Fred Jane: One hundred years onPosted: March 8, 2016
A young Fred Jane contemplates his Naval War Game.
John Frederick Thomas Jane was born in 1865 in Richmond, Surrey, and was the son of the Reverend John Jane. He went to school in Exeter, and after attempting to join the Royal Navy (he failed to get a place in the training ship Britannia due to an undisclosed health problem) and the British Army (he failed the entrance exam for Royal Military College, Sandhurst) he moved to London to try to make his living as a pen-and-ink illustrator and writer. He started out living in an attic in Gray’s Inn Road, Holborn, and in quite a short time he built up a reputation as a illustrator and writer of navy-related stories. This culminated in him being a special correspondent for several publications and taking part in a cruise aboard HMS Northampton in 1890.
An illustration of HMS Northampton drawn by Fred Jane.
His illustrations appeared in many different publications, and some of them had to be produced at short notice and without him actually being able to see the subject!
By 1892 he was married and two years later he was living in a basement flat in Chelsea. By then he had already begun to draw some of the illustrations that would eventually appear in his ALL THE WORLD’S FIGHTING SHIPS.
The title page of the 1898 edition of ALL THE WORLD’S FIGHTING SHIPS
His style of illustration was such that the main recognition features of a ship were easy to see, and each was annotated with a short description that graded its armament, armour, and speed.
An example of a page from the 1898 edition of ALL THE WORLD’S FIGHTING SHIPS. One of the ships illustrated is HMS Northampton, and it was included – along with the other ships on this page – ‘for completeness’ as Fred Jane assessed her as being obsolete and of little or no fighting value.
In subsequent volumes, the illustrations were replaced by side and plan views, photographs, and – when it was necessary – silhouettes.
A page from a later edition of Jane’s FIGHTING SHIPS. This page is devoted to the Admiral-class battleships, and the silhouettes have been included to aid the identification of individual ships in the class when seen at a distance.
It is interesting to note that the side and plan views showed not only the location and firing arcs of each ship’s (or class of ships) armament, but also the areas that were armoured and the thickness of the armour … which was information necessary for both serving naval officers and people playing Fred Jane’s Naval War Game!
Jane’s Naval War Game evolved over a number of years, and was finally presented at a meeting of RUSI (the Royal United Services Institute) in June 1898, just before the first edition of the rules were published.
The title page of the first edition (1898) of THE JANE NAVAL WAR GAME.
It was subsequently revised, and new editions were published in 1902, 1905, and 1912.
The game proved to be very popular, and campaigns as well as individual battles were fought during the run-up to the outbreak of the First World War.
A Jane Naval War Game taking place in the George Hotel, Portsmouth in 1903. It is being staged by the Portsmouth Naval War Game Club.
Special sets of model ships were created for certain customers, including that made for His Imperial Highness Grand Duke Alexander Mihailovitch of the Imperial Russian Navy.
The set of ship models specially made for His Imperial Highness Grand Duke Alexander Mihailovitch of the Imperial Russian Navy
As can be seen from these examples of a ‘target’ …
A ‘target’: the class of battleships shown are from the French Charlemagne-class, and the different sizes of ‘target’ are for 2,000 yards, 3,000 yards, and 4,000 yards.
… and ‘scorer’ …
A ‘scorer’: the damage already done to this member of the Charlemagne-class has been annotated on the ‘scorer’ by an umpire. Considerable damage seems to have been done to the ship’s superstructure but she does not appear to have been holed below the waterline and her main armament seems to be intact.
… they were obviously related to the illustrations used in various editions of Jane’s FIGHTING SHIPS.
What is less well known about Fred Jane is that he was a writer of several science fiction novels, an avid early motorist, a supporter of the use of aircraft, and a prospective Member of Parliament! (He failed to get elected.)
Fred Jane in later life.
Fred Jane was a man of vision … and someone that I wish that I had been able to meet.