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Post Info TOPIC: The Last Two Monitor Ships
Vilkata

Date:
The Last Two Monitor Ships
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It has recently come to my attention that there are but two Monitors still afloat in this world today. However, there seems to be a lack of good resource material surrounding them.

The oldest of the two, the Hungarian river monitor Leitha was launched in 1871 and became the first Danube monitor of the then k.k. Kriegsmarine. After 26 years, in 1894, she was re-armed and re-engined. She saw action in WWI, aswell as in the short lived Communist Hungary action against Czechoslovakia in 1919. Afterwards, she was disarmed and sold as a hulk, and has survived in various forms until present day.

The Leitha was originally a classic looking monitor, but later on in her 1894 modifications she was given an entire new superstructure and turrets. Does anyone have any good pics of her Post-1894 look? All I can find are images of her original configuration.





The second monitor still around is the little Swedish coastal defence monitor Sölve. Built in 1875 she was fitted with a non-moving turret. The 25cm gun was aimed by the traverse of the ship itself. Online information says that the Sölve stayed in service until 1922.

And thats where some confusion starts.


In my Janes Fighting Ships of WWI, it lists that of the original seven Sölve style monitors, only the Bjorn and Gerda were not deleted during WWI. (in Janes, the Sölve is miswritten "Silve", but it is clearly the same ship) Furthermore, the old 25cm gun fitted inside fixed superstructure on the ships, seems to have been changed out for a long barreled 4.7 inch gun, fitted in a traversing sponson-style mount. Armament had been augmented further by the adition of three 6 pounders.

So, is Janes wrong? Was the Sölve actually one of the monitors left in service after WWI?

Also, does anyone have any good pictures of the Sölve, in either her first configuration, or later refit configuration?

I know there are paper models of both Leitha and Sölve, but they only show the original configuration. Of interesting note, is that both these ships served for almost exactly the same number of years! Both around 48 years of hardy military service. Obviously from a military standpoint, the Leitha is more siginificant because she actually saw combat.

Thanks in advance!
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Vilkata

Date:
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Geeze Tim! :)

You have a multitude of pictures on just about EVERY facite of WWI combat, but you don't have pictures of these two ships? I'm apalled!

Don't worry, I'm just joking :) :) :)

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Matt Heil

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Hey Vilkata, neat images and story!
I'm always fascinated by coastal/river craft like that; ie gunboats, monitors, etc. I'm especially interested in the era 1862-1920; perhaps their heyday. Can you recommend any references for such vessels? I can never seem to find any in English that don't also cost a fortune. Any help at all is appreciated.

As to any information on the monitors in question, I'm afraid I'm of little help there. Sorry. However, it might be of interest that the US navy didn't get rid of the last of the Civil War-era monitors until 1907 or so, with one of the last vessels being used as a torpedo test-firing platform.

Anyway, thanks again, and Cheers,
Matt

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Vilkata

Date:
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I posted such a question on another forum, the replies I got were:

'There's "Big Gun Monitors" by Ian Buxton, 1978, US Naval Institute, subtitled "the history of the design, construction and operation of the Royal Navy's monitors".'

However, that book would seem to deal with the Royal Navys super huge BIG gun monitors they used for coastal bombardment pre-WWI all the way up till WWII. They dont even really look like monitor ships. Cool looking! But definitely not a monitor in the classic sense.

Here are some pics of what a Big Gun RN monitor would look like. This sucker is the HMS Roberts. The first Roberts was a WWI BG Monitor, the second was a much cooler looking WWII BG Monitor that participated in the Normandy Invasion, using its two gigantic 15 inch guns to bombard the coast.




'Osprey publishes a number of books on the subject:

- Union River Ironclads 1861–65
- Confederate Ironclads 1861–65
- Union Monitor classes 1861–65

(www.ospreypublishing.com)'

'If you are interested in reading about the Royal Navys River Gun boats I can recomend
Armed With Stings by A Cecil Hampshire, The story of the Insect Class from WW1til the end of WW2. A very good read.'

And there is also 'H.M.S. Saracen, by Douglas Reeman.', which is about a BG British Monitor that is used in WWI, and later on when thoroughly obsolete participates in WWI also. Its a ficticious story. And, again, it deals with one of those massive Big Gun Monitors, which arent really true montitors anyways.

My one and only source book is Janes Fighting Ships Of World War I. I think its on the pricier side, but it has loads of great information, although it obviously doesn't focus on the monitors.

