Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/39

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33
The Real Projector of the Virginia.

such a structure if it had no addition to it; there is, therefore, an unarmored structure lying above the submerged ship and connected with it, both before and after the armored castle, and as this structure rises 20 feet out of water, from stem to stern, without depriving the guns of that command of the horizon already described, and as it moreover renders a flying deck unneccessary, it gets over the objections which have been raised against the low free board and other features in the Devastation, Thunderer and Dreadnaught. These structures furnish also most luxurious accommodations for officers and seamen. The step in advance has therefore been from 14 inches of armor to 24 inches, from 35 ton guns to 80 tons, from two guns ahead to four guns ahead, and from a height of 10 feet for working the anchors to 20 feet. And this is done without an increase in cost, and with a reduction of nearly 3 feet in draught of water. My belief is that in the Inflexible we have reached the extreme limit in thickness of armor for sea-going vessels.

"The length of the vessel between perpendiculars is 320 feet, and she has the extraordinary breadth of 75 feet at the water-line; depth of hold, 23 feet 3½ inches; freeboard, 10 feet; mean draught of water, 24 feet 5 inches (23 feet 5 inches forward and 25 feet 5 inches aft); area of midship section, 1,658 square feet; and displacement, when all the weights are on board, 11,407 tons, being the largest man-of-war hitherto constructed. She is, as before described, a rectangular armoured castle. The whole of the other parts of the vessel which are unprotected by armour have been given their great dimensions for the simple purpose of floating and moving this invulnerable citadel and the turrets by which it is surmounted.

"Her immense bulk, unprecedented armament, powerful machinery and the provision for ramming and for resisting the impact of rams as well as of shot and shell, have made it necessary that strength and solidity should enter into every part of the structure.

"The Inflexible having been accepted as one of the types of the British future line-of battle ships, two others have been put in process of construction—the Ajax, which was laid down at the Pembroke dock yard in 1876; and the Agamemnon, commenced at the Chatham in the same year, and launched in 1879. After so full an account of the Inflexible, any detailed description of these two sister ships would be a mere repetition."

"The Colossus and the Majestic * * * two steel sister ships,