This weekend, after seeing a set of four sizes at 1:64 scale, I commissioned one of our local club members (Model Shipwrights of Niagara) to 3D print me a full set of 74 guns to be distributed as follows:
28 each x 32 Pdr ( 9.5 ft - 55 Cwt) - Lower Gun Deck
28 each x 18 Pdr (9 ft - 40 Cwt) - Upper Gun Deck
14 each x 9 Pdr (short at 7.5 ft - 24.5 Cwt) - Quarter Deck
4 each x 9 Pdr (long at 8.5 ft - 27.5 Cwt) - Forecastle
These will be created with his SLA UV acrylic liquid resin 3D printing machine made by Any Cubic Photon. My machine cannot achieve this type of finish and detail at this small scale. Below are photos of the proofs brought to our meeting on Sunday. They are quite smooth, exactly to scale complete with every detail. They can be sanded and accept flat black acrylic paint as he brought in his test pieces.
These will go into storage!
I also got my hands on a few copies of the Marine Models Magazine dated 1935 - 1939. In some of the issues were very interesting articles about ships' armament written by Mr. A. P. Isard. I will try to describe some of the points I found most interesting....
Ship's guns were originally brass but when replaced with iron they saved 160 tons of weight.
The original Royal Navy foundrymen of Kent and Sussex had a steep learning curve prior to achieve trustworthy castings (that didn't burst), smooth true bores (that didn't bend up or down).
Prior to the properties of coal being appreciated there was a fight between foundries and shipyards over the trees.
It took some time before they managed to get the gun powder mixture correct which saved some lives, but with the increase of quality of gun powder came frequent destruction of carriages.
The earliest cannons had no trunnions. Once added they were cast inline with the bore but were later lowered to provide better support and ensure a downward pressure on the quoin upon recoil.
Monsieur Gribeauval of France introduced many innovations that were over time adopted by the English Royal Navy: big wheels, iron axle trees, cartridges, elevating screws... all being, where possible, interchangeable.
in 1778 the Carron Company introduced the carronade. Merchantmen readily adopted it but the Royal Navy needed to warm up to it for some time (and in many cases they never did!). It was lighter weight, required less powder and a smaller gun crew. With its heavier ball it was more destructive at close quarters. One of the Royal Navies biggest objections were poor fitting balls. Eventually the bores were re-engineered to suit the sizes of the cannon balls.
The carriage wheels were called trucks with the aft being smaller then the foreward. This compensated for the camber of the deck and dampened the recoil when the gun was fired. If the gun was place directly aft the position of the wheels would be switched resulting in a raised aft end for the same purpose. The crew was trained to use the roll for the ship to make the gun recoil uphill. The trucks were made of hardwood so as not to damage the deck. Heavier guns had the trucks made in two laminated layers with the grain of one layer being across that of the other.
Breech ropes stretched and the two ring bolts acted as guides.
Carronade wheels tracked together (inline) whereas the long gun trucks did not.
The force of the recoil on the breeching of the long gun caused the weapon to jump; raising the fore trucks off the deck. Available space on the deck did not allow the aft trucks to be moved back to counteract this. Eventually they lowered the trunnions to effectively reduce this phenomenon.
The tackle secured to the bulwarks on each side had to be precisely adjusted to equal lengths so as to resist the carriage twisting and injuring the guns crew and gear.
The random recoil path of the gun due to many issues, not excluding the unevenness of the deck, maimed many a man. Men were also injured by breechings, bolts and sundry fittings flying around the crew. Guns were most dangerous when fired to windward.
When fired the trucks would immediately skid along the deck prior to rotating.
Wedges (roughed and tarred to increase the friction) were employed under the trucks when fired ahead or astern to counteract the unequal recoil.
And as a final entry a quote directly from the articles:
"Carriages were, therefore, a matter of experience and experiment, their sizes, strength and weights being nicely balanced with the weapons they were to carry and, like most things about a ship, a compromise."