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Old 27th July 2019, 05:19 AM   #31
kronckew
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The most common way to clean a BP weapon was with water. In battle, if a soldier's weapon gets fouled & hard to load/fire, they would, if no water was available, urinate into it to flush out the residue. The use of the clever Minie bullet rather than a tightly patched ball not only increased range and accuracy, but it's loose fit made it easier to ram down a fouled musket, increasing the number of rounds you could fire between cleanings.

Touch holes evolved from match locks thru flintlock and percussion locks into using friction primer tubes that cleared the vent as well as poked thru a cloth cartridge into the powder charge for more reliable ignition. The gun captain would insert the primer, clip his firing line to the ring on the primer and, after stepping clear and ensuring the rest of the crew was clear, a tug fired the cannon.

Cannon Rounds were, in the latter years of muzzle loading artillery, frequently made up ahead of time into caseless cartridges with the bagged powder topped with an attached ball strapped to a wooden sabot that could be rammed down as a unit to save time. They also helped avoid the embarrassment of the ball rolling out if you had to depress the muzzle for close range shots.

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Old 27th July 2019, 12:17 PM   #32
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Default Written works revisited ...

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Originally Posted by kronckew
... Picky, Picky,Picky...

Sorry old chum; just trying to keep things from flying away from the topic context .

This is how gunpowder was typified circa 1500's:
"I left in Goa fifty pipas (barrels) of Bombard gunpowder and two of espingarda (musket), In Chaul i left fifteen pipas of bombard gunpowder and two of espingarda, In Cochim three hundred quintais (hundredweights) of gunpowder. In Cananor twenty pipas for bombard and two for espingarda".
(Lopo Vaz de Sampaio, Governor of India 1526-29)

Potentially repeating what has been said, 'serpentine' gunpowder was by far more susceptible of accidents, due to spontaneous combustion, than that more stabilized powder in grain, which was implemented by Portuguese (for one, of course ), in the first half XVI century, where from then, accidents mostly occurred due to users carelessness.
Probably also said that Sulphur, easily inflammable, caused the alteration of saltpeter properties, accelerating its combustion. Climate action could also be a culprit for powder components alteration.
In the siege of Arzila (1509) while wandering to find an adequate place to 'plant' their artillery, the Camel (cannon) ignited and shot itself.
Things were more critical (as already approached by Philip, for one ) in confined spaces. In Santa Cruz do Cabo Guer (Morocco), fire started in a little of gunpowder, which bursted the tower with the whole artillery, where Rodrigo de Carvalhal, his brother and other thirty seven men have died..
According to D. Jerónimo de Mascarenhas (1611-71), a gunner carelessness caused that the gunpowder kept at the (fortification) wall caught fire, which could have caused a serious accident.

On a different note and back to India, attached a new picture of the Jaivana, this time with the advantage of having Mr. Narendra Singh under it, which gives us a more realistic idea of its dimensions. Note that this is/was tagged, not as the largest cannon out there but, the largest wheeled cannon out there ... which makes a 'little' difference.


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Old 27th July 2019, 08:51 PM   #33
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Thanks Philip!
I had wondered why so many crew were needed, but with all the steps and protocols it is completely understandable. Thinking of it, even musket drill was pretty complex.

Regarding tools I think of the notorious 'bombardiers stilettos' of Venice, and the mysterious scales of numbers on their blades. The gunners were a select group, and when the stiletto (used as an assassins weapon) was outlawed, allegedly these scales were spuriously placed on blades to warrant the legitimacy of the holders carrying of it. Thus, anyone could carry one as long as they claimed to be a 'gunner'.

The claim was these numbers were to gauge powder amounts, and the pitted state of some of the blades suggests plausibility due to the corrosive effects of powder. However, others say it was to gauge caliber for ammunition .
In any case, the 'gunner' had a certain mystique and was afforded a level of regard for his skills as I have understood. It seems that in other cases, these guys firing guns were deemed expendable, as the guns and powder were so antiquated, powder compromised and subject to focused attack.

With the prickers you mention, in India many of the officers of the native cavalry regiments had elaborate silver brocade cross belts with plates having regimental devices. On these, I have seen arrow shaped prickers on chains to be used on the flintlock pistols they carried. Whether these were actually used or vestigial like their shoulder chains I dont know.
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Old 28th July 2019, 04:08 AM   #34
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Default further down the rabbit hole we merrily go...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall

Regarding tools I think of the notorious 'bombardiers stilettos' of Venice, and the mysterious scales of numbers on their blades. The gunners were a select group, and when the stiletto (used as an assassins weapon) was outlawed, allegedly these scales were spuriously placed on blades to warrant the legitimacy of the holders carrying of it. Thus, anyone could carry one as long as they claimed to be a 'gunner'.

