Artillery question

Kurt G

Sergeant Major
Joined
May 23, 2018
In Gordon Rhea's "On to Petersburg " it is mentioned that at Cold Harbor Union artillery pieces needed to be elevated further to reach over Confederate emplacements . This was done by digging a hole to drop the carriage trail into to improve elevation . Apparently the recoil in this situation did not damage the carriage . I would have thought the recoil would definitely have damaged the carriage trail .
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
In Gordon Rhea's "On to Petersburg " it is mentioned that at Cold Harbor Union artillery pieces needed to be elevated further to reach over Confederate emplacements . This was done by digging a hole to drop the carriage trail into to improve elevation . Apparently the recoil in this situation did not damage the carriage . I would have thought the recoil would definitely have damaged the carriage trail .
My expectation would be that it would damage it, yeah. Maybe it's a case of the recoil reducing the useful life of the piece but not enough that it gave out straight away?
 

ucvrelics

Colonel
Forum Host
Regtl. Quartermaster Shiloh 2020
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May 7, 2016
Location
Alabama
In Gordon Rhea's "On to Petersburg " it is mentioned that at Cold Harbor Union artillery pieces needed to be elevated further to reach over Confederate emplacements . This was done by digging a hole to drop the carriage trail into to improve elevation . Apparently the recoil in this situation did not damage the carriage . I would have thought the recoil would definitely have damaged the carriage trail .
Not in dirt, it would have just buried in deeper.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
Not in dirt, it would have just buried in deeper.
The gun needs to get rid of the energy and momentum of the recoil somewhere, though. If the trail is not able to slide backwards to brake the gun then that energy is going somewhere else, and a lot of it is going to go into the frame.
 

ucvrelics

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Regtl. Quartermaster Shiloh 2020
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The gun needs to get rid of the energy and momentum of the recoil somewhere, though. If the trail is not able to slide backwards to brake the gun then that energy is going somewhere else, and a lot of it is going to go into the frame.
90% of the recoil energy goes to the backside of the trunnion cutouts on the cheek pieces which were bolted on both sides. The artillery carriage designs during the CW especially with the big field guns pretty much kept up with barrel development.
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Sometimes wedges were inserted to keep the shot or shell in place when the barrel was depressed.

From "ARTILLERIST'S MANUAL, COMPILED FROM VARIOUS SOURCES, THE AND ADAPTED TO THE SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES"
http://www.civilwarartillery.com/books/gibbon.pdf

The 8-in. siege-howitzer, being loaded by hand, the fuze can be placed in - its proper position without the assistance of a sabot, which, when the piece was fired in the trenches over the heads of the working parties, would be dangerous to them. In loading this piece, as well as with the mortars, care should be taken that no powder remains along the bore; and in firing under small angles, or at a depression, the shell should be wedged up, to prevent its rolling out.
also

Ring or Grommet Wads , consist of a ring of rope -yarn about 0.7 in. thick, with two pieces of strong twine tied across it at right angles to each other. The size of the ring is the full diameter of the bore, in order that it may fit tight and stop the windage. They increase the accuracy of fire, and are preferred to the other wads when the object is merely to keep the shot in its place, as in firing at a depression. They stop the windage best when placed behind the ball. They may be attached with twine to the straps, or to the balls themselves, or may be inserted, like other wads, separate from the balls.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Thanks everybody. I live 2 hours from Gettysburg and I've been there several times. From where Smith's Battery was down into the Triangular Field isn't all that steep. I know the trail isn't too heavy, because they lifted it to hitch to the limber and could drag the piece by the lanyard (I forget the term for it) attached to the trail for that purpose. Everybody seems to have the same thought as me- there has to be a reason but I don't know what it is. I picture running out of elevation and needing just a little more to hit people who are trying very hard to kill me, and throwing something under the trail would be my first thought. If I get a chance to ask a reenactor who fires a real artillery piece I'll ask.
Prolonge is the word you're looking for.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
90% of the recoil energy goes to the backside of the trunnion cutouts on the cheek pieces which were bolted on both sides. The artillery carriage designs during the CW especially with the big field guns pretty much kept up with barrel development.
I may not be following, so forgive me if this is a silly question, but that sounds like the pieces are rigidly attached? That should result in energy transfer rather than energy absorbtion.

