A complete and accurate listing of the types of naval guns requires analysis both by nation and by time period. The types used by different nations at the same time often were very unlike, even if they were labelled similarly. The types used by a given nation would shift greatly over time, as technology, tactics, and current weapon fashion evolved.
Some types include:
One descriptive characteristic which was commonly used was to define guns by their pound rating: theoretically, the weight of a single solid iron shot fired by that bore of cannon. Common sizes were 42-pounders, 32-pounders, 24-pounders, 18-pounders, 12-pounders, 9-pounders, 8-pounders, 6-pounders, and various smaller calibres. French ships used standardized guns of 36-pound, 24-pound and 12-pound calibres, augmented by carronades and smaller pieces. In general, larger ships carrying more guns carried larger ones as well.
The muzzle-loading design and weight of the iron placed design constraints on the length and size of naval guns. Muzzle loading required the cannon to be positioned within the hull of the ship for loading. The hull is only so wide, with guns on both sides, and hatchways in the centre of the deck also limit the room available. Weight is always a great concern in ship design as it affects speed, stability, and buoyancy. The desire for longer guns for greater range and accuracy, and greater weight of shot for more destructive power, led to some interesting gun designs.
Read more about this topic: Naval Artillery In The Age Of Sail
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