Second Battle of Cape Finsterre (1747)

Second Battle of Cape Finsterre was a moderately sized naval action in the Western Approaches, taking place during War of Austrian Succession, 25 October 1747 between the naval forces of France and England. In brief, battle took place between French outbound supply convoy and British blockading force. Much can be said about the goals, successes or failures on both sides, but the situation is interesting, because of the force compositions that can be seen similar in total strength but with disparity in numbers.

Because of the 6 ship disparity, there is little meaning to establish straight forward slugging fest and see who wins the day. Outcome is evident given the force compositions. However, adjusting the victory conditions, seemingly impossible match may highlight the goals of the opposing forces. French have two goals, protect the convoy and make sure it has sufficient time to run from the British, and in the same token preserve as much of the covering fleet as possible.

British on the other hand are in for total destruction of French, and to do so as quickly as possible to reach the convoy before it scatters into four winds. Incentive to press the attack rests therefore with British.


French Victory conditions: Escape with 6 or more ships (including Frigate Castor) in any state, and have disabled or dismasted at least 2 British vessels. If no lost HDC/RDC on any French ship until the end of game, French win.

British Victory conditions: Disable, or capture at least 6 vessels before the end of game and have at least eight British ships in good fighting order (<3 HDC/RDC damage). Each game turn not played after French yield and withdraw gains 1 VP to the British.

Game length: 30+2d6

Notes: British forces were commanded by Rear Admiral sir Edward Hawke, and on the French side Desherbiers de l’Etenduere. Because of French mistake in identifying inbound ships, French cannot signal in first 2 turns. Victory point count is used if immediate victory conditions are not met.

British Sloop Weazel (16) acts as a signal repeater and may be deployed off the map or leeward side of the British fleet.

French Castor (26) acts as a signal repeater and are  deployed on windward side of the French fleet. Frigate counts against the ships escaping if it does so.

British line starts from the lee side in full sails, French have easy sails and cannot begin to rise sail before game turn 10. French must delay British at least until turn 20 after which French may disengage and flee.

Assuming that all ship’s companies are Good on both sides and that French ships are in better state, British vessels therefore Average and French Good.

Force Composition

British fleet, line ahead chasing position on a rear and leeward of the French distance of 500mm between closest ships. Assuming start to be before Hawke ordered general chase.

Devonshire 64 [Flag]
Kent 74
Edinburgh 70
Yarmouth 64
Monmouth 64
Princess Louisa 60
Windsor 60
Lion 60
Tilbury 60
Nottingham 60 
Defiance 60
Eagle 60
Gloucester 50
Portland 50
Weazel 16

French fleet, sailing close hauled, easy sails, formed line ahead.

Tonnant 80 [Flag]
Intrépide 74 
Terrible 74 
Monarque 74 
Neptune 74 
Trident 64 
Fougueux 64 
Content 64 
Severn 56 
Castor 26
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