The reason why recuperators were a big thing was that they absorbed and spread out the momentum of the shot, so that it was dissipated without forcing the weapon backwards (friction was sufficient to transfer the momentum to the ground without the piece moving). Without a recuperator you need the momentum transferred some other way, and the upwards momentum of a depression shot needs to be dealt with (though a specialist depressed gun can act like a recuperated gun in that it can absorb the momentum through the barrel sliding backwards and then use gravity to return to battery position, all without moving the carriage out of position)
 

redbob

Major
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
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Location
Hoover, Alabama
In the WWI years the French Model 97 gun was considered state of the art and a closely kept secret because of it's hydro-pneumatic recoil system which was superior to any other weapon at the time. This allowed it to have rates of fire that were far superior to anything seen up to that time.
 
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Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
In the WWI years the French Model 97 gun was considered state of the art and a closely kept secret because of it's hydro-pneumatic recoil system which was superior to any other weapon at the time. This allowed it to have rates of fire that were far superior to anything seen up to that time.
Good point about the M1897 French 75. An interesting point is that its revolutionary recoil-less technology was based to some extent on clandestinely-obtained documents of German origin. The 75 did great work in WWI and continued to be used through WWII in different configurations, even though by then it was no longer "state of the art". The mechanism allowed an efficient crew to routinely get off 15-20 accurate rounds a minute.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
It's interesting to note that the constraint on effective fire in the 1860s was the need to re-lay the gun more than anything else. There are exceptions such as at short cannister range (point-blank range where you don't need to adjust elevation) but if you want to hit a target at 1,000 yards with the greatest efficiency then you need to lay the gun after each shot (because it goes out of battery). You can fire faster but you will not have a good solution.

It happens that the recuperator came after the introduction of smokeless powder, but had the recuperator come first then the new constraint would have been smoke and the need to see how well your shots are doing. It would probably have resulted in fire-fire-fire-fire, pause for the smoke to clear, ranging shots to confirm a good trajectory, fire-fire-fire-fire (like they did on dreadnoughts).
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
It's interesting to note that the constraint on effective fire in the 1860s was the need to re-lay the gun more than anything else. There are exceptions such as at short cannister range (point-blank range where you don't need to adjust elevation) but if you want to hit a target at 1,000 yards with the greatest efficiency then you need to lay the gun after each shot (because it goes out of battery). You can fire faster but you will not have a good solution.

It happens that the recuperator came after the introduction of smokeless powder, but had the recuperator come first then the new constraint would have been smoke and the need to see how well your shots are doing. It would probably have resulted in fire-fire-fire-fire, pause for the smoke to clear, ranging shots to confirm a good trajectory, fire-fire-fire-fire (like they did on dreadnoughts).
It bears noting that the French 75 also had a very efficient loading/firing system at the breech, including seats for two crew members. A key issue was eliminating the need to re-lay after every shot but the design also added to the speed of accurate fire.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
It bears noting that the French 75 also had a very efficient loading/firing system at the breech, including seats for two crew members. A key issue was eliminating the need to re-lay after every shot but the design also added to the speed of accurate fire.
Indeed, because it is suddenly worth minimizing reload time. If you can get reload time down from 20 seconds to 10 seconds the theoretical rate of maximum fire doubles, but if relaying takes a minute and a half then you've only saved 10% of total gun time at most. Subsequent improvements have smaller marginal benefits.

If relaying takes no time at all, then reload time is suddenly the main control on speed of fire and it is worth trimming down as much as possible.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
Indeed, because it is suddenly worth minimizing reload time. If you can get reload time down from 20 seconds to 10 seconds the theoretical rate of maximum fire doubles, but if relaying takes a minute and a half then you've only saved 10% of total gun time at most. Subsequent improvements have smaller marginal benefits.

If relaying takes no time at all, then reload time is suddenly the main control on speed of fire and it is worth trimming down as much as possible.
All working in combination - the gun remaining in place and the Nordenfeldt eccentric screw breech (with an "easy" lever and interrupted-thread action) were both important factors. If you've ever fired one of these or watched a firing demo, it's clear why a good crew could average a shot every four or five seconds. The human factor was the third crew member being ready to load the next round as soon as the casing of the fired round was ejected.
 
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