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Interesting video showing cannon causing splinters

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Interesting video showing cannon causing splinters
Post by SilverbladeTE   » Mon Jan 27, 2020 10:36 am

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Few years ago "Mythbusters" did a video which from their conclusions seemed to show splinters wouldn't be that bad an issue in naval combat of the Age of Sail
Which flies in the face of a HUGE amount of actual documented records of deaths/injuries and personal memoirs etc!

the Mythbusters did not make a suitable representation of a ships hull IMHO and probably didn't fully charge the cannon I suspect, also naval guns tended to have heavier charges than the field gun they used in their test an issue with naval vs land artillery up until recently as ships could carry a hell of a lot heavier guns than were practical to transport over land by the Army etc so they could fire much heavier shells and/or charge weights

Real ships would put a huge stress on the wood from wind and water pressure
the timbers would be aged and worn etc, not modern processed
Warships had MUCH thicker hulls than they used

so YES you would get terrible amount of splinters on being hit by a cannonball!

another interesting point is, from what I've read, by the time of the US Civil War, it was realised that for *most* cannons (not all), canister was best to fire balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter
cannons typically give a tighter cone of fire than a shotgun by good margin, so you don't get much spread on them as you'd think (again exception exist)
and musket balls rarely penetrated more than 1 man
ergo, loading canister with musket balls would absolutely obliterate a small number of men in a small area but that's it, overkill of a few men, so it wasn't very effective for most cannons

grapeshot had too few pieces (9 to 12 balls usually) to reliably hit many man unless they were jam packed into a narrow area
but, each ball would smash through several men very easily or light defences, a single Human body is NOT gonna stop a chunk of iron that size! so each ball could potentially kill several enemy
it also had a much longer range than musket balls

and so, eventually, it was realised 1 and 1/2 inch sized allowed more projectiles and yet still have good penetration and better range than musket balls, say 30 or so balls in all
thus it was the best of both worlds

note that for carronades and howitzers which are short barrelled and lower velocity, they got a wider spread especially with canister designed to actually spread more (though I'm not sure if that was ever used at all in practice as opposed to experiments)
the US Civil War era 12lb mountain howitzer was too light to take a heavy charge so used a canister loaded with musket balls for short range and for long range it used a shrapnel shell that was a lot more effective than grapeshot anyway (it's primary ammunition type and it was a lot lighter than a solid ball)



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJ7TOZctubI
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Re: Interesting video showing cannon causing splinters
Post by Henry Brown   » Mon Feb 03, 2020 11:22 am

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I remember watching that episode of Mythbusters and wondering how they got it wrong. Because as you say, there is a huge amount of historical evidence for casualties caused by splinters on wooden ships. Yet they did not get any in their test.
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Re: Interesting video showing cannon causing splinters
Post by SilverbladeTE   » Tue Feb 04, 2020 1:29 pm

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Henry Brown wrote:I remember watching that episode of Mythbusters and wondering how they got it wrong. Because as you say, there is a huge amount of historical evidence for casualties caused by splinters on wooden ships. Yet they did not get any in their test.



I think they didn't use their cannon with proper charge?
also, field guns are not as powerful as naval guns
as a general rule of thumb naval weapons are at least 1/3rd more powerful on average as you might expect a typical army weapon (HUGE simplification I know)
The Army has to drag cannons overland...a massive PITA, eeek!
so naval and also fortress pr railway guns can be much larger, heavy longer barrels, more powerful charges and bigger shells etc

ergo a typical field piece used by armies for around a century from before Napoleon to Gettysburg was a 12 pounder ("Napoleons" as they were often known to folk in the Civil War era!), but the Navy used a 32 pounder as a rough average size of gun

and most importantly, somehow Mythbusters screwed up the replica of the hull

as I noted, real hulls are under a GREAT deal of stress in multiple directions
the wood is aged, soaked in various older preservatives NOT modern steam/chem processing
and spends years at sea
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Re: Interesting video showing cannon causing splinters
Post by Joat42   » Mon Feb 10, 2020 6:16 am

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The Swedish Vasa Museum made a replica of the type of cannon used on the Vasa and test-fired it against a hull to see the effects:
http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/32981

It's a bit hard to get detailed info of the results though, the only comment I found about splinters was that they thought there where less splinters than they expected.

Regardless, these types of tests aren't really representative although you can infer some things from them.

---
Jack of all trades and destructive tinkerer.


Anyone who have simple solutions for complex problems is a fool.
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Re: Interesting video showing cannon causing splinters
Post by SilverbladeTE   » Mon Feb 10, 2020 1:01 pm

SilverbladeTE
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Joat42 wrote:The Swedish Vasa Museum made a replica of the type of cannon used on the Vasa and test-fired it against a hull to see the effects:
http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/32981

It's a bit hard to get detailed info of the results though, the only comment I found about splinters was that they thought there where less splinters than they expected.

Regardless, these types of tests aren't really representative although you can infer some things from them.


Plenty of splinters in.that test, eeek! :shock:
And as.I've noted, real ships hulls are under a lot.of.stress, not like a target on land, which is thus likely to.increase splinters.

Real life.accounts repeatedly spoke of the great number and severity of splinter casualties.
Though, that would be more and.more of an issue as both cannon size/effectiveness and hull thicknesses increased, less so.in the early days of the "Age of Sail"


Sorry for all the ".", posting using Kindle, serious pain in the ass to type, lol
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Re: Interesting video showing cannon causing splinters
Post by Silverwall   » Thu Feb 13, 2020 4:54 pm

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SilverbladeTE wrote:
Joat42 wrote:The Swedish Vasa Museum made a replica of the type of cannon used on the Vasa and test-fired it against a hull to see the effects:
http://www.thehistoryblog.com/archives/32981

It's a bit hard to get detailed info of the results though, the only comment I found about splinters was that they thought there where less splinters than they expected.

Regardless, these types of tests aren't really representative although you can infer some things from them.


Plenty of splinters in.that test, eeek! :shock:
And as.I've noted, real ships hulls are under a lot.of.stress, not like a target on land, which is thus likely to.increase splinters.

Real life.accounts repeatedly spoke of the great number and severity of splinter casualties.
Though, that would be more and.more of an issue as both cannon size/effectiveness and hull thicknesses increased, less so.in the early days of the "Age of Sail"


Sorry for all the ".", posting using Kindle, serious pain in the ass to type, lol


The biggest problems with the test were:

1) they used a 6 lber popgun of a cannon. Light armerment on a small frigate/sloop or war was 12 lber cannon and the big ships of the line mounted 18/24/32/36 lber cannons. THere is one HELL of a difference in kinetic energy from a full charge big naval gun and a light charge field gun.

2) the hull (Scantlings) they shot at were insanely lightweight! look at these shots of repairing HMS victory https://www.tnielsen.co.uk/hms-victory-replanking/
The planking alone is 6" solid teak over close packed hull frames that could be up to a foot thick! Those repairs would be below the waterline but the above the waterline was constructed to exactly the same standard.
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