If you have trouble finding any of these, I can suggest www.ebay.com, and www.bibliofind.com.

The USA actually used river monitors in Vietnam. They built these suckers with the exact philosophy of the monitor. Low draft, low freeboard, dont give the enemy much to shoot at. However, because they wanted it to be very very simple, they had to give them a fair bit of freeboard. That would allow there to be a sunken in area of the ship for soldiers to be in, without the worry of it filling up with water and the boat sinking. As far as I know, they were they most recent monitors ever buil. I dont know if any navy in the world currently employs designs with that philosophy.



Monitor ships... The one and only class of ship where THIS is considered NORMAL, and not -VERY- bad.

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Matt Heil

Date:
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Hey thanks, Vilkata!
I actually already have the Osprey books. I also have a book from Squadron/Signal called "Riverine", which covers the monitors and coastal craft used in the Vietnam war. I've also priced Big Gun Monitors several times before, and lord is it expensive! I think I'll pass on that for the time being.

Armybook.com has some intersting books on the subject, too, unfortunately only in Russian. There's a two volume set called "The Soviet Monitors Gunboats and Armour Boats", and a reprint of a book originally published in 1938 called "Austria Hungary Danube Flotilla in World War 1914 - 1917." They're reasonably priced, as well. But as I said they're in Russian, which I can't read (yet), plus I've had bad luck with armybook.com in the past. Which is a real shame, because they have some really neat books on World War 1 armor, too.

Anyway, thanks again for the help!
Matt

p.s.: And I still think those British Monitors are neat, whether they're proper monitors or not!

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eugene

Date:
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Yes army book has some really good titles I am in the process of going through a bad experiance with armybook though
so I dont know if I will order there again.

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Matt Heil

Date:
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Eugene,
May I ask what your bad experience is? I'd kind of like to know whether my own experience with them is typical. I was actually conidering buying from them again. Thanks.
Matt

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General

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A bit earlier than WWI, but if you're interested in the development of breastwork monitors and suchlike, then a book entitled "Birth of the British Battleship" by John Beeler covering British (but refers also to other countries) Capital Ship design 1870 - 1881.  The British developed two distincltly different kind of ship - the local one for service in the Atlantic and Med coastal areas of Europe - and a "Cruising" Battleship that still had rigging and was for use on the far side of the Atlantic and other far away stations.  The first British Ironclad Dreadnought was effectively a monitor for operating in large rivers and against defended ports and forts. The book is readily available on abebooks at wildly differing prices.  As a treatise on the rapid changes in technology and strategic thinking affecting ship design for armament, type of power, armour, etc, it is a fascinating book.

The Aussies have the wreck of a breastwork monitor that they're trying to recover and refurbish to a limited extent called HMVS Cerberus, bought by the State of Victoria to defend it against a possible Russian (!) invasion.  There is a website and 1/250 plans for paper or plastic card.

Tony 



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Legend

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Tonys wrote:

A bit earlier than WWI, but if you're interested in the development of breastwork monitors and suchlike, then a book entitled "Birth of the British Battleship" by John Beeler covering British (but refers also to other countries) Capital Ship design 1870 - 1881. 


That is a superb book, Tony - like you, I highly recommend it. David K Brown, himself a former naval constructor, has also written an excellent book on the development of the British navy at that time, 'Warrior to Dreadnought'.

I hope the Aussies can recover and restore the 'Cerberus'. There are another couple of early turret ships still around in good order - the Dutch 'Buffel' and the Chilean 'Huascar', both equipped with Coles turrets.



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Legend

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Roger Todd wrote:
I hope the Aussies can recover and restore the 'Cerberus'. There are another couple of early turret ships still around in good order - the Dutch 'Buffel' and the Chilean 'Huascar', both equipped with Coles turrets.

The 'Cerberus' is also available as a free paper model from http://www.papershipwright.co.uk/index.html in its 1871 configuration or from http://www.cerberus.com.au/ for $A25 (delivered to the US or Europe) in its 1890's configuration. Both models are 1:250 scale.
 
BTW, I have no commercial link to either of these organisations. I just like card models!



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Legend

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Excellent link, Mark, thanks! As you're into card models, have you looked at Ralph Currell's site:

http://www.currell.net/mainmenu.htm

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Legend

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I think I'm right in saying that the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein served on one of the Danube monitors for a while. Don't know how that helps, but I thought I'd mention it. You could make a little scale model of him having a think.

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General

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Roger,
I've also got the Warrior to Dreadnought book by David Brown, but it is a bit "dryer" than the Beeler book.
I don't think any armed force has been under so much pressure due to technology advances than the navy during that period - it's a fascinating story.

I've got the "Anatomy of a Ship" on the Dreadnought and one of these days will scratchbuild it in 1/350 to go alongside a KGV (kit) and the HMVS Cerberus.

So little time and so many models!

Tony

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Corporal

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Hi Vilkata, all!

Here are some recent pictures of the Austro-Hungarian Leitha (later renamed as Lajta)monitor, the oldest surviving monitor. It is currently in a Shipmuseum in Neszmely, Hungary:

http://www.europahajo.hu/neszmely/site.php?content=lajtaf

The brief history of the Leitha in 5 pictures. The second from the top (in blue) shows her after the 1894 modification:

http://www.papernet.hu/?l=sdetails&lang=hun&i=1427

Lajta Monitor Shipping Foundation - intended to preserving and reconstructing Leitha. (Also has english text):

http://magazin.navigare.hu/flottilla/laj_1.shtml
http://magazin.navigare.hu/flottilla/laj_2.shtml
http://magazin.navigare.hu/flottilla/2002.shtml

-- Edited by McGuba at 09:43, 2007-02-05

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Sergeant

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There is another surviving monitor - M33 which sits in drydock adjacent to HMS Victory in Portsmouth Dockyard. There are two river gunboats (one in slices, but still saveable), the Melik and the paddle steamer Bordein, both in Sudan. Bordein was one of "Chinese" Gordon's gunboats, Melik was one of "Monkey" Gordon's greyhounds and took part in the battle of Omdurman. Melik appeared in the Alexander Korda version of "The Four Feathers"

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Commander in Chief

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If I may chime in on this subject.....   There are actually two surviving members of the K.u.K. Danauflotille.  In addition to the Leitha( now restored to it's original 1880s configerations; not WW1 ),  the other monitor is the SMS Bodrog, or SAVA as it became after leaving KuK service.   Last I heard the stripped down hull was residing in present day Croatia.



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Lieutenant

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Monitor Sava ex Bodrog in Belgrade port in Serbia.monitor-Sava-ex-Bodrog danas u Beogradu.jpg

 



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Rob


Legend

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I do hope the British monitor, M33, is made more visitor friendly - at the moment you can only view it in drydock, although there was a plan to cut a huge hole in the side for wheelchair access direct into the hull. There's three WW1 Royal Navy ships surviving - M33 as mentioned, HMS Caroline, a wonderful Jutland veteran Cruiser which is now, at long long last, finally going to be restored as a museum exhibit I believe in Belfast, and HMS President, ex-HMS Saxifrage, a Q ship, which is a floating bar!

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Sergeant

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Still a number of X-lighters, CMBs, pinnaces etc as well - plus an aircraft carrier!



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Rob


Legend

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Not quite ships though - I presume the aircraft carrier you refer to is the lighter at the Fleet Air Arm Museum?

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Commander in Chief

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RE: S.M.S. Bodrog
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Here's her size in 1/32 scale.  The tic marks to the right of the drawing are where the bulkheads will go.



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Wreckchecker

Date:
RE: The Last Two Monitor Ships/Bodrog
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Nice little clip at www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=19422      Hulk is visible on Google Earth, search Ada Huja, Belgrade  and look for two hulls on South bank a bit less than 1km to the Right of the bridge. I have US Navy issue postcards for most US Monitors built post 1868, will try to post a link to photos & histories within next 30 days.



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Wreckchecker

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Nice little clip at www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=19422      Hulk is visible on Google Earth, search Ada Huja, Belgrade  and look for two hulls on South bank a bit less than 1km to the Right of the bridge. I have US Navy issue postcards for most US Monitors built post 1868, will try to post a link to photos & histories within next 30 days.



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Sergeant

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RE: The Last Two Monitor Ships
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Interesting developments re M33 - take a look at

www.indiegogo.com/projects/hms-m-33%3Acontribute

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Corporal

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HMVS Cerberus is available as a resin waterline kit from Combrig in 1/350:

combrig-models.com/index.php/1350/24-royal-navy-350/295-cerberus350-1870

The kit has great detail but being only waterline and with no PE, it is in my stash but I have doubts that I will ever build it.

Cheers,

bj

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Sergeant

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Speaking of card models, M33, the 9.2" gunned M15, and an X-lighter are all also available from www.papershipwright.co.uk/category/warships/ as are Melik and Huascar, both mentioned in this thread.

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