A Conversation for 'The Monitor' and 'The 'Merrimack' Armoured Ships

Why the Monitor could beat ANY other 'ironclad'

Post 1


The description above states that the Monitor would not ordinarily attack an armoured vessel like the CSS Virginia (presumably because the latter warship was 'larger'). Nonsense. Subs attacked aircraft carriers throughout WWII--and how many battleships were lost to mines in WWI...?
In truth the 'Monitor' was designed to kill enemy warships--including other ironclads--whereas the converted Virginia was meant to sweep the North's WOODEN blockading ships. The clue is in the armament; 2 very heavy guns (so heavy they could only be mounted and worked on a centre-line revolving turret, by steam) vs. a rather conventional broadside of necessarily lighter guns--though at least in the Virginia (unlike, say, HMS Warrior) they could be pivoted on the quarters of the (fully-armoured) armoured casemate.
That is why the debate began the very next day after Hampton Roads why the Monitor's 11-inch 'Dahlgren' guns did not penetrate Virginia's 4-inch inclined armour. There are two answers; 1) there were no heavier guns available to the Union Navy (namely 15-inch guns) at the time, and 2) Dahlgren himself refused to allow his guns to be fired at anything greater than 15lbs charges. Later tests conducted by Dahlgren himself confirmed that 30lb. charges could have been safely used at Hampton Roads--and that at effective combat ranges (200 yards or less) the 11-inch could at least penetrate 4-inch armour plating and heavily damage the wood backing; repeated blows in the same area would have likely created large holes...
At any rate, within a month of Hampton Roads the US Navy was already laying down improved monitors which alone could mount guns like the 15-inch Dahlgren, weighing 22 tons and firing a 450lb solid shot with up to 100lb charges safely (though 30 then 60lbs was the 'service' rate). No broadside ironclad afloat could resist that kind of concentrated killing power until about 1870...
What the Monitor lost was long-range; it was not about to 'command the sea', in the middle of the Atlantic (i.e., NOWHERE). What it gained was the ability to outclass--at least in terms of raw offensive and defensive powers--any ironclad that foolishly came close. Unfortunately several Confederate ironclads (Virginia II, Tennessee, Atlanta) fell victim to this formula; Warrior could at least have kept far away with its 15+ knots, wasting ammunition by ineffective long-range fire...
Specialised warships and weapons will always have the advantage over more generic ones!

Why the Monitor could beat ANY other 'ironclad'

Post 2


Monitor would not have fared well in a battle against HMS Warrior's 64-pdr and 110-pdr guns, especially in rough weather.


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Why the Monitor could beat ANY other 'ironclad'

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