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"Gribeauval howitzers" Topic


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Chuvak Inactive Member10 Mar 2010 6:52 a.m. PST

We are often told that two great alleged "improvements" of the French Gribeauval systms were :
- iron axles
- a vertical screw for elevation.
However, did not the howitzers of that system feaure the suposedly "un-improved" wooden axles and a wedge for elevation (adjusted with a horizontal screw mechanism)?
(See also below for an interesting appraisal of iron vs. wooden axles – especially on "cold, frosty mornings".)

======================================

Also on the topic of French howitzers, we are told they elevated more than other nations' equivalent pieces (such as the Russian edinrogi/unicorns/licorns). However, are these not correct ?
Griebeauval 6-pouce howitzer : +18 to -5 degrees
Russian 20-pood edinrog : +16.75 to -4.75 degrees
Looks rather like no difference to me.

Thanks for any clarifications,
Chuvak

"The primitive system of wooden axle-trees has of late years [i.e., to 1850] been superseded in some districts by patent iron ones; many, however, still use and prefer the old wooden axle-trees, because wagons having those made of iron, in steep descents, run too freely after the team, to the injury of the two after-oxen; and, further, because a wooden axle, if broken, may be replaced in any remote part of the country; whereas a damaged iron axle-tree can not be mended even by the skillful smiths throughout the towns and villages of the colony. The iron axles are especially apt to be broken in cold frosty mornings during the winter, when a wagon, immediately after being set in motion, has to pass through rough ground before the friction of the wheel has imparted to it a certain degree of heat."

Five years of a hunter's life in the far interior of South Africa.
Roualeyn Gordon-Cumming
New York: Harper & Bros., 1850.
link

Connard Sage Inactive Member10 Mar 2010 8:06 a.m. PST

Oh lor'.

Steven H Smith Inactive Member10 Mar 2010 8:16 a.m. PST

Chuey,

Yes, indeed!

Affût à obusier calibre de 6 pouces. Planche 16 du "Collection Complète De La Nouvelle Artillerie Construite Dans Les Arcéneaux De Metz et Strasbourg Par Messieurs De Muÿ Et De Gribeauval", réalisé entre 1764 et 1771:

picture

It should be noted, however, that they were 'modernized' at a later date with iron axles and vertical screws for elevation. A fine double page drawing of these 'modernized' 'obusiers calibre de 6 pouces' can be seen in "Firepower: weapons effectiveness on the battlefield, 1630-1850" by Basil Perronet Hughes (1975, reprinted 1997). 174 pages.

Yours in firm research,

Big Al

summerfield Inactive Member10 Mar 2010 2:40 p.m. PST

Dear Steven
I have no record of the Gribeauval 6.4in Howitzer having iron axles. So few were produced. They were soon replaced by the Long Porte howitzer based upon the Prussian 10-pdr Howitzer. These survived with the Gribeauval 12-pdr batteries.

Dear Chuvak
Certainly interesting to consider how many iron axles failed in Russia. The Russians kept to their wooden axles until 1845 at least.

The adoption of the elevating plate restricted the elevation of the Gribeauval Howitzer. Firing at more than 18 degrees would break the carriage or axle. The angle of the carriage limits the safe firing angle. The forces causing recoil need to discipated along the carriage rather then directly down. This would break the axle/carriage. There are a number of examples of British 5.5in howitzer breaking their cariages when used as "mortars" in sieges.

Stephen

Steven H Smith Inactive Member10 Mar 2010 2:53 p.m. PST

Well, there are 6 inch Gribeauval howitzers in the Kremlin collection 1911 catalog. They were also clearly in use post an XI. I would be suprised if they were NOT on the modified carriage.

Big Al

summerfield Inactive Member10 Mar 2010 3:37 p.m. PST

Dear Steven
Yes you are probably correct but I have not seen a picture of one in the collection. All those that I have seen are the Long Porte howitzers. It is the problem of correct identification.

I understand that barely 80 Gribeauval Howitzers were cast and none post-1794 when the Long Porte was put into production. There are no Gribeauval howitzers in the Royal Armouries collection or RAHT.

Alas I have no plans of this carriage. Assuming that that the AnXI 5.9in howitzer carriage was not the one used.

We are back to nomenclature. I am referring to the Short howitzer as design in 1765 and not those produced in 1795 as copies of the Prussian 10-pdr. The difficulty is that the returns only give the calibre if we are lucky.

