CaptArmstrong

French Corvettes designed by Forfait

Hey all!
 

I'm looking for information on any and all corvettes designed by Pierre-Alexandre-Laurent Forfait. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre-Alexandre-Laurent_Forfait His most famous design (at least in our century) was certainly the 6th rate Unite, later HMS Surprise. However, his biggest impact on naval architecture might've been his large 18pdr armed frigates, starting with the Seine in 1793, which were remarkable in their time for their size, fine lines, and speed (though certain British historians have noted with some evidence-and perhaps a jealous motive-that these vessels were heavy rollers, and difficult to trim and sail just right to attain said speeds) They were eventually copied by the British, and seem a very likely inspiration for the later designs of William Symonds. 

http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/87567.html

http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/66536.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seine-class_frigate

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gloire-class_frigate

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seringapatam-class_frigate

 

While I've always had a great admiration for these frigates, I only recently found out that he designed at least one class of flush-decked corvettes, with a hull form more similar to the Seine than the comparatively full-lined Surprise or the Romaine-class Frigates(designed to carry mortars and 24pdrs, despite being significantly smaller than the Seine! All had mortars removed, and were rearmed with 18pdrs.) 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romaine-class_frigate

http://c7.alamy.com/comp/EFAMEG/lincorruptible-french-38-gun-frigate-napoleonic-war-fought-1796-to-EFAMEG.jpg

 

I've found these two plans of what I believe to be the 18 gun Etna class, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etna-class_corvette which though originally intended to also have a mortar, seem to have an essentially v-shaped hull only slightly more rounded than the Seine.

http://imgur.com/GpRkcZ0 

http://i68.servimg.com/u/f68/16/20/79/11/0710.jpg

 

Does anyone know where I might be able to find more complete plans or sailing reports of the Etna Class?  Or if Forfait(or even his students Tellier and Pestel) designed flush-decked corvettes of a similar size after his early 1790s mortar-craze?

 

 

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The plans for Le Vésuve, one of the Etna class, are held at the main archives of the Ministry of Defense Historical Service at Vincennes. It is item 745 of the plans catalog.

 

745. « Le Vésuve, corvette à trois mâts, portant 16 canons de 18 et un mortier de 12 ». Non signé ii daté [vers 1794].

Pl. de constr. : pl. vertical, d’élévation et horizontal.

Encre noire, bleue et rouge. Dim. 1,20 x 0,35.

SH 319, n° 29

 

In addition to plans, section SH319 includes historical documents regarding the vessels. Would bet that the designer’s notebook and trial notes are in there somewhere for Le Vésuve. If you ask, one of the librarians should be able to help, or perhaps you can find a French buddy that can just go look. SHD is not expensive and the people are pretty easy to work with. Just like NMM except it’s in French. Although they speak English very well, just try with as much French as you can, at first. They will appreciate the effort.

 

The plans catalog is available in pdf format at lots of places. Its free. CATALOGUE DES PLANS DE BÂTIMENTS À VOILES CONSERVÉS DANS LES ARCHIVES DE LA MARINE, by Brandenberg and Vich. There are many other entries for Forfait, including flûtes, corvettes de charge, gabares, transports, etc., any of which could also be corvettes.

 

Hope this will help some.

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Do either of you gentlemen know which draught Le Berceau, the 9-pounder "24-gun corvette", which fought the USS Boston in 1800, was built to?

 

I have the NMM draughts of Bonne Citoyenne.

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Thank you very much, JohnE!  I'll see how far I can get with the SHD, thats certainly a good lead. I had a decent education in french about a dozen years, so hopefully I'm able to communicate with them effectively-I'll have to freshen up a bit first. Though I do wish they digitized their collection, like the NMM, rather than only having only catalogs. Nonetheless its great that they are made available to the public!

