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ORDNANCE (a syncopated form of " ordi...

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Originally appearing in Volume V20, Page 191 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ORDNANCE (a syncopated form of " ordinance " or " ordonnance," so spelt in this sense since the 17th century), a general term for great guns for military and naval purposes, as opposed to " small arms " and their equipment; hence the term also includes miscellaneous stores under the control of the ordnance department as organized. In England the Master-General of the Ordnance, from Henry VIII.'s time, was head of a board, partly military, partly civil, which managed all affairs concerning the artillery, engineers and materiel of the army; this was abolished in 1855, its duties being distributed. The making of surveys and maps (see MAP) was, for instance, handed over eventually (1889) to the Board of Agriculture, though the term " ordnance survey " still shows the origin. I. HISTORY AND CONSTRUCTION The efficiency of any weapon depends entirely on two factors: (1) its power to destroy men and material, (2) the moral effect upon the enemy. Even at the present day the moral effect of gun fire is of great importance, but when guns were first used the noise they made on discharge must have produced a bewildering fear in those without previous experience of them; more especially would this be the case with horses and other animals. Villani wrote of the battle of Cressy that the " English guns made a noise like thunder and caused much loss in men and horses " (Rime, Proc. R. A. Institution, vol. 26). Now, the moral effect may be considered more or less constant, for, as men are educated to the presence of artillery, the range of guns, their accuracy, mobility and on shore their invisibility, so increase that there is always the ever present fear that the stroke will fall without giving any evidence of whence it came. On the other hand, the development of the gun has always had an upward tendency, which of late years has been very marked; the demand for the increase of energy has kept pace with—or rather in recent times may be said to have caused—improvements in metallurgical science. The evolution of ordnance may be divided roughly into three epochs. The first includes that period during which stone shot were principally employed; the guns during this period (1313 to 1520) were mostly made of wrought iron, although the art of casting bronze was, then well known. This was due to the fact that guns were made of large size to fire heavy stone shot, and, in consequence, bronze guns would be very expensive, besides which wrought iron was the stronger material. The second epoch was that extending from 1520 to 1854, during which cast iron round shot were generally employed. In this epoch, both bronze and cast iron ordnance were used, but the progress achieved was remarkably small. The increase of power actually obtained was due to the use of corn, instead of serpentine, powder, but guns were undoubtedly much better proportioned towards the middle and end of this period than they were at • the beginning. The third or present epoch may be said to have commenced in 1854, when elongated projectiles and rifled guns were be-ginning to be adopted. The rapid progress made during this period is as remarkable as the unproductiveness of the second epoch. Even during recent years the call for greater power has produced results which were believed to be impossible in 1890. The actual date of the introduction of cannon, and the country in which they first appeared, have been the subject of much antiquarian research; but no definite conclusion has been arrived at. Some writers suppose (see Brackenbury, "Ancient Cannon in Europe " in Proc. Royal Artillery Inst., vol. iv.) that gun-powder was the result of a gradual development from incendiary compounds, such as Greek and sea fire of far earlier times, and that cannon followed in natural sequence. Other writers attribute the invention of cannon to the Chinese or Arabs. In any case, after their introduction into Europe a comparatively rapid progress was made. Early in the 14th century the first guns were small and vase shaped; towards the end they had become of huge dimensions firing heavy stone shot of from 200 to 450 lb weight. The earliest known representation of a gun in England is contained in an illuminated manuscript De Officiis Regum " at Christ Church, Oxford, of the time of Edward II. (1326). This clearly shows a knight in armour firing a short primitive weapon shaped something like a vase and loaded with an incendiary arrow. This type of gun was a muzzle loader with a vent channel at the breech end. There seems to be undoubted evidence that in 1338 there existed breech-loading guns of both iron and brass, provided with one or more movable chambers to facilitate loading (Proc. R. A. I., vol. iv. p. 291). These fire-arms were evidently very small, as only 2 lb of gunpowder were provided for firing 48 arrows, or about seven-tenths of an ounce for each charge. The great Bombarde of Ghent, called " Dulle Griete " (fig. I) is believed to belong to the end of the century, probably about 1382, and, according to the Guide des voyageurs dons la vale de Gand (Voisin) the people of Ghent used it in 1411. This gun, which weighs about 13 tons, is formed of an inner lining of wrought iron longitudinal bars arranged like the staves of a cask and welded together, surrounded by rings of wrought iron driven or shrunk on. The chamber portion is of smaller diameter, and some suppose it to be screwed to the muzzle portion. The length of the gun is 197 in., the diameter of the bore 25 in., and the chamber 10 in. at the front and tapering to 6 in. diameter at the breech end. It fired a granite ball weighing about 700 lb. Two wrought iron guns left by the English in 1423 when they had to raise the siege of Mont St Michelin Normandy belong to about the same period; the larger of these guns has a bore of 19 in. diameter. "Mons Meg" (fig. 2) in Edinburgh Castle is a wrought iron gun Bronze guns of almost identical dimensions to the " Dulle Griete " were cast a little later (1468) at Constantinople (see Lefroy, Proc. R. A. I., vol. vi.). One of these is now in the Royal Military Repository, Wollwich. It is in two pieces screwed together: the front portion has a calibre of 25 in. and is for the reception of the stone