The claim was these numbers were to gauge powder amounts, and the pitted state of some of the blades suggests plausibility due to the corrosive effects of powder. However, others say it was to gauge caliber for ammunition .


Oh, here we go on yet another digression, I'm sure the Topic Police / Relevance Constabulary will be raiding this thread soon...

May I refer you to a wonderful little article, one of few focusing on gunners' fusetti (and in English, thankfully) -- "Gunner's Daggers" by Marcello Terenzi, published in the anthology Arms and Armor Annual, Vol. I (and may I add, the only volume) ed. Robert Held, 1973, pp 170-79 Just about everything you wanted to know about these things is there. The author was a renowned expert on Italian firearms in general. This article on the daggers is especially instructive because he includes examples of fake fusetti from various periods, a great resource for collectors because the majority of these in the marketplace are spurious, in ways that are obvious to anyone who really understands them.

Given your interest in Spanish firearms and the importance of Cataluña in arming the Spain's New World colonies, the book also contains Eudaldo Graells' "A Primer of Ripoll Gunlocks" in English translation which is most welcome since most of this author's writing has been published in Spanish or Catalan and are difficult to locate on the antiquarian book market.
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Old 28th July 2019, 06:01 AM   #35
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Default Orban's creation

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Originally Posted by fernando


*** Philip is right in that the Constantinople crowd ran for their lives over Mehmed's massive cannon firing endlessly on the walls, but maybe the effect from the assailants side was not so unbearable, specially spaced by the extremely slow rate of its reloading; adding by the way that (as i've read), its imprecision gave the besieged the opportunity to repair most of the damage after each shot, limiting the cannon's effect.
Is such story plausible, Philip ?

.


Nando, the incident with Mehmet's cannon that I summarized in the earlier post was taken from Turkish chronicles much-quoted by historians such as Runciman, Babinger, and Lord Kinross writing about Mehmet the Conqueror and his career. The description was not from a siege memoir, but rather focuses on the pre-siege test-firing of the largest gun (named Basilisc) that the renegade Hungarian Orban made for Mehmet at the foundry at Edirne (former Greek Adrianople, by then in Ottoman hands). The populace had been warned of the test shot in advance and told not to panic, but apparently the noise (said to be audible for 100 stadia or 10 miles) and the massive amount of smoke did cause a lot of consternation. Measurements in the chronicle allow us to picture a 26.5 foot barrel with a bore roughly 30 in. in diameter, shooting a stone ball weighing 12 hundredweight (over half a ton). Fifteen yoked pair of oxen and 700 men were required to shlep this thing from foundry to test site and ready it for firing. The first shot was said to propel the huge sphere for about a mile, and it buried itself six feet into the earth on impact.

It is believed that the guns used to batter Constantinople's Theodosian ramparts (visible in restored condition today) were not mounted in carriages as we know them, but rather propped on earthen berms to provide the requisite elevation. As such, accuracy was nil but Orban was not idly boasting when he told the Sultan that his creations could batter the walls of Babylon into ruin. The projectiles did tremendous damage when they did connect. A slow rate of fire and susceptibility to damage (such as bursting) also compromised the effectiveness of these cannon. Basilisc only managed three shots daily, and became inoperative after several weeks.

Nando, your observations are spot on. The effect on defenders' morale, not to mention that of the civilian non-combatants within the walls, must have been horrendous. Weapons of this size and power were a relative novelty to most people of the era, even seasoned soldiers. It's true that a very slow rate of fire allowed the defenders to shore up the breeches to help repel infantry assaults, but repeated exposure must have been wearing. Considering that...

...According to historian Steven Runciman, under 7000 Byzantine soldiers and foreign Christian volunteers and mercenaries had to defend 14 miles of walls and gates(counting both landward and seaward defenses) against some 80,000 Turks (inclusive of elite troops, regular troops, and irregulars) who attacked on land and water, with the help of cannon. Guns which Orban originally offered to the Byzantine emperor, who refused to pay his asking price!

One would imagine that the Turkish rank and file got used to the presence of these monsters especially the infantry who saw how they could make the job of taking a massively-walled city somewhat easier on them. However, as in Europe, guns and the men who served them must have engendered fear and mistrust for reasons given in prior posts. Another history of the siege which I have read states that Basilisc actually exploded at one point -- reinforcing the idea that the dicey metallurgy and design of early cannon could make them as dangerous to shooters as to the intended targets.

