A carcass was an early form of incendiary bomb or shell, intended to set targets on fire. It comprised an external casing, usually of cast iron, filled with a highly flammable mixture, and having three to five holes through which the burning filling could blaze outward.Carcasses were shot from howitzers, mortars, and other cannons to set fire to buildings and defences; on impact, the shell shattered, spreading its incendiary filling around the target. Congreve rockets were also sometimes fitted with carcass heads.
They were named carcass because the circles which pass from one ring, or plate, to the other, were thought to resemble the ribs of a human carcass.
Carcasses were used for the first time by the French and Münsterite troops under Louis XIV and Bernard von Galen in 1672.They were also fired from bomb vessels.
The carcass shell as used by the Royal Navy in the 18th and early 19th century, most famously in the attack on Fort McHenry, was a hollow cast iron sphere weighing 190 pounds (86 kg). Instead of the single fuse hole found on a conventional mortar shell of the period, the carcass had 3 openings, each 3 inches (76 mm) in diameter. Its filling burned for 11 minutes upon firing. It was especially useful during night bombardments, as the burning projectile assisted in the aiming of the cannon.
For the composition of the flammable material used in a carcass, 18th century philosopher Christian Wolff prescribed 10 parts of pounded gunpowder, 2 of nitre, 1 of sulfur, and 1 of colophony; or 6 of gunpowder, 4 of nitre, 4 of sulfur, 1 of beaten glass, 0.5 of antimony 0.5 of camphor, 1 of sal armoniac, and 0.25 of common salt. For the shell, he started with two iron rings (others used plates), fitting one at one extreme, near the aperture at which the carcass was to be fired, and the other at the other. These he braced with cords drawn lengthwise; and across these, at right angles, laced other cords, making a knot at each intersection. Between the folds of the cords, he made holes, inserted copper tubes, and filled them half full of powder and lead bullets, packing it in with a tow. The internal shell's aperture was then plugged up, and it was immersed in a mixture of 4 parts of melted pitch, 20 of rosin, 1 of oil of turpentine, and as much ground gunpowder as was needed to reduce it to the consistency of a paste. After immersion, the shell was to be covered with tow, and immersed again, until it was the proper size for the mortar.
Carcass shells as used by the Royal Navy from the 18th to the 19th centuries were filled with a mixture of saltpeter, sulfur, rosin, sulfide of antimony, tallow and turpentine.
Gunpowder, also known as the retronym black powder to distinguish it from modern smokeless powder, is the earliest known chemical explosive. It consists of a mixture of sulfur (S), charcoal (C), and potassium nitrate (saltpeter, KNO3). The sulfur and charcoal act as fuels while the saltpeter is an oxidizer. Gunpowder has been widely used as a propellant in firearms, artillery, rocketry, and pyrotechnics, including use as a blasting agent for explosives in quarrying, mining, and road building.
A Molotov cocktail, also known as a petrol bomb, gasoline bomb, bottle bomb, poor man's grenade, fire bomb, fire bottle or just Molotov, sometimes shortened as Molly, is a generic name used for a variety of bottle-based improvised incendiary weapons.
A bomb is an explosive weapon that uses the exothermic reaction of an explosive material to provide an extremely sudden and violent release of energy. Detonations inflict damage principally through ground- and atmosphere-transmitted mechanical stress, the impact and penetration of pressure-driven projectiles, pressure damage, and explosion-generated effects. Bombs have been utilized since the 11th century starting in East Asia.
Incendiary weapons, incendiary devices, incendiary munitions, or incendiary bombs are weapons designed to start fires or destroy sensitive equipment using fire, that use materials such as napalm, thermite, magnesium powder, chlorine trifluoride, or white phosphorus. Though colloquially often known as bombs, they are not explosives but in fact are designed to slow the process of chemical reactions and use ignition rather than detonation to start or maintain the reaction. Napalm for example, is petroleum especially thickened with certain chemicals into a 'gel' to slow, but not stop, combustion, releasing energy over a longer time than an explosive device. In the case of napalm, the gel adheres to surfaces and resists suppression.
A mortar is usually a simple, lightweight, man-portable, muzzle-loaded weapon, consisting of a smooth-bore metal tube fixed to a base plate with a lightweight bipod mount and a sight. They launch explosive shells in high-arcing ballistic trajectories. Mortars are typically used as indirect fire weapons for close fire support with a variety of ammunition.
A shell is a payload-carrying projectile that, as opposed to shot, contains an explosive or other filling, though modern usage sometimes includes large solid projectiles properly termed shot. Solid shot may contain a pyrotechnic compound if a tracer or spotting charge is used. Originally, it was called a "bombshell", but "shell" has come to be unambiguous in a military context.
