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50 cal Machine gun on sloop vs. 38 gun frigate... who would win?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by jamz, Dec 23, 2006.

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.50 Cal vs 38 gun frigate- who wins?

  1. The .50 would de-personnell the frigate at a half mile

    68 vote(s)
    34.5%
  2. The frigate would destroy the sloop entirely

    62 vote(s)
    31.5%
  3. It is questions like this that make THR such a special place.

    87 vote(s)
    44.2%
Multiple votes are allowed.
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  1. jamz

    jamz Member

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    My brother in law posed this question to me last night. Supposing it is around the War of 1812. If you mounted a 50BMG machine gun (with unlimited ammunition and theoretical barrel life) on the deck of a smaller sloop of war, with a competent operator, and set her against an average frigate of 38 guns or so, who would win?

    Sailing qualities of a sloop vs square rigged ship aside, I guess this is really a ballistics question- would the .50 round penetrate a foot of oak at a mile, enough to start disabling the people aboard, before the frigate got into range to destroy the sloop with cannon fire?
     
  2. Ditchtiger

    Ditchtiger Member

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    Pour on the incendiary rounds! One wood and fabric ship, gone.
     
  3. Mannlicher

    Mannlicher Member

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    Just clear the tops, destroy the rigging, and kill the people. The .50 would far outrange the smoothbore 32 pounders on the frigate.
     
  4. Fu-man Shoe

    Fu-man Shoe Member

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    I think it bears mentioning that the .50 BMG is not some
    sort of mythical uber cannon. It's just a very large gun.

    That is all.

    In WW2, there were planes that were quite thorougly
    perforated by .50 BMG fire that went onto complete thier
    missions and make a safe landing.

    It's a big round, but let's not start ascribing magical
    powers to it.

    :rolleyes:

    Fu-man Shoe
     
  5. rustymaggot

    rustymaggot Member

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    what is the range of the cannons?


    wait till your almost in range of the cannons to shoot. that way you dont waste ammo on harder shots at distance.

    id vote the .50, providing theres enough ammo.
     
  6. rustymaggot

    rustymaggot Member

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    fuman,

    we are talking about boats. a hole or two in a aircraft and it doesnt fill up with water and sink.
     
  7. arthurcw

    arthurcw Member

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    hmmm... 32 pounder's effective range is 2300 Yards. The .50 BMG's is 2200. Sloop is pretty maneuverable, but the frigate can take a pounding. This is actually a pretty good question. I think it may come down to how good the sloop skipper is. He has to keep getting lucky. The Frigate only has to get luck once.

    I’m gonna put my money on the frigate.
     
  8. 50 Shooter

    50 Shooter member

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    The .50 would win hands down, stand off at a mile and riddle the boat with incendiary like Ditchtiger said. Better yet light it up with some Raufoss and watch it go down to Davey Jones locker.:evil:
     
  9. LaEscopeta

    LaEscopeta Member

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    Is that “special” as in Special Forces, or as in Special Olympics?

    Anyway, Francis Drake and the other English Sea Dog Captains in the 1500s had a similar tactical situation, but they sailed primarily small schooners against Spanish Man’o wars (Men of War?) The schooners could not defeat the larger ship, but they could sail away from them, doubling back to sink the merchant ships the war ships were supposed to be guarding.

    Often in war neither side can defeat the other out right. The side that ultimately prevails is the one who can chip away at their enemy’s weaknesses and strategic “center of mass” indefinitely, while preserving their own force. Sloops with M2s would have the opportunity to do this against frigates.
     
  10. jamz

    jamz Member

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    I forgot about incindiary rounds. If one of those could penetrate into the powder magazine, well it's all over.

    However, I would think it's hard to destroy rigging with bullets. They used to use chain shot and bar for that kind of work. also those guys used to be pretty good with their cannon, and they only have to get a couple of good shots into a sloop before it's disabled and it's manuverability is highly compromised.

    The trick would be to kill enough people belowdecks so that they couldn't fire their guns effectively anymore... and they had a lot of people aboard.
     
  11. geekWithA.45

    geekWithA.45 Moderator Emeritus

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    I don't know enough on the relative maneuverability of various age of sail ships to comment.

    If it were, say, a 1952 Chris Craft w/ the ma deuce vs the 38 gun frigate, I'd lay money on the powerboat.
     
  12. TIMC

    TIMC Member

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    Depends, is the frigate manned by zombies? :neener:
     
  13. ilbob

    ilbob Member

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    I know little about the speed or maneuverability of a sloop versus a frigate, but I think the armament is roughly equivalent. If the speed and maneuverability is roughly equivalent, it might come down to luck and who can take the biggest pounding.

    maybe a slight edge to the .50 if it has incendiary rounds. I seem to recall that ships of the line of that time used heated shot for incendiary purposes.
     
