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The Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815

Canister

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Re: Canister

Postby DaveH » June 1st, 2016, 12:12 pm

Now I am totally confused! :o

Nick Lipscombe (no relation to the dollybird Tudor historian with big hair) who had a military background and writes quite a lot about the Peninsular War https://ospreypublishing.com/store/cont ... -lipscombe seems to be saying his book: 'Wellington's guns' that there are two types of canister. On p.26 https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Aq- ... re&f=false he says there are two types: short and long range. The original short-range version was developed for naval use in the well-known tin design. Range he says could be increased by bigger ball sizes, but there were problems with premature rupturing and balls fusing together in the heat/force of the powder ignition [probably more down to an increased charge size - DAH!] So, he says a longer range version was developed with a stronger tin casing with balls wrapped in sawdust, which were designed to rupture on impact, but this had the defect of many balls simply ploughing into the ground. Lipscomb claims that most European armies had both short- and long-range canister, but the British stuck with short-range and developed shrapnel as a means of carrying the musketballs some distance before they were released from their container. This shrapnel was designed to improve the effectiveness of simple shells and to carry a spray of musketballs some distance before bursting.

He cites DD&S at n.31 and says they have only talked about the "long-range Russian" canister. The diagram on p.246 refers to "Russian ... light canister", but on p.247, they do mention the packing with sawdust. Lipscomb also notes that Smirinov says the Russians also used "short range" canister, as well as saying a "recent Waterloo publication" has confused the two types.

Smola in his 1831 'Taschenbuch' gives only one set of ranges for canister, albeit they vary with the ball size https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=G6c ... he&f=false and the range table in the 1839 Handbuch likewise just shows the ranges with different charges https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Oqk ... ie&f=false

Dolleczek confirms that Austrian canister was of one type, with the balls packed in with sawdust. http://www.literature.at/viewer.alo?obj ... =&page=330

Maybe there two types of canister and firing methods are some Russian development?
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Re: Canister

Postby Senarmont198 » June 1st, 2016, 2:05 pm

The French had two types of canister-large and small, the former being of longer effective range.

Large canister had larger iron shot and fewer in the canister.

Small canister had more iron shot, though smaller, which had a shorter range.

Again, the use of both Tousard and DeScheel explains the French development of canister for the period.
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Re: Canister

Postby DaveH » June 1st, 2016, 7:26 pm

I wonder if it is one of these things, which has been confused in the telling? We know, as the account writers obviously did, that there were various sizes of canister and balls inside them, the bigger ones in both senses being for longer range from heavier calibre guns. However, for longer range, it is necessary to have a bigger charge and proportionately more sawdust, because the fewer, but bigger balls would leave more space between them. The effects of this might have increased the failure to rupture properly. So, if there are more accounts than we are aware of (Hochenegg is the first I have seen) that canister rounds were failing, this is tending to happen at longer ranges. Somewhere, this has led to an incorrect interpretation that this was deliberate with long-range canister? At sea, if you are using bags to carry the balls, then there is no issue with sawdust and the bag itself would probably break up very easily and quickly. Alex M here http://www.napoleon-series.org/military ... eights.pdf (p.81) only refers to one type of Russian canister in the same style as everyone else.

Anyway, coming back to the original ACW video, I have come across a few accounts of tests, which are quite instructive on how these rounds actually spread. Apparently Schuvalov's 1753 Russian howitzer was a failed attempt to increase the spread of the rounds, but showed little actual change.

From an essay by A. Caruana in http://www.militaryheritage.com/caseshot.htm "mentions some British tests: "The only piece for which a reasonably full record is available covers the Light 6-pdr. These have been taken from a practice with two guns at Winchester, in Hampshire, on the 30th and 31st of October and the 3rd and 4th of November, 1780.