Confused
Stephen

Steven H Smith Inactive Member10 Mar 2010 3:59 p.m. PST

Again, there is a fine detailed drawing of this carriage in "Firepower: weapons effectiveness on the battlefield, 1630-1850" by Basil Perronet Hughes. I will try to have the volume sent to me and then scan the drawing.

Big Al

Steven H Smith Inactive Member10 Mar 2010 4:23 p.m. PST

Trophies from 1812 (from left to right):


Barrel of a 6-inch (152-mm) bronze French field howitzer. Length 95 cm, weight 352 kg. (Commissioner Dartein) cast on August 7th 1793 at Strasbourg.

24-lb (152-mm [sic]) Bronze French field howitzer. Length 101 cm; Weight 278 kg. Cast in 1805 at Douay (Beranger).

Military-historical museum of artillery, engineering and communication, St.-Petersburg:

picture

summerfield Inactive Member10 Mar 2010 4:39 p.m. PST

Dear Steven
Thank you, I found Firepower book [p50-51] and the plans are from Manson (1792) and this shows the carriage with a wooden rather than a metal axle. I think we were talking a little at cross purposes here.

The picture from St Petersburg Artillery Museum is as you say a Gribeauval Howitzer cast in 1793. Barrel of a 6-inch (152-mm) bronze French field howitzer. Length 95 cm, weight 352 kg. (Commissioner Dart.) cast on August 7th 1793 in Strasbourg.

Oh well, the premice over the howitzers I made is not correct. Another of the theories fails. Napoleon I beleive instructed that all the Gribeauval howitzer were withdrawn in 1808. It is so interesting looking at another decree being ignored.

Thanks
Stephen

rmaker10 Mar 2010 7:28 p.m. PST

Getting back to the elevation question, yes the French howitzers have more elevation, but with the unicorn's higher muzzle velocity, it still has a better range, especially since, with time fused shells, range is governed by time of flight.

rmaker10 Mar 2010 7:33 p.m. PST

Chuvak, your South African quote sounds like it's talking about cast iron axles (probably locally made) rather than the wrought iron ones used in Europe. Cast iron has a crystalline sturcture which is, indeed, prone to fracture in the cold. Wrought iron has had that nonsense beat out of it, literally. Cast iron also can't be welded with anything like the facility of wrought iron.

Chuvak Inactive Member10 Mar 2010 8:31 p.m. PST

rmaker,

Interesting comments. Thank you!
Would "patent" iron axles, as mentioned in the quote, be likely to be some local thing – or some neat "new invention" from Europe ?

I am no metallurgist, but I do now that it is really quite "frosty" on many Russian mornings. I have to put felt lining pads in my boots or my feet freeze just walking across the courtyards at my home and office.
:-)

Thanks to all for interesting information!

Chuvak

Steven H Smith Inactive Member11 Mar 2010 2:16 a.m. PST

French obusiers:

picture

10th Marines Inactive Member14 Mar 2010 10:05 a.m. PST

A senior Russian artilleryman made the comment that if French howitzers were emplaced in defilade, they couldn't hit them with unicorns.

The Gribeauval 6-inch howitzer used the iron axle. If I'm not mistaken, all of the Gribeauval artillery vehicles used the iron axle. The gun carriages all had wheels with brass housings so that metal revolved around metal and caused less friction. The lubricant, which I believe was suet, did quite well. Further, they didn't break as often as wood. They were heavier, but that was irrelevant because of the mechanical advantage of the brass wheel housings.

Initially, the 6-inch howitzer used the screw quoin and not the elevating screw. They were later retrofitted with the elevating screw as it was both more modern and more efficient in use. The elevating mechanisms allow so many turns per degree of elevation/depression. The smaller the screw mechanism, the more turns that have to be done. Gribeauval's elevating screw combined with the adjustable tangent sight which was graduated for range, made a very efficient and modern system. The screw quoin was older, harder to use, and, apparently the gunner had to 'lean into it' to have it function properly (see the Osprey on Austrian artillery, page 46). It eventually would disappear and the elevating screw would be maintained for quite some time, at least into the late nineteenth century. The British version of it was more efficient than the Gribeauval version as it did not use an elevating plate upon which the breech of the piece rested, but was connected directly onto the cascabel button. The American artillery arm would later have it directly under the breech, which may have been more efficient yet.

For the iron axel on the Gribeaval howitzer, see DeScheel.