  14. dm1333

    dm1333 Member

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    The old Royal Navy tactic was to close with the enemy ship and try to take out her cannon. Once the cannon were out of commission they would board and try to capture her. They did not want to hole the ship and sink her, prize money was a huge incentive against that. The French and Spanish often used chain shot and stuff like that to clear the rigging and try to take out the masts and rigging. The added benefit of the Royal Navy tactic was that if your shot was too high and hit near the main deck you created a huge amount of wooden shrapnel that would tear up the crew on deck. If you hit too low you holed the ship and she would be taking on more water than usual.

    I'm going with the frigate on this. Have any of you taken a tour of Old Ironsides and seen just how thick the hull was? All it would take to put the .50 cal out of commission is one shot hitting the deck or bulwark, debris flying everywhere and the gun gets knocked out of commission. The crew serving it would be dead or wounded, the belt screwed up and the whole thing knocked off of its mount.
     
  15. earplug

    earplug Member

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    RAKE THE STERN

    Rake the stern, fewer canon, lay some good plunging fire from a mile away and gradually get closer, take out the rudder. Don't forget to take a prize crew and share the booty.
     
  16. akodo

    akodo Member

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    the 50 wins hands down it the range and accuracy catagory, but the cannons of the frigate win hands down in raw destructive power.

    Provided the sloop can stay out of accurate cannon range, it should just be a matter of shooting the crew of the frigate.

    The outcome will either be a relatively seaworthy frigate possibly with damaged rigging and but no crew or else a sloop at the bottom of the ocean with a handful of 12 inch holes in her.
     
  17. Gifted

    Gifted Member

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    What's the dispersal of the .50 over 1000 yards?

    The smoothbores were actually pretty accurate, IIRC. Problem was, they're like a .45ACP. Up close hitting power is great, but much beyond a relatively short range, they're not so good. Provided you can get enough .50 on target at a range great enough that they can't shoot back effectively(and I'd go with an M2WC for the barrel life), then the sloop would win. I don't know how much energy a .50 would have after going through a foot of wood(if it could), or if you could get the concentration of firepower at range to do anything.
     
  18. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

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    The sloop is also going to be much less stable on the sea, so aiming at range is reduced. The frigate could put in small shot and do spray and pray with a whole ton of shot blanketing anything in range. It would so thoroughly destroy the morale of a sloop I do not think anyone would be willing to remain on deck with tons of shot raining down injuring and taking people out. Cannons are immensely powerful. Ball and chain, shot, whizzing through the air, a single cannon ball crippling or sinking the sloop either way making it a sitting duck for follow up shots. The range difference seems greater than it is for the smoothbore gunners are great at pointing them at elevationand raining things down like artillery while the .50 is a much straighter trajectory that once it starts to drop much it drops. Yet the smoothbore trajectory is much more intuitive and gradual allowing adjusting on the fly more easily at range. Keep in mind a cannon able to sink ships, crushing hulls with a cannon ball can still sling grapeshot into the sky with plenty of force to kill any person it hits at similar range to what the cannonball still retains the power to crush hulls. The range difference on video games of cannon and grapeshot is highly exagerated for strategic purposes. It would be worthless against other warships, but against a sloop? I think grape and anti rigging shots would win the day. A chain flying through the air does not have to be aimed very well to disable the sloops rigging.
     
  19. ozarkhillbilly

    ozarkhillbilly Member

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    You did not state what size guns the Frigate had so I am not sure the 50cal would out range the guns on the frigate. Also with 38 guns and a full crew the frigate could take a whole lot more of a pounding then the sloop. All it takes is one lucky shot to take out the 50cal and the sloop is dead. A sloop of from 1812 is not going to be all that faster then a frigate both are fast and agile ships the frigate is just bigger and more powerful. If the frigate closes with in grape shot range of the sloop, it will be all over for the sloop.

    Do not think that holes from a few hundred rounds of 50cal will even slow down a frigate. For the 50 to do real damage you have to come close and hit the frigate when its high in the water riding a wave other wise your just hitting it above the water line.

    While I could be wrong I think that allot of people are confusing frigates with ships of the line(battleships of the day) slow moving and not as maneuverable, ships that a sloop could use their speed to and good advantage over.
     
  20. jamz

    jamz Member

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    Yeah, a frigate is medium sized... a crew of four hundred, maybe, 100 or 120 feet long say, guaging about 600 tons or so.

    And by "sloop" I mean a smaller ship, actual number of masts not important, but let's say no more than two, and not ship rigged. (More properly called a brig, I suppose)....

    I'm still torn...
     