Which brings me to admit an oversight that I made earlier -- in that the bombards used in Europe, with their forged wrought iron stave-and-hoop construction, were quite a different breed of cat from Orban's creations. The period documentation indicates that Mehmet's siege cannon were cast -- in the case of Basilisc, in a foundry at the Ottoman capital. Although Basilisc has not survived, a huge Turkish cannon made just a decade or so later has -- the so-called Dardanelles Gun which can be seen today at Ft. Nelson, above Portsmouth. It's safe to conclude that its construction mirrors that of Orban's designs (he didn't live beyond the year of the siege). Even more remarkable is the fact that this gun, and smaller ones of the era still existing in Turkey, are of two -piece construction, the chamber section is screw-threaded into the barrel proper with remarkable precision for the day. Amazing!
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Old 28th July 2019, 03:55 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
...The description was not from a siege memoir, but rather focuses on the pre-siege test-firing of the largest gun (named Basilisc...

News for me: i realized that Basilisc was a type of large cannon and not the name of Mehmet's beast. The famous "Tiro de Diu" kept in the Lisbon Military museum (to revisit) is equally tagged as a basilisc.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
... only managed three shots daily, and became inoperative after several weeks...

Oh boy, given all troubles managing this monster, cited above and under, it takes a lot of determination to include it in the operations. If only the Sultan had to maneuver it himself .

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
...Which brings me to admit an oversight that I made earlier -- in that the bombards used in Europe, with their forged wrought iron stave-and-hoop construction, were quite a different breed of cat from Orban's creations. The period documentation indicates that Mehmet's siege cannon were cast -- in the case of Basilisc, in a foundry at the Ottoman capital...

Timelines are more or less coincidental. Around this period the Duchy of Burgundy, the greatest military power around, engaged in relations with the Portuguese Kingdom and great numbers of material were received, namely 134 fire mouths (cannons), from which some were in bronze. It is evident that this material was used in the North African campaigns, when looking at the Pastrana tapisseries. It is natural, quoting General Barata that, soon after, between end Dom Afonso V realm and beg. that of Dom Manuel I (1480-95) bronze cannon manufacture was initiated in Portugal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
... Although Basilisc has not survived, a huge Turkish cannon made just a decade or so later has -- the so-called Dardanelles Gun which can be seen today at Ft. Nelson, above Portsmouth. It's safe to conclude that its construction mirrors that of Orban's designs (he didn't live beyond the year of the siege)...

I was reading about this one the other day; among some confusion over both being 'allocated' to the Constantinople siege episode, the Dardanelles one would have being cast by Munir Ali in 1464, notwithstanding in an Orban's fashion. Also its weight is impressive; when coming to comparisons like that with the Mons Meg, we are talking about more than the double weight, despite their other specs being (almost) similar. Alright, the Mons Meg is in iron and this one is bronze, but the difference, i guess, resides more in its massive (thickness) construction.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
... Even more remarkable is the fact that this gun, and smaller ones of the era still existing in Turkey, are of two -piece construction, the chamber section is screw-threaded into the barrel proper with remarkable precision for the day. Amazing! ...

Yes, this idea to build it in two halves, apparently to facilitate its transport, is genius ... screwing cog rings and all. What one may be not so sure of is if, while this was a rather smart logistic asset, its susceptibility to gases escaping would not be a serious issue.


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Old 28th July 2019, 04:10 PM   #37
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Mons Meg: https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mons_Meg

Another Photo broadside, and of the section that failed, retiring the weapon (It's just a flesh wound). Looks like a hoop failure. Apparently range was around 2 miles, balls have been found that far away from it's firing point. note the holes for tools used in re-assembling the screwed parts. Probably a slightly bigger set like the coupling tool also below.
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Old 28th July 2019, 04:46 PM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall
...In any case, the 'gunner' had a certain mystique and was afforded a level of regard for his skills as I have understood...

They were a selective bunch indeed; even sometimes considered wizards, due to their extreme importance. A master gunner or, in determined circumstances, a 'simple' gunner, would have to be able to use the pendulum, the square and the quadrant, for the calculation of projectiles trajectory. Knowledgements like how to use fireworks and artillery foundry processes were also required. They also would have to be able to read, write ad count, as well as to make gunpowder, scorch saltpeter, fabricate charcoal and other powder components and know about weights and measurements.
Eventually they were not considered as military but as artisans (at least in Portugal in early times), although they were prized by their superiors, materially and with privileges, to make them do a good job.
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Old 28th July 2019, 04:59 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
Oh, here we go on yet another digression, I'm sure the Topic Police / Relevance Constabulary will be raiding this thread soon...