Sincerely,
K

Chuvak Inactive Member14 Mar 2010 11:37 a.m. PST

K,

"A senior Russian artilleryman made the comment that if French howitzers were emplaced in defilade, they couldn't hit them with unicorns."
Provde a source, a citation and a quote in the original language with context – if you want anyone to give this even vague credibility. A repeated tendency to mis-quote, cherry-pick snippets, mis-translate and quote out of context has been noted, with an unfavorable impact on your credibility.

"The Gribeauval 6-inch howitzer used the iron axle."
You will see at the above posts and links both discussion and drawings showing the initial use of wood for the Gribeauvla howitzer. It was also noted that later a conversion program was undertaken. Please read others' contributions.

"The gun carriages all had wheels with brass housings so that metal revolved around metal and caused less friction."
This is absurd – the wooden axles were capped in metal (it was called the skein in English). The whole affair was not exactly micrometer accurate, if either case. In essence, the suet (used by all) provided a liquid bearing.

"Further, they [iron axles] didn't break as often as wood. They were heavier, but that was irrelevant because of the mechanical advantage of the brass wheel housings."
Please either provide original source quotations or mathematical analysis to support your statement – otherwise it looks like just some kind of biased chest-beating.
Proof, please ? Or are these statements just your personal opinions or fantasies ?
Can you please provide calculations, or the reports of others' calculations, that indicate that there was any reduced friction of iron (axles) in brass housings lubricated with suet vs. iron (caps) in hardwood housings lubricated the same – and that this alleged reduction overcame the disadvantage of the heavier material ?
Absent such data, it just looks like you are arguing out of a position of bias, not one of fact-based research.

"They [the Gribeaval howitzers] were later retrofitted with the elevating screw as it was both more modern and more efficient in use. The elevating mechanisms allow so many turns per degree of elevation/depression. The smaller the screw mechanism, the more turns that have to be done"
How many turns of the elevating mechanism per degree of elevation change for the French elevating screw as fielded in 1805-1814 ? And for the wedge as used by the Russians with a horizontal screw in 1805-1814 ? Outside your biases, is there any actual proof that there was anything better about the French method?
Nilus (1904), quoting State archives on the Artillery Comission, notes that the Russians tested both in the process leading up to their 1805 system, and found their design with a wedge with a horizontal screw more robust and reliable.

Overall, I don't think anyone would fail to recall your opinion that Gribeauval and French artillery in general was really wonderful. But when you start doing comparisons to other nations' guns, it would be nice to give data, not just biased opinions.

Sincerely,
C

Steven H Smith Inactive Member14 Mar 2010 1:50 p.m. PST

"The Gribeauval 6-inch howitzer used the iron axle. … For the iron axel on the Gribeaval howitzer, see DeScheel."

Kev,

Here we go again! <:^{

I checked my copies of the 1st and 2nd editions of Otto von Scheel's work, as well as the volume edited by Don Graves. All three volumes show wooden axels on the 6 pounce howitzer. Kev, perhaps you are confused by the wording "Axletree ironed" below Plate X on page 40 of Don's work. It does NOT mean an "iron axle". I hope I have cleared this up for you.

I would suggest a more careful reading of the material that you have, have passed near or have thought about passing. <;^}

Yours, in firm research,

Sincerely (of course),

B

Chuvak Inactive Member14 Mar 2010 2:11 p.m. PST

B,

"A repeated tendency to mis-quote, cherry-pick snippets, mis-translate and quote out of context has been noted"

Sincerely,
C

Steven H Smith Inactive Member14 Mar 2010 2:20 p.m. PST

Chuey,

You could say that again, but you already have done so.

I have some more pics to post today or tomorrow. Have to scan first.

Sincerely,

B

Graf Bretlach Inactive Member14 Mar 2010 2:33 p.m. PST

I love artillery discussions (because they go on an on, but sometimes i actually learn something)I didn't realise the wooden axles were capped in iron, any takers when it was first used and by whom? or is it as old as the wheel?

Sincerely

G :¬)

Graf Bretlach Inactive Member14 Mar 2010 2:39 p.m. PST

I do hope it wasn't that damned Lichtenstein fella!

Steven H Smith Inactive Member14 Mar 2010 2:48 p.m. PST

Big G,

I like the cut of your jib! <;^}

Sincerely,

B

Chuvak Inactive Member14 Mar 2010 3:47 p.m. PST

"any takers when it was first used and by whom?"
Gribeauval!!
(just kidding, cher ami de la bricole)

I think it was an iron-age idea ("skein" in English looks rather Norse or Saxon in origin). I think it would have been about the third thing you tried to make after discovering iron (sword or knife, plow or spade, then skein), as you need it to stop the end grain of the wood from chipping out and leaving you with no connection to the wheel.
Note : the axles were tapered, exposing end grain along the bearing surface as well as at the exterior face.