shot, which weighed 672 lb; and a rear portion, forming the powder chamber, of to in. diameter. The whole gun weighs nearly 184 tons. To give some idea of the power of these guns, the damage done by them to Sir John Duckworth's squadron in 1807 when the Dardanelles were forced may be instanced. In this engagement six men-of-war were more or less damaged and some 126 men were killed or wounded. The guns were too unwieldy to lay for each round and were consequently placed in a permanent position; they were often kept loaded for months. The 16th century was remarkable from the fact that the large bombard type was discarded and smaller wrought iron guns were made. This was due to the use of iron projectiles, which enabled a blow to be delivered from a comparatively small gun as destructive as that from the very weighty bombards throwing stone shot. Bronze guns also now came into great favour. They were first cast in England in 1521 (Henry VIII.), and iron cannon about 1540, foreign founders being introduced for the purpose of teaching the English the art. The " Mary Rose," which sank off Spithead in 1545, had on board both breech-loading wrought-iron and muzzle-loading bronze guns. The smaller guns cast at this period were of considerable length, probably on account of the large charges of meal powder which were fired. The long bronze gun in Dover Castle known as " Queen Elizabeth's pocket pistol" has a calibre of 4.75 in.; its bore is 23 ft. 1 in. long or 58 calibres, but its total length including the cascable is 24 ft. 6 in. It was cast at Utrecht in 1544 and presented by Charles V. to Henry VIII. Little or no classification of the various types of guns was attempted during the 15th century. The following century saw some attempt made at uniformity and the division of the several calibres into classes, but it was not until about 1739, when Maritz of Geneva introduced the boring of guns from the solid, that actual uniformity of calibre was attained, as up to this date they were always cast hollow and discrepancies naturally occurred. In France organization was attempted in 1732 by Valliere, but to Gribeauval (q.v.) is due the credit of having simplified artillery and introduced great improvements in the equipment. It is not possible to compare properly the power of the earlier guns; at first small and feeble, they became later large and unwieldy, but still feeble. The gunpowder called " serpentine " often compounded from separate ingredients on the spot at the time of loading,bumt slowly without strength and naturally varied from round to round. The more fiercely burning granulated or corned powder, introduced into Germany about 1429, andinto England shortly after, was too strong for the larger pieces of that date, and could be used only for small firearms for more than a century after. These small guns were often loaded with a lead or lead-coated ball driven down the bore by hammering. The bronze and cast iron ordnance which followed in the 16th century were strengthened in the 17th century, and so were more adapted to use the corned powder. By this means some access of energy and greater effective ranges were obtained. In the 18th century and in the first half of the 19th no change of importance was made. Greater purity of the ingredients and better methods of manufacture had improved gunpowder; the windage between the shot and the bore had also been reduced, and guns had been strengthened to meet this progress, but the principles of construction remained unaltered until the middle of the 19th century. Metallurgical science had made great progress, but cast iron was still the only metal considered suitable for large guns, whilst bronze was used for field guns. Many accidents, due to defects developing during practice, had, however, occurred, in order to prevent which experimental guns constructed of stronger material such as forged iron and steel had been made. Some of these weapons were merely massive solid blocks, with a hole bored in for the bore, and only with-stood a few rounds before bursting. This result was attributed to the metal being of an indifferent quality—quite a possible reason as the treatment of large masses of steel was then in its infancy, and even with the best modern appliances difficulties have always existed in the efficient welding of large forgings of iron. Forged iron, however, always gave some evidence of its impending failure whereas the steel burst in pieces suddenly; steel was, therefore, considered too treacherous a material for use in ordnance. This view held for many years, and steel was only again employed after many trials had been made to demonstrate its reliability. It will be seen later that the ill success of these experiments was greatly due to a want of knowledge of the correct principles of gun construction. The progress made since 1854 is dependent on and embraces improvements in gun construction, rifling and breech mechanisms. Considerable obscurity exists as regards the means adopted for mounting the first cannon. From illuminations in con-temporary manuscripts it appears that the earliest guns, which were trunnionl.ess, were simply laid on Old Equip- the ground and supported by a timber framing at menta. each side, whilst the flat breech end rested against a strong wood support let into the ground to prevent recoil. This arrangement was no doubt inconvenient, and a little later small cannon were fastened in a wooden stock by iron bands; larger guns were supported m massive timber cradles (fig. 3) and Redrawn from Mallet's Construction of Artillery. secured thereto by iron straps or ropes. The ponderous weight to be moved and the deficiency of mechanical means prevented these large cannon and their cradles from being readily moved when once placed in position. Laying was of the most primitive kind, and the bombard was packed up in its wood cradle to the required elevation once for all. When it was desired to breach a wall the bombard with its bed would be laid on the ground at about loo yds. distance, the breech end of the gun or the rear end of the bed abutting against a solid baulk of wood fixed to the ground. " Mons Meg " was originally provided with a wood cradle. It is by no means certain when wheeled carriages were iiioi000iu Phi 0 0
End of Article: ORDNANCE (a syncopated form of " ordinance " or " ordonnance," so spelt in this sense since the 17th century)
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