May I refer you to a wonderful little article, one of few focusing on gunners' fusetti (and in English, thankfully) -- "Gunner's Daggers" by Marcello Terenzi, published in the anthology Arms and Armor Annual, Vol. I (and may I add, the only volume) ed. Robert Held, 1973, pp 170-79 Just about everything you wanted to know about these things is there. The author was a renowned expert on Italian firearms in general. This article on the daggers is especially instructive because he includes examples of fake fusetti from various periods, a great resource for collectors because the majority of these in the marketplace are spurious, in ways that are obvious to anyone who really understands them.

Given your interest in Spanish firearms and the importance of Cataluña in arming the Spain's New World colonies, the book also contains Eudaldo Graells' "A Primer of Ripoll Gunlocks" in English translation which is most welcome since most of this author's writing has been published in Spanish or Catalan and are difficult to locate on the antiquarian book market.



PERFECT analogy Philip!!!
Actually long ago I learned that very good discussions may often meander off their course with sometimes even tenuously connected subjects, but that is the powerful learning aspect of such interaction. I have often made many key discoveries through pure serendipity, which led to other searches while giving the topic at hand far broader perspective .
While the 'curiouser and curiouser' quote (also from Alice) was of course playful linguistic use in Carroll's book, it has become the defined as 'eagerness to learn or know something'. ….exactly as being one here

Having said that, thank you very much for the references on the 'gunners daggers', and as always for providing such detail on these important sources.
The reason I had brought these 'stilettos' up was due to the more mundane use of these thin bladed daggers to 'spike' the touchhole of cannon in case of abandonment. As we had been discussing the 'tools' used by these gun crews I thought of this action along with all the measuring, positioning, calculating range etc. required as part of the duties of these gun crews.

Turning again to the comparison I mentioned in my earlier post of the huge cannon used in the 1957 movie, "The Pride and the Passion", I have found that the Jaivana cannon was actually the inspiration for the 1933 novel "The Gun" by E F Forester which the movie was based on.

Fernando thank you again for the resounding detail and information on the Mons Meg phenomenon, and especially the images associated. I had neglected to thank you for the important perspective suggesting the probable 'political' nature of the unfortunate bursting of the gun in 1680. This discussion had brought forth key insights into the nature of this huge gun with the construction using iron staves...which seems to be the manner of construction of the breech loader deck or swivel guns of 16th-18th c.
I found it interesting that the term 'murderer' was used for Mons Meg, and one form of the deck guns (with stave construction) was also termed 'the murderer'.
Wonder if any connection?

To colloquial nicknames for guns, the 'Baselisk' again falls into the serpentine simile as this is a legendary snakelike creature in medieval lore, so deadly even its glance can cause death.

The photos attached from the 1957 movie.

Fernando and Wayne, well observed on the sectioning of the Mons Meg is indeed logistically advantageous, but with possible issues as Fernando notes with escape of gasses etc.
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Old 28th July 2019, 05:42 PM   #40
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On the Dardanelles cannon Michael Kritoboulus, a Greek dude that wrote the history of the Ottoman conquest of the Eastern Roman Empire under Sultan Mehmet II, describes the (some) foundry details of the cannon but kept silence on the technique used to cast the screw parts.
All we know is that its threads were sharp and clean as they were on the day they left the foundry and, according to naval officers who unscrewed the breech in 1868, it took a total power of 40 tons of jacks and man power to dismantle it.
Although we ignore what tools the Turks used for the operation, providing this ever took place, it is evident that the means used to unscrew it in 1868 were not properly a set of pipe wrenches. Also my theory on the gasses escape meets no case.

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Old 29th July 2019, 04:22 AM   #41
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Originally Posted by fernando
On the Dardanelles cannon Michael Kritoboulus, a Greek dude that wrote the history of the Ottoman conquest of the Eastern Roman Empire under Sultan Mehmet II, describes the (some) foundry details of the cannon but kept silence on the technique used to cast the screw parts.
All we know is that its threads were sharp and clean as they were on the day they left the foundry and, according to naval officers who unscrewed the breech in 1868, it took a total power of 40 tons of jacks and man power to dismantle it.
Although we ignore what tools the Turks used for the operation, providing this ever took place, it is evident that the means used to unscrew it in 1868 were not properly a set of pipe wrenches. Also my theory on the gasses escape meets no case.

.



