Ammo Artillery round detonation

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JohnDLittlefield

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I have a basic question about ACW artillery rounds.
What types of fuses were used for contact sensitive detonation? Chemical, mechanical, or ??
If chemical, what was the basic design?
I ask because I need to know the differences and similarities between field artillery and naval torpedoes using chemical sensitive fuses (requiring only about 7 lbs of pressure to break the chemical vials of the fuses.
 

redbob

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There were four types of fuzes used during the Civil War, they were: Time (a burning powder train), Percussion (use of a percussion cap to ignite the charge upon impact), A combination of both the time and percussion processes and Concussion. A concussion fuze used the round's impact with an object or the ground to break an internal chemical vial, which would ignite and ignite the powder charge. Also a frangible material such as plaster was sometimes used to separate the chemicals and when the plaster broke the ignition process would begin. The Tice concussion fuze was perhaps the most popular and even today, collectors are very wary of them due to their sensitivity/hazards. For a better description of the types fuzes see www.civilwarartillery.com and click on the fuze tab. These concussion fuses were extremely sensitive and as dangerous to the artilleryman firing them as the people receiving them.
 
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redbob

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Rhea Cole

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Apparently, the contact fuses were not very dependable. A few years ago, the site where the Washington Artillery unlimbered during Forrest & Bate's attack on Murfreesboro December 1864 was graded for a parking lot. A number of dud 20 pound rifle shells were found. The first shot, at two miles, from Fortress Rosecrans had struck a caisson dead on. The resulting explosion & rain of accurate fire left the Confederate red legs with no choice but to limber up & run for it. An EoD team from Fort Campbell blew them up in place. Last summer, while doing a chimney repair on the house that had been Gen Rosecrans' HQ here in Murfreesboro, a 3" rifle shell with a dud contact fuse was found lodged in brickwork. It was professionally disarmed & is now on display. I know this is a very small sample, but they are modern day examples of dud contact fuses.
 
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redbob

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Apparently, the contact fuses were not very dependable. A few years ago, the site where the Washington Artillery unlimbered during Forrest & Bate's attack on Murfreesboro December 1864 was graded for a parking lot. A number of dud 20 pound rifle shells were found. The first shot, at two miles, from Fortress Rosecrans had struck a caisson dead on. The resulting explosion & rain of accurate fire left the Confederate red legs with no choice but to limber up & run for it. An EoD team from Fort Campbell blew them up in place. Last summer, while doing a chimney repair on the house that had been Gen Rosecrans' HQ here in Murfreesboro, a 3" rifle shell with a dud contact fuse was found lodged in brickwork. It was professionally disarmed & is now on display. I know this is a very small sample, but they are modern day examples of dud contact fuses.
If the contact/percussion fuze didn't hit directly on the cap, the cap would often jam and not drive the percussion cap down on the striker; also if the percussion cap got slightly dislodged it wouldn't fire either.
 

Rhea Cole

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If the contact/percussion fuze didn't hit directly on the cap, the cap would often jam and not drive the percussion cap down on the striker; also if the percussion cap got slightly dislodged it wouldn't fire either.
True, & the Confederate manufactured artillery fuses & friction primers were of pathetic quality.
 

Ole Miss

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Sounds very familiar to the problems the US Navy had with the contact exploder of the Mark 14 torpedo until August of 1943 when a lighter firing pin was created. A very sad story.
Regards
David
 
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Belfoured

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Sounds very familiar to the problems the US Navy had with the contact exploder of the Mark 14 torpedo until August of 1943 when a lighter firing pin was created. A very sad story.
Regards
David
For anybody who is interested, McCaul's book on the Mechanical Fuze in the Civil War (McFarland) is pretty good on its development and the (surprising) number of patent applications filed.
 
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