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Fluffy Fishy

Floating Batteries in Offensive Action

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I was recently looking through some paintings by the artist Sandro Feruglio, who has done some really nice paintings on the Venetian Barbary war and I came across two paintings in particular that interested me due to the depiction of floating artillery platforms. Apologies to those who have seen the paintings before as I have shared them to the Venetian ship thread but here they are.

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The first picture shows the bombardment of The island of Galite, including what looks like a Leon Trionfante ship of the line, a slightly poor representation of Fama and more interestingly two floating gun batteries, the one on the left being mounted with what looks like a medium sized bronze naval gun (most likely 30lb (20lb British weight)) and an Obusiero (The Venetian equivalent to a howitzer) also cast in Bronze. The use of Bronze guns itself isn't unusual as the main Venetian shipyard The Venetian Arsenal was only equipped to cast bronze cannon, so while expensive they played an important part in the arming of the Venetian fleet, Venice also had a significant technological lead in the casting of bronze guns too. The picture to the right shows a larger bronze cannon, likely a 40lb (26.5lb British weight) and a further, gun being loaded onto the platform, again likely a 40lb cannon.

The second Picture shows a similar set up, although from a different ship and angle, much more clearly showing the ship Vittoria and Fama, with the same set up of a medium sized naval gun and an Obusiero. The second picture also seems to be showing a broadside from Fama.

The third picture shows the run up to the bombardment of Sfax, where there are two prepared platforms and a further platform being loaded with a gun, these seem of a slightly lower calibre than the first picture, likely 14lb guns (equivalent to 9lb British), its also less clear whether the guns are iron or bronze, due to the different lighting, perhaps a mix of the two, the useful part of this painting is it more closely shows the rather crude construction of the platforms themselves, its also quite a nice pan shot of the composition of the fleet involved in the war. Looking at these different platforms they seem to be made without much uniformity, there is a clear difference in size and payload between each platform.

I have come across floating gun platforms on multiple occasions and seen various designs for sailed, towed and oared platforms as a part of harbour defence but not really come across them in offensive action even though I have been vaguely aware of their offensive use in the Venetian Barbary war for a while, although not really thought about it in any detail. Bringing this all together, what kinds of advantages and disadvantages does using floating gun platforms bring in comparison to just using ships for shore bombardment? Are there other instances where this known to have happened?

While I have some of my own thoughts on these matters I would really appreciate and enjoy hearing some ideas from others first, especially people who are much more experienced in the area than I am, so please do share any thoughts or knowledge you might have on the subject.

Edited by Fluffy Fishy

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