Today's engineers and production managers can still marvel at this two-piece design connected by reasonably precise male and female threads, fabricated on a ponderous scale in a pre-mechanized age several centuries past.

I also wonder about the design of the apparatus built by the Ottomans to assemble these guns, and dismantle them as needed. The 1868 effort in Britain undoubtedly utilized the best resources of Victorian-era engineering and manufacturing, but that would be stacking the Industrial Revolution against medieval technology.

Pipe wrenches... yes, Nando, probably not however the underlying principles still involve leverage and rotational movement, generating enouth torque. The rows of circumferential lug-recesses, and very substantial ones at that in thick mouldings dedicated to the purpose, show us that Orban and his Turkish students had thought things out carefully. Barring the discovery of an illustrated Otto treatise on the manufacture, care, and feeding of these monsters, perhaps we can get an idea of what sort of mechanism was used from ancient texts dealing with mechanical subjects, by notables such as Archimedes, Vitruvius, et al. We do know that Islamic scholars of the Middle Ages were avid students of classical works on mathematics and the sciences.

Now, to your question of leakage of combustion gases from the joint. It would depend, I suppose, on how precise and tight those threads actually were. After all, in use the two components would be tightly screwed together much like the breechplug to the barrel of any muzzle loading pistol or shoulder gun. In other words, a "fixed breech". There shouldn't be any leaking of gases if the threading is suitably tight (ignoring for now the inevitable and small loss of pressure via the vent or touchhole).

Looking forward to other breech designs and how designers coped with gas leakage, it seems to me that this became a problem with breech-loading systems, which involved either a removable chamber-piece (the Portuguese berço cannon and its north European and Oriental equivalents being an example) , or a breechblock that pivoted, rotated, or slid in any number of directions depending on the system (Lorenzoni, Hall, Westley-Richards, Dreyse, Chassepot, ad infinitum) This is because with any movable-breech system, explosive gases will trump the best manufacturing tolerances.

Engineers kept trying different workarounds -- the Prussian Dreyse bolt action needle-fire gun (so named for its slender extended firing pin that pierced a paper cartridge to hit the primer) was a notorious gas leaker but its designers provided a chamfer to the barrel stub that fitted a rebated bolt face that directed most of the gas and particulate matter away from the shooter's face -- at least if there wasn't a headwind. The Frenchman Chassepot improved this greatly by designing his bolt action with an obdurator seal on the bolt head, made of a rubber like substance.. Worked like a charm but the gasket had to be replaced after so-many shots and a soldier's kit contained a special spanner and a packet of spares.
Early breech loading cannon with interrupted-screw hinged breech units would leak gas because the threads were interrupted to allow the opening of the breech and these channels negated the sealing action of screw threads (see above). Believe it or not, this principle was explored by several inventors way before the 19th cent. Discovery of rubber and like substances in the industrial age allowed the breeches to be fitted with obdurator seals analogous in function to the bolt gasket on the French needle-fire guns, and voilà , the result was quite functional.

The magic pill that cured gas leakage was the perfection of the metallic cartridge case, which contained projectile, propellant, and primer in a single, fixed unit. On firing, the explosion expanded the case enough to seal the breech effectively, and the inherent sturdiness of this "fixed ammunition" made for all sorts of possibilities in the way of repeating-fire arms, and ultimately those capable of fully-automatic rapid fire.
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Old 29th July 2019, 04:17 PM   #42
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Filipe, what a treatise !!!
Definitely your luggage of these things scares me off discussion.
Still, the only experience i have in this particular, is an article (where i was most kindly appointed co-author) on the Westley-Richards (Monkey tail) pistols, of which i had a couple at the time; a version that ended up being only produced for a Portuguese contract (1000 units). Incidentally their failure to be accepted by the British Board of Ordnance was not a gas leakage issue, described the Board as "absolutely gas tight", but their non military advantage.
Back to early artillery, i dare realize that those Orban/Munir Ali guys were smart enough to circumvent problematic solutions like those applied to Berços, for one ( direct plug into barrel and quarter turn rotation), or any other pivoting systems. A screwing principle; not just a quarter or half turn method but, the whole of four threads rotation. This prevented their minds to predict the advent of the gasket or the washer. And adding to the fact, according to the Brits that, the threads were impeccable, i wander if even Lucifer could escape through them. This still not excluding some lubricating/sealing resource, like organic grease.


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Old 29th July 2019, 10:48 PM   #43
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Obrigado, Nando, pela reintrodução ao sistema retrocarga "rabo da macaque".

