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The review for today is:

THE SLOOP OF WAR 1650-1763

Ian McLaughlan

2014  Naval Academy Press, Seaforth Publishing, 288 pages  12”x10”.


I was more than pleasantly surprised when I received this book to review. This large book is an extremely well researched and documented tracing of the development of the sloop of war. Mr. McLaughlan has carefully opened the door to the research of this class that, by the end of the Napoleonic wars became the most numerous of all the classes of ships involved in that conflict.


McLaughlan starts his story by diving into the murky beginnings of sloops by looking at shallops and oared whaling craft and how they were adapted to the military needs of wartime in the 1650’s. That period led to the development of lots of sizes and rigs of small craft. This development grew along several needs until the 1704-17 period. During this time the advice or scout boat, brigantine, escort, bomb ketch and fire ship became consolidated into a basic sloop design.


By 1732 some degree of standardization was established with the snow rig most favored. Only a few ships of that time used the ketch rig. The 1740’s saw the development of the ship rig and the raised quarterdeck and by the end of this book’s coverage the raised deck, ship rigged sloop as characterized by the Swan class of ships had become a staple in the Royal Navy’s fleet.


There are some notable features in this book that need highlighting. The author starts with a detailed and well-illustrated chapter on rigs and rigging. This gives the reader a reference to all of the types of rigs to be encountered in the book. Also, two chapters are devoted to the concurrent developments in French design, leading to the classic corvette design used by the French navy and privateers.


This book is heavily illustrated with photos, drawings and plans from the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. Of particular interest to modelers is that all of the NMM plans are identified by their file numbers which will make ordering from them easier.


Two appendixes are also important to note for modelers. The first one gives mast and spar dimensions while the second serves as a primer on how to read the plans the plans of some of the ships in the book.


I have two wishes concerning this book. I hope that other researchers use this benchmark book as platform to add to, prove or disprove any of Mr. McLaughlon’s pioneering work. My second wish is that the author gives us volume two that will take us through 1815.He will need collaborators to help with American and French sloop building efforts and I hope that he will be able to find that help. Finally, I hope to see some modelers  build some examples from the wonderful collection of interesting subjects.


By now you can tell that I like this book. It is a must have for anyone interested in the smaller warships of the 17th and 18th centuries.


Bob Friedman

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I am just getting into the real meat of this book and it is definitely enjoyable.  So much information its going to take a while.  Thanks for writing up this review.  I also hope there is another work in the future.

Edited by MEDDO
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Very cool - this book seems to have been written using the same framework as Robert Gardiner's "The Sailing Frigate" that was published last year, which I really enjoyed.  This book on sloops is about double the length of the frigate book :)


Any good details for those of us building sloops, like the Swan class line of ships?

Edited by Landlubber Mike
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Regarding "The Sloop of War 1650-1763"

This book has been well reviewed in the August edition (p.64) of "Model Boats" (UK) magazine.

For our friends on the other side of the pond, this book has been published by Seaforth

Publishing and is priced at 40 Pounds Sterling, approx. C$74. I'm planning to order a copy soon.


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I've just received my copy of this book. I echo Bob Friedman's review: well worth buying if you have an interest in the smaller vessels of this era. The reproductions of contemporary draughts alone is eye candy worth the price!

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As I said in my own review a fine book and a welcome addition to my shelf. I will positively purchase any future volume in the series. So many other books seemed focused on the larger units of the fleet.


It would have been nice if there had been at least one example of the "brigantine rig" in the chapter on masting and sail plans. Also the tables of spar dimensions that were calculated by the author from Steel were at best put in the next volume and at worst unnecessary as anyone could generate those for him or herself.


As always I wish that the plans did not straddle the gutter between pages.

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I have to agree with you on that.  I could build straight from the book at that scale but it never easy to bring everything into alignment.  And getting the plans and reducing them is just as bad and more expensive.  What do the guys do who do not have the room? :(

David B

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My package arrived today.  The book is a nice size and and easy to read for those with bad eyes.  There are several tables giving sizez and dimensions along with plans and diagrams.  To me this is a keeper.  I will enjoy this book when I go back to Iowa City.  From what I have seen this is a must for anyone who want to build a Swan class vessel either kit or scratch.





David B


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