HMS Black Eagle

HMS Firebrand was a wooden paddle vessel launched in 1831. She was rebuilt in 1843, renamed HMS Black Eagle and employed as an Admiralty steam yacht. She was broken up in 1876.

Oscillating paddlewheel engines of HMS Black Eagle
United Kingdom
  • HMS Firebrand (1831-1843)
  • HMS Black Eagle (1843-1876)
Owner: Royal Navy
Ordered: 28 January 1831
Builder: Merchant's yard, Limehouse
Cost: £19,964[1]
Laid down: April 1831
Launched: 11 July 1831
Commissioned: 11 July 1831
Fate: Broken up, March 1876
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: Firebrand-class steam vessel
Displacement: As built: 510 tonnes
Tons burthen:

As built: 495 bm

From 1843: 540 bm
  • As built: 155 ft 3 in (47.3 m)
  • From 1843: 168 ft 3 in (51.3 m)
Beam: 26 ft 5 in (8.1 m)
Depth of hold: 14 ft 10 in (4.5 m)
  • As built:
  • Butterley & Co. 140 nhp 2-cylinder side lever steam engine
  • Paddle wheel
  • From 1833:
  • Maudslay 120 nhp steam engine
  • Morgan paddlewheels
  • From 1843:
  • 'Tubulous boilers'
  • Penn 260 nhp steam engine
  • Paddlewheels
Complement: 80
  • As built:
  • 6 × 9-pounder (1312cwt) gun
  • Later:
  • 1 × 32-pounder (25cwt) pivot gun
  • 2 × 32-pounder (17cwt) carronades

Construction and rebuild

Built at Merchant's Yard, Limehouse as a wooden paddle vessel, Firebrand was launched on 11 July 1831.[2] In 1832 her original Butterley side lever steam engine was removed and replaced in 1833 by a Maudsley, and Morgan's paddlewheels were fitted. She was rebuilt in 1843, gaining 13 feet (4.0 m) in length, and receiving an oscillating engine manufactured by John Penn and Sons. Notably, Penn doubled the power output without increasing either the weight or space occupied.[3] On 29 October 1853, she assisted in the refloating of HMS Rodney, which had run aground in the Dardanelles.[4] Firebrand was renamed Black Eagle on 5 February 1842.[1]

In 1856,[5] the Black Eagle and the paddle-wheel troopship Dee were used in a trial of J Wethered's apparatus for superheated steam. This produced an economy of fuel of 18% in the Black Eagle, and 31% in the Dee.[6]

Royal Yacht

She was based at Woolwich in south-east London and was part of the Royal Squadron alongside the Royal Yacht. The Black Eagle was eventually broken up at Portsmouth in March 1876.[8] A model of the vessel is in the collection of the National Maritime Museum.[9]


  1. Winfield (2004), p.162
  2. HMS Black Eagle in Naval Data Base
  3. "Past Presidents", Institution of Mechanical Engineers, p. 1858-59 John Penn
  4. "The Combined Fleets of England and France". The Morning Chronicle (27117). London. 21 November 1853.
  5. Brown, Before the ironclad, page 51 says that the Black Eagle was used to try Wethered's superheater in 1856; Brown does not mention that the Dee was also used.
    Busk, The navies of the world, page 152 makes it clear that the trials of superheaters on the Dee and the Black Eagle were about the same time.
  6. Busk, Hans (1859), The navies of the world, Routledge, Warnes and Routledge, p. 152
  7. Brown, David K (1990), Before the ironclad, Conway, p. 57, ISBN 0851775322
  8. "HMS Black Eagle", Phillips and Carpenter Family History
  9. Paddle Yacht ‘Black Eagle’ 1831 (SLR0736) Archived 2010-11-23 at the Wayback Machine
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