Quite an interesting system since it was apparently self-lubricating.

Back to the screw breeches of the Orban cannon -- you mentioned some organic grease as possibly having utility as a backup sealant if the threads were not fitted tightly enough. I'm thinking, in such eventuality, the natural tendency of black powder to form all that dense residue during combustion would have served the purpose quite well since it would have built up during successive shots without the breech being opened each time.

The observations made by the British, and the Greek expert you mentioned, about the quality of fit of these screw threads (as pertaining to the so-called Dardanelles gun) is still an amazing thing. Considering the era in which it was made and the nature of measuring tools and fabrication processes at the time.

And especially when you compare these achievements with the Portuguese introduction of their methods of gun making to Asia. The armory at Goa improved greatly on the basic processes in use at the time, and brought the concept of threaded breech plugs for musket barrels to the Orient. However, as historical literature and surviving guns show, Asian cultures did not take naturally to the turning of screw threads despite their skill in other aspects of metal craft.

It was a difficult lesson. In Iran, the Persian gunsmiths did not even trust the method (maybe to hide their lack of motivation to master the skill?) and through the 17th cent. preferred to use forged-in-place plugs (often anchored with a cross pin), saying it was stronger. The Japanese were almost allergic to screws, they used similar means to seal their barrels and even avoided all screws in constructing their gun locks, which were made all of brass to better suit the assembly methods they preferred (same for the Malays). A scholar writing a PhD thesis on the introduction of guns to Korea shared a Japanese text with me, describing the earliest attempts to cut threads in iron in that country -- the craftsmen tried to use chisels to shape the spiral, which was doable but far from ideal for male threads but virtually impossible for the female threads.

Indian and Chinese artisans eventually got somewhat comfortable with screw threading thanks to repeated experience with European technicians, but when it came to firearms, the tendency to avoid it was still apparent into the 19th cent. Very few Indian toredors or matchlock muskets use anything other than pins or rivets to secure their parts.

So we have to give those 15th cent. Turks A LOT OF CREDIT.
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Old 30th July 2019, 05:49 AM   #44
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Default from "wizards" to technicians

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Originally Posted by fernando
. A master gunner or, in determined circumstances, a 'simple' gunner, would have to be able to use the pendulum, the square and the quadrant, for the calculation of projectiles trajectory. Knowledgements like how to use fireworks and artillery foundry processes were also required. They also would have to be able to read, write ad count...


Yes, Nando, it's true that the first gunners were looked at with a mixture of awe and fear, for having this powerful and frightening thing in their hands, whose noise, fire, and sulphurous stench suggested ties to the Devil. But it wasn't long before modern science began to take over and thus we see the huge advances in artillery design and practice during the 16th cent. all over Europe. We must look to Renaissance Italy as the starting point:

1. Metallurgy and metal fabrication -- Vanoccio Biringuccio's Pirotecnica (1540) is a lucid and detailed compendium of 10 books, over 400 pages' worth in a modern English translation, of the state of the art as of the first half of the century. Book VI, of 10 chapters, covers gun- and bell-founding with tables of standard sizes and weights, and Book VII covers furnaces and molds, and also the making of cannon-balls and the designs of cannon carriages. The author (born 1480) who devoted his adult life to working in the metals industry, including the casting of large cannon. This book is a landmark in technical writing, standing out for its just-the-facts prose, avoiding the inclusion of lore and superstition, as well as flowery allusions to classical mythology, which characterised the literature of the era. The work has seen several editions through the centuries, including partial translations into other languages including Latin and Spanish.

2, Mathematics: Gunners had to do more than just be able to count. During the first half of the 16th cent., the practice became more science than art with the development of powerful tools created by the Venetian mathematician Niccolò Fontana "il Tartaglia" (his nickname The Stammerer came from a speech impediment caused when a French soldier cut his head with a sword when as a kid he had the misfortune of being in a war zone). Tartaglia revolutionized the study of ballistics when he, an avid student of the Greek thinkers, was able to prove mathematically that a projectile traveled in a parabolic trajectory. Not, as Aristotle posited, going straight through the air and then dropping abruptly to earth when its inertia was spent and gravity took over. From this, he was able to calculate the correlation of projectile range to barrel elevation, all else being equal. The figures were compiled into books of tables which became must-have field references for gunners all over the Western world and were disseminated to Eastern armies whose artillery corps were coached by mercenary trainers from Portugal and elsewhere. Tartaglia's studies were also the bases for the invention of several devices for the accurate aiming of cannon, the most important being the gunner's quadrant, which had a service life of over 3 centuries, and which is depicted in military manuals and art from as far away as India and China.

