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Hi captains


historically seen 

at the moment we see huge flags on the rope of the stern sail





but normaly they should be on a flag pole





also the size of the flag is a little to big 


perhaps in battle it should be smaller, say 7/10 of what it is atm


what do you think...

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This varied greatly between ships and based on inclement weather.  Smaller sails were generally flown in rougher weather, and often while sailing no flag was flown unless in sight of an enemy.  Also, not all vessels had a flagstaff on the stern; some flew it from the mizzen/main gaff (depending on rig).  Yes, a larger sail does create a bit of windage and affects the sailing characteristics of the vessel to some degree, but it was also important to be identified by all vessels in the battle as to what nation the ship is and whether it's struck.  Below, the Lady Washington shows off her 'flag sail', which is approximately the size of one of her t'gallant sails, flies from the main gaff and the flag halyard attaches to a cleat on the main boom.




Now the schooner America seems to have gone a bit too far...



This painting of Trafalgar shows some flags that would nearly skim the water when becalmed.



And again, a rather large flag.



And sure while many of the large vessels I've pictured have flagstaffs, here's a picture of a French ship of the line where the flag is attached to the gaff.  If there was a flagstaff back there, it would interfere with the mizzen boom during sailing maneuvers.



So, as Vernon Merril said, there wasn't really a uniform size or placement.  It depended on the size of the vessel, the particulars of the rig, the weather at the time, and commander's preference.

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Looking back at those pictures I posted, it seems that most vessels with a lateen mizzen had a flagstaff, whereas a boomed mizzen/main resulted in the flag being flown from the gaff.  I'm sure there are exceptions, and I know some vessels actually raised a flagstaff when in port and struck it when underway.

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IIRC almost all ships had ensign poles mounted on the taffrail, but these were for harbor service.


For ships with a gaff mizzen boom, the pole would need to be removed at sea, and the ensign flown from the gaff. With a loose-footed gaff mizzen or lateen, the ensign pole could remain. However, its presence in paintings may be due to artistic license, who knows.

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I guess it all depends on the nation and how much they want to spend on flags. 


Or as I mentioned earlier, weather/wind speed.  Generally, if it's much windier you fly a smaller flag.  Ships would have had more than just one ensign.




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