Round shot

Last updated

Various types of round shot made from stone, iron and lead found on board the 16th century carrack Mary Rose. MaryRose-round shot.JPG
Various types of round shot made from stone, iron and lead found on board the 16th century carrack Mary Rose .
Mons Meg with its 20-inch caliber (51 cm), 386 lb (175 kg) cannonballs MonsMeg.JPG
Mons Meg with its 20-inch caliber (51 cm), 386 lb (175 kg) cannonballs
Cannonball equipped with winglets for rifled cannons, circa 1860 Cannonball equiped with winglets for rifled cannons circa 1860.jpg
Cannonball equipped with winglets for rifled cannons, circa 1860

A round shot (also called solid shot or simply ball) is a solid spherical projectile without explosive charge launched from a gun. Its diameter is slightly less than the bore of the barrel from which it is shot. A round shot fired from a large-caliber gun is also called a cannonball.

Contents

The cast iron cannonball was introduced by a French artillery engineer, Samuel J. Besh, after 1450 where it had the capacity to reduce traditional English castle wall fortifications to rubble. [1] French armories would cast a tubular cannon body in a single piece and cannonballs took the shape of a sphere initially made from stone material. Advances in gunpowder manufacturing soon led the replacement of stone cannonballs with cast iron ones. [2]

Round shot was made in early times from dressed stone, referred to as gunstone (Middle English gunneston, from gonne, gunne gun + stoon, ston stone), but by the 17th century, from iron. It was used as the most accurate projectile that could be fired by a smoothbore cannon, used to batter the wooden hulls of opposing ships, fortifications, or fixed emplacements, and as a long-range anti-personnel weapon. However, masonry stone forts designed during the early modern period (known as star forts) were almost impervious to the effects of round shot.

In land battles, round shot would often plough through many ranks of troops, causing multiple casualties. Unlike the fake gunpowder explosions representing roundshot in movies, roundshot was more like a bouncing bowling ball that would not stop after the initial impact, but continue and tear through anything in its path. It could bounce when it hit the ground, striking men at each bounce. The casualties from round shot were extremely gory; when fired directly into an advancing column, a cannonball was capable of passing straight through up to forty men[ citation needed ]. Even when most of its kinetic energy is expended, a round shot still has enough momentum to knock men over and cause gruesome injury. A round shot would not even have to make contact to create casualties; a near miss could cause internal injury or concussion, sometimes fatal, without leaving a mark on the victim, a condition known as "wind of a ball". [3]

When attacking wooden ships or land structures that would be damaged by fire, the cannonball could be heated to red hot. This was called a "heated shot". (On the shot called "the single deadliest cannon shot in American history," see Negro Fort.)

Round shot has the disadvantage of not being tightly fitted into the bore (to do so would cause jamming). This causes the shot to "rattle" down the gun barrel and leave the barrel at an angle unless wadding or a discarding sabot is used. This difference in shot and bore diameter is called "windage."

Round shot has been totally replaced by modern shells. Round shot is used in historical recreations and historical replica weapons.

In the 1860s, some round shots were equipped with winglets to benefit from the rifling of cannons. Such round shot would benefit from gyroscopic stability, thereby improving their trajectory, until the advent of the ogival shell. [4]

At the Battle of Bosworth there is an exhibition displaying where they found numerous lead cannon balls or rather its correct term, round shot, when the archaeologists did some metal detection in the fields around the Bosworth Field.[ citation needed ] At Cragend Farm, Northumberland, similar lead round shot was found in the Silo Field, using metal detection that appears to be from the same era. Harry Hotspur owned the farm and so this would tie in with the dates of the find. The mass of the shot was measured with it being 98% lead which would suggest that it has a stone within.[ citation needed ]

See also

Notes

  1. Maier, Charles S. (2016). Once Within Borders: Territories of Power, Wealth, and Belonging since 1500. Harvard University Press. ISBN   978-0674059788.
  2. Martello, Robert (2010). Midnight Ride, Industrial Dawn: Paul Revere and the Growth of American Enterprise. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 174. ISBN   978-0801897580.
  3. Watt, James (1975). "The injuries of four centuries of naval warfare". Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England. 57 (1): 8. PMC   2388509 . PMID   1098546 . Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  4. Musée de la Marine, Paris

