Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Ironclads: Lissa 1866

Naval gaming has always held an interest for me and that especially covers the Ironclad period of about 1860 up to the Dreadnaughts. Steam first played a part in the Crimean War and the French invented an armoured floating battery that heralded an era with fully armoured ships starting with the "Gloire" and the Royal Navy's answer, "HMS Warrior", now preserved at Portsmouth docks and well worth a visit.

The 1860s saw much experimentation, especially under riverine battle conditions in the American Civil War, but the only major fleet action was in the 1866 Austro-Italian War at Lissa. The Italians wanted to force action upon the Austrian navy (except for the Italian Admiral Persano who was court marshalled for his lack of vigour and initiative) and assaulted the Austrian island of Lissa; Unfortunately the defenses proved stronger and gave the Austrians time to steam up and fall upon the Italians before they were ready.

The Italians had more and better armed ironclads ( the Austrians had their new Krupp guns embargoed by their other enemy, Prussia) but despite having to put wooden vessels into the line including a ninety gun ship of the line, the Austrians stormed into the enemy, split them apart and sank two Italian ironclads with their flagship, a brand new turret ship that arrived a couple of days before the action, later sinking in harbour. Incidentally, much of the Austrian fleet was manned by Italians from Venice who had no trouble fighting other Italians.

I mostly game with 1/1200 and 1/2400 scale ships and here are a few of the Lissa participants.

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