A Conversation for HMS Warrior
Researcher 175684 Started conversation May 15, 2001
In your article you mention that the HMS Warrior was the world's first Ironclad warship. But I believe Korea used ships that could be considered Ironclads in the 16th century. I don't know much about it but I'm sure you can find more information yourself.
Bluebottle Posted May 16, 2001
I'll check into it - I hadn't heard anything about it before, though...
Red (and a bit grey) Dog Posted Aug 1, 2001
I was in Korea a couple of months ago and read up about these iron clads. They were called `Turtle` Ships and were deployed by the Koreans in a war against the Japanese at th eend of the 16th century (1596 I believe). The Japanese were completely victorious on land but the Turtle ships were unbeatable at sea - if I recall it properly something like a small flotilla of these ships (the Koreans only had a few of them) destroyed 100`s of Japanese ships. The admiral in charge became a national hero and is still revered by the Koreans.
The Turtle ships were oddly shaped with a complete carapace of iron and covered with spikes to prevent boarding. They had cannon deployed in a broadside configuration and a rather fancy ram at the front.
I can dig more info if you`re interested - I have a guidebook somewhere.
Bluebottle Posted Aug 2, 2001
Yes, I am interested - it's not something I had heard of before. Roughly how big were these ships, and were they designed for ocean-going, or just coastal defence?
Red (and a bit grey) Dog Posted Aug 3, 2001
Hi Bluebottle, my boss has a model of one presented to him whilst in Korea. The Turtleships were oared galleys (single bank) with two masts. I would guess that they were ocean going to some extent but with the oars used for engagements (much like Genoese or Venetian galleys of the period).
Using Hotbot I did a search on Korea then a search-within-search on Turtle and No 4 `The Ironclad Turtle` from the University of Houston gives a full history, pictures and links. I read a lot about naval history (I come from a seafaring family) and when I first heard about it I found the whole story absolutely rivetting ... especially as the yanks think they got there first with the Monitor and the Merrimac.
It's certainly worth some subtext in your Warrior entry and maybe worth a whole entry in itself. I'd be glad to help out in anyway if you wanted to do this.
Bluebottle Posted Aug 4, 2001
I went to the University of Houston page, and read the "story" they had listed there. From what I can gather from the little there, the ships were iron clad and not made of iron, in other words, wooden hulled but with iron armour, similar to the French La Gloire.
The report called the ship an ironclad. Iron technology was not very advanced then; even if they had the technology to make an iron-hulled ship, I would expect the ram would have been too brittle and would have fragmented on impact, in the same way as Britain's early iron frigates fragmented when hit by cannon. Until the 1850s, iron refining techniques meant that iron armour on wood was far stronger than iron alone. Galleys tend not to be very ocean-going either, and these ships had a flat keel, so I would not consider them ocean going.
I could be wrong, though, as I have very little to go on.
From that, then yes, it seems that they were definately the world's first ironclads, before La Gloire, and for 1592, very advanced. A step forward 150 years before La Gloire, which also wasn't truely ocean-going.
How much of what was written was accurate I cannot say, as the author of the piece on the University of Houston website wrote: "But we didn't again see anything resembling the Korean Turtle boat until the (American) Civil War" - which is wrong. There was the Nemesis in 1839, Britain's frigates of the 1840s, La Gloire in 1857 and HMS Warrior, the first iron-hulled warship, in 1860, all of which were before the famous American Civil War battle in 1862.
The Monitor and Merrimac were, then, very much based on French technology that had been preceded by Korean technology over 150 years before, but it still seems that HMS Warrior was the world's first iron-hulled warship.
Still, this has proved very fascinating. Admiral Yi was definately a genius, and 150 years ahead of his time. Strange how no-one else considered iron-cladding their ships in a time when knights still existed.
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