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post #61 of 112 (permalink) Old 04-17-2019, 10:20 PM Thread Starter
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Default Original carriage

I knew the experts would have some great information about the gun carriages.

These guns were located in the hollowed out gallery of the Rock. Basically the Royal Engineers and Sappers drilled through solid rock for a few hundred yards until they got to the edge where a gun port was opened to the outside world. These guns ports were directly above the French and Spanish lines. Traditional carriages that did not depress sent shot over the lines. Lt Koehler invented this carriage to point direct fire upon the lines below the rock.

The gun had it limits in adjustability as it elevation was only done in notches. The improved steel carriage could be adjusted with much more precision. The wood carriage could depress up to 70 degrees. I think M&T are dead on that the newer 1870s steel carriage would not need to depress at the extreme of 70 percent as the adversaries were not as close as the were in the late 1700s. The new carriages and 68 pounders could cover the sea and land approaches to Gibraltar from the heights of the Rock. They needed to direct fire from above but no longer at as close a range or as steep a depression.

I’ve not found a picture of the steel carriage depressed, would love to see that.

Interesting too is the original depressing carriage recoiled by sliding but improvements were made in the newer steel design.

There is another interesting part of the steel carriage and that is the three steps built into the skirt. They are flat then are upturned to hold something from sliding back off the step. These are a mystery to me. Maybe a piece of flat steel could be placed on the step under the tube to release pressure on the elevation gearing? Maybe these could be used to support the tube while periodic maintenance was done to the gearing mechanisms?
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post #62 of 112 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 07:24 AM
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A 68 PDR firing canister-direct fire. Oh my.
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post #63 of 112 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 10:24 AM
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A 68 PDR firing canister-direct fire. Oh my.
That would certainly sting a bit.
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post #64 of 112 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 02:30 PM
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Double D. After a brief semantics review of one comment that I made a few days ago, I agree with you that the term "Plunging Fire" is more appropriately associated with Tube elevated fire designed to go up to a great height, then fall back to terra firma in a slight parabolic, but almost vertical trajectory with the express purpose of penetrating a ships deck, middle decks and bottom so that water will flow rapidly into the hull and sink the vessel. In the War between the States, Confederate artillerymen used so called "blind" shells to penetrate the decks of Union Monitors in the sluggish tributaries in the vincinity of Fort McAllister, GA. Blind shells were ordinary shells loaded with sand rather than powder in order to make a alternate form of solid shot which could be shot from mortars to have a better chance of pentrating 1" of wrought iron and deck planking which would shatter an ordinary fused shell.


Fredstaple, I have excerpted your quote below so we know what I am writing about:


"There is another interesting part of the steel carriage and that is the three steps built into the skirt. They are flat then are upturned to hold something from sliding back off the step. These are a mystery to me. Maybe a piece of flat steel could be placed on the step under the tube to release pressure on the elevation gearing? Maybe these could be used to support the tube while periodic maintenance was done to the gearing mechanisms?"

The three steps built into the "skirt" ( carriage cheek) are simply positions for the artillermen's manuevering hand spikes which are used to assist in the depression of the tube by taking some weight off of the depression gearing.

This is an assumption with which Mike and I agree.




Here is a question for you. What type of wad was used to prevent the heavy solid shot from rolling out of the tube and possibly injuring a Gibraltar Ape lounging on the rocks below?


Smokin my pipe on the mountings, sniffin the mornin cool,
I walks in my old brown gaiters along o my old brown mule,
With seventy gunners beind me, an never a beggar forgets
Its only the pick of the Army that handles the dear little pets - Tss! Tss!

From the poem Screw-Guns by Rudyard Kipling

Last edited by seacoastartillery; 04-18-2019 at 02:46 PM. Reason: Add stuff.
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post #65 of 112 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 02:46 PM
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Accounts of battles at Drewry’s Bluff and Vicksburg mention plunging fire from shore batteries.

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post #66 of 112 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 04:34 PM Thread Starter
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Default High Angle Fire

I tackle the question shortly. But here are some pictures of the guns/carriages M&T mention being used to rain shot from above and penetrate the lighter armoured decks. No problem with the shell sliding out of these.

Gibraltar had six of these high on the Rock to add yet more height to the shell before it began its decent. I guess these are the direct opposite of the depressing guns, I feel much happier discussing these!
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post #67 of 112 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 05:05 PM Thread Starter
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Here is a question for you. What type of wad was used to prevent the heavy solid shot from rolling out of the tube and possibly injuring a Gibraltar Ape lounging on the rocks below?

Great Siege of late 1700s: For the Koehler carriages I would guess that some type of wadding was inserted over the shot or cannon ball. Something like we did to hold the pinballs in the 100 Ton Gun. If these were smoothbore 24 or 32 pounders then the wadding would need to be substantial to hold back a ball weighing 24 or 32 pounds. Maybe wet heavy burlap? Waxed burlap? There is a lot of gravity working against you when the gun is depressed at 70 degrees.

Victorian Era 1870s : the steel depressing gun did not need to depress at such a steep angle. It was riffled. It fired a shell vice ball. So maybe the friction of the driving band or attached gas check was enough to keep the shell in the gun when combined with the lower degree of depression and the shape of the projectile.

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post #68 of 112 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 07:26 PM
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What type of wad was used to prevent the heavy solid shot from rolling out of the tube and possibly injuring a Gibraltar Ape lounging on the rocks below
A grommet??

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post #69 of 112 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 09:33 PM
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Well, I guess that question wasn't too much of a challenge for the two of you who answered it. Burlap, of all materials has one quality making it ideal for this purpose. It's abrasive and anybody who has loaded trucks with 100 Lb. sacks of feed or grain of some kind at an agriculture supply center as I did as a youth, nows this. Safe crackers in the 20s and 30s removed their finger prints, making their fingers super-sensitive by briskly running their finger tips on burlap. Being wet, the burlap wad would slide deeply into the crevice between the shot and the tube and its abrasiveness would keep it jammed into that crevice after ramming. Thanks Fredstaple.


VA Rifleman, I can't think of a better shape than that of a grommet for the jamming action desired. It is very interesting to me that the answer has the shape of several segments of a gromet. Years ago I read, that in British naval service, during times of heavy seas, an alternative to the standard sewn together waste rope wad was used via means of an emplacer rod to set and then jam several slender wooden wedges between the shot and the top of the bore. This was seen as the most effective wad, because it kept the solid shot or shell from "starting" during multiple lurches of the gun during a tempest..............and this method did not impeed the motion of the shot down the bore upon firing. These three or four wood wedges were blown down the bore by blow-by gasses even before the heavy shot started its course.


There are more than a few war-time accounts of plunging fire being used at Drewery's Bluff and also during the 47 day Seige of Vicksburg.




Tracy

Smokin my pipe on the mountings, sniffin the mornin cool,
I walks in my old brown gaiters along o my old brown mule,
With seventy gunners beind me, an never a beggar forgets
Its only the pick of the Army that handles the dear little pets - Tss! Tss!

From the poem Screw-Guns by Rudyard Kipling
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post #70 of 112 (permalink) Old 04-18-2019, 09:49 PM Thread Starter
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The following is a contemporary account of the first shooting of the Koehler depressing cannon. 28 hits out of 31 shots not bad
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