race of equal vigor building large battleships, aerial cruisers, and powerful flyer tenders to scout for their own fleet and harass the enemy's.
During this period Brunel continued to provide valuable service to the Royal Navy, training flight crews and developing equipment and tactics. The first service squadron of Royal Navy aerodynamic flyers landed on board in 1906. Six years later her airgroup would assist in finding the sinking RMS Titanic and rescuing hundreds from the doomed liner. Her humanitarian efforts in that event would soon be forgotten in the bloody air and naval battles that occurred during the five month long European War, or as some called it the Anglo-German war, that broke out in 1914. After years of aeronaval rivalry the tensions in Europe finally spilled into armed conflict in August of 1914. Spurred by events in the Balkan States, all the Great Powers of Europe mobilized and a general war quickly developed. It was a war unlike any that had been seen before. Entire cities were destroyed from the air, first by the German Zeppelin fleets and then in retaliation by the British Royal Navy and French Air Force. Huge air battles swirled over Europe as the fleets battled their way into their targets. The German faith in the Zeppelins was soon shown to be misplaced as they were destroyed in large numbers by the more durable liftwood flyers, although not before they had destroyed Liege and burned a large section of Paris. The retaliatory strikes from the Royal Navy and French Air Forces suffered heavily from the German Jager Squadrons of aerodynamic flyers. In one evening battle three of Beatty's aerial battlecruisers, popularly known as the "Splendid Cats" would be lost to aerial torpedoes launched by Jagers. These strikes deep into Germany were launched from the Royal Navy's First and Second Carrier Squadrons, the flagship of which was HMS Brunel. Unscratched through her war service, she was finally laid up in 1916. Her 58 year old hull and 26 year old engines were no longer capable of facing the rigors of combat. She was sold for scrapping, after a spirited but futile attempt to save her, in 1918. She was eventually sunk as a pier near Brighton, where she remains to this day.

Game Statistics
Statistics for use with Ironclads and Ether Flyers are included for HMS
Brunel after both of her major refits, in 1892 and 1904.
Flyer Tender (1 total)
Name Class Year MS Ram Spd HS Blt Bty Blk Trt Dck Armament
Brunel CV 1892 128 N 5 14 7 7 7 7 3 F,A: [2x10B], PA, SA: [2x10B], BS:
[10x6B], BS: 6x4.7B; MT4+16, 28 QF, 14 Hale rockets.
Half hanger
3 centerline lifts
Total hanger spaces 8
Centerline superstructure makes landing more difficult.
Flyer Tender (1 total)
Name Class Year MS Ram Spd HS Blt Bty Blk Trt Dck Armament
Brunel CV 1904 160 N 4 14 7 7 7 7/3 6 F: [2x9B], PA, SA: [2x9B], BS:
[5(2x4.7B];
14 Multiple Pom Poms. 14 UP rockets.
Half hanger Two decks
1 centerline lift, 2 deck edge
Total hanger spaces 20
10 space deck park
2 rotating platforms (on after 9.2 inch mounts)
Centerline superstructure makes landing more difficult.

Historical Note
S & P S Great Eastern did exist. In our timeline she was scrapped rather then being purchased by the Royal Navy. She was the largest vessel in the world until well into this century, and did lay the first transatlantic cable. Her designer, I. K. Brunel, did died of stress caused by her construction. Unfortunately her story ends in 1889 with her scrapping. A smaller vessel designed by Brunel, the SS Great Britain, can be seen, restored, at Bristol. The flow of historical events has been changed to fit more with the new technologies of Space: 1889.The British battlecruisers, which suffered so heavily at Jutland, have become large armored flyers. The Dreadnought herself appears sooner and is bigger and faster. High angle guns and other advances such as fire control arrive sooner as well.
Notes on Ordnance:
During this period guns types of ordnance were distinguished by the size of the bore, in inches or weight of shell in pounds. Usually larger guns (above 3 inch or 12 pounders, were expressed in inches. Various improvements in guns of the same size were further annotated by a Mark or Mk number with a Roman
numeral such as the 12 inch Mk X gun. This would have been the tenth 12 inch gun designed and/or taken into service by the British. Some guns with Mark numbers were strictly experimental, while others were only for foreign service. Some guns in this article are followed by the letters LA or HA. In our timeline, when the shooting of flying things became important, the British denoted guns capable of firing upwards as High Angle or HA weapons. Guns which could not were LA or low angle weapons. A dual purpose gun would have been HA/LA. Finally guns often have the length of their bores noted as well. The longer the gun the higher the muzzle velocity, so the greater the range and striking power. The length is measured in calibers, meaning that a 12inch gun 45 calibers long will have a bore measuring 45 times it's caliber, or in this case 45 feet long. This information is noted as either 12inch/45 or 12 inch L45 Gun mounting, turrets, barbettes and other housings also use mark numbers.

Notes on Ships:
HMS Vulcan in our timeline was designed to support third class torpedo boats. She is listed in Ironclads and Ether Flyers as a tender to liftwood craft. HMS Polyphemous was an armored torpedo ram, a vessel designed to carry broadside torpedo tubes, but fitted with a ram in case the new technology tubes failed to work. She is also included in the data provided in Ironclads and Ether Flyers. HMS Renown was a second class battleship, armed with four 10 inch guns, completed early in the 1890s so her stats are not included in the basic game. She was typical of smaller battleships designed for use in foreign stations. She did serve as Jackie Fisher's flagship, and was said to be his favorite battleship. The Wolfe Class assault flyers are designed to carry Royal marines into combat for ground assaults, in the same manner that helicopters are used today. These were the first Royal Navy vessels designed for the assault role completed. To ease design and building difficulties the new aerial marine transports are based on the successful Macefield class heavy gunboat, and in fact the lead ship in the class was a half finished Macefield converted before completion. The conversion required the removal of the 4.7 inch bow gun and remounting the aft 4 inch weapon in its place. The drogue torpedo and tether mines are also deleted. In the place of this armament two complete companies of Royal Marines and two sections of Royal Marine Artillery are carried. In order to deliver this complement of troops to their destination a pair of armoured steam launches are provided. These small vessels can each transport a company and gun section from the ship to the ground and support the landing with fire from its own Nordenfelt machine gun.


HMS Renown
Name Class Year MS Ram Spd HS Blt Bty Blk Trt Dck Armament
Renown TBS 1895 50 Y 4 8 8 6 8 6 6 F,A: [2x10B],BS
[5x6B], BS [7x3B]
ST-1, MT-2 8 QF
7MG

I&EF Stats for Wolfe class assualt flyers are as follows:
Class Type Year HS AV BS END Spd Alt Armament
Wolfe AF 1890 5 2 2 20 6 H F:4B, 4QF, 2 MG, 2
RU, 2RD

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP23 Jul 2012 10:06 p.m. PST

Wow!. That's a incredible good text Terry!.
Congratulations!.

Amicalement
Armand

tsofian Sponsoring Member of TMP24 Jul 2012 5:06 p.m. PST

Thanks

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