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A pivot gun was a type of cannon mounted on a fixed central emplacement which permitted it to be moved through a wide horizontal arc. They were a common weapon aboard ships and in land fortifications for several centuries but became obsolete after the invention of gun turrets.
A cannon is a type of gun classified as artillery that launches a projectile using propellant. In the past, gunpowder was the primary propellant before the invention of smokeless powder during the 19th century. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees, depending on their intended use on the battlefield. The word cannon is derived from several languages, in which the original definition can usually be translated as tube, cane, or reed. In the modern era, the term cannon has fallen into decline, replaced by guns or artillery if not a more specific term such as mortar or howitzer, except for high calibre automatic weapons firing bigger rounds than machine guns, called autocannons.
A gun turret is a location from which weapons can be fired that affords protection, visibility, and some cone of fire. A modern gun turret is generally a weapon mount that houses the crew or mechanism of a projectile-firing weapon and at the same time lets the weapon be aimed and fired in some degree of azimuth and elevation.
By mounting a cannon on a pivot, a much wider arc of fire could be obtained than was possible with conventional carriage-mounted cannons. Unlike the latter, however, pivot guns were fixed in one place and could not easily be moved outside of their horizontal arc; they could thus only really be used in fixed positions such as in a fort or on a battleship.
There was no standard size of pivot gun, though they tended to be fairly substantial weapons. Like other cannons, they were muzzleloaders and could fire either shells or grapeshot (or other types of shot). Their calibers ranged from a few inches to the giant 11-inch Dahlgren guns used by the United States Navy in the mid-19th century.
A muzzleloader is any firearm into which the projectile and usually the propellant charge is loaded from the muzzle of the gun. This is distinct from the more popular modern designs of breech-loading firearms. The term "muzzleloader" applies to both rifled and smoothbore type muzzleloaders, and may also refer to the marksman who specializes in the shooting of such firearms. The firing methods, paraphernalia and mechanism further divide both categories as do caliber.
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.
In artillery, grapeshot is a type of shot that is not one solid element, but a mass of small metal balls or slugs packed tightly into a canvas bag. It was used both in land and naval warfare. When assembled, the balls resembled a cluster of grapes, hence the name. On firing, the balls spread out from the muzzle, giving an effect similar to a giant shotgun.
Pivot guns had a major disadvantage in warfare: they were very difficult to protect in battle and were necessarily very exposed, as they lay close to the surface of a ship's deck and required an open field of view. In the late 19th century they were replaced by "disappearing guns" and ultimately by turrets, which enabled a broad arc of fire while providing the gunners with all-round protection from incoming fire.
A disappearing gun, a gun mounted on a disappearing carriage, is an obsolete type of artillery which enabled a gun to hide from direct fire and observation. The overwhelming majority of carriage designs enabled the gun to rotate backwards and down behind a parapet, or into a pit protected by a wall after it was fired; a small number were simply barbette mounts on a retractable platform. Either way, retraction lowered the gun from view and direct fire by the enemy while it was being reloaded. It also made reloading easier, since it lowered the breech to a level just above the loading platform, and shells could be rolled right up to the open breech for loading and ramming. Other benefits over non-disappearing types were a higher rate of repetitive fire and less fatigue for the gun crew.
Pivot guns should not be confused with swivel guns, a much smaller type of ordnance.
The term swivel gun usually refers to a small cannon, mounted on a swiveling stand or fork which allows a very wide arc of movement. Another type of firearm referred to as a swivel gun was an early flintlock combination gun with two barrels that rotated along their axes to allow the shooter to switch between rifled and smoothbore barrels.
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A carronade is a short, smoothbore, cast iron cannon which was used by the Royal Navy and first produced by the Carron Company, an ironworks in Falkirk, Scotland. It was used from the 1770s to the 1850s. Its main function was to serve as a powerful, short-range, anti-ship and anti-crew weapon. Carronades were initially found to be very successful, but they eventually disappeared as naval artillery advanced, with the introduction of rifling and consequent change in the shape of the projectile, exploding shells replacing solid shot, and naval engagements being fought at longer ranges.
A broadside is the side of a ship, the battery of cannon on one side of a warship; or their coordinated fire in naval warfare. From the 16th century until the early decades of the steamship, vessels had rows of guns set in each side of the hull. Firing all guns on one side of the ship became known as a "broadside". The cannons of 18th-century men of war were accurate only at short range, and their penetrating power mediocre, entailing that the thick hulls of wooden ships could only be pierced at short ranges. These wooden ships sailed closer and closer towards each other until cannon fire would be effective. Each tried to be the first to fire a broadside, often giving one party a decisive headstart in the battle when it crippled the other ship.
