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Military mis Flicks

PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 12:05 am
A trailer is on the Web Vis a Vis the new movie "The Last Legion".

Looks like a fun flick, but again, since it is the favored period for reenactors, the Legionary equipage shown in the trailer is from the Early to Mid Imperial period---certainly not close to the Late Roman Infantryman Hugh Alluded to and as described in great detail in Osprey's "Late Roman Infantry" men at arms books. Well, I guess you could have guessed that from the title.

Again jumping the centuries, there was a good (narratively) shown on the Military Channel segnent about the GRaf Spee Class and her sisters. (Admiral Scheer and Lutzow---originally Deusthland. It was not mentioned how a rather heavily armed Graf Spee was fought to self destruction by 3 British and comparatively cheap, light Cruisers :Ajax, Achilles and Exeter.

Part of what i feel as the fatal flaw in the pocket battleship design, the use of displacement to float non dual purpose secondary armament. The extra speed (between 27.5 knots in the class as completed vs. a possible 32 knots on the same displacement) to have been gained might have allowed Graf Spee to Escape.

The fundament rule so well pointed out in the world's original Pocket Battleships , the 4 heavy frigates of the US Navy led by Constitution and Constallation, ie: to be able to outfight anything your could not outrun and outrun anything you cannot outfight, was simply not followed.

(Imagine Captain Dacres dismay when pitting his Guerriere, a 28 gun frigate whose heaviast guns were, if I recall, main deck 12 pounders and top gun deck long nines versus the Constitution's 44 guns,, the lightest of which was the lower deck 'long 24' pounder ( easily the best shipmount weapon of the period) and massive 32 pounfd carronades on the main deck.)

Hully half the footage shown of the twin triple 11' gun class were of the great German Battle Cruisers Scharnhorst and/or Gneisnau, which were 5 knots fast than the pocket Battleship and armed with an additional triple turret with 3X11" guns.

America actually may have responded to the implied threat of these ships in the sadly aborted ONLY US Battlecruisers that I know of (save perhaps Yorktown and Saratoga which were converted from BC's to Aircraft Carriers after the Washington Treaty..) I beleive it was Saratoga that 'sported" 8 8 inch guns in 4 twin turretts. Sara might have been the only carrier that might have been able to slug it out in a surface battle with enemy Cruisers.

Sadly the retention of these single purpose guns decreased her speed potentional and dimished her more needed AA protection as the 8" guns fitted were not "dual purpose" mounts as were the five inch 38's fitted as secondary armament on virtually every significant American Capital ship completed during WWII.

Also receiving little mention were/are the "Light Anti Aircraft Cruisers" of the pacific fleet which were purpose built for hi speed and the carrying of as many of the battleproven twin 5" 38 caliber dual purpose turretts so ubiquitous and effective on all American 3rd Generation Dreadnoughts, as well as the Boise Class (Salem) Baltimore Class cruisers and the Hoel and Gearing class DD's which served well into the cold war and Vietnam era.

Turner Joy, of Tonkin Gulf incident renown, was a FRAM II rebuild of such a ship.

American naval architects quickly saw the need for having all secondary armement on capital ships being of the dual purpose nature.

It is easy to understand how the South Dakotas, North Carolina's and Iowa Classed were immediatley made more effective than their German counterparts which, for example, might include numerous (8 single mounts on Sheers) 5.9in mount that were not dual purpose. Therefore these ships were forced to "waste" displacement better spent on armour and power plants as the 5.9' mount had to be extensively backed by separate AA Mounts, usually in 3" mounts. Memory fails.

The story of the Channel Dash and the final rundown of Gneisnau by the British Flleet is fully as exciting as the chase for the Bismark. these magnificent ships, and I include Guam and Alaska, never seem to get the attention that they perhaps warrant.

The 11" guns of this battle cruiser class were not as powerfuly in "weight of Metal" as Bismarck or Tirpirtz, but the guns were extremely flat shooting and hard hitting as the British learned to their dismay at Jutland in 1915.

The guns were virtually the same as those on many German Battlecruisers at Jutland.

I will (aggain) try and get some pics up and even talk about the infamous death charge of the Battlecruisers in that Battle.

Hugh might be able to fill in some blanks while I am still floundering around researching about 10 different matters.


PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 2:18 pm
by Hugh
I will note that I saw the web trailer for "The Last Emperor" and thought that it maight be a fun film if you don't try to take it too seriously. For instance, I saw somebody using an Indian katar in one of the melee sequences. The film is covering much of the same ground as "King Arthur" and I hope that it doea better job than that latter effort. I was nonplussed by the portrayal of the continuing drafting of Sarmatians into the Roman Army when that happened but once with the peace treaty forced upon them by Marcus Aurelius in the 2nd Century CE. I was also irritated by the portrayal of Germanus as a manipulative, evil bishop who would have been better set at the Council of Trent in the 15th Century CE. In fact, I was irritated by the negative and unhistorical image of Christianity that played out in the entire film. I hope that this new one does better.

On the American heavy frigates, the original book, Master and Commander, upon which the film was based had Captain Jack Aubrey chasing one of the American heavy frigates instead of a French privateer built in Boston to the specs of a heavy frigate. Actually, the sip model used in th efilm is of the USS Constitution and the ship in the film is very much based upon her.

Anyone interested in the basics of these ships might find the following book well worth the price: New Vanguard 79: American Heavy Frigates 1794-1826 (Paperback) by Mark Lardas (Author), Tony Bryan (Illustrator), Amazon price: $10.85

Master and Commander

PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 8:20 pm
RIght, I had forgotten.

How intersting to look back and see Aubrey's comments re: the 'advacned science' of the American Frigate design.

If i can get to it I will repost why, imho, the Constitution received great benefit from the wood used in her contruction. If you get to do it first, I won't mind a bit.


PostPosted: Tue Aug 07, 2007 9:24 pm
by Hugh
IIRC, by the time that the Constitution and the other American heavy frigates were laid down, England was becoming short of the heavy oak that was so needed for such ships and was using most of it for her capital ships-of-the-line rather than for her smaller roving ships such as frigates. After all, the idea behind frigates was that they could outrun what they could not outfight. This worked against the French but not aginst the Yankees who built the heavy frigates of modern design and of very solid Yankee oak planking laid on quite heavily. The US heavy frigates were not only better protected but they carried heavier and longer ranged cannon as well. They could sail as well as the lighter English frigates and could out fight them on a one-to-one basis, as was shown. But the Brits were not fools and they began to build similar ships and the scales were evened.

Live Oak

PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2007 4:37 pm

As I am sure you know the hull of the Constitution was built from so called "live oak', actually a type of cypress that grows in the swamps of the mid atlantic states.

Once it 'sets' after being worked, it is literaly as tough as iron would be.

Or so I read.