 

Frolick- It looks like the Berceau was designed by Jaques-Noel Sane, who was the primary shipwright of France from before the revolution until after the restoration. He employed the same hullform (adjusted for proportions and fullness) in most all of his vessels, from 120 gun ships on down. For a long time I thought the Bonne Citoyenne was his work, due to the similarity to his hullform-but she was actually a design of Raymond-Antoine Haran. however, in size, layout, armament, decoration, and form-she should be very similar to The Berceau. I bet if you were to find a flush-decked Sane corvette of the same or similar dimensions in the SHD, you would have an even better match. 

 

 

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When the Berceau was captured, she was surveyed by Josiah Fox in 1801 before being returned to the French. Id like to get my hands on a copy of that Fox survey. In 1803, Berceau went on to sail with Admiral Linois's (Charles-Alexandre Léon Durand, Comte de Linois, 27 January 1761 – 2 December 1848) famous raiding squadron in the Indian Ocean, which was of course detailed in Patrick O'Brian's novel, "HMS Surprise", wherein Le Berceau is frequently mentioned.

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I can't say I'd mind seeing that plan either! If only he'd bothered to do the same for any of the big 44s later in their careers :P.   Maybe it'd be in the fox papers or something? I'm not that well versed in the primary sources for American warships, relying pretty exclusively on Chapelle and Canney and the like. I'll have to re-read that one soon! I've read the Mauritius command more recently, and looking into the history of the French in the Indian Ocean during those wars, its amazing how many times they sent well-equipped raiding squadrons out there only to have them completely botch the opportunity (often handed to them on a platter, like with Linois) to rip open the belly of the British economy by capturing a squadron of indiamen. 

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Well if there is a plan in the french archives, it'd be interesting to compare to the wasp class to see if there any similarities. 

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When the Bonne Citoyenne was captured, the british made a dozen and a half copies, one of which was HMS Levant, which fought the Constitution.

 

In British service, HMS Bonne Citoyenne became famous for defeating the Frigate La Furiese (armed en flute), which in turn was a sister-ship to La Guerriere, which also fought the Constitution.

 

Bonne Citoyenne was halfway between Wasp I and Wasp II in force with eighteen 32-pounder carronades plus two chasers, since Wasp I had sixteen 32-pounder carronades and the Wasp II, twenty, plus chasers. La Berceau carried twenty two long nine pounders and two twelve pounders.

 

 

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9 hours ago, uss frolick said:

When the Berceau was captured, she was surveyed by Josiah Fox in 1801 before being returned to the French. Id like to get my hands on a copy of that Fox survey. In 1803, Berceau went on to sail with Admiral Linois's (Charles-Alexandre Léon Durand, Comte de Linois, 27 January 1761 – 2 December 1848) famous raiding squadron in the Indian Ocean, which was of course detailed in Patrick O'Brian's novel, "HMS Surprise", wherein Le Berceau is frequently mentioned.

 

I am not sure if they would have it, but the Peabody Essex Museum has a large collection of Josiah Fox papers - catalog attached.

 

 

MH11_JosiahFoxPapers.pdf

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17 hours ago, uss frolick said:

When the Bonne Citoyenne was captured, the british made a dozen and a half copies, one of which was HMS Levant, which fought the Constitution.

 

In British service, HMS Bonne Citoyenne became famous for defeating the Frigate La Furiese (armed en flute), which in turn was a sister-ship to La Guerriere, which also fought the Constitution.

 

Bonne Citoyenne was halfway between Wasp I and Wasp II in force with eighteen 32-pounder carronades plus two chasers, since Wasp I had sixteen 32-pounder carronades and the Wasp II, twenty, plus chasers. La Berceau carried twenty two long nine pounders and two twelve pounders.

 

 

Yes, the Hermes class, built to counter the big american sloops-of course being British built they were slightly shortened and had much reduced tumblehome as well.  It looks like according to Rif Winfield(1), the Berceau was actually a tad smaller than Bonne Citoyenne. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_corvette_Berceau_(1794) I wonder if this means she carried guns on a quarterdeck-or simply had gunports spaced more closely? 

