Artillery talk

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,329
Florania
#1
Let's ignore the pre-gunpowder siege weapons such as catapults and trebuchets; their powers were way beyond any artillery.
Enough alternative history novels introduce mortars or gunpowder-based weapons in the Chinese Three Kingdoms era.
I read that the earliest gun was from the late 13th century; the Song Dynasty had some early firearms; calling them guns would be a long shoot.
What were the earliest guns? How powerful were these?
How did exploding shells change the course of wars?
Was the advent of self-propelled guns important?
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#2
An US 1841 6 pounder cannon had a range of around 1500 yards, and the cannon weighed around 880 lbs with carriage. The larger 12 pounder Napoleon shot a 12 lbs ball around 1700 yards, and weighed around 2500 lbs with carriage

The weight of the late 18th century 3 pounder "Grasshopper" gun weighed around 500 lbs with carriage, and had an effective range of around 800 to 1000 yards (900 m). The barrel weighed around 206 lbs, which compared with a Prussian 3 lbs pounder fro earlier in the 18th century barrel weight of 455 lbs. Through the 17th and 18th century, there was a effort to make cannons lighter. Bronze cannons were lighter than iron cannons, and so by the 18th century field cannons were largely bronze. Naval cannons, because of the cheaper cost of iron and weight wasn't as big a factor, became more common cast iron in the 17th century, although bronze was used for naval cannons also.
 

Nemowork

Ad Honorem
Jan 2011
8,326
South of the barcodes
#3
The earliest English guns were used in 1346 at the battle of Crecy against the French.


They werent much good because nobody had come up with the idea of wadding so a lot of the explosive force was lost.
 

AlpinLuke

Ad Honoris
Oct 2011
25,856
Italy, Lago Maggiore
#4
Let's ignore the pre-gunpowder siege weapons such as catapults and trebuchets; their powers were way beyond any artillery.
Enough alternative history novels introduce mortars or gunpowder-based weapons in the Chinese Three Kingdoms era.
I read that the earliest gun was from the late 13th century; the Song Dynasty had some early firearms; calling them guns would be a long shoot.
What were the earliest guns? How powerful were these?
How did exploding shells change the course of wars?
Was the advent of self-propelled guns important?
An early consequence of the introduction of exploding shells was a remarkable change in the defensive walls. Architects thought to "elastic" walls. A great example is still well visible in Milan: the towers of the “Sforzesco” castle.

 
Mar 2018
710
UK
#5
Explosive shells may have been important on land, but they were revolutionary at sea. Sinking a wooden ship with solid shot is a length process of turning it into a sieve, but only a handful of exploding ones will tear it apart. Fuses were always very unreliable, but the invention of the percussive shell was a complete game changer.
 

Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,681
United States
#6
Let's ignore the pre-gunpowder siege weapons such as catapults and trebuchets; their powers were way beyond any artillery.
Enough alternative history novels introduce mortars or gunpowder-based weapons in the Chinese Three Kingdoms era.
I read that the earliest gun was from the late 13th century; the Song Dynasty had some early firearms; calling them guns would be a long shoot.
What were the earliest guns? How powerful were these?
How did exploding shells change the course of wars?
Was the advent of self-propelled guns important?

In China we have a clear progression from firelances to eruptors to true guns, unlike anywhere else. True guns do emerge by the late 1200s. Explosive shells were first used to increase the effectiveness of eruptors whose firepower was fairly weak.
 

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#7
In China we have a clear progression from firelances to eruptors to true guns, unlike anywhere else. True guns do emerge by the late 1200s. Explosive shells were first used to increase the effectiveness of eruptors whose firepower was fairly weak.
I am not sure what you mean by "eruptors", the vase shaped hand cannons? And while most of the rest of the world skipped the firelance stage, it seems to me you had a pretty clear progression of guns from the hand cannons to cannons capable of knocking down fortifications in other parts of the world.

