Swansong: Blakely, Brooke and Vavasseur. Part 1
Authors: Kent R. Crawford, Donald E. Carlucci
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The decades of the 1860s and 1870s were characterized by one of the most thorough-going Technological Revolutions the world had ever seen, it has been characterized as the ‘second industrial revolution.’ And this Revolution affected the world’s Navies no less than every other human endeavor. In the field of ordnance, iron smooth bore cannon firing solid round shot were replaced by rifled cannon. History recalls the many of the designers and/or manufacturers of the Great Guns. There was, however, one particular designer whose brief career has been overlooked until recently.
The performance and detailed information of the better known major gun founders is well documented and easily obtainable, but those of the lesser known producers are lost to history. Except for some third party accounts, official documents and some sub-contractor sales records, little remains of Captain Blakely’s work. Almost all of his business records appear to have been passed to Vavasseur in 1867, whose own files and records were incorporated into the Armstrong archives when The London Ordnance Company merged with Armstrong in 1883, and subsequently destroyed in WW II. This paper seeks to remedy that lack, to the greatest extent possible. With few exceptions, the Muzzle Velocity figures in the tabular data are calculated values, and should be considered nominal.