Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Volley guns and blunderbusses.

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Volley guns and blunderbusses.

    From the very earliest days of firearms right up until the last part of the twentieth century the norm has been the single barrelled gun firing a single shot each time the trigger was pulled. However there has also always been a demand for weapons that could discharge many projectiles at a time. In situations such as assaults on defended places, boarding of ships, dealing with mutinies and clearing out strong points the ability to release a blast of projectiles has been viewed as very useful (assuming that one is not on the receiving end). One simple solution was the ‘Roman Candle’ system in which a single barrel was loaded with a number of charges of powder and ball, the firing mechanism would ignite that nearest the muzzle and as that exploded the flash would set off the next one in succession and so on until all charges had been fired. A string of balls would exit the gun in very rapid succession. This system had dangers, if the flash jumped and caused charges to be fired out of sequence the barrel could burst.

    A safer system was to have guns with multiple barrels all fired by a single mechanism. Such weapons exist from almost the introduction of firearms. These guns were heavy and cumbersome and would usually be used where they could be rested for firing, such as on the parapets of castle walls. A wood or metal hook would be used to transfer any recoil to the wall. Such guns would often be loaded not with a solid ball but with stone chippings so as to provide a wide (but very short range) effect. Against such threats as an escalading assault they could be reasonably effective. A mass of men crammed together on a scaling ladder would be quite vulnerable to such a weapon. Similar three barrelled ‘hand cannon’ were cast in Korea and exported to China and Japan.

    As gun making technology advanced so did the design of multi barrelled volley guns. By the seventeenth century volley guns were being made with four, seven or even in one extreme case twenty barrels and fired by matchlock, wheel lock or flintlock. In some cases combining multiple barrels with the ‘Roman candle’ system increased the volume of fire. The barrels were connected with small tubes that allowed the firing of a charge in one to then ignite another in the next barrel and so on. One German four barrelled volley gun using the Roman candle principle was able to discharge twenty nine rounds in a few seconds with a single pull of the trigger.

    Volley guns were inevitably much heavier than conventional single barrelled firearms and those with long barrels were usually fired from some form of rest. They were also heavy things to carry around. By the eighteenth century such weapons had divided into two main classes, the volley gun and the volley pistol. The latter was sufficiently light to be used without a rest but had a very short effective range. Volley guns were particularly favoured as a shipboard weapon. Captain Wilson of the Royal marines designed a seven barrelled volley gun and some were used by the Royal Navy aboard ship during the American War of Independence. In 1779 the London Gunsmith Henry Nock began the supply of these weapons and they became generally known as Nock’s seven barrelled gun (when in truth they should be Captain Wilson’s gun).

    Much erroneous material has been written about Nock’s gun the chief of which is that the Royal navy introduced it after Nelson’s death at Trafalgar in 1805 in order to suppress French snipers in the fighting tops. In fact the gun had already been in service for over fifteen years before Trafalgar and, self evidently, had not been much use as a means of dealing with the French marksmen. Indeed by the time of the battle it was being taken out of service as swivel guns could do its job more effectively. Further confusion is added by the fact that Nock produced a number of different types of seven barrelled gun with different calibres and weights. Not all of these were primarily intended for military use as the lighter guns were meant to be used by hunters shooting at flocks of birds and some of the heavier were used as punt guns by wildfowlers in the Lincolnshire fenlands.

    Nock’s seven barrelled gun seems like a pretty powerful weapon but it is eclipsed by the fourteen barrel volley gun. Such weapons were made in the closing years of the eighteenth century and one is currently on display in a museum in Liege. These were effectively twin seven barrelled guns with the two sets of tubes side by side, each with its own flint lock. Each set of barrels could be discharged separately or, if desired, all fourteen at once. One gun of this type was owned by Colonel Thomas Thornton a Yorkshire squire who was famed as the leading all round sportsman, hunter, falconer, fisherman and shot of his day. He also successfully bred racehorses, was a patron of some of the foremost English artists of his time and wrote classic accounts of his sporting tours. Somewhere in all of this he found time to raise and command regiments of militia. The man appears to have been a real life amalgam of two famous fictional characters, Fielding’s Squire Western and Pratchett’s Archchancellor Ridcully. This mammoth weapon appears to have been used by him in the suppression of a militia mutiny in Devon in 1795.

    Pistol sized volley guns had the advantage of being portable and, in most cases, able to be pointed and fired one handed. Against this they were a very short range weapon only really effective at very close quarters. Some volley pistols were effectively smaller versions of the larger volley guns with all barrels in parallel. Many were of the form known as ‘duck foot’ with the barrels set at angles to spread the cone of fire. There was no pretence at accuracy; these were weapons intended to allow a small number of men to quell a larger body. Sometimes they might be used by a merchant seaman defending his ship against pirates intent on swarming aboard and slaughtering him and the rest of his crew but, more darkly, those who manned slave ships also favoured them. Some duck foot pistols had a number of barrels (sometimes as many as six) forming a level fan whilst others had barrels that were splayed both horizontally and vertically. The duck foot pistol fell out of fashion as revolvers became reliable.

