Author Topic: Question for our cannoneers..  (Read 227 times)

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Offline ironglows

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Question for our cannoneers..
« on: January 31, 2021, 01:03:01 AM »
 I am presently reading Bill O'Reilly's, "Killing England" .  On page #281, dealing with the siege at Yorktown, the author states that the firing by the continental army was so persistent that the barrels of the artillery pieces would "glow orange", from overheating!
  Question, how is it possible to load powder in a barrel that is or was seconds ago, 'glowing orange', without danger to all around the gun?  Does one wet swab cool the gun that much?

  Further question..  We are all familiar with the "hot shot"..where cannon balls are heated enough to burn a ship; how in the dickens does one load this against a charge of powder?

   A non- cannoneer mind would like to know...
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Online BUGEYE

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Re: Question for our cannoneers..
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2021, 05:40:33 AM »
I am presently reading Bill O'Reilly's, "Killing England" .  On page #281, dealing with the siege at Yorktown, the author states that the firing by the continental army was so persistent that the barrels of the artillery pieces would "glow orange", from overheating!
  Question, how is it possible to load powder in a barrel that is or was seconds ago, 'glowing orange', without danger to all around the gun?  Does one wet swab cool the gun that much?

  Further question..  We are all familiar with the "hot shot"..where cannon balls are heated enough to burn a ship; how in the dickens does one load this against a charge of powder?

   A non- cannoneer mind would like to know...
Now that is some interesting questions.
In reading about the Boer wars, it said that their rifle barrels became so hot that when they inserted a round, it would cook off.
If their barrels had glowed orange, it would have burned off the forearms and maybe even the butt stocks..
So, I too would like to know.
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Offline Graybeard

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Re: Question for our cannoneers..
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2021, 05:53:05 AM »
Artillery means cannons not rifle muskets. Cannons don't have stocks and forends.

Still having to load both after each shot I don't believe any story about them glowing from heat. Machine guns yes, single shots no.


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Online Dee

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Re: Question for our cannoneers..
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2021, 06:15:41 AM »
Artillery means cannons not rifle muskets. Cannons don't have stocks and forends.

Still having to load both after each shot I don't believe any story about them glowing from heat. Machine guns yes, single shots no.

Agreed
1st Corinthians Chapter 11, Verse 28. But let a man EXAMINE HIMSELF, and so let him eat of "that " bread, and drink of "that" cup.

It doesn't really matter how you "think" it is, but how it ACTUALLY is.

Online BUGEYE

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Re: Question for our cannoneers..
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2021, 09:07:47 AM »
Artillery means cannons not rifle muskets. Cannons don't have stocks and forends.

Still having to load both after each shot I don't believe any story about them glowing from heat. Machine guns yes, single shots no.
Well, Ironglow was wondering about glowing cannon barrels so I made the point that Boer rifles were hot enough (not glowing) to cook off the cartridges, and that rifle heated the cartridge fast enough that they didn't need to pull the trigger.
I did not say the barrels were glowing, but they certainly fired from the heat.  They were black powder cartridges.

Ironglow's question concerns glowing cannon barrels, or glowing cannon balls, coming in contact with black powder.
I don't think a glowing cannon barrel would be usable.
1 - a glowing cannon would be subject to "premature ejaculation." ;D
2 - a glowing cannon wouldn't be approachable without searing your skin and burning off your hair.
3 - a glowing cannon would have set fire to its carriage and the ship's cannon port and all the tar soaked ropes around.

Take a measly .22 auto pistol and fire about 4 magazines thru it real quick and then grab the barrel, it'll take the hide off of you.
I have a burn mark on the front of my neck because I got too close to Nancy's right side while she shot her 10/22.  That tiny brass was HOT!!!!!

A orange glowing cannon would be roughly 2000 degrees or more.
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Offline ironglows

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Re: Question for our cannoneers..
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2021, 12:23:57 PM »
I am of course, well aware of the cautions with fully automatic weapons, since i used them regularly I the Army.  We  tried to keep the shots to a burst of 6 round, before a momentary pause to allow the barrel to cool.
  In my day the army taught us to say to ourselves "fire a burst of six"..that would just about cover a burst well.
 
   My grandson said that in Iraq their phrase was "did you killer, die"..  Ma Deuce for instance, is an excellent weapon, with over a century of action all over the world, but it still needs a bit of cooling time....as do all fully automatic weapons.