I am curious of when the Chinese starting making cannons powerful enough to knock down fortifications? The early exploding shells wouldn't likely have the power to knock down solid fortifications. The Chinese would have had less need of cannons to use against fortifications - their enemies like the Mongols didn't have massive fortifications for the most part to worry about, and the walls of Chinese cities were very thick and could resist even the more powerful of cannons. Whick is why breech loading cannons in China became popular after their introduction, the more rapid fire of breech loading cannons for use against personnel more improtant than the greater power a solid muzzle loader could achieve.

The difficult with exploding shells is the reliability of getting them to explode when you wanted them to, or getting them to explode at all. Although there are accounts of exploding shells in Europe being used as far back as the latter 14th century, they don't seem to have become popular until the early 19th century. Improvement in gunpowder quality and consistency, which was used in the fuse, and better design probably made the exploding shells more practical. Early exploding shells used some kind of flammable material to act as a timer for the fuse for igniting the shell. Exploding shells are more effective when exploding just aboe tne ground (say a few to 10 meters) but it was hard to control that with the early fuzes. Chinese also used exploding shells since the early Ming dynasty, not sure what they design they used for their fuzes.

Percussion fuzes to exploded on contact seem a little bit later, although they were some in the 17th century, if you used a flint to ignited the shell explosive, with a round shell you couldn't control how the shell landed, and if the shell didn't land tne right way, it wouldn't explode. Percussion fuzes didn't seem to start coming into their own until the first half of the 19th century, after percussion caps had become available. Percussion and timed fuzes were sometimes combined, to ensure the shell always exploded.

Still, with the issues in fuzes, solid shot still was commonly used until the later 19th century. Cannons used either solid shots, typically for longer distances, and gape or cannister shot for closer range. Grape/canister shot made the cannon act like a giant shot gun Although cannister shot was still popular in the American Civil War in the mid 19th century, I don't hear much about it in the late 19th century, probably because machine guns had replaced the function of grape and canister shot by then. Solid shot also seems to have disappeared by the later 19th century as well. Fuzes prbably became more reliable by then, and exploding shells, especially with High Explosives, were more effective.
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,329
Florania
#8
I am not sure what you mean by "eruptors", the vase shaped hand cannons? And while most of the rest of the world skipped the firelance stage, it seems to me you had a pretty clear progression of guns from the hand cannons to cannons capable of knocking down fortifications in other parts of the world.

I am curious of when the Chinese starting making cannons powerful enough to knock down fortifications? The early exploding shells wouldn't likely have the power to knock down solid fortifications. The Chinese would have had less need of cannons to use against fortifications - their enemies like the Mongols didn't have massive fortifications for the most part to worry about, and the walls of Chinese cities were very thick and could resist even the more powerful of cannons. Whick is why breech loading cannons in China became popular after their introduction, the more rapid fire of breech loading cannons for use against personnel more improtant than the greater power a solid muzzle loader could achieve.

The difficult with exploding shells is the reliability of getting them to explode when you wanted them to, or getting them to explode at all. Although there are accounts of exploding shells in Europe being used as far back as the latter 14th century, they don't seem to have become popular until the early 19th century. Improvement in gunpowder quality and consistency, which was used in the fuse, and better design probably made the exploding shells more practical. Early exploding shells used some kind of flammable material to act as a timer for the fuse for igniting the shell. Exploding shells are more effective when exploding just aboe tne ground (say a few to 10 meters) but it was hard to control that with the early fuzes. Chinese also used exploding shells since the early Ming dynasty, not sure what they design they used for their fuzes.

Percussion fuzes to exploded on contact seem a little bit later, although they were some in the 17th century, if you used a flint to ignited the shell explosive, with a round shell you couldn't control how the shell landed, and if the shell didn't land tne right way, it wouldn't explode. Percussion fuzes didn't seem to start coming into their own until the first half of the 19th century, after percussion caps had become available. Percussion and timed fuzes were sometimes combined, to ensure the shell always exploded.

