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"French signal flags" Topic

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pushing tin19 Sep 2019 1:35 a.m. PST

Does anyone have a source for the signal flags used by the French Navy during the Napoleonic Wars?

There seems to be plenty of material on that used by the Royal Navy but nothing much that I cold find on other nations flag signalling systems

BrianW19 Sep 2019 2:54 p.m. PST

Are you looking for information on just the flags, or on the signalling systems? There is an entire book on the subject called Naval Warfare in the Age of Sail: The Evolution of Fighting Tactics, 1650-1815 by Brian Tunstall. It's an excellent work, but a dry read. Boudriot's The Seventy-Four Gun Ship volume IV has information on the French signalling system. That's not terribly hard to find, but expensive.

If you're just wondering about the flags themselves, I think Boudriot has that as well. Rod Langton sells a sheet of French signal flags in 1/1200, but has no explanation on how the flags are used.

pushing tin20 Sep 2019 1:20 a.m. PST

Thanks for the info, but I was actually more interested in the flags themselves rather than the system used. Unfortunately 1/1200 would be too small as I was thinking to adapt them for the FASB flag signalling system.

BrianW20 Sep 2019 11:14 a.m. PST

Actually I had considered doing the same thing! Let me look through my books and see what I can find. I may have some black and white drawings with a color guide that you could use.

BrianW22 Sep 2019 8:31 p.m. PST

pushing tin,
Well, I went through my books without much joy. Boudriot has line drawings of the flags, but no color guide. If you like, I can take a picture of the page and send it to you.

pushing tin24 Sep 2019 6:33 a.m. PST

Thanks, but without the colours I probably won't be able to do much with them. I might get the Langton ones just so I know what they look like and see if I can make some from scratch.

StarCruiser25 Sep 2019 7:34 p.m. PST

There were apparently only four colors used back then – Blue, Red, White and Yellow.

You can probably figure the colors out from the image in this (French) Wiki page on du Pavillon:


His system was apparently the primary one in use until possibly after the Napoleonic wars..?

AdmiralHawke29 Sep 2019 12:17 p.m. PST

I'm almost certain that the flag table in the French Wikipedia article cited by StarCruiser is also published in (and quite possibly scanned from) Tunstall's Naval Warfare book, cited by Brian W.

I don't know what signalling system the French fleet used in the Napoleonic Wars. I will have to look it up in Tunstall's book. :-)

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