    An alternative to the volley gun was the simpler blunderbuss. This was usually a single shot weapon (although double barreled blunderbusses were made) with a large barrel loaded with small lead balls. When fired these spread out like pellets from a gigantic shotgun cartridge. Some blunderbusses had flared muzzles; these had no effect on the spread of shot but assisted loading. Blunderbusses with very large flared muzzles (like a trumpet) are usually poor ‘reproductions’ or film props. The only effect a large flare actually has on the performance of the weapon is psychological; it greatly increases the noise made when it is fired.

    Contrary to the picture painted in many a film or book, rusty nails and tacks were never a common load for a blunderbuss, such material could badly score and otherwise damage the bore. Normally specially cast lead balls were used although some guns were used to fire langidge, metal bars’ packed together lengthways in the gun, that on firing would spread out, spin and tumble through the air. Langridge could cause some horrific wounds but very quickly lost momentum and so was mainly effective at very short range.

    The blunderbuss was much used as a naval weapon but was also commonly found as the preferred firearm for British stagecoach guards. The Royal Mail ordered hundreds of blunderbusses. Some prison warders, bank guards and, sadly, slave ship crews, also carried them. As with volley guns the development of practical repeating firearms made the blunderbuss obsolete.
    Attached Files
    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

  • #2
    In the, "Sharpe," novels, Patrick Harper is armed with a Nock Volley gun, as he's one of the few men strong enough to control one.

    While the stories are probably exaggerated, the result of seven recoils at once on an inexperienced man who lacked the physical strength can well be imagined.
    Indyref2 - still, "Yes."

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by the ace View Post
      In the, "Sharpe," novels, Patrick Harper is armed with a Nock Volley gun, as he's one of the few men strong enough to control one.

      While the stories are probably exaggerated, the result of seven recoils at once on an inexperienced man who lacked the physical strength can well be imagined.
      It was the physical endurance to carry one that was probably the real issue
      Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
      Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

      Comment


      • #4
        Of course, this sort of gun existed all the way up to the beginning of the 20th Century too.

        The Nordenfelt gun:



        Last edited by T. A. Gardner; 24 Jun 16, 22:34.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
          Of course, this sort of gun existed all the way up to the beginning of the 20th Century too.

          The Nordenfelt gun:



          [youtube]gu8GgzDiS90[/yotube]
          Not a volley gun, an early machine gun- see my post to come Volley gun to machine gun
          Last edited by MarkV; 24 Jun 16, 17:07.
          Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
          Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by MarkV View Post
            Not a volley gun, an early machine gun- see my post to come Volley gun to machine gun
            It is a volley gun. It has an ammunition hopper on top, but otherwise, it's a volley gun.

            Here it is being fired as a pure volley gun. That is, it is fired without the ammunition hopper in place. A machinegun, even a manual one like a Gatling or Gardner, cannot be used that way.

            Comment


            • #7
              A repeating volley gun? Okay, that's just weird.

              Would the volley-gun qualify as the Assault Rifle of it's time, or was it more of a Burp-Gun*?


              * slang for an SMG, and not a complimentary one

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                It is a volley gun. It has an ammunition hopper on top, but otherwise, it's a volley gun.

                Here it is being fired as a pure volley gun. That is, it is fired without the ammunition hopper in place. A machinegun, even a manual one like a Gatling or Gardner, cannot be used that way.

                This appears to be a modification. The mechanism of the Nordenfeldt was that as a lever was pulled each breech was loaded in turn from the hopper and at the end of the stroke all barrels fired, the next stroke of the lever repeated the process so that the gun fired in continuous bursts. There was no provision for it to be used without the hopper.
                Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by MarkV View Post
                  This appears to be a modification. The mechanism of the Nordenfeldt was that as a lever was pulled each breech was loaded in turn from the hopper and at the end of the stroke all barrels fired, the next stroke of the lever repeated the process so that the gun fired in continuous bursts. There was no provision for it to be used without the hopper.
                  You are describing the later Nordenfelt anti-torpedo boat gun and the follow-on Maxim-Nordenfelt guns. The original Nordenfelts were simple volley guns as shown.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                    You are describing the later Nordenfelt anti-torpedo boat gun and the follow-on Maxim-Nordenfelt guns. The original Nordenfelts were simple volley guns as shown.
                    No I'm not they all used the same mechanism
                    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I think you could load just about anything into a blunderbuss, including nuts, screws, bolts, nails and even rocks.

                      Probably the ultimate survival weapon.

                      "Artillery adds dignity to what would otherwise be a ugly brawl."
                      --Frederick II, King of Prussia

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MonsterZero View Post
                        I think you could load just about anything into a blunderbuss, including nuts, screws, bolts, nails and even rocks.
                        Only once and much would depend on someone getting a tourniquet on your stump afterwards
                        Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                        Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                        Comment

                        Latest Topics

                        Collapse

                        Working...
                        X