 

Both Furieuse and Guerriere were laid down as Romaine class fregate-bombardes, but were modified to more conventional frigates. The Furieuse was expanded to the dimensions of the seine class, and I happen to have her plan. While her hull form was closer to the seine in having no pronounced knuckles and being fairly full fore and aft compared to the midsection, it was much rounder and fuller than the other seine class ships-likely due to using timber already gathered with a full-lined romaine class vessel in mind. The Guerriere seems to have had much the same treatment, once it was realized that the fregate-bombarde concept wouldn't work. She was modified by Jean-Francois Lafosse to slightly shorter dimensions than the Furieuse, https://books.google.com/books?id=Ge8kCwAAQBAJ&pg=PT286&lpg=PT286&dq=lafosse+guerriere&source=bl&ots=fKphRxLcfZ&sig=pVWw3VnQEPT-EItQTbY2a6R5BzQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjH8f2Al4TVAhVp3IMKHZJSC9oQ6AEIJTAA#v=onepage&q=lafosse guerriere&f=false

so her hull form may or may not have been the same.

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Actually, the Hermes class of four were about the same size as the French ship. Levant was a member of the follow-on Cyrus class, which were the slightly reduced ones.

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It is a stretch, but there is an unsigned, undated, plan of a corvette de 24 canons, “donné par M. Sané” in the Cherbourg archives. SHD has very few plans of corvettes for the period before 1801 and those are mainly de 18 or smaller and designed by others, although some are signed off on by Sané as insp. gén.

 

John

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I think I remember the Bonne Citoyenne had more ports per side than necessary for her guns mounted. Oddly enough, in French Service, she was still steered by a tiller, even though about 120 feet (English) on the gun deck. I gotta find those plans and check ...

 

 

 

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20 + 2 bridle ports, according to the British draught of the ship, so fits the French armament. The British armament seems to be 18 carronades + 2 chase guns so two extra ports.

 

A tiller isn't that uunusual for open deck warships like this. Most of the Cruizers, just twenty feet shorter, had tillers from the start. I suppose it isn't as bad when you don't have a quarterdeck and require a whipstaff. Now what is weird is the captured Dutch sloop Havik, which extends the rudder up to the quarterdeck level for the tiller.

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Just rolled them out to check. You are right about the French configuration, but there are long gaps between the extremity guns and deck ends. The second of the two surviving British plans of Bonne C. , an inboard profile plan, showing her as refitted for English service, has an additional pair of ports cut aft, without any apparent crowding, and there would have been room enough forward for one more too, had they chosen to do so. The French wanted to keep the weight of the guns away from the extremities in sharp hulled vessels, I would assume. As fitted, Bonne C. got a proper wheel, a smaller tiller, and the great 35 foot long flush topgallant forecastle deck, complete with a fore jeer capstan, was removed, and replaced with a much shorter one. So in RN service, 22 + 2 bridle ports, which is the reverse as I had remembered it. :)

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I haven't researched this beyond a fruitless threedecks and Wikipedia search, but it seems that the Bayadere was either designed by JN Sane or signed off by him. From this model it would seem that his typical hullform was likely employed-especially visible in the shape of the bow. http://mnm.webmuseo.com/ws/musee-national-marine/app/collection/record/8981?expo=5&index=4

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Bayadère was one of five Victorieuse class 20 gun corvettes. Designed by Fran­­çois Poncet with alterations by Sané. Bayadère was built at Rochefort by Jean-Baptiste Hubert. Her standard armament was 18x 24 lb carronades and 2x 12 lb cannons.

 

The class dimensions are given as 120’ 0” Lpp, 109’, 0” length on keel, 30’ 0” beam, and 15’6” depth of hold. They drew 12’ 9” forward, 14’ 0” aft. These are all in French pieds, pouces and lignes.

 

You are in luck. Another of the class, La Hébé was captured and taken into the RN as HMS Ganymede. Her lines were taken off at Portsmouth and I do believe NMM has a 3-view plan floating about somewhere.

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