  21. earplug

    earplug Member

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    M2 Ball wins

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    AMMUNITION EFFECTS
    The .50 caliber round is optimized for penetration at long ranges (about 875 yards, or 800 meters). For hard targets, .50 caliber penetration is affected by obliquity and range.

    The .50 caliber round can penetrate all of the commonly found urban barriers except a sand-filled 55-gallon drum.

    Continued and concentrated machine gun fire can breach most typical urban walls. Such fire cannot breach thick reinforced concrete structures or dense natural stone walls. Internal walls, partitions, plaster, floors, ceilings, common office furniture, home appliances, and bedding can be easily penetrated by .50 caliber rounds.

    Number of rounds needed to penetrate a reinforced concrete wall at 25° obliquity. Wall Thickness 109 yd (100 m) Range 219 yd (200 m) Range
    2 ft (0.6 m) 300 rounds 1,200 rounds
    3 ft (0.9 m) 450 rounds 1,800 rounds
    4 ft (1.2 m) 600 rounds 2,400 rounds


    Penetration capabilities of a single .50 caliber M2 AP round fired from a 45-inch barrel. Range Armor Plate (homogeneous) Armor Plate (face-hardened) Sand Clay
    219 yd (200 m) 1.0 in (25.4 mm) 0.9 in (22.9 mm) 14 in (355.6 mm) 28 in (711.2 mm)
    656 yd (600 m) 0.7 in (17.8 mm) 0.5 in (12.7 mm) 12 in (304.8 mm) 27 in (685.8 mm)
    1,640 yd (1,500 m) 0.3 in (7.6 mm) 0.2 in (5.1 mm) 6 in (152.4 mm) 21 in (533.4 mm)
     
  22. ceetee

    ceetee Member

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    The .50 can shoot over the sloop's bow into the frigate. The frigate has to be broadside to fire her cannon effectively. Did they mount smaller cannon (3 pounders maybe?) off the stern as well as the bow? If so, they'd be the first targets that would have to be neutralized. Also, the captain's cabin (and those of other high-rollers) would be in the stern, no?

    I'd say the sloop, closing from the rear, would be able to lay down such a barrage of anti-personnel fire that the remaining command staff of the frigate would lay to and sue for surrender in short order. Plunder enough to go around that day...
     
  23. bogie

    bogie Member

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    Stay away from the sides, and pour fire into the rear. Disable steering mechanism, then work on the deck and masts. When it's dead in the water, look for surrender flag. Otherwise, keep at it.
     
  24. Colt46

    Colt46 Member

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    .50 cal is awesome

    But I really think it would be difficult for it to inflict serious structural damage to the larger frigate. Incendiary rounds would make a vast difference in the contest though.
     
  25. Shaughn Leayme

    Shaughn Leayme Member

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    Take a Frigate

    USS Constitution

    2200 tons displacement
    175 feet long 204 feet overall
    13 knots under sail maximum
    450 crew officers, marines,sailors and ships boy's
    32 x 24 pounder long guns
    20 x 32 carronades short guns
    2 x 24 pounder Long toms

    Sloop of War

    70 tons
    62 feet long
    14 knots or better *shallower draft and lack of sail must be considered
    50 crew
    12 x 4 pounder long and short

    Range of guns

    32 pounder long maximum 2000 yards if skipped 2900 yards
    24 pounder long maximum 2000 yards
    4 pounder long maximum 1500 yards

    Penetration of 18 pounder gun 2' 6 inches of Oak at 400 yards more than a foot at 1000 yards

    So you are on a sloop that is very low to the water and this monster of a frigate is coming into view....let's see what are we going to do? run over there and shoot her up with our cannon and .50 cal's or put on as much sail as we can and run hoping to open the range so that they can't take down rigging with the bow chasers.

    Sorry my money is on the Frigate, because to get close enough to do significant damage, also means that you are close enough to feel the wrath of the guns.

    On another note a British Naval officer of the time (name escapes me at the moment) devised a firing scheme that did not rely on a randomly aimed broadside, but a precision broad side, with each gun aimed at a particular point, maximizing the damage per gun and even went so far as to mark out the deck and put simple sight on each gun, this revolutionized naval warfare, so just because you cannot bring all guns to bear in a broadside, doesn't mean you cannot crank guns around in thier ports to bring more to bear. He also devised accurate range charts for each gun on the ship.

    Then you have the fact that the ship you are trying to engage is maneuvering to engage you and given that you both rely on the wind to move and counter move, it would be very hard for a ship to maintain station where they could cover the stern, it's sort of like a big dance, you move they move, while at the same time trying to inflict significant damage, while escaping having the same done to you, not easy by a long shot.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2006
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