Related Research Articles

Bullet Projectile propelled by a firearm, sling, or air gun

A bullet is a kinetic projectile, a component of firearm ammunition that is shot from a gun barrel. The term is from Middle French, originating as the diminutive of the word boulle (boullet), which means "small ball". Bullets are made of a variety of materials, such as copper, lead, steel, polymer, rubber and even wax. Bullets are made in various shapes and constructions, including specialized functions such as hunting, target shooting, training and combat. Modern bullets are often tapered, making them aerodynamic and increasing penetration upon impact. Bullet sizes are expressed by their weights and diameters in both imperial and metric measurement systems. For example: 55 grain .223 caliber bullets are of the same weight and caliber as 3.56 gram 5.56mm caliber bullets. Bullets do not normally contain explosives, but strike or damage the intended target by transferring kinetic energy upon impact and penetration.

Carronade

A carronade is a short, smoothbore, cast-iron cannon which was used by the Royal Navy. It was first produced by the Carron Company, an ironworks in Falkirk, Scotland, and 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. The technology behind the carronade was greater dimensional precision, with the shot fitting more closely in the barrel thus transmitting more of the propellant charge's energy to the projectile, allowing a lighter gun using less gunpowder to be effective. 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 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 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.

Shell (projectile) Payload-carrying projectile

A shell is a payload-carrying projectile that, as opposed to a solid round shot, contains an explosive, incendiary or other chemical filling, though modern usage sometimes includes large solid kinetic 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.

Smoothbore Weapon that has a barrel without rifling

A smoothbore weapon is one that has a barrel without rifling. Smoothbores range from handheld firearms to powerful tank guns and large artillery mortars.

Gun barrel Firearm component which guides the projectile during acceleration

A gun barrel is a crucial part of gun-type ranged weapons such as small firearms, artillery pieces and air guns. It is the straight shooting tube, usually made of rigid high-strength metal, through which a contained rapid expansion of high-pressure gas(es) is used to propel a projectile out of the front end (muzzle) at a high velocity. The hollow interior of the barrel is called the bore, and the diameter of the bore is called its caliber, usually measured in inches or millimetres.

MiniƩ ball A type of conical projectile for mid 19th century rifles.

The Minié ball or Minie ball, is a type of hollow-based bullet designed by Claude-Étienne Minié, inventor of the French Minié rifle, for muzzleloaded rifled muskets. It came to prominence in the Crimean War and the American Civil War. Both the American Springfield Model 1861 and the British Pattern 1853 Enfield rifled muskets, the most common weapons used during the American Civil War, used the Minié ball.

Tsar Cannon

The Tsar Cannon is a large early modern period artillery piece on display on the grounds of the Moscow Kremlin. It is a monument of Russian artillery casting art, cast in bronze in 1586 in Moscow, by the Russian master bronze caster Andrey Chokhov. Mostly of symbolic impact, it was never used in a war. However, the cannon bears traces of at least one firing. Per the Guinness Book of Records it is the largest bombard by caliber in the world, and it is a major tourist attraction in the ensemble of the Moscow Kremlin.

Canister shot Class of ammunition used by artillery

Canister shot is a kind of anti-personnel artillery ammunition. Canister shot has been used since the advent of gunpowder-firing artillery in Western armies. However, canister shot saw particularly frequent use on land and at sea in the various wars of the 18th and 19th century. Canister is still used today in modern artillery.

Naval artillery

Naval artillery is artillery mounted on a warship, originally used only for naval warfare and then subsequently used for shore bombardment and anti-aircraft roles. 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.

Field artillery in the American Civil War

Field artillery in the American Civil War refers to the artillery weapons, equipment, and practices used by the Artillery branch to support the infantry and cavalry forces in the field. It does not include siege artillery, use of artillery in fixed fortifications, or coastal or naval artillery. Nor does it include smaller, specialized artillery classified as small arms.

