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Forgotten History: World's Biggest Black Powder Cannon - a 100-Ton Gun

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  • Forgotten History: World's Biggest Black Powder Cannon - a 100-Ton Gun

    This is a interesting subject. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKmi0PN7LxM
    Credo quia absurdum.


    Quantum mechanics describes nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And yet it fully agrees with experiment. So I hope you can accept nature as She is - absurd! - Richard Feynman

  • #2
    Great little museum Fort Rinella

    For a small fee you can even fire a Martini Henry and a 12-pdr cannon (blank cartridges).

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Bwaha View Post
      This is a interesting subject. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKmi0PN7LxM
      I thought the Turkish cannon was the biggest black powder cannon?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obAXpbSpTfA
      Last edited by Mountain Man; 18 Jul 18, 10:53.
      Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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      • #4
        That vid says the Turk Dardanelle gun weighed 16.8 tons which by my reckoning is less than 100 tons.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by eddie3rar View Post
          That vid says the Turk Dardanelle gun weighed 16.8 tons which by my reckoning is less than 100 tons.
          Ahem...yep...
          Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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          • #6
            The Turkish gun had the larger bore and fired the biggest shot but since it was stone shot it was lighter and the charge was much less and it wasn't corned powder either so the pressure was lower and the gun didn't need such a thick walled breech and thus could be much lighter. AFAIK the black powder weapon with the largest bore was Mallets 36 inch Mortar intended for the siege of Sebastepol which fell before it could be shipped out.
            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)

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            • #7
              Originally posted by MarkV View Post
              The Turkish gun had the larger bore and fired the biggest shot but since it was stone shot it was lighter and the charge was much less and it wasn't corned powder either so the pressure was lower and the gun didn't need such a thick walled breech and thus could be much lighter. AFAIK the black powder weapon with the largest bore was Mallets 36 inch Mortar intended for the siege of Sebastepol which fell before it could be shipped out.
              This one? https://www.bing.com/images/search?q...rtar&FORM=IGRE
              Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
                Correct. The only weapon firing as big a calibre shell was the result of an American project that produced a weapon called Little David. This started life as a means of testing the effect of the impact of air dropped bombs on various surfaces and forms of armour. It is very difficult to guarantee that a bomb dropped from an aircraft will land exactly on the specific (small) piece of concrete or armour plate involved in the test. The solution was to build a large muzzle loading mortar that could launch aircraft bombs on a high trajectory and over a short range to hit exactly the spot intended. Such a mortar was built and proved very successful in the testing role for which it was intended.

                Then came the prospect of an Allied invasion of Japan and a lengthy campaign to subdue the main islands. It was anticipated that this would involve fierce fighting with every Japanese position being defended to the bitter end and much use being made of concrete strong points and bunkers. This raised a demand for that perennial military favourite the bunker buster. The solution adopted was to develop the test mortar for use in the field. The weapon, Little David, was huge but very simple. The mortar tube was of 36 inches (900 mm) calibre and thus even bigger than Gustav. Only one weapon as big in calibre had ever been built, this being Mallets Mortar . Little David had no recoil mechanism and no breech mechanism. Elevation was controlled by a large rack and pinion attached to the breech of the piece. The mortar came in two main parts, the tube and a base plate. This latter was essentially a huge steel box sunk into the ground with pivot points for the trunions on the tube (barrel). This absorbed the recoil forces. The whole could be carried on two vehicles (adapted from tank transporters). A further transporter carried a mechanical digger (to dig the pit for the base plate) and the weapon could be set up in its emplacement within 12 hours. As there was no means of traversing the weapon it was very important to ensure that the pit for the base plate was aligned with the target.

                Protection (or concealment) from air attacks was not seen as an issue as it was anticipated that the Allies would have near total air superiority over Japan. This was probably over sanguine as kamikaze attacks would still have had a significant chance of getting through and further begs the question; why would one want to go to all the trouble to set up a huge mortar designed to fire aircraft bombs when one's air force could roam the skies at will? Although accurate over the short distances used in a bomb testing proving ground Little David was far from precise over an operational range of seven or eight miles, it was a relatively low velocity weapon and the projectile was subject to wind forces when in flight. Dropping bombs from aircraft would probably have been at least as accurate. Moreover whilst the Japanese might not have been able to deploy aircraft against Little David they certainly had field artillery that could out range it. In the event the dropping of atomic bombs on Japan in August 1945 made the whole Little David project somewhat academic, tuning the giant mortar into a museum piece overnight.\the transportation system however may have been the model for the Atomic Annie postwar system.
                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)

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                • #9
                  The reason for finding alternative, and often senseless uses for, various weapons systems is a need to keep them around after they're built and see them actually work.

                  Atomic Annie as an attempt to maintain the 240 mm cannon system in the inventory. Frankly, firing a nuclear shell from an artillery piece is not the optimal way to go.

                  Davy Crockett was a lunatic concept from the very beginning, with a lethal radius of 1.5 - 2 miles and a lunch range of only 1.0 miles, but it would have put pocket nukes in the hands of local field commanders and there would have been no shortage of operators willing to fire one off just to see it work.during the last days of WWII, the Kong Kong 8" gun system was adapted into an assault gun for busting Japanese bunkers using direct fire.

                  .https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JCTs2X8rhI

                  More recently, the Air Force attempt to get conventional warheads placed on ICBM's was the same philosophical thing - justify the system and get to actually use it on somebody. Silo types spend their lives training to launch under extreme pressure, on-the-fly and yet never get to hit anything for real. Even drone pilots get kills, but not the silo boys.

                  And the more missions that can be handled, the greater the opportunity to keep the system, the operators and the entire command structure intact for years to come.

                  So it's justify and perpetuate.
                  Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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