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Old 30th July 2019, 06:54 AM   #45
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They also made use of wedges, and with spare pre-loaded breeches, could maintain a certain amount of rapid fire. I imagine they were rather unpleasant to stand next to as they must have been fairly leaky when fired.

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Old 30th July 2019, 03:59 PM   #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip
... Tartaglia's studies were also the bases for the invention of several devices for the accurate aiming of cannon, the most important being the gunner's quadrant, which had a service life of over 3 centuries, and which is depicted in military manuals and art from as far away as India and China...

So Filipe, it makes sense that, in a coincidental period and as i quoted above General J. Manuel Cordeiro in his "Apontamentos para a História da Artilheria Portugueza – 1895", gunners in North Africa were already familiar with the quadrant, besides other abilities.
At this point a parentheses should be open to remind that, in this ongoing period gunners, as well as foundrymen, were increasingly required in a number far greater than what the nation could provide, for the need to import them from other countries was obligatory. There were highly qualified Germans, Flemish and others. At a certain stage Germans had a brotherhood, São Bartolomeu de Lisboa, were thousands of them were inscribed. More than a thousand have fallen in the battle of Alcacer Quibir (1578).


Quote:
Originally Posted by kronckew
...They also made use of wedges, and with spare pre-loaded breeches, could maintain a certain amount of rapid fire. I imagine they were rather unpleasant to stand next to as they must have been fairly leaky when fired...

Wayne, You are right in that the cadence of fire was an asset that largely compensated breech loading flaws.
... And mind you, whatever collateral issues could arise from an 'ancestral' berço like the one in that tube clip, may not be compared with later ones in bronze, improved during evolution imposed by King Dom Manuel, where materials and metallurgic accuracy would achieve a better plug sealing. Also there was no need to stand by the gun side. The one gunner stood safely behind it, at a distance provided by the gun aiming 'tail' (tiller).
On another hand it appears that, the guy shooting the various loaded breeches in that clip, introduces the (simulated) projectiles into the vases, which is a recurrent false case. They are instead stuck into the barrel chamber. All that the breech takes is a gunpowder load ...eventually sealed with wax.

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Old 31st July 2019, 03:53 AM   #47
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Default The Germanic connection

Quote:
Originally Posted by fernando
... in this ongoing period gunners, as well as foundrymen, were increasingly required in a number far greater than what the nation could provide, for the need to import them from other countries was obligatory. There were highly qualified Germans, Flemish and others. At a certain stage Germans had a brotherhood, São Bartolomeu de Lisboa, were thousands of them were inscribed. More than a thousand have fallen in the battle of Alcacer Quibir (1578).
.


Of course, Nando, and not only in the case of artillery but small arms too. As a certain Luso-German arms expert of our time and your acquaintance has pointed out in a book he wrote, the musket with snapping matchlock that reached mature form in Goa as the Indo-Portuguese espingarda was a concept originating in the German lands, most probably Bohemia or Bavaria. Portuguese and Indian artisans improved on what began as a fairly crude device to create the most long-lived and widely used of all matchlock types.

As early as the reign of Dom Manuel "o Venturoso", there was an influential German expat business community in Lisbon, involved in trading valuable commodities between Portugal and northern Europe. A German with some artistic talent made rough sketches of a rhinoceros in Dom Manuel's private zoo which might have been forgotten in the dust of history had not... the King wanted to give the animal to Pope Leo X (following up on a previous gift of a baby elephant), but the boat sank off the Italian coast and it drowned. The drawings ended up in Bavaria, where the famed print-maker Albrecht Dürer used them as the basis for his slightly fanciful but still impressive woodcut "Rhinocerus" dated 1515 -- an image that appears on things like T-shirts and coffee mugs even today.

Also, consider Spain. The Marcuarte lineage of gunsmiths descended from Bartholme Marquardt of Augsburg. His sons Siegmund (Simón) and Peter became established in Madrid in the second half of the 16th cent., and the earliest existing signed patilla miquelet locks are attributable to Simón the Younger, ca. 1625. Is there any coincidence that the action of the patilla mainspring (pushing upwards on the heel of the cock's "foot"), and the operation of a sear moving horizontally through an aperture in the lockplate, are exactly analogous to what we see on the Bohemian snap matchlocks of the 1470s that were sold to Portugal in large numbers during the Age of Discoveries?

It is probably superfluous to cite another example of an immigrant German gunsmith who made an excellent name for himself south of the Pyrenees -- Nicolás Bamproyssen y Bis.