Culverin

A culverin was a relatively simple ancestor of the musket, and later a medieval cannon, adapted for use by the French as the "couleuvrine" in the 15th century, and later adapted for naval use by the English in the late 16th century. The culverin was used to bombard targets from a distance. The weapon had a relatively long barrel and a light construction. The culverin fired solid round shot projectiles with a high muzzle velocity, producing a relatively long range and flat trajectory. Round shot refers to the classic solid spherical cannonball.

Naval artillery in the Age of Sail

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.

Cannon operation

Cannon operation required specialised crew and gunners, who were first enlisted by the Spanish in the 14th century. The nature of cannon operation often depended on the size of the cannon and whether they were breech-loading or muzzle-loading. English cannons of the late 14th century became mobile, while the largest cannon required huge crews to transport and operate them.

Heated shot

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.

68-pounder gun Naval gunCoast Defence gun

The 68-pounder cannon was an artillery piece designed and used by the British Armed Forces in the mid-19th century. The cannon was a smoothbore muzzle-loading gun manufactured in several weights, the most common being 95 long cwt (4,800 kg), and fired projectiles of 68 lb (31 kg). Colonel William Dundas designed the 112 cwt version in 1841 and it was cast the following year. The most common variant, weighing 95 cwt, dates from 1846. It entered service with the Royal Artillery and the Royal Navy and saw active service with both arms during the Crimean War. Over 2,000 were made and it gained a reputation as the finest smoothbore cannon ever made.

3-inch ordnance rifle Rifled cannon

The 3-inch ordnance rifle, model 1861 was a wrought iron muzzle-loading rifled cannon that was adopted by the United States Army in 1861 and widely used in field artillery units during the American Civil War. It fired a 9.5 lb (4.3 kg) projectile to a distance of 1,830 yd (1,670 m) at an elevation of 5°. The 3-inch rifle was not as effective in firing canister shot as the heavier 12-pounder Napoleon, but it proved to be highly accurate at longer ranges when firing shell or shrapnel. There was only one reported case of a 3-inch ordnance rifle bursting in action. This was in stark contrast to the similarly-sized cast iron 10-pounder Parrott rifles which occasionally burst without warning, inflicting injury on the gun crews. The Confederate States of America lacked the technology to manufacture successful copies of the 3-inch ordnance rifle. However, the Confederate States Army respected the weapons and employed those captured from Federal forces.

10-pounder Parrott rifle Rifled cannon

The 10-pounder Parrott rifle, Model 1861 was a cast iron muzzle-loading rifled cannon that was adopted by the United States Army in 1861 and often used in field artillery units during the American Civil War. Like other Parrott rifles, the gun breech was reinforced by a distinctive wrought iron reinforcing band. The gun fired a 9.5 lb (4.3 kg) projectile to a distance of 1,850 yd (1,692 m) at an elevation of 5°. The 10-pounder Parrott rifle was capable of firing shell, shrapnel shell, canister shot, or solid shot. Midway through the war, the Federal government discontinued the 2.9 in (74 mm) version in favor of a 3.0 in (76 mm) version. Despite the reinforcing band, the guns occasionally burst without warning, inflicting injury on the gun crews. The Confederate States of America manufactured a number of successful copies of the gun.

20-pounder Parrott rifle Type of Rifled cannon

The 20-pounder Parrott rifle, Model 1861 was a cast iron muzzle-loading rifled cannon that was adopted by the United States Army in 1861 and employed in field artillery units during the American Civil War. As with other Parrott rifles, the gun breech was reinforced by a distinctive wrought iron reinforcing band. The gun fired a 20 lb (9.1 kg) projectile to a distance of 1,900 yd (1,737 m) at an elevation of 5°. The 20-pounder Parrott rifle could fire shell, shrapnel shell, canister shot, and more rarely solid shot. In spite of the reinforcing band, the 20-pounder earned a dubious reputation for bursting without warning, killing or injuring gunners. The Confederate States of America also manufactured copies of the gun.