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Discussion Starter #1
Howdy, ya'll!! I've been lurking here for quite sometime, and have found this board to be very informative and entertaining, and I thank each and every one of you. I was watching the military history channel the other night, and they were discussing modern armor, and the kind of projectiles currently in use for disabling enemy armor. They said that currently, we use smoothbore guns, with a steel arrow in a sabot. The sabot falls away, of course, and the steel arrow strikes the enemy vehicle and disables it and the enemy inside with a spray of molten steel. No explosive, no nuttin'. What I was wondering was whether or not any of you here have experimented with sabot projos from muzzleloading cannons, and , if so, were you able to achieve any degree of accuracy and velocity doing so? Could a small diameter steel "arrow" be capable of penetrating thick steel plate at reasonable ranges when fired from a muzzle- loading cannon? Hope this question dosen't offend anyone. Thanks, all
 

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The "arrow" style projectiles are not steel but are depleted uranium (for high density and hardness) which is not very readily available to the common man. I doubt one could get sufficient velocity from a blackpowder gun to penetrate modern armor.
 

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vahellbilly -

Welcome to the board!

Interesting question. I agree with George. Velocity is the key to penetration of armor. (Hence the tank 105mm is a very high velocity round compared to the 105mm howitzer - in modern gunnery.)

Blackpowder cannon are low velocity guns, often sub-sonic.

It takes a really heavy bullet in a blackpowder piece to get the average pressure up to where you get good (albeit low) velocity. So putting a lighter bullet (pointy arrow thing) in a sabot won't get you the velocity you'd hope for (unless maybe it would get up there a bit if you had a very very long tube).

On the other hand, if your opponent is still using medieval armour you might do well.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the reply. I was thinking along the lines of a 3" ordinance rifle, or the like, but was unsure of the velocity required. I was an infantryman in the army, in the 82nd abn, and had squat to do with any type of artillery. The projectile I am referring to is called a Sgt. York, i think, and I have seen them sold in Sportsmans guide, or some such, in the past, though i am certain that the ones i saw were not depleted uranium. Practice rounds, maybe? I was thinking that a bore- sized sabot might be turned from delvin rod, or some such, and a big ol flechette made from tungston carbide, or at least the tip of it, though I am a cabinetmaker by trade, and not a machinist, and do not know how hard tungston carbide is to work with. Probably pretty damn hard. Wouldn't the use of a sabot significantly increase the velocity of anything it is shot from? Kinda like using a modern sabotted handgun bullet from a muzzleloading rifle? Thanks.
 

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In principle, I agree. Two things, 1) a lighter bullet should go faster than a heavier one because of the ratio of the pressure to the mass. (But in practice with blackpowder I get MUCH more range with bullets that are heavier - some of it might be retention of velocity too); 2) Delrin is slick stuff - you could get a good seal in the 3" Ordnance rifle with very little friction and good durability.

I am often amazed at what a 22-250 with soft points will do to 1/2" steel - massive holes melted/plowed out - compared to .223 or less. But here we're talking 3800fps or more.
 

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The use of a sabot allows a large area for the projectile while in the gun barrel but a small area while flying downrange. The large area allows a large force to be applied to the projectile as it is accelerating while the small in flight area reduces the air drag. It works because the sabot is a relatively small part of the projectile mass which allows the projectile to be given a disproportionately high velocity.

A one inch dart from a 3" rifle would undoubtedly have higher velocity than a conventional shot but still slower than one propelled from a high pressure smokeless powder gun.
 

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GGaskill said:
The use of a sabot allows a large area for the projectile while in the gun barrel but a small area while flying downrange. The large area allows a large force to be applied to the projectile as it is accelerating while the small in flight area reduces the air drag. It works because the sabot is a relatively small part of the projectile mass which allows the projectile to be given a disproportionately high velocity.
Agreed. 100%

But there's the issue of having a large enough mass for the blackpowder to push to maintain good ignition. The other indicator other than velocity and report (or lack thereof with light bullets) is that Pyrodex doesn't burn well at all (mortars).
 

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Could a small diameter steel "arrow" be capable of penetrating thick steel plate at reasonable ranges when fired from a muzzle- loading cannon?
Interesting question and idea. However, like the other guys have said, I don't think it would work real well using BP. Might make an interesting experiment though.

The primary round fired from the 120mm (4.724") smoothbore main gun on the M1A2 Abrams is the M829 APFSDS-T. That's Armyspeak for Armor Piercing, Fin Stabilized, Discarding Sabot with Tracer. As was mentioned it's a kinetic energy weapon made from depleted uranium.

What hasn't been mentioned is that the shell uses a buttload of powder to push the thing out of the muzzle at over 5000 fps. :shock: The speed and weight of the dart is why it works so good.

A number of years ago some tests were run with a 3" Ordnance Rifle using war shot loads. An 11lb shot backed by 1lb of BP averaged just under 900 fps muzzle velocity. While getting hit by one of these would certainly ruin your whole day, it's just not in the same class.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
My God, 5000 fps is FAST!! I really appreciate ya'll taking the time to answer my quesions, as I have been thinking about this for awhile. It probably WOULD make an interesting experiment, but after talking to you all, i expect that the results would not be close to what i saw on that show the other nite. Still might be fun, though. :)
 

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vahellbilly said:
.... I expect that the results would not be close to what i saw on that show the other nite. ....

aaaach! That explains it! Holywood!



Well, blackpowder can still be fun, even if we can't stop cold the latest soviet armor coming into the neighborhood.
 

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CavT -

Thanks for posting the details. I'll bet if that hit you it'd slow down to maybe 4,999 fps!
 
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