Still, with the issues in fuzes, solid shot still was commonly used until the later 19th century. Cannons used either solid shots, typically for longer distances, and gape or cannister shot for closer range. Grape/canister shot made the cannon act like a giant shot gun Although cannister shot was still popular in the American Civil War in the mid 19th century, I don't hear much about it in the late 19th century, probably because machine guns had replaced the function of grape and canister shot by then. Solid shot also seems to have disappeared by the later 19th century as well. Fuzes prbably became more reliable by then, and exploding shells, especially with High Explosives, were more effective.
I read that earlier artillery could not quite defeat redoubts.
Grape shoots or canister shoots? I believe they were easily to refill.
I wonder if you have spell check on your system?
 

Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,681
United States
#9
I am not sure what you mean by "eruptors", the vase shaped hand cannons? And while most of the rest of the world skipped the firelance stage, it seems to me you had a pretty clear progression of guns from the hand cannons to cannons capable of knocking down fortifications in other parts of the world.
I'm no expert on early Chinese firearms, but my understanding is that eruptors were a transitional phase between firelances whose projectiles only complemented the flamethrower function, and cannons whose projectiles were powerful enough that there was no flamethrower function anymore.

I am curious of when the Chinese starting making cannons powerful enough to knock down fortifications? The early exploding shells wouldn't likely have the power to knock down solid fortifications. The Chinese would have had less need of cannons to use against fortifications - their enemies like the Mongols didn't have massive fortifications for the most part to worry about, and the walls of Chinese cities were very thick and could resist even the more powerful of cannons. Whick is why breech loading cannons in China became popular after their introduction, the more rapid fire of breech loading cannons for use against personnel more improtant than the greater power a solid muzzle loader could achieve.
That is true that Chinese guns generally were field or fortress-defense anti-personnel pieces. Some of the larger guns with like 10-15 cm bores could be used in sieges, but these were probably too small to be true siege artillery.

I found two Chinese siege mortars or bombards from the 16th century and later (at least one of which is originally European in design) described here: https://greatmingmilitary.blogspot.com/2015/06/hong-yi-pao-and-xi-yang-pao.html

The difficult with exploding shells is the reliability of getting them to explode when you wanted them to, or getting them to explode at all. Although there are accounts of exploding shells in Europe being used as far back as the latter 14th century, they don't seem to have become popular until the early 19th century. Improvement in gunpowder quality and consistency, which was used in the fuse, and better design probably made the exploding shells more practical. Early exploding shells used some kind of flammable material to act as a timer for the fuse for igniting the shell. Exploding shells are more effective when exploding just aboe tne ground (say a few to 10 meters) but it was hard to control that with the early fuzes. Chinese also used exploding shells since the early Ming dynasty, not sure what they design they used for their fuzes.

Shells were used in China for a long time (I don't know how frequently though). Koreans started using shells fired from mortars on a large scale from 1590 onward.
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,329
Florania
#10
I'm no expert on early Chinese firearms, but my understanding is that eruptors were a transitional phase between firelances whose projectiles only complemented the flamethrower function, and cannons whose projectiles were powerful enough that there was no flamethrower function anymore.



That is true that Chinese guns generally were field or fortress-defense anti-personnel pieces. Some of the larger guns with like 10-15 cm bores could be used in sieges, but these were probably too small to be true siege artillery.

I found two Chinese siege mortars or bombards from the 16th century and later (at least one of which is originally European in design) described here: https://greatmingmilitary.blogspot.com/2015/06/hong-yi-pao-and-xi-yang-pao.html




Shells were used in China for a long time (I don't know how frequently though). Koreans started using shells fired from mortars on a large scale from 1590 onward.
Shells were known as 开花炮弹 (literally blossoming shells). They were not viable until 1800s, I read.
When were self-propelled artillery developed?
 

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