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Based only on the terms in the question, I can conclude that High Explosive shells are less effective at piercing armor, such as that found on battleships. Wikipedia confirms this An armor-piercing (AP) shell is a type of ammunition designed to penetrate armor. From the 1860s to 1950s, a major application of armor-piercing projectiles was to defeat the ...


I don't have details for 1792, but the following are from James' Naval History for January 1793 (so probably good enough to get an idea of the relative strengths of the fleets). These cover the principal fleets. At Brest Ready or fitting for Sea; 1 120-gun ship of the line 2 110-gun ships of the line 4 80-gun ships of the line 12 74-gun ships of the line ...

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