Monday, 27 May 2013

More information about eighteenth century naval artillery

Nigel Drury very kindly sent me photocopies of several pages from a book about eighteenth century naval artillery, and I think that the information contained therein will be of interest to some of my regular blog readers.
The several denominations by which English guns in either service are identified with their respective calibers, are not applicable to foreign guns; every nation possessing, besides a scale of calibers, or natures, a standard of weights and measures, peculiar to itself. Until, therefore, the calibers, or pounders, of several sea-service guns in use by different powers at war, can be reduced into English weight, it will be in vain to attempt any comparison between them. For instance, the gun with which the French arm the first decks of their line-of-battle ships, above a 64, is by them denominated a 36-pounder, for the plain reason, that the shot suitable to its cylinder, and which shot measures in diameter 6.239 French inches and decimal parts, weighs 36 French pounds. But the same shot measures 6.648 English inches and decimal parts, and weighs very little less than 39 English pounds [See endnote]. The following table, which has been drawn up with great care, is submitted as the only statement of the kind in print.

Nothing can demonstrate the utility of such a table, more clearly, than the material difference observable between some of the calibers: The Danish 36-pound shot, for instance, weighs nearly two pounds more than the Russian 42; yet, nominally, the latter is the heavier by one seventh. As it is for the gross, or broadside, and not the individual calibers, that our calculations are chiefly wanted, that the integral proportion which comes nearest to the difference expressed in the table, will answer the purpose. Thus:

[Endnote: In one or two instances, the French first-class first-rates have mounted 48-pounders; but according to an ordonnance of the French king, dated 1786, the following were established as the guns and complements of the different classes of ships; to which is now added, to serve for reference hereafter, the broadside force or weight of metal.]

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