Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Bavaria, Germany - the center of 15th and 16th century gunmaking
Two Early Guns Firing Lead Balls (Bleibüchsen), ca. 1420 and 1470
On top there is a watercolor of ca. 1530 illustrating the taking of the counties of Burgundy and Arthois in 1495.
The smaller Bleibüchse is preserved standing upright (second image, to the left) in a row of various little noisemakers (Böller) in the world famous arms collection at the castle (Burg) Forchtenstein near Vienna, Austria (second and third images). It is of wrought iron and can be dated to the early 15th century, ca. 1410-20. The fact that the touch hole is unusually large for that period of time leads me to the supposition that it was probably considerably widened during the long working time of the barrel.
The muzzle is not swamped but reinforced by a thick iron ring that was drawn over the barrel in red hot condition. Due to rust and great age, it is coming off in layers nowadays.
Its measurements are:
length overall: 37.5 cm
maximum width: 13.7 cm
caliber: 5 cm
weight: 17.5 kg
The lead ball of a diameter of nearly 5 cm weighed 700 grams, the powder charge 500 grams!
The firing distance is estimated to have been about 1,000 meters.
BTW, the round little barrel to its right may also be dated to the 15th century.
The last image shows a larger sample of a wrought iron cannon barrel of ca. 1470 also firing lead balls which is on display in the Army Museum (Heeresgeschichtliches Museum) in Vienna, Austria.
length overall: 1.66 m
maximum width: 13.0 cm
outer diameter of the swamped the muzzle: 12.3 cm
caliber: 4.5 cm
weight of lead ball: 480 grams
weight of powder charge: 240 g