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The Sloop of War (ePub)


Colour eBooks Maritime > Naval Maritime > Seaforth Publishing

By Ian Mclaughlan
Seaforth Publishing
File Size: 92.5 MB (.epub)
Pages: 288
ISBN: 9781848322974
Published: 28th February 2014


£16.00 Print price £40.00

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The Anderson Medal Shortlist

Shortlisted for ‘The Society for Nautical Research Anderson Medal for published works on Martime History’

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This is the first study in depth of the Royal Navy's vital, but largely ignored small craft. In the age of sail they were built in huge numbers and in far greater variety than the more regulated major warships, so they present a particular challenge to any historian attempting a coherent design history. However, for the first time this book charts the development of the ancillary types, variously described in the 17th century as sloops, ketches, brigantines, advice boats and even yachts, as they coalesce into the single 18th-century category of Sloop of War. In this era they were generally two-masted, although they set a bewildering variety of sail plans from them. The author traces their origins to open boats, like those carried by Basque whalers, shows how developments in Europe influenced English craft, and homes in on the relationship between rigs, hull-form and the duties they were designed to undertake.

Visual documentation is scanty, but this book draws together a unique collection of rare and unseen images, coupled with the author's own reconstructions in line drawings and watercolour sketches to provide the most convincing depictions of the appearance of these vessels. By tackling some of the most obscure questions about the early history of small-boat rigs, the book adds a dimension that will be of interest to historians of coastal sail and practical yachtsman, as well as warship enthusiasts.

A major new work on a little studied ship.

This is the first technical history of the naval sloop, a vital but largely ignored small craft. With beautiful reconstructions and a collection of rare images, this is a major work for historians of coastal sail and practical yachtsmen, as well as warships enthusiasts.

Sailing Barge Assc. August '15

[This book] has been printed to a high standard, thereby allowing for the maximum detail in the reproductions to be evident. In support of the text there are six appendices, ranging from an alphabetical list of purpose-built and prize sloops to the arming of the sloop of war. There is also a very extensive bibliography.
Excellent and a credit to the author.

The Mariner's Mirror

A superb work with detailed history and dockyard plans.

Amazon customer review, Mr D Hiley

Ian McLaughlan, a retired British army officer, offers a welcome and thoroughly researched study of the British navy's smallest sailing warships. His preface says that he hopes to produce two more volumes extending the coverage into the twentieth century. In 288 entertaining and informative pages of this first installment, he explores every imaginable aspect of these often-neglected but quite fascinating little men-of-war: origin, evolution of various types, rig, armaments, operational uses, and designers. In a large though not overwhelming format, the book is filled with a superb selection of interesting B & W illustrations showing drafts, models, period art (including impeccably accurate seventeenth-century drawings by Willem Van de Velde the Elder and Younger), and a number of the author's own well-executed sketches and diagrams. Design and quality of reproductions are a credit to Seaforth Publishing. The text is logically organized and discussions are nicely balanced among the various periods and subjects. A LOT of the information presented is either completely new or seldom previously noticed. Extensive end-notes cite appropriate secondary sources, plus numerous manuscripts in the National Archives of England and Wales, notably Admiralty correspondence in the ADM 1 and 106 series, and captains' logs in ADM 51. Useful appendices give data on all the sloops-of-war and related small vessels in service during the period covered, samples of mast and spar dimensions, an excellent explanation of shipwrights' drafts, an evaluation of sailing performances, a useful note on the designers, and another for armament details. Filling major gaps in knowledge, this is a remarkable and highly valuable work for those of us who love and study ship design and ship histories. After I pore through McLaughlan's book a second time for sheer enjoyment, I will place it on the portion of my shelves reserved for frequently consulted "Really Good Books."

Amazon Customer Review, Mr F Fox

An astonishingly rich and detailed narrative.

The illustrations in this volume are quite remarkable.

The author has certainly accomplished his stated purpose with this volume. Warship enthusiasts, those interested in the history of coastal sail or small boat rigs and ship modelers will find much of interest here. Highly recommended.

Northern Mariner

A fascinating study of the smaller fleet vessels of the Royal Navy from this period. This neglected subject has been thoroughly researched by the author, Ian McLaughlin, and he has added his own beautiful sketches to the many paintings and line drawings in the book. It combines a truly scholarly delivery with a lovely presentation. History brought to life.


A real 'must' to serious modelers with an interest in the warships of the 17th and 18th centuries. Ian McLaughlan has undertaken a serious study of this fascinating subject, researched in-depth, drawing on contemporary plans, paintings and models. I found that the wide range of visual material was not only fascinating but sufficient to provide for a number of future models.

The Bottleship

The book is a visual treasure trove of information, which will be a delight to ship modeller readers interested in warships of this era.
This excellent and substantial volume fulfills a long-felt need to do justice to the smaller ships of war that did such sterling service for the sailing Royal Navy. Ian McLaughlin and Seaforth Publishing are both to be congratulated for producing a book which is certain to be a classic and, indeed, to become the standard work of reference on the sailing sloop of war in British service.

Ships in Scale

With his insightful comments and astute observations, Ian McLaughlan will keep the reader engaged as he traces the evolution of this important warship. Historians, naval enthusiasts and model ship builders will find this book to be entertaining, as well as informative. Highly recommended.

Nautical Research Journal

Whether you're a serious scholar, a devotee of naval history, or just someone who likes a good book, The Sloop of War does not disappoint. It is at once an extremely detailed academic treatment of early Royal Navy warships, and simultaneously a reference work that could grace any coffee table.


About Ian Mclaughlan

IAN McLAUGHLAN is a retired British Army officer with a keen and active enthusiasm for small-boat sailing. From this passion developed a profound interest in the rigs, design and operations of the Navy’s smallest combatants. A decade of study has resulted in this book.

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