The trials cover sixty rounds at ranges of 200 to 500 yards with three rounds at elevations rising from point blank in quarters of a degree to one degree. Even this yields little totally reliable information. The average percentage of hits falls off as the ranges increase, from 49% firing at point blank at 200 yards to 13.5% firing at one degree of elevation at 500 yards. One interesting fact emerges; the shot had different velocities, At 300 yards, while 265 shot struck the target, only 157 passed through it; at 400 yards, 93 out of 201 passed through, and at 500 yards, only 22 out of 98. On the other hand, at 200 yards, only one shot of 354 failed to penetrate. Unfortunately, the construction of the target was not specified but the records do imply that while the chance of surviving case shot at 100 yards was zero it was theoretical at 200 yards and increasingly possible as ranges extended beyond 300 yards. The shock to the human nervous system of being shot through with a 1 1/2 ounce ball would probably prove fatal, while the target construction, by comparison with the known construction of other targets used for experiment, could probably he roughly equated to the resistance offered by the human body. A further implication, borne out by other firings both experimental and for service, is that 500 yards was the greatest practical range for case shot; although it was fired experimentally out to 800 yards only a negligible number of hits were recorded at ranges of 600 yards and beyond."

There is a little here about 1830s tests (in the second post) http://www.twcenter.net/forums/showthre ... 12-pounder which says that at 600m, 53% of rounds were within 1m of the line of fire. That is long range, but still shows the limited spread, which the ACW also points to.
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Re: Canister

Postby Senarmont198 » June 1st, 2016, 7:36 pm

The French artillery arm had two types of canister for each of the ‘three calibers' (4-, 8-, and 12-pounders). The large canister round had 41 iron balls for each caliber. The small canister round had 63 iron balls for the 4-pounder, and 112 shot for the 8- and 12-pounders.

Canister and case shot are two names for the same round.

For the technical data see DeScheel's Treatise on Artillery, produced in 1777 on the Gribeauval System which includes narrative and data on the artillery rounds of the period as used by the French, including dimensions, weights, and description.

The diameter of French canister shot was:

Small canister (41 iron balls per canister): 4-, 8-, and 12-pounders: 1.05 in, 1.309 in, 1.509 in, respectively.
Large canister: 4-pounder: 63 iron balls per canister, .954 in; 8-pounder: 112 iron balls per canister, .932 in; 12-pounder: 112 iron balls, 1.509 in.

The caisson loads for the following calibers of the Gribeauval System might be useful. There is no mention of grapeshot:
4-pounder: 100 roundshot, 50 canister.
8-pounder: 62 roundshot, 20 canister.
12-pounder: 48 roundshot, 20 canister.
6-inch howitzer: 49 common shell, 11 canister.

Test data for canister using cast iron shot is available in the French artillery manuals that have the testing included.
The French tested the older canister which had lead shot and they found they did not travel as far as the cast iron shot and likely as not the heat generated by firing melted the lead and it 'congealed' into a solid mass which only dented the target and didn't go as far as the canister with iron shot.

The target used was eighteen feet long and eight feet high.

12-pounders fired from 800 yards had 7-8 balls hit the target; at 700 yards 10-11 hits; 600 yards 25 hits; 500 yards 35 hits and at 400 yards 40 hits.

8-pounders fired from 700 yards had 8-9 hits; 600 yards 10-11 hits.

And the iron canister shot had the added advantage of being able to ricochet when it hit the ground if the ground was hard enough.

The information, of the above is a sample, can be found on page 78-79 of DeScheel's Artillery Treatise, translated by Jonathan Williams and edited by Don Graves. DeScheel in the original French can be found on Google Books.

From Firepower by BP Hughes, 34-35:

‘Case or canister shot: The last type of projectile fired by guns and howitzers was case shot, which consisted of a tin case containing a number of loose bullets and of a size to fit the bore. The case merely held the bullets together during their passage up the bore. When it emerged at the muzzle, the bullets were released to continue their deadly passage over the immediate frontage of the gun position. The lethal range of the bullets was limited, however, to a maximum of 500 yards. Case shot was therefore purely a close-range projectile and was intended primarily for use in repelling the last stages of an assault. It was sometimes used offensively too, but the small quantity of case shot held (28 rounds per gun for the British 6-pounder and 16 per gun for the 9-pounder) naturally limited its employment for that purpose.'

