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Ships of the American Revolutionary Navy Paperback – Nov 24 2009
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“This volume by Osprey has 48 pages and provides an excellent overview the design and development, the operational history, and the ships of the Continental Navy... I highly recommend this volume to anyone interested in the American Revolution, wooden wind-powered warships, or the history of the US Navy.” ―Jeff Leiby, IPMS (January 2010)
“Other recommendations for specialty military history collections include... Mark Lardas' Ships of the American Revolutionary Navy, telling of warships during the years 1776-83 who formed the first navy of the US.” ―The Bookwatch (January 2010)
“In this volume, author Mark Lardas looks at the design and the development of ships built in the US as well as those purchased or converted. We also see how these ships performed in battle with many now-famous captains, ships and events. The book then goes into a look of each of the classes of ships built and each of the three major types is provided a section. This is superbly illustrated by Tony Bryan and includes cut-away illustrations of several types. An inclusion of period art work and illustrations also helps us to see what these ships looked like. An excellent book on a most interesting subject and one that I am positive you will find to be of interest. One that will be pulled from the shelves time after time and one I can highly recommend to you.” ―Scott Van Aken, Modeling Madness, modelingmadness.com (December 2009)
About the Author
Mark Lardas holds a degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, but spent his early career at the Johnson Space Center doing Space Shuttle structural analysis, and space navigation. An amateur historian and a long-time ship modeler, Mark Lardas is currently working in League City, Texas. He has written extensively about modeling as well as naval, maritime, and military history. The author lives in League City, Texas.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The author begins with a discussion of warship building in the American colonies, which were already building frigate-size vessels for the Royal Navy even before the Revolution. Herein the author provides several useful observations about American shipbuilding: American-built vessels were optimized for speed and were generally larger than similar European-built ships, but colonial vessels were often only built to last a decade or so. Once the Revolution broke out, Congress authorized the conversion of merchant vessels into warships but these ships were not sturdy enough to mount many guns or take substantial damage. In December 1775 Congress ambitiously authorized the construction of 13 frigates in American yards, although it took many years for most of these vessels to be completed. The author also notes the difficulty the infant U.S. Navy had in acquiring adequate cannons for these warships and the necessity to go to sea with mixed armament.
In the next 13-page section, the author discusses the operational history of the ships and the difficulty that the colonies had in putting together effective ships and crews. Although the navy performed well in the early years given its limitations, the colonies simply did not have the resources to conduct a sustained naval war against the greatest fleet on the planet. The author concludes, "the Continental Navy did not go away - it evaporated" and by the end of 1781 the fleet had only two frigates left. The final section provides a synopsis and data for each American warship, including the USS America - the only ship-of-the-line completed by the colonies but not finished until after the war. The volume has seven nice color plates by Tony Bryan: a profile of USS Hancock; the gun deck of USS Warren; the death of the USS Randolph; a 2-page cutaway of the Bonhomme Richard; flags and weapons; Ranger vs HMS Drake; USS Confederacy. The author also provides a glossary and a bibliography. For its size, this volume is an excellent reference.
For a brand new country with an uncertain financial footing, a Navy is an expensive proposition. Nonetheless, the Congress decided that it was important to have a naval presence as a part of the war for independence. The end result was decidedly mixed. Some proposed ships were never built; others were but did not function well; still others made contributions in the revolutionary struggle.
This book proceeds as follows: It begins with the design and development of a navy. Sections examine shipbuilding in America, purchased ships from other countries, the desire to build 13 frigates, and a listing of ships authorized in 1776 and 1777.
Then, an operational history, showing the evolving navy in action. A key factor, of course, is when the French entered the war. Suddenly, the colonies had a major navy fighting on their side, transforming the Congress' strategy with respect to a navy.
What about the ships? I listing of ships authorized and built in the US (not counting ships manufactured elsewhere and purchased by the US) run from sloops-of-war (e.g., Ranger) to frigates (e.g., Randolph, Hancock, Warren, and Boston, among others) to a ship-of-the-line (America, which never saw service in the American navy--and was poorly manufactured anyway).
If you want a brief introduction to the Revolutionary American Navy, this is a good resource. . . .
I knew about the BONHOMME RICHARD, of course, a two-decker, and the sloop-of-war RANGER, but I was surprised to discover fourteen frigates -- though several of them were burned while still under construction to avoid their capture. Full details, technical and operational, are given for all of them, with succinct biographies of their captains. Armaments and necessary strategy are both dealt with thoroughly. The reproduced painting and drawings, plus Tony Bryan's first-rate technical illustrations, are entirely what one expects from this publisher. This is a must-have for anyone interested in the American Revolutionary navy.