BRITISH STATE OF THE ART IRONCLAD



Captain Cowper Coles Best Ship

Above, the Huascar, by Peruvian artist Saldivar. Designed by Royal Navy Officer Cowper Coles, she became one of the best ships ever built by the British Company Lairds & Birckenhead. Coles, together with the Swedish-American John Ericsson are credited with coming up with the idea for armored turrets monitors at about the same time. Both of them made suggestions during the Crimean War. Coles made further proposals during the late 1850s, including an innovative plan in 1859 for a ship with ten armored cupolas, but none were built although an experimental turret was tested on the battery Trusty in 1861. Similar ships to the Coles-designed Huascar were HMS Prince Albert, which in 1866 was completed with more ship-like characteristics than the monitors (though she too was restricted to coast defense), and the Danish Rolf Krake, with four 8-inch guns, also built in Britain according to Coles designs. On the contrary of her British and Danish counterparts, Huascar was the only of her class tested in battle, against two unarmored British cruisers in 1877 and several Chilean corvettes, schooners and two casemate ships in 1879. Below, a maquete of the legendary ironclad, done in pure silver, at the Naval Museum of Peru (courtesy Rear Admiral Frank Boyle and Commander John Hopkins, Peruvian Navy). At the bottom, a copy of the original designs of the Huascar by Cowper Coles (Courtesy, Mr. Gonzalo Maguiņa).