Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Boys and their toys

The only place during our week in Venezia my business partner and I deliberately went back to to have another look was the Naval Museum.
Naval Museum Venice
It was full of things we found greatly engaging, such as C17th relief maps of various fortifications of the Serene Republic mounted on walls and lots of excellent models of ships from ancient history to the present. There was some unexpected things too--half of the top storey was about Swedish naval history and the connection between the Kingdom of Sweden and the Serene Republic (which continued with the Kingdom of Italy). The Swedish connection being a result of them both having to deal with an aggressive imperial power (the Ottoman and Romanov Empires) in an enclosed sea (the Mediterranean and the Baltic).

When we went back for a second time, they were preparing for an anniversary exhibition. In tents out the front they had the two largest models of modern warships I have seen. A model of one of the Italian Navy's two aircraft carriers.
INS Guiseppe Garibaldi: yes, the guns move and the helicopter blades go around
And one of their amphibious transport docks.
INS San Guisto
While they were lots of fun, the historical models were what I really enjoyed. The highlight of which was a model of a Korean turtle boat.
A C16th Korean ironclad aka turtle boat
These turtle boats were the first ironclads.  Apparently invented by Admiral Yi Sun-sin, they did considerable damage to Japanese shipping during Toyotomi Hideyoshi's invasions of Korean in the 1590's.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi had come out on top of in the penultimate round of Japan's C16th civil wars. Which meant lots of samurai suddenly without much to do and various supporters to reward. So, he did what many military leaders have done in that situation, he looked for somewhere to invade. If you are Japanese, that means Korea.
Japanese armies were very likely the most effective in the world at that time (apart from their lack of decent cannon). They had had lots of practice (against each other). So, at first, the invasion went quite well. But then Admiral Yi came up with his turtle boats, and things started to go downhill for the Japanese.  Including one of the most dramatic victories in naval history.

The turtle boats were a remarkable innovation and being able to look at an excellent model up close was an unexpected highlight of my trip to Venezia.

[Cross-posted at Skepticlawyer.]

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