Don Leggett
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Re-engineering naval power
in Shaping the Royal Navy
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This chapter focuses on actors' networks and their contingent actions, to provide an alternative study of Fisher and the Dreadnought. Under Fisher, naval architects, engineers and naval officers interested in scientific and engineering problems gained a powerful patron and enjoyed a greater role in the shaping of the Royal Navy. The history of the Dreadnought serves to reconsider Fisher's role less that of a 'visionary' than of a manager of an expansive network that took action to re-engineer British naval power. The introduction of the Selborne scheme and the design of the Dreadnought reveal the ways in which engineering knowledge and skills were increasingly entangled with the production of both materiel and personnel in the Navy. In The steam engine, James Alfred Ewing, professor of mechanisms and applied mechanics at Cambridge University, noted that indicators had been developed to work with the specific mechanics of reciprocating engines.

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Shaping the Royal Navy

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

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