‘Most artillerists used a heavy and a light version of case shot-the light case of the British 6-pounder gun holding 85 1.5 ounce bullets and the heavy case holding 41 of 3.25 ounces, other calibers being in proportion. The large bullets of heavy case ranged further than the light ones, and there are instances in war-and records of trials in peace-of fire being delivered with heavy case at ranges of up to 600 yards. The extreme range of light case bullets was normally taken to be 250 yards, and it was the British practice to limit the range of all case shot to about 350 yards. But the French artillery seems to have used it at rather longer ranges, particularly in attack.'

‘Grape shot: Many contemporary writers refer to the use of grape shot in the field. It consisted of nine very large bullets wired together, and could be regarded as an extreme form of heavy case. Although it was certainly used by light iron guns against ships' boats, for the holing of which it was very effective, its heavy bullets would not have been as destructive as lighter ones at normal fighting ranges in the field. No record of grape shot appears in the published scales of ammunition carried by field artillery in the British service, but there are several references to the undesirability if firing it from brass guns owing to the damage that it would cause to their bores. It is possible that it was used by the artilleries of other powers, but it seems likely that the word ‘grape' was used loosely and incorrectly when referring to case shot and may have been used to indicate heavy case as opposed to light case.'

There were initial problems with canister because lead shot/balls were being used and the lead tended to meld together when fired because the melting point of lead is relatively low (one of the reasons it was an excellent metal for lead soldiers). That being the case, iron was used for the shot/balls and worked very well.

The canister, which was of tin, ruptured as it was 'travelling' down the bore when the piece was fired and 'exited' the bore and formed into an abbreviated cone, virtually transforming the piece into a giant shotgun. The canister did not survive firing intact and was not intended to.
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Re: Canister

Postby Senarmont198 » June 2nd, 2016, 12:02 am

From Tactics of the Russian Army in the Napoleonic Wars, Volume 2 by Alexander Zhmodikov and Yurii Zhmodikov, 57:

'...the maximum range of the old lead canister was [about 200 meters] on dry, flat terrain. in 1806 experiments were started to find a solution to this problem. A new canister round, consisting of a tin cylinder filled with iron balls with a wooden plate at the bottom were still unsatisfactory. Then, an iron plate was tried instead of a wooden one, and tests carried out in 1807 showed that this canister round was much more effective. Captured French guns were also tested to determine the effectiveness of French canister and it was found that a Russian 12-pounder gun of 'medium proportion' showed results comparable to the French 12-pounder gun, and a Russian 12-pounder gun of 'smaller proportion' showed results comparable to the French 8-pounder gun. Then, the size of the balls and the number of them in a round were changed, but, in general, the Russian canister remained the same during 1810-1814. There were two kinds of canister in the Russian artillery: short range canister consisted of many small balls; long range canister consisted of a fewer number of larger balls. In each artillery company, there were ten short range canister rounds and twenty long range ones per each cannon in caissons and boxes on limbers.'

'The maximum range of the new canister of a medium 12-pounder gun was [about 850 meters]; that of a 6-pounder gun was [about 420 meters]...'

So, it appears that the Russian artillery arm adopted the French type of canister almost forty years after the French figured out that iron balls were much more efficient than lead ones...
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Re: Canister

Postby jf42 » June 2nd, 2016, 7:51 am

Discussion of this topic is not helped by the fact that terminology is not very systematic.

The French called case shot (or canister) cartouches a balles de fer * while referring to round shot as boulets i.e. the opposite of English usage in terms of size (balls; bullets).
( *To distinguish the former from cartouches a balles which were rounds of musket ammunition)

The French grappe á raisins, which gave us 'grapeshot', derived not from 'grape'-sized lead or iron shot, but from the resemblance of the pyramidal cluster (grappe) of wire-bound shot (balles ) to a bunch of grapes (raisins).

As we know, 'grapeshot' came to be used in English to describe any anti-personnel projectile long after actual grapeshot became obsolete, but was used by some to refer specifically to the projectiles of large case-shot, possibly because the term had come to be associated with the size of the individual projectiles.