Oh, you mention Flemish. I may be repeating something you know very well, that a sizeable part of the population of the Azores claims those roots. It's evident in the appearance of those Terceirense, Jorgense, and Michelense folks who maintain their distinct communities here in California. Tall people with fair skin and hair, with a variety of surnames like Dutra, Bettencourt, Laranjo (L'Orange), Abreu (Evreux). Silveira (Van der Hagen), etc. Also the little capelas attached to their Irmandade do Espírito Santo halls are so often built in the "gingerbread" style that we associate with the Netherlands and adjoining parts of Germany and Belgium. But I digress... down yet another rabbit hole.

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Old 31st July 2019, 12:45 PM   #48
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Another big one is the ZamZamma in Lahore.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zamzama
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Old 31st July 2019, 02:09 PM   #49
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Default The issue was quality ...

As it appears Filipe, it was pondered that, a better idea was to bring the (artillery) specialists over to the country, managing with them a vital interaction towards skilled production, instead of buying the guns in the international market, exposed to quality imponderables and no specific author to blame.
Afonso de Albuquerque has often made mention to his German gunners good services. Dom Lourenço de Almeida (India Vice-Roy's son) lost and was killed in the battle of Chaul (1508) for, together with other nobles, not accepting his gunner master (Condestável), a highly competent German, the suggestion to position the ships in a determined manner, so that he would take down the enemy's fleet before night fall. This refusal being justified by the fact that, gunning down the enemy's ships would make them assume the Portuguese were not courageous enough to beat them on a face to face boarding. So much for Dom Lourenço's fate .


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Old 31st July 2019, 03:00 PM   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard G
... Another big one is the ZamZamma in Lahore.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zamzama...

Good catch, Richard;that's quite a big one indeed.
Yet you could browse on an even bigger thing, the Bijapur Malik-E-Maidan. Its specs are impressive; not so lengthy with 4,5 mts but, with a 55 tons weight, 1,5 mt diameter and a 700 millimeters bore.

Concerning guns with inscriptions, like the ZAMZAMMA, i can not go without showing the TIRO DE DIU, so called due to its use in the First Siege of Diu in 1538.This basilisk was cast in bronze in 1533 during the reign of Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat
It cast in one solid piece and has no ornaments whatsoever except for some laudatory Arabic inscriptions that can be roughly translated as follows:

From our Lord the Sultan of Sultans of all ages; life-giver of the tradition of the Prophet of the Merciful God; the one that fights for the exaltation of the precepts of the Koran; the destroyer of the arguments of the supporters of wickedness; the one that casts away the houses of worshipers of idols; the Victor of the day when the two armies will meet; heir to the kingdom of Solomon; the one who trusts in the God the Benefactor; the possessor of all the virtues – Bahadur-Shah.

After the defeat of the Muslim forces, the gun was sent to Lisbon to serve defense purposes. Later in 18th century it was sent to the Arsenal in Lisbon to be melted so that the metal could be used to cast a statue of king D. José I. However, a religious scholar noticed and translated the Arabic inscriptions on the gun and, once discovering the historical value of the piece, the gun was spared.
This non wheeled beast weighs 20 tons, measures 6,12 mts (5,90 mts core) with 91 cm width (incl. trunnions) and 24 cm caliber.

It is now on display on the Cannon yard at the Military Museum of Lisbon.


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Old 2nd August 2019, 05:45 PM   #51
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Red face Boring ...

I should ask for tolerance over approaching once more the tremendous ambiance that surrounds a combat of artillery; but i could not resist to quote the great historian and grammarian João de Barros (1496-1570), describing the (unsuccessful) attempt, by Nuno da Cunha, to take over the fortification of Diu in 1531 (India). Tolerance also requested for not being able to translate (interpreter) his fascinating words in the exact sense.

" Given as a signal from the skiff of by D.Vasco de Lima, a volley with a piece (cannon) that ours call espalhafato (fuss), due to being very furious, started the sea, the land and the air shaking and changing their quietness; because the sea boiled, its waters jumping over with the falling of volleys which came from town and the boats, where there was great number of musketry, in a way that the shots were like rain, and in the water and the air they met. The land was all put to dust, raised by our shots at beating the fortification. The air was a smoke of sulphur so dark and thick that asphyxiated men, and blinded them, and from it some sparks of fire, that looked like coming from hell. All was a darkness without any light, only a terror, an astonishment to the eyes, torment to their ears and a confusion of cheer, the men not knowing where they were and whether was a dream what they were seeing, or truth ".

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