I do NOT think the skein was for "friction control".

Also, I do not think that an alloy like modern brittle "brass" was used by the French, but someting more like malleable and ductile copper (both called "cuivre" in the era).

The problem is that the balk of timber making the hub is not too dimensionally stable over changes in time, temperature and humidity. So a "machinist's joint" or a bearing surface anything like one is just not going to be maintained.

Hence my comment : I think the effective bearing in these wheel to axle joints – for all nations' designs – was a fluid one : the suet. Everything else was just, in my opinion, "suet containment" as far as its effect on friction or mechanical efficiency.

I will not insist on this opinion, although I have done a few bearing designs in my life that were thought novel enough to receive patent protection. Some (not I) might think I could qualify as an "expert" in bearings.

But I will inisist that a claimed efficiency benefit for the French design must be demonstrated by either mathematical modelling or comparative testing. Merely waving one's arms and claiming a great benefit for the French design is just silly.

All the other nation's would have seen examples of the French designs (the Fench didn't keep them in a secret lab buried in a Alpine cave). If anyone thought that the French design for axles and hubs was an overall good idea, they could have copied it.

Same with the method of elevation.

The Russians especially had a good look and and careful review prior to the issuance of their 1805 system. It appears that these French "innovations" were generally not considered robust, reliable and/or sufficiently easy to maintain. One assumes that conditions of extreme cold, snow, mud, hot summers, etc. were included in the context of the Russian design reviews.

Perhaps, like much of the "French war machine", the French artillery designs were optimized for short, spring-summer campaigns in rather economically developed places like the Rhineland and the Piedmont. When applied to multiyear conflicts, far from France, amid a hostile populations in un-developed lands, and with more extreme weather (Spain, Poland/Russia), this optimizaion proved ill-chosen.

B's right, you do have a nice jib, very well cut indeed. I have remarked it often.

Sincerely,
C

Chuvak Inactive Member14 Mar 2010 5:12 p.m. PST

Voila, l'odeur de la bricole ….

Roman wheel making – 3rd century A.D. (In English, with pictures)
link

Something tells me that the supposed "innovation" of the Gribeauval axles was not so innovative.

"Shrug"
C

Graf Bretlach Inactive Member16 Mar 2010 8:36 a.m. PST

Chuvak

Thanks for the link, made interesting reading.

Sincerely,
G

Widowson20 Mar 2010 9:11 a.m. PST

Chuvac wrote:
"Also on the topic of French howitzers, we are told they elevated more than other nations' equivalent pieces (such as the Russian edinrogi/unicorns/licorns). However, are these not correct ?
Griebeauval 6-pouce howitzer : +18 to -5 degrees
Russian 20-pood edinrog : +16.75 to -4.75 degrees
Looks rather like no difference to me."

I'm not going to quote any sources, but there most certainly IS a difference. The math will out. Also, there was a difference of philosophy, as well. The Russian licorne was intended as more of a flat trajectory weapon, just as British Shrapnel ammo was not designed for the howitzer.

Remember, the term "howitzer" did not carry the same connotation as it does today. No matter the angle of trajectory, artillerists could not effectively hit anything they couldn't see. Even howitzers were designed to hit targets on the line of sight. The elevation was mainly to get the effects of air burst over the target. Not like today, where maximum range comes at 45 degree elevation to hit targets far out of sight.

Widowson20 Mar 2010 9:13 a.m. PST

Also, if iron axles were not better than wooden ones, why would anyone build an iron axle? They already had the wooden axle. Obviously, the iron was an improvement.

Chuvak Inactive Member20 Mar 2010 12:56 p.m. PST

Widowson,

"The math will out."
OK

1. Let's compare muzzle velcoities.
The maximum muzzle velocity with a full 2-livre charge was 249 m/sec for a French Gribeauval obusier de 6 pouces.
The typical muzzle velocity for a Russian unicorn was 365 m/sec.
Sources:
link
link
link
link
This is not surprising, as the Russian guns were much longer, used more powder, used a conical * (as opposed to cylindrical) burn chamber, and had similar windage and similar weight of round.
* see drawing:
picture

3. Let's recall the comparative max elevations (from above):
The Russian unicorns elevated to 16.75 degrees.
The French obusiers elevated to 18 degrees.