The canister itself was a boite 'can', or boite de fer blanc 'tin can'. Boite a balles was another name used for the case-shot round. Cartouche was also used generally as the equivalent of the English 'round' while the cloth bag holding the powder charge was itself gargousse. This pleasing word is, according to Larousse, cognate via the Provençal cargousso with the word charger 'to load.'

Mitraille, meaning something like 'scrap' or 'bits' was a general name for any projectiles fired in case-shot or grape shot. It later gave rise to the French name for machine gun- mitrailleuse, which was first considered to be an artillery piece. 'A whiff of grapeshot', although coined by the historian Thomas Carlyle, would have been something like 'un tir de mitraille' or 'un coup de mitraille'.

Meanwhile for case-shot, the Germans used kartätsche, equivalent to the French cartouche, both deriving, like many old military terms, from Italian: cartoccio (from carta 'card' or 'paper'- (whence the English 'cartridge' and 'cartridge paper') was the name given by Renaissance artillerists to the paper measures of powder for cannon and handguns.

The fuller name for case-shot projectiles was kartätschekugeln (See below) and the round was referred to as kartätschenschuss. A round of case-shot with powder charge attached was also sometimes called Buchsenkartätsche - from büchse 'tin can' - (and also, confusingly, 'rifle'). The powder charge itself was known in German as, [pulver] patrone. 'Canister fire' was Kartätschenfeuern.

Kugel could mean either round shot or a musket ball. Kugeln was the smaller iron shot used in case or grape, bleikugeln the smaller lead 'buckshot' or slugs. Kugelschusse was the full 'round' of solid round shot with powder attached (Note the problems of English usage). An artillery 'round' in general was, I think, ' ein geschossen'

Schrote literally 'filings' or 'shavings' of metal (swarfe) was the name favoured by the Austrians for Kartätschenschuss and in the form "Schrotbüchse' seems to have become the German equivalent of 'spherical case-shot' or 'Shrapnel' shell.

'Shell'.. is a whole other can of worms. Or should that be 'case'?

With regard to all the above, this book is very useful, if a little late for our period.
Technological military dictionary, German-English-French
By Sir George Floyd Duckett
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=HEk ... en&f=false

as is Frederic Rouvroy's Dictionaire Francais-Allemand, contenant les termes techniques usités dans l'art del'artillerie [etc.]
{EDIT: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/100742158}
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Re: Canister

Postby DaveH » June 2nd, 2016, 9:40 am

At this time, the Austrians used Kartätsche to mean a complete round with the powder bag attached, whereas Schrotbüchse meant a can on its own, which could then either be loaded on a Kartätsche for double shot or popped down a howitzer with the powder bag in an emergency, as the shells came separately.

As I said, I have only come across Hochenegg describing a tin coming in and splitting when it hit the ground. it is thus hard to know how frequently this happened. I remember years ago seeing a programme about the Charge of the Light Brigade, where the cavalrymen said they could see the balls flying in from the Russian guns, so presumably a can coming in would be clearly visible - there not being as much smoke in reality as in Sharpe! :lol:
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Re: Canister

Postby jf42 » June 2nd, 2016, 10:17 am

DaveH wrote: there not being as much smoke in reality as in Sharpe! :lol:



Really- Not the contrary?
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Re: Canister

Postby DaveH » June 2nd, 2016, 11:51 am

or the recent War & Peace adaptation :lol: (I see Versailles has taken up the humping theme, so the artillery there might be interesting).

Anyway, here is an mid-18th century 3pdr being fired with canister https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMILWzE9f0k. Although the target seems quite close, it is clear there isn't much of a spread, despite Tony Pollard's comments.
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Re: Canister

Postby Senarmont198 » June 2nd, 2016, 11:57 am

In the subject film, they are using lead shot in the canister which was proven by experiment (which has already been referenced) to be less effective than iron shot.

And a 3-pounder, which was in effect obsolete by ca 1800, would have much less effect on target than a 4-, 6-, 8-, or 12-pounder.

And it should be noted that the French conducted their canister tests ca 1770 with targets to note the number of shot from the fired canister that hit the target at different ranges.
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