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Licorne - 1755 Armament and Watchkeeper's Bench Question


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First, some background:   The ship was built in 1755 and had a major repair/rebuild at some point.  It's listed as an 8-pdr frigate.  The NMM plans call it a 32 gun ship.   However, the NMM plans also have some inconsistencies in that they show the quarterdeck with the temporary roundhouses (as captured) and there's some illegible notes relating to modifications and armament and some faded areas on the drawings that I'm not seeing what's there very clearly.  Hahn's drawings do agree with the NMM drawings but he apparently used the wrong reference for rigging but that's another story.


My first problem is this.  The first port, is 2 feet square.  All the other gunports are 2 feet, 4 inches square.  The forward port is on the fore side of the fireplaces and somewhat isolated by them and the anchor bitts. There is room for a French long 8-pdr to handle the recoil/reload.  The framing part of the Hahn plans at the first port is obscured by a tapeover so I can't see what he did though the side drawings show the ports and agree with the NMM as to size.


I'm wondering (musing?)...  would the first port have been filled? Could she actually have been a 30 gun even though the British rated her as a 32 gun with 9-pdrs?  It just seems strange that this port is smaller than the rest.


And my second problem...  There's a suspicion in my mind that the British did away with the watchkeeper's bench from in front of the companionway which was common on French ships and added a grating but that is pure speculation on my part since there is no other logical place for the bench which is not shown on the NMM drawings. I'm guessing it's possible that the bench could have sat on the grating...?


I'm open to any thoughts on these as I'm hitting the proverbial brick wall.






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That's what I'm thinking but based on the drawings and the number of guns, this port would need to used.    I need a time machine.




No.. this is a frigate. There was a Licorne earlier but this one isn't it.   This Licorne was with Belle Poule in June, 1778.  Belle Poule escaped the English and went on to glory in it's famous battle.


There is a lot of confusion about Unicorn and Licorne.  This ship was taken into British service as HMS Licorne as the Unicorn name was already taken.  Mr. Delecroix helped to straighten me out on the history in my log that I had published as even certain web sites had it wrong.

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According to Lyon, The Sailing Navy List, Licorne was initially armed with 26 12-pounders on the upper deck. These were reduced to 9-pounders on 2.11. 1778.


This would imply that the forward port was used. Possibly the gun carriages here would need modification to fit a cannon.

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Thanks Druxey,  That's a reference I don't have.  I was aware of how the British gunned her, not about the 12-pdrs.  I'm thinking it would be a safe assumption then that they re-gunned her on a 1 for 1 basis to replace the French 8-pdrs.


Back to more mundane research and thoughts like the watchkeeper's bench and probably chicken coops.... Keeps the mind occupied will shaping and fitting the gunports and sills.

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Thanks Frolick.


I have the Belle Poule monograph as my bible on this.  I also have Le Venus and Bonhomme Richard monographs as ancillary materal.  Mr. Delacroix recommended using Belle Poule as the reference for rigging and other items as it's appropriate to the time period.  The watch keeper's bench "Banc de quart", chicken coops, a "different" decking in the Great Cabin along with paneling there seem to be hallmarks of the French frigates and maybe bigger but I can't speak to them.     I'm still going over things to get it right or at least as right as I can make it.

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