3. I like math:
Since the Russian and French projectiles are essentially similar, the range to first graze and height attained by the round are a function of the muzzle velocity and the angle of elevation. If V is the muzzle velocity, and E the angle of elevation, then range R = k * (V2/g) sin 2E and the maximum height H = (R/4) tan E, where g is the acceleration of gravity and k<1 is the effect of air resistance.

For the Russian unicorns, R = 7503 * k meters and H = 565 * k meters
For French obusiers, R = 3718 * k meters and H = 302 * k meters
(remember, k<1, for air resistance)

So, the Russian pieces shoot farther and higher than the French ones.

Chuvak

Chuvak Inactive Member20 Mar 2010 1:12 p.m. PST

Widowson,

Wrought iron axles crack too easily in the Russian cold weather. Iron cracking in cold weather was a big problem in north Europe unitl more modern alloys were developed.

jstor.org/pss/36728

The French designed their axles for good weather.
The Russians designed their axles for the cold weather in their country.

The French went to Russia and tried to fight in the winter.
The French took many hundreds of guns and carriages with them – and lost almost all of them.
So much for "improvements".

Chuvak

10th Marines Inactive Member20 Mar 2010 2:45 p.m. PST

Funny that, the iron axels of the French artillery vehicles didn't seem to have any trouble in eastern Europe in 1806-1807, not in the Austerlitz campaign in late 1805.

In all the artillery material that I have read for the period, such as Boulart's and Noel's memoirs, there is no mention of having trouble with their axels in a catastrophic manner so as to hinder operations in any way. French artillery performed superbly in late November at the Berezina and, once again, outshot and outperformed the Russian artillery.

The French lost most of their artillery in Russia mainly from two reasons: first, horses died in large numbers, and second, French horses were not shod properly for winter and when the underfed and exhausted gun teams tried to pull the guns and vehicles up the ridge outside of Vilna the horses finally gave out.

Neither Ken Alder (Engineering the Revolution: Arms and Enlightenment in France 1763-1815) nor Howard Rosen (The Systeme Gribeauval: A Study of Technological Development and Institutional Change in eighteenth Century France) mention any problems with the iron axel except that it was heavier than the older, more fragile, wooden ones, that they failed much less often, and took longer to repair. Rosen also mentions that they added to the stability of the gun carriage which was a definite aid when the piece was in action.

The Russians may have kept the wooden axel because of technological deficencies in their manufacturing process. Their artillery equipment is still inferior to that of the western European nations and the United States and this may be an early indicator of that recurring problem (for example, their modern gunners' quadrants are greatly inferior to those of the US and Great Britain, as are the optics (sights) on their field artillery systems).

The Russian gun carriages were copies of what the Austrians and Prussians had, the older straight type of gun carriage from the 1740s. Further, the screw quoin, developed by LtCol von Holtzman for the Prussian service (see Christopher Duffy, The Army of Frederick the Great, revised edition, page 175), was not as efficient as the elevating screw introduced for the French by Gribeaval for two reasons, the elevating screw did not have to be readjusted after firing and the screw quoin had to have one of the artillermen 'lean' on it to give it aid. It was also, based on experience, less efficient as an older model of elevating device, the elevating screw having a mechanical advantage over it. Finally, Gribeauval, having built and tested both Austrian and Prussian field pieces for tests in France (Descheel, page 6) decided on a newer, more reliable system. Further, Gribeauval had experience with both the Prussian and Austrian artillery, knew their shortcomings, and designed his new field artillery system to be superior to them.

As for the questions regarding the initial use of the wooden axel and the screw quoin for the first model of his new howitzer, it should be noted that both Tousard and Rosen mention that all French field artillery vehicles had iron axels and that the screw quoin was later replaced by the newer elevating screw.

Sincerely,
K

10th Marines Inactive Member20 Mar 2010 2:47 p.m. PST

It should also be noted, I think, that most Russian campaigning and fighting in the last half of the eighteenth century and the early nineteenth century took place either against the Turks or in central or western Europe. The only winter campaign they engaged in during that period was in 1812 and they suffered from the elements as much as the French did, with the exception of the Cossacks and other Russian 'frontiersmen.'

Sincerely,
K

10th Marines Inactive Member20 Mar 2010 2:52 p.m. PST

'The Russians especially had a good look and and careful review prior to the issuance of their 1805 system. It appears that these French "innovations" were generally not considered robust, reliable and/or sufficiently easy to maintain. One assumes that conditions of extreme cold, snow, mud, hot summers, etc. were included in the context of the Russian design reviews.'

'Perhaