Don Leggett
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A scientific problem of the highest order
in Shaping the Royal Navy
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By 1873, distrust within the service and parliamentary intrigue over the Devastation had become a source of great embarrassment to the Admiralty Board. Opposition to model testing within the scientific community was largely based on the absence of a proof or past success with modelling. The committee of designs, formed in January 1871, was charged with investigating the Admiralty's previous warship designs and its future construction policy. Naval officers questioned the value of Froude's model science, doubting, as they did, that there was a relationship between the behaviour of models in a test tank and of ships at sea. The key to Barnaby and White's conciliatory approach in publicising and disseminating knowledge about naval science was that they simultaneously taught content and context. The success of the Devastation's trial gave a boost to the authority of naval architects and engineers within the Admiralty.

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Shaping the Royal Navy

Technology, authority and naval architecture, c.1830 –1906


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