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Artillery drills on period ships


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Firing that gun, without warning those down range and thinking about their probable reaction reminds me of a fisherman who was not where he was susposed to be. Rigulas missiles used 2 jato bottles at launch as well as having the jet engine running at full power.  The fisherman had been hearing that for 5 minunts or more and was used to it. The jatos go off with a blast and a roar with lots of smoke and he did not expect that. Then because those missiles were remotly controled by a sheperting fighter with a wingman as cover, those jets arivied at moment of launch and take control from the launching ship. There is a lot going on, lots of noise and smoke. The noise was gone by the time the smoke cleared and we could see the fisherman, he was at the stern of his boat pulling on the starter rope like mad, got her going and left. Happened at the Missile Range off of the Califorina coast aboard the USS Helena CA 75, 1960 or 61. I was watching from Mount 36, it was a grandstand seat. Anyway the probable reaction of those down range if not warned when seeing that, bale of hay charge go off, whould have been somewhat like what that fishermans was feeling at launch. Bale of hay,is the turm fo firring a propelling charge without the projectal, not a blank.


Edited by jud
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I really like the breeching line laying on the deck.  Good thing they used a light load or that piece would have rolled until it hit something solid enough to stop it, hopefully.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Tadeusz,  thanks for the pictures.


Would I be correct in supposing that the run of the breeching rope is normal for Dutch ships at the time.  It looks rather unusual,  both in running below the front axle ends,  and in not passing around the breech of the gun barrel.


Also,  again on the breeching,  does it pass through the cheeks (sides) of the carriage,  to be left lying in a loop at the rear of the gun when the gun is run out?  This would also explain why the quoin (elevating wedge) is put in at the side of the barrel,  rather than beneath the breech on the stool. 


Shame they did not load any balls,  it would be nice to see how far it would recoil.




Mark P

Previously built models (long ago, aged 18-25ish) POB construction. 32 gun frigate, scratch-built sailing model, Underhill plans.

2 masted topsail schooner, Underhill plans.


Started at around that time, but unfinished: 74 gun ship 'Bellona' NMM plans. POB 


On the drawing board: POF model of Royal Caroline 1749, part-planked with interior details. My own plans, based on Admiralty draughts and archival research.


Always on the go: Research into Royal Navy sailing warship design, construction and use, from Tudor times to 1790. 


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Running the breeching rope through the cheeks similar to what the French used. I'm not sure why the quoin was stuck in there that way.   On the French ships, the rope would have lying off to the sides and not pulled out the back.

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I am very conspicuous about the gun drill shown in the start of this thread ...


The breech should usually be loose on the outside of the carriage to avoid chaffing. Also the use of the wedge is not really ship shape :-)


There are some good contemporary instructions existing. Her is a rendition performed by some HMS Victory crew.


The full crew was up to 14 men for both guns on each side of the ship. Strictly numbered, 1 gun captain, 2 second gun captain, 3 loader, 4 sponger, 5 sec. loader, 6 sec. sponger and 7 - 14 auxiliaries to pull the strings.


First picture for clarity without the auxs. One can see nicely, loader and sponger within the breeching ropes, sec. sponger and sec. outside bringing the next items as wad pads or balls. The gun captain is pressing a small leather bag against the vent, for that it is air sealed, for that no smoldering ashes are pressed by air pressure into the vent and that for by retrieving the sponge a vacuum is created that will put off all smoldering bits.


The second gun captain is here shown organising the tools like worm and the bars, his time will come, if he has to take halve of the crew to work the opposite gun if battle on both sides is required.


As one lieutenant was always taking charge of several big guns, Lt. Williams of course is present here at this excercising the great guns.  




And it gets really packed, once the auxiliaries are added to pull the strings




Also nice to be seen is that sec. loader and sec. sponger have to stand outside the side tackles. Also see the stick of the sponge protruding largely outboard.


On the capstan one can see the powder monkee, having prepared already the next cartridge. He is supposed to stay as far as possible for security reasons and to only handle the cartridge to the loaders and to nobody else. Also this was not a job for jung boys as generally thought, in fact Captain Duff of the Mars strictly forbid this as his log states. For the boys was to clean loose powder with a wet swab.


I like the two marines that were stationed on each big gun, gives a nice touch of color :-)


And also if I was a sponger and loader, I really would look out for that the man on the back tackle had a good lunch and that he makes sure, that there are no 3.5 tons coming towards oneself if a big wave is moving the ship ...


Some more pics to enjoy ...










... or a bit more inside the melée :-)








Cheers, Daniel

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