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Canonnière Boulogne

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I found in a French in French book (MRB April 1994) the drawings and description of a gun boat, used as a preparation of Napoleonic landing in Great Britain. These ships actually fought and won a battle against Admiral Nelson, off Boulogne. They got no name, only numbers. I’ll call the model “Boulogne” in the following text.

 

First of all, a photograph of the model:

Canonniere%20Boulogne_zpsxluaejq6.jpg

Some historical reminders

In 1797, the French government “le Directoire” had a project to create a landing flotilla, with mission to transport and land 80,000 men in England. This first version of the ships (170 units) was variation of some gun boats used by Spain. This first attempt was abandoned in 1798.

In 1801, the idea raised again. A new flotilla is built again. Attacked by Nelson on August 17th, 1801, they defeated the British fleet with support of coastal batteries, causing heavy losses to the enemy. The Treaty of Amiens, favorable to France, was signed soon after. And the flotilla was abandoned again.

On May 18th, 1803, the hostilities resumed and so, another flotilla was built in Boulogne, aiming to land 100,000 soldiers in England. This was built in 6 months and became a very serious threat for Britain, which counter attacked by a continental coalition against France. The results were the French army victory in Austerlitz and the French naval defeat in Trafalgar.

Another fleet was built in 1811, but this one was just a diversionary show, considered a serious threat in London, officially aiming to land two 40,000 forces in South England or even in Ireland, where some local help could be easily found. All that was abandoned when the French “Grande Armée” started the Russian Campaign.

 

Description of the “Boulogne”

This second version of these gun boats was smaller than the first one. 350 units were built. It was sailed by 5 to 10 sailors and could carry half a company of soldiers (During the 1st French Empire, a company was composed of 140 men, and so the Boulogne could transport 70 soldiers).

This was rigged as lugers, the sail plan and surfaces given in the drawing:

Canonniere%20Boulogne%20-%20Blueprint_zp

The armament was a 24-pound gun at the bow (seem to be a medium one on the photograph, and an 8-pound army gun (to be landed with the soldiers) at the bow. The weight of this 8-pound gun, without carriage, was 580 kg. Experts of the French maritime museum think that it would have been impossible to use this gun on board without destroying the carriage (army carriage was much lighter than naval one).

 

If this model is implemented in a naval game:

  • It can be discussed if the stern 8pd gun could be implemented anyway.
  • It can be discussed the opportunity to add some swivels on the broadsides, to simulate the soldier fire power, which was real and effective.

Precise blue print in attachment.

Canonniere Boulogne - Blueprint.jpg

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