Thursday, 7 January 2010

Pre-Dreadnought Photos: Part 1

When researching the detail for the "55 Days at Sea" Boxer Rebellion Naval project, I was often frustrated in trying to find images of the ships of the various protagonists. Whilst there are some excellent resources online, particularly in terms of information, I found the accompanying photos to be somewhat disappointing; either they were that bane of the inveterate Net surfer - small thumbnails that you could not enlarge, or they showed views that were not all that helpful.
Furthermore, where a certain ship had a long and distinguished career, it was in the latter phases of that career that she was most usually depicted; in the case of many Pre-Dreadnoughts, when they soldiered on into the First World War, for instance, so the colour schemes and configurations in the photos were outside my main time frame of interest.

I therefore started to collect, where possible, original photographic or postcard views of the ships that featured in my 1/3000th campaign project, or sometimes bought reproduction or reprint views of hard to find vessels, if no real depictions were available.
Rather than just file these away, I thought I'd use the medium of the Blog to share them with a wider audience, so that others might use them for their own research.

A small note about copyright; most of these photos were taken in excess of one hundred years ago, so the rights of the original photographer may have lapsed in strictly legal terms, however I reproduce them here with no intent to subvert or contradict ownership of the original image, and I would ask that any of you who might be interested in them, restrict your own use or copying of the image to private, research purposes, rather than for any commercial gain or mass dissemination.

First up, we have a few frames showing some heavyweights from Italy and Austria, not strictly Boxer Rebellion, of course, but I could not limit my collecting to just that era, given the temptation to collect neat images of other ships of the time!
(Remember, all thumbnails are clickable for a larger image view.)

Below we have the Austro-Hungarian Battleship Kronprinz Erzherog Rudolf of the Kaiser Max class, completed in September 1889, depicted here in November 1890.

She had a somewhat unusual layout of two 12" guns forward, with one at the rear. Her secondary armament consisted of six 4.7" guns, and various smaller quick-firers, she also sported four deck mounted torpedo tubes of 15.7".

Moving on to the Battleship Wien, of the Monarch Class, completed in May 1897. She was principally armed with four 9.4" guns, six 6" guns, and four deck mounted torpedo tubes.

We have next a view of the battleship Sicilia, from those Adriatic rivals, Italy. Completed in May 1895, she was armed with two pairs of 13.5" guns fore and aft, backed up by eight 6 inchers, and five deck mounted torpedo tubes of 17.7".

Finally, a sneak peak at the vessel of another nation, namely the Coastal Defence Ship Bouvines of France:

Completed in December of 1894, she had two 12" guns in single mounts fore and aft, seconded by eight 4", and two 18" torpedo tubes in deck mountings.

There are plenty of photos of various ships to come, and I am sure that the itch to collect more will no doubt see further entries in this category of Blog post, so keep a good lookout for them in the near future!


  1. My dad has been using General Quarters 2 for his pre-dreadnought battles. I loved the Great White Fleet and the circular/oval Russian predreadnoughts.

  2. Ah the Novgorod and the Popov, revolving turntables of wobbly pre-dreadnoughtiness!
    Now some original photographs of them would be a real find!

  3. Weren't the Novgorod and the Popov nothing more than monitors and didn't they have a very shallow draft which sort of prevented them from going to sea?

  4. Hi ArmchairGeneral, yes, I quote from Lawrence Sondhaus's "Naval Warfare 1815-1914":

    "Once commissioned, these floating fortresses did not handle well on the open sea; even on rivers and in calm waters their shape left them prone to a spinning motion which rendered them worthless as warships." LOL!

    I think they would make pretty fine looking minis, but not much good for anything else. Tell me- were there other such oval disasters afloat in the Russian Fleets?

  5. I am not sure but I think that those two were the only ones although they did have a bunch of ships with guns so small they used them for fishing instead of fighting.

  6. Very nice pictures SoS! A couple of years ago whilst on holiday in Malta I picked up a packet of photos taken of various pre WW1 RN warships leaving Grand Harbour. I am uncertain if they will scan very well but include the following: HMS Glory, HMS Philomel, HMS Aboukir, HMS Cumberland, HMS Lancaster, HMS Queen, HMS Bacchante, HMS Suffolk, HMS Sutlej, HMS Canopus and and two others that have defied identification!I will have a play around with them and see if they are usable.

    All the best,


  7. Hi Ogre, oh, you definitely should post them on your Blog if you can! If they are original photos, and you just keep them in a drawer, then the views are lost to History if you don't - plus I won't get the chance to ogle them either!

  8. Sadly not originals but modern copies of them - I will see what I can do.