We have specially to call attention to the two men who are throwing shells, which are probably charged with Greek fire. This invention, which inspired such terror in the Middle Ages, seems to have been discovered in the east of Europe, and to have been employed as early as the seventh century. We hear much of its use in the Crusades, by the Greeks, who early possessed the secret of its fabrication. They used it either by ejecting it through pipes to set fire to the shipping or military engines, or to annoy and kill the soldiers of the enemy; or they cast it to a distance by means of vessels charged with it affixed to javelins; or they hurled larger vessels by means of the great engines for casting stones; or they threw the fire by hand in a hand-to-hand conflict; or used hollow maces charged with it, which were broken over the person of the enemy, and the liquid fire poured down, finding its way through the crevices of his armour.
Those more terrible engines of war which ultimately revolutionised the whole art of warfare, which made the knight’s armour useless, and the trebuchet and arbalest the huge toys of an unscientific age, were already introduced; though they were yet themselves so immature, that for a time military men disputed whether the old long bow or the new fire-arm was the better weapon, and the trebuchet still held its place beside the cannon.
Cannon and Mortar
12 Inch Disappearing - raised
12 inch barbette - non-disappearing
4.7 inch 120 mm q.f. Gun on centre pivot pedestal mounting
4.7 inch Q.F. (Pedestal Mount.)
5 inch Rapid-fire gun (Pedestal Mount.)
5 Inch R.F. gun (showing breech mechanism)
4.7 inch. Breech closing and firing gear
12 Inch Disappearing
Firing a demiculverine from a bastion at “James Fort.” (Conjectural sketch by Sidney E. King.)
Amongst the class of modern cannon, one of the most powerful is Krupp's seventy-one-ton gun. This, like all others of his make, is a breech-loader. Its dimensions are—length, thirty-two feet nine inches; diameter at breech end, five feet six inches; length of bore, twenty-eight feet seven inches; diameter of bore, 15.75 inches; diameter of powder-chamber, 17.32 inches. The internal tube is of two parts, exactly joined; and over this are four cylinders, shrunk on, and a ring round the breech. Its rifling has a uniform twist of one in forty-five. It cannot possibly be fired until the breech is perfectly closed. Its maximum charge is four hundred and eighty-five pounds of powder, and a chilled iron shell of seventeen hundred and eight pounds.
At Dover there is a culverine, presented to Queen Elizabeth, by the States General of Holland, and called Queen Elizabeth’s Pocket-pistol. It is 24 feet long, diameter of bore 4 1⁄2 inches, weight of shot 12lbs.; it was manufactured in 1544, and is mounted on an ornamented iron carriage made in 1827, at the Royal Carriage Department, Woolwich Arsenal.
One of the largest cannon now existing is a brass one at Bejapoor, called “Moolik-i-Meidan,” or “The Lord of the Plain.” It was cast in commemoration of the capture of that place by the Emperor Alum Geer, in 1685. Its length is 14ft. 1in., diameter about 5ft. 8in., diameter of bore, 2ft. 4in., interior length of bore, 10ft.; length of chamber unknown; shape of gun nearly “cylindrical;” description of shot, stone. An iron shot for this gun, of proper size, would weigh 1600lbs. It is now lying in a dilapidated circular bastion on the left of the principal gateway of the city. The trunnions are broken off, and there is a ring on each side of it, as well as two Persian inscriptions on the top. It is placed on three heavy beams of wood, packed round with large stones. A number of stone shot, of 2ft. 2in. in diameter, are scattered about. This gun is said to be the heaviest piece of ordnance in the world. It weighs about forty-two tons.
Sighting through the pantel, the gunner positions the aiming post by extending his left hand.
Top view of M102 105 mm Howitzer attached to truck
French Garrison Gun (1650-1700). The gun is on a sloping wooden platform at the embrasure. Note the heavy bed on which the cheeks of the carriage rest and the built-in skid under the center of the rear axletree.
Gustavus abandoned the leather gun, however, in favor of a cast-iron 4-pounder and a 9-pounder demiculverin produced by his bright young artillery chief, Lennart Torstensson. The demiculverin was classed as the "feildpeece" par excellence, while the 4-pounder was so light (about 500 pounds) that two horses could pull it in the field.
Under the Swedish warrior Gustavus Adolphus, artillery began to take its true position on the field of battle. Gustavus saw the need for mobility, so he divorced anything heavier than a 12-pounder from his field artillery. His famous "leatheren" gun was so light that it could be drawn and served by two men. This gun was a wrought-copper tube screwed into a chambered brass breech, bound with four iron hoops. The copper tube was covered with layers of mastic, wrapped firmly with cords, then coated with an equalizing layer of plaster. A cover of leather, boiled and varnished, completed the gun. Naturally, the piece could withstand only a small charge, but it was highly mobile.
The trebuchet was another war machine used extensively during the Middle Ages. Essentially, it was a seesaw. Weights on the short arm swung the long throwing arm.