In military organizations, an artillery battery is a unit of artillery, mortars, rocket artillery, multiple rocket launchers, surface to surface missiles, ballistic missiles, cruise missiles etc., so grouped to facilitate better battlefield communication and command and control, as well as to provide dispersion for its constituent gunnery crews and their systems. The term is also used in a naval context to describe groups of guns on warships.
In military architecture, an embrasure is the opening in a crenellation or battlement between the two raised solid portions or merlons, sometimes called a crenel or crenelle. In domestic architecture this refers to the outward splay of a window or arrow slit on the inside.
The wall piece or wall gun was a type of smoothbore firearm used in the 16th through 18th centuries by defending forces to break the advance of enemy troops. Essentially, it was a scaled-up version of the army's standard infantry musket, operating under the same principles, but with a bore of up to one-inch (25.4 mm) calibre. These weapons filled a gap in firepower between the musket and the lightest artillery pieces, such as the swivel gun. This sort of weapon may also be found described as an amusette, rampart gun, or Hackbut, a name originally given to early medieval hand cannon.
Turret ships were a 19th-century type of warship, the earliest to have their guns mounted in a revolving gun turret, instead of a broadside arrangement.
Barbettes are several types of gun emplacement in terrestrial fortifications or on naval ships.
A rifled muzzle loader (RML) is a type of large artillery piece invented in the mid-19th century. In contrast to smooth bore cannon which preceded it, the rifling of the gun barrel allowed much greater accuracy and penetration as the spin induced to the shell gave it directional stability. Typical guns weighed 18 tonnes with 10-inch-diameter bores, and were installed in forts and ships.
A casemate is a fortified gun emplacement or armored structure from which guns are fired. Originally, the term referred to a vaulted chamber in a fortress. In armoured fighting vehicles that do not have a turret for the main gun, the structure that accommodates the gun is termed the casemate.
Coastal artillery is the branch of the armed forces concerned with operating anti-ship artillery or fixed gun batteries in coastal fortifications.
Naval artillery is artillery mounted on a warship, originally used only for naval warfare, later also for shore bombardment and for anti-aircraft use. The term generally refers to tube-launched projectile-firing weapons and excludes self-propelled projectiles like torpedoes, rockets, and missiles and those simply dropped overboard like depth charges and naval mines.
Gun laying is the process of aiming an artillery piece, such as a gun, howitzer, or mortar, on land or at sea, against surface or air targets. It may be laying for direct fire, where the gun is aimed similarly to a rifle, or indirect fire, where firing data is calculated and applied to the sights. The term includes automated aiming using, for example, radar-derived target data and computer-controlled guns.
The secondary armament of a battleship is composed of smaller, faster-firing weapons that are typically effective at a shorter range than the main (heavy) weapons. The nature, disposition, size and purpose of secondary weapons changed dramatically as the threat changed from torpedo boats, to torpedo-carrying destroyers, to aircraft, to anti-ship missiles.
The columbiad was a large-caliber, smoothbore, muzzle-loading cannon able to fire heavy projectiles at both high and low trajectories. This feature enabled the columbiad to fire solid shot or shell to long ranges, making it an excellent seacoast defense weapon for its day. Invented by Colonel George Bomford, United States Army, in 1811, columbiads were used in United States seacoast defense from the War of 1812 until the early years of the 20th century. Very few columbiads were used outside of the U.S. and Confederate Armies; nevertheless, the columbiad is considered by some as the inspiration for the later shell-only cannons developed by Frenchman Henri-Joseph Paixhans some 30 years later.
The Lord Clive-class monitor, sometimes referred to as the General Wolfe class, were ships designed for shore bombardment and were constructed for the Royal Navy during the First World War.
The 6"/47 caliber Mark 16 gun was used in the main batteries of several pre-war and World War II US Navy light cruisers. They were primarily mounted in triple turrets and used against surface targets. The 6"/47 caliber Mark 16DP gun was a dual purpose fitting of the Mark 16 for use against aircraft as well as surface ships. It was installed in the post-war Worcester-class light cruisers and the anti-aircraft gunnery training ship Mississippi.
A weapon mount is an assembly used to hold a weapon, typically a gun. Weapon mounts can be broken down into two categories: static mounts and non-static mounts.