A smoke screen is smoke released to mask the movement or location of military units such as infantry, tanks, aircraft or ships.
Early thermal weapons were used in warfare during the classical and medieval periods using heat or burning action to destroy or damage enemy personnel, fortifications or territories.
This article explains terms used for the British Armed Forces' ordnance and also ammunition. The terms may have slightly different meanings in the military of other countries.
Rocket artillery is artillery that uses rockets as the projectile. The use of rocket artillery dates back to medieval China where devices such as fire arrows were used. Fire arrows were also used in multiple launch systems and transported via carts. By the late nineteenth century, due to improvements in the power and range of conventional artillery, the use of early military rockets declined; they were finally used on a small scale by both sides during the American Civil War. Modern rocket artillery was first employed during World War II, in the form of the German Nebelwerfer family of rocket ordnance designs, Soviet Katyusha-series and numerous other systems employed on a smaller scale by the Western allies and Japan. In modern use, the rockets are often guided by an internal guiding system or GPS in order to maintain accuracy.
A fougasse is an improvised mortar constructed by making a hollow in the ground or rock and filling it with explosives and projectiles. The fougasse was used by Samuel Zimmermann at Augsburg in the sixteenth century, referred to by Vauban in the seventeenth century, and well known to military engineers by the mid-eighteenth century. This technique was used in several European wars, the American Revolution, and the American Civil War. The term is still used to describe such devices.
Naval artillery in the Age of Sail encompasses the period of roughly 1571–1862: when large, sail-powered wooden naval warships dominated the high seas, mounting a bewildering variety of different types and sizes of cannon as their main armament. By modern standards, these cannon were extremely inefficient, difficult to load, and short ranged. These characteristics, along with the handling and seamanship of the ships that mounted them, defined the environment in which the naval tactics in the Age of Sail developed.
Fragmentation is the process by which the casing of a projectile from a bomb, barrel bomb, land mine, IED, artillery, mortar, tank gun, or autocannon shell, rocket, missile, grenade, etc. is shattered by the detonation of the explosive filler.
The Huolongjing, also known as Huoqitu, is a 14th-century military treatise compiled and edited by Jiao Yu and Liu Bowen of the early Ming dynasty (1368–1683). The Huolongjing is primarily based on the text known as Huolong Shenqi Tufa, which is no longer extant.
The Wujing Zongyao, sometimes rendered in English as the Complete Essentials for the Military Classics, is a Chinese military compendium written from around 1040 to 1044.
Gunpowder is the first explosive to have been developed. Popularly listed as one of the "Four Great Inventions" of China, it was discovered during the late Tang dynasty but the earliest record of a written formula appeared in the Song dynasty. Knowledge of gunpowder spread rapidly throughout Asia, the Middle East and Europe, possibly as a result of the Mongol conquests during the 13th century, with written formula for it appearing in the 1267 Opus Majus treatise by Roger Bacon and a 1280 treatise by Hasan al-Rammah. It was employed in warfare to some effect from at least the 10th century in weapons such as fire arrows, bombs, and the fire lance before the appearance of the gun. While the fire lance was eventually supplanted by the gun, other gunpowder weapons such as rockets and fire arrows continued to see use in China, Korea, India, and eventually Europe. Bombs too never ceased to develop and continued to progress into the modern day as grenades, mines, and other explosive implements. Gunpowder has also been used for non-military purposes such as fireworks for entertainment, or in explosives for mining and tunneling.
Heated shot or hot shot is round shot that is heated before firing from muzzle-loading cannons, for the purpose of setting fire to enemy warships, buildings, or equipment. The use of hot shot dates back centuries and only ceased when vessels armored with iron replaced wooden warships in the world's navies. It was a powerful weapon against wooden warships, where fire was always a hazard. Its use was mainly confined to shore batteries and forts, due to the need for a special furnace to heat the shot, and their use from a ship was in fact against Royal Navy regulations because they were so dangerous, although the American ship USS Constitution had a shot furnace installed for hot shot to be fired from her carronades. The French Romaine-class frigates originally also featured the device, but they proved impractical, dangerous to the ships themselves, and were later discarded.
A friction primer is a device to initiate the firing of muzzle-loading cannon. Each friction primer consists of a copper tube filled with gunpowder. The tube fits into the cannon touch hole burying its lower end in the gunpowder chamber. The top end of the tube extending above the touch hole has a short perpendicular spur tube filled with a priming mixture of antimony sulfide and potassium chlorate. A roughened wire slider extends from the outer end of the spur tube through the priming mixture and the gunpowder tube. This slider wire is twisted into a loop on the opposite side of the gunpowder tube.