British and French naval fleet numbers in the 19th century

General naval discussions that don't fit within any specific time period or cover several issues.
PetterJhon
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British and French naval fleet numbers in the 19th century

Post by PetterJhon » Sat Jan 12, 2019 7:39 am

Hello everyone,,
I'm looking for some numbers of the naval fleets and their compositions of the British and French navies in the 19th century, particularly from 1850 onwards. I'm trying to see if there's any way in an alternate timeline that the French Empire could become the equal of the British Empire on the high seas during that time.

If anybody could point me at this information, that would be greatly appreciated.

Byron Angel
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Re: British and French naval fleet numbers in the 19th century

Post by Byron Angel » Tue Jan 15, 2019 3:04 am

Hi PetterJhon,

Short answer is pretty much - no. in the nineteenth century, Great Britain was VERY serious about maintaining a naval "two power standard", i.e., that the size of the RN should be no less than the sum of the next two largest foreign fleets.

A decent starting point for investigation of the naval situation during your period of interest might be "The Navies of the World - Their Present State and Future Capabilities", by Hans Busk (first printing 1859). This was re-printed by the US Naval Institute, but a bit of energetic interwebnet searching may very well turn this book up for free via archive.org or some similar web source.

Welcome aboard.

B

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wadinga
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Re: British and French naval fleet numbers in the 19th century

Post by wadinga » Sun Feb 10, 2019 1:31 am

Hello Petter Jhon,

Rapid changes in naval technology made mere numbers less significant during your chosen period. For centuries rival navies had such similar technologies that captured ships were incorporated into their new owner's navies. The French tried a paradigm shift by introducing La Gloire 1859, a genuine ironclad whose armour was impervious to current weapons and could theoretically defeat many enemy ships, one after another, negating say, British superiority in numbers.

Like the huge step forward represented by the Dreadnought in 1905, a rival nation could attempt emulate the innovator, but unlike Imperial Germany who never quite matched (but came close) their rival's output in numbers, Victorian Britain's industrial power was capable of responding and surpassing France in building capacity, and innovation too, negating the Gallic bid for superiority. Vessels like HMS Warrior 1860 and later HMS Devastation 1888 were technologically more advanced than any foreign rival.

Many fleets including the RN, had ships in commission at times through the nineteenth century which were so technologically outmoded they were of little combat value at all, and so counting them would be IHMO irrelevant.


Good luck with your alternate timeline and welcome aboard.


All the best

wadinga
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"

OpanaPointer
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Re: British and French naval fleet numbers in the 19th century

Post by OpanaPointer » Sun Feb 10, 2019 2:02 am

"The Navies of the World - Their Present State and Future Capabilities", by Hans Busk https://archive.org/details/naviesworld ... og/page/n8

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