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Clown Class (1856)

The Clown Class of wooden screw gunboats were the fifth of seven classes of gunboats produced as a result of operational difficulties experienced during the 1854 campaign of the Crimean War in the Baltic and Black Seas. The first being the Pelter Class (1854).

The problem was that the Russian Navy would not leave port, which meant a large increase in coastal bombardment vessels was needed.  In addition existing gunvessels drew too much water to effectively bombard the Russian Ships inside their ports.

The solution was to built about 156 specially designed shallow draught vessels being flat bottomed, slab sided, drawing about 6ft 6in. They were constructed in haste out of unseasoned timber which meant many had only short service lives. The contractors (several of whom were new to warship construction) only completed the hull, and the machinery was then installed by the engine builders. They were then taken to Haslar Creek, Gosport (opposite Portsmouth) to a new Gunboat Yard to be fitted out by being coppered, rigged, armed and stores loaded. This primitive assembly line type sequence was intended to speed their entry into service.

Despite all these measures many were not finished until too late to see Crimean War service.

The 12 ships of this class were designed in 1855 and were improved versions of the previous Cheerful Class (1856)  and ordered 06-October-1854. Most were laid down very shortly after this and launch dates started Mar-1855, with completion dates in April and May. 

 

 

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This page last edited - 13 January, 2013.

Copyright Ian M King, except where otherwise indicated.