This excellent reference work covers a longer time span than the author's books on British warships. We start with the last major construction programme before the Revolution, work through the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and then move onto the post-war period, which saw the slow introduction of steam power. We end with the first ironclad warships, which marked the start of a new era of naval construction.
As a result of the larger time span this book covers more ships than the British volumes, and the amount of detail on each ship's service career is thus greatly reduced. The emphasis is on design, specifications and construction, with details for each member of each class. There is also a brief account of each ship's career, with a particular focus on their eventual fates.
The Napoleonic sections show one great advantage of Britain's naval superiority - in some sections the majority of ships end up being captured by the Royal Navy and in many cases used against their former owners. There are some examples of the opposite happening, although most of the former British ships in French service were captured during the American War of Independence.
This is a very useful reference book, providing the other side of the picture to the books on British warships and demonstrating the huge amount of effort that the French put into their fleet and a series of attempts to overcome British naval power.
1 - The Three-deckers
2 - Two-decker Ships of the Line, 80 to 100 guns
3 - Two-decker Ships of the Line, 74 guns and below
4 - The Larger Frigates (24-, 30- and 36-pounder Frigates)
5 - The Smaller Frigates (8-, 12-, and 18-pounder Frigates)
6 - Corvettes
7 - Brigs
8 - Small Sailing Patrol Vessels
9 - Sailing Gunboats and Coastal Vessels
10 - Miscellaneous Sailing Vessels
11 - Paddle Vessels
12 - Screw Avisos and Screw Gunboats
13 - The Larger Transports
14 - The Smaller Transports
Ironclad floating batteries
Author: Rif Winfield & Stephen S. Roberts