GREAT WARSHIPS OF HISTORY: THE REVENGE, RACE-BUILT GALLEON

 

Race-built_galleonBeginning in 1570, English ship designers began designing and building a sleeker, faster, more seaworthy type of galleon known as “race-built”. Their name derived from their “raced” or razed (removed) fore-and aft-castles; relics of the Middle Ages when boarding was the primary tactic in naval warfare. While the galleons of their rivals, the Spanish and Portuguese, still had tall fore-and-aft-castles; these race-built galleons gave English captains tremendous advantage in maneuverability and handling.

Designed under the direction of Sir John Hawkins, these were a revolutionary design. Lower in the water, with greater length in relation to their beam (broadest right at the waterline, unlike earlier Galleons), it was a more stable, weatherly, capable of sailing faster and closer to the wind than any previous ship of the same size. It was armed with a larger and more homogenous compliment of guns than other contemporary Men-of-War; giving it superior firepower and a longer range capability than any ship it faced. (English naval gun carriages and recoil systems were superior to that of their contemporaries, as well.) This combination of speed with firepower would become a hallmark of English ships for centuries to come.

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