  Here is a gun dealer named Eric, an Iraq war vet..who in this video, fires an AK  until "cook off".  An M16 would likely not fare much better, especially due to it's closer tolerances.
  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlL-uRkJ0yA
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Online BUGEYE

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Re: Question for our cannoneers..
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2021, 04:19:21 PM »
I am of course, well aware of the cautions with fully automatic weapons, since i used them regularly I the Army.  We  tried to keep the shots to a burst of 6 round, before a momentary pause to allow the barrel to cool.
  In my day the army taught us to say to ourselves "fire a burst of six"..that would just about cover a burst well.
 
   My grandson said that in Iraq their phrase was "did you killer, die"..  Ma Deuce for instance, is an excellent weapon, with over a century of action all over the world, but it still needs a bit of cooling time....as do all fully automatic weapons.

  Here is a gun dealer named Eric, an Iraq war vet..who in this video, fires an AK  until "cook off".  An M16 would likely not fare much better, especially due to it's closer tolerances.
  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlL-uRkJ0yA
I watched that guy when he did the AR.
Neither time did the barrel glow orange except when he did the ultra violet or whatever that was.
So, I think Bill O’Reilly was exaggerating when he said those barrels glowed orange.
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Online Dee

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Re: Question for our cannoneers..
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2021, 04:27:28 PM »
I doubt Bill O'Reilly knows enough about cannons to exaggerate. Likely he read somebody elses' exaggeration.
1st Corinthians Chapter 11, Verse 28. But let a man EXAMINE HIMSELF, and so let him eat of "that " bread, and drink of "that" cup.

It doesn't really matter how you "think" it is, but how it ACTUALLY is.

Online BUGEYE

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Re: Question for our cannoneers..
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2021, 04:34:47 PM »
I doubt Bill O'Reilly knows enough about cannons to exaggerate. Likely he read somebody elses' exaggeration.
LOL, probably so.
Give me liberty, or give me death
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Give me liberty, or give me death
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Offline ironglows

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Re: Question for our cannoneers..
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2021, 12:08:34 AM »
  Undoubtedly, Martin Dugard was writing from legend, rather than recorded facts.  However, we read so often of "hot shot" cannon balls being used as incendiaries, most often against ships.
      Built to command shipping on the Great Lakes, Ft Niagara sits at the very junction where the Niagara River dumps into Lake Ontario.   Although it's hot shot oven was built later in it's history (around 1840), they used hot shot from the founding of the fort, with cannonballs heated in a regular fire.
    At one point, thy fired across the river and hit the powder magazine of Ft George, wiping out much of that fort.

  Hot shot ovens were built on an incline..cold balls put in at the higher end, where they fed down the inclined plane, where hot balls were dispensed a few inches lower from the opposite end.
   
 I know hot shots were commonly used...I just wonder HOW they were used with any margin of safety.   Below is an essay with photos, on the hot shot oven still existing at Fort Niagara...

   http://starforts.com/hotshotfurnace.com/niagara.html
 
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Offline Double D

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Re: Question for our cannoneers..
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2021, 04:08:03 AM »
I dug around and tried to find a reference-I have read the description on how hot shot were load. Could not find a thing.    My references are for Naval artillery and field artillery. Nothing much on Seacoast artillery.  I have read of the procedure but can't cite a reference right now.  I know how cannon are loaded so it is easy to figure out how to do it.

I did find a reference in Gilkerson's Boarders Away as to the way  hot shot was used against wooden ships and how much it was feared. Gilkerson's description gives a clue.

First cannon were not loaded with loose powder, powder was in a bag which was rammed down the barrel.  Then a wooden sabot or rope wad was put in the barrel.   Late in the life of the muzzle loading artillery the powder charge and shot would be strapped to this sabot and loaded as one unit.  This was especially used in the tapered reduced howitzer chambers.

For a heated shot just load the bagged powder and a wad, then roll in the shot and fire.  Shot were carried to the cannon with tongs made for the purpose. The charge per Gilkerson was a  reduced  charge as the shot was only intended imbed in the wood of the ship and start fires.  Gilkerson then goes on to describe the pick head of the boarding axe being  used to dig out such shot and roll them over the side.   The hot shot could be left in the barrel long enough to aim.  Swabbing the bore served two purposes-to clean out an extinguish burning particle of smoldering powder bag and cool the barrel a bit.   THes shot were heated white hot and even when douse with water when imbedded, still were hot enough to start fires.

Red hot  cannon barrels-loading them?    Humm, Bill O'Rielly said, who am I to doubt Mr. O'Rielly.

More modern times.  I was in the  Marines in the late 60's.  I was an electrician-generator operator.   But every Marine is a rifleman so I did get to shoot machine guns.  The guns we had were worn out hand me down guns from the Navy or Army.  The Marines back then was a tight budget operation and not being a grunt, I didn't get shoot as much.  Burst fire for us was 3 rounds.  Didn't want to burn up the barrels or make it easy for the enemy mortar team to locate our position.  Never heard of a 6 round burst. But like I said I was a generator operator, my job was to see that the Officers had electricity for their electric razors.


Offline ironglows

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Re: Question for our cannoneers..
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2021, 05:23:48 AM »
Thanks for the info Double D, it certainly adds to what information I had !  ...And I LOVE to LEARN..

  Does it sound plausible that a wet wooden bore block or a wet swab left in the barrel before loading with a hot ball, would do the trick?

  True, hot shot were greatly feared by experienced sailors.  While hit shot would be near useless on land, where the target is mobile, for all practical purposes, when a wooden ship is hit and a ball is buried deep in it's hull, it is a stationary target.  Fire on land is bad, but fire at sea is sheer terror ! Often, disabled or old rotten ships were set afire, and floated downstream against enemy ships, which were often anchored when hit.

   For those reasons, a hot shot oven would not likely be found in at Fort Kearney or Fort Laramie.

   However, they would likely be very useful at Fort Michilimackinac, Fort Pitt or the fort at St Augustine.
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Online BUGEYE

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Re: Question for our cannoneers..
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2021, 06:01:41 AM »
Ah, an actual cannon person weighing in on the subject.
As he explained it, it makes perfect sense in how a cannon could be loaded without killing the crew.

I've heard of artistic license, but O'Reilly and his partner really over used it with their glowing cannon barrels.
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Offline Double D

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Re: Question for our cannoneers..
« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2021, 02:22:47 AM »
Yes this actual cannon person is here very day for actual cannon talk. 

I learned an interesting piece of trivia while working the research on this subject.  The modern fire ax has a remarkable resemblance to the boarding axe of the sailing ship era.  Reading Gilkerson it was more a fire fighting tool than a head basher, although I sure it worked for that application also.

Gilkerson is a much more interesting writer than O'Reilly--doubt there is a ghost in Gilkerson's work.


 

Offline ironglows

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Re: Question for our cannoneers..
« Reply #14 on: February 02, 2021, 02:48:16 AM »
  "For a heated shot just load the bagged powder and a wad, then roll in the shot and fire.  Shot were carried to the cannon with tongs made for the purpose.

  Now, that is a "light bulb moment" for me.. Do not cannonballs or shot have to be at least pushed down the barrel? 

  They are not miniballs, so they can't expand.., so are cannonballs normally rather loose fitting?

  Of course, hot balls would be enlarged..so it looks like there must be a fair amount of room around a cannonball in normal situations..

  I am not being facetious, but rather... I want to learn..
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Offline Double D

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Re: Question for our cannoneers..
« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2021, 05:16:43 AM »
  "For a heated shot just load the bagged powder and a wad, then roll in the shot and fire.  Shot were carried to the cannon with tongs made for the purpose.

  Now, that is a "light bulb moment" for me.. Do not cannonballs or shot have to be at least pushed down the barrel? 

  They are not miniballs, so they can't expand.., so are cannonballs normally rather loose fitting?



Cannon balls have windage-standard  is1/40 of bore size for windage.  Cannonballs were 1/40th of bore size smaller.  Cannon balls were usually stone or iron.

Think about ramming a tight fitting lead ball down a 50 caliber bore.  There is a small .50 diameter ring of friction around the .50 cal lead ball. If you have done it, you know it takes effort.

Now think about the friction/surface area of a 6 PDR,  3.62 inch diameter ball going a bore 3.62 inches.  That is why the bore of a 6PDR is 3.67 inches. Of course this is in clean bore, think about a dirty fouled bore and a rusty out of round shot. 

Imagine the additional effort needed to keep  a 3.62 diameter lead ball for getting damaged or distorted during field movement.  Not to mention that the ball would weigh 10 lbs not 6 lbs.

But of course the loose balls could roll in if the muzzle was elevated   But to be sure,  if loose,  they were seated against the wad/charge and sometime had a wad seated over them.

 
Quote
Of course, hot balls would be enlarged..so it looks like there must be a fair amount of room around a cannonball in normal situations..

  I am not being facetious, but rather... I want to learn..

Glad to share.

Offline ironglows

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Re: Question for our cannoneers..
« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2021, 03:34:57 AM »
Thanks DD..that makes me wonder how well the rifling worked.  Apparently it did work to some degree, since rifled guns were considered an improvement over the smooth bores.

  i can see where breech loading brought in a whole new world.
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Offline Double D

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Re: Question for our cannoneers..
« Reply #17 on: February 04, 2021, 02:05:59 AM »
Rifling worked pretty well.  It advance the science of obturation and driving bands.