31.3.06

ERICSSON GOULASH. More information about the Austro-Hungarian monitors.
The k.k. Naval Architect-Inspector Josef von Romako, brother of the famous Biedermeier painter, received orders to design a modern warship for the Danube. He resolved this task brilliantly by orienting himself along the Monitor design but opening new venues in regard to technical equipment. Two years after founding the I. Ungarische Pest-Fiumaner Schiffbau A.G. (Elsö Magyar Pest-Fiumei Hajógyár R.T.), in 1870/71, the Austrian Navy's first two-screw Danube monitors ­Maros and Leitha­ were built there. For the first time an Austrian warship was propelled by two fast running, vertically standing, high pressure engines. One has to know, that in those days common steam-engines were slow-turning low-pressure engines with huge horizontally arranged cylinders. Only after introducing fast running engines and having two engines for propulsion, it became possible to get along with small propellers, imperative, since it was impossible to accommodate bigger screws due to the ships' low draft. For the first time Bessemer steel plates were used for the belt armor, Leitha also got an armored deck--the k.k. Navy's first ships with steel protection. Another new introduction was the arrangement of both guns placed in a revolving deck turret. Advantages of turrets vis-à-vis casemates were lower weight of armor, wider firing angles, and full protection of its gun crew. Two rifled 6in (15)-cm breech loaders, System Wahrendorf, were mounted on fixed sledges. Crude lateral direction was obtained by manually turning the turret, fine tuning was arranged by the ship's maneuvering. It became a tradition from the beginning, that all monitors were named after tributaries of the Danube.
That's thinner but tougher plate than Monitor's iron, and twin screws to Monitor's one. On the other hand, Monitor mounted 15 inch muzzle-loading Dahlgren guns. Ericsson intended breech-loading guns, but the Navy would have none of those, in part because of a fatal accident in which an Ericsson breech-loader exploded, perhaps owing to mishandling by a traditional Navy artillerist. Fire control by aiming the ship was common in the U.S. Navy at the time.

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