|Unit Information||Game Strategies||History|
Ships continued to be built mostly of timber in the Early Modern Era, thus making them vulnerable to being mined or set ablaze. While some nations invested in crafting better artillery pieces or building more resistance (ie copper plating for ship hulls), there was also a running interest in more exotic weapons and the most esoteric of military fads in the West. The humble Fireship could no longer be just an impromptu reaction — it could now be formed into a sophisticated weapon of mass destruction, with a better understanding of nautical engineering and military science.
The very first emergence of such a dedicated mobile anti-ship weapon was the Dutch Hellebrander or "hellburner", which was in effect a suicide attack vessel. Designed by an Italian engineer based in England for the use of Dutch rebels fighting against the Holy Roman Empire , the Hellebrander was manned by a skeleton crew who would pilot and steer the ship into its target (a marine installation on the Dutch coast manned by Spanish-led forces investing Antwerp). For ordnance, it carried a delayed-action clockwork bomb set to go off at the end of its maiden — and final — voyage.
According to an account of the attack,
- A thousand soldiers were destroyed in a second of time; many of them being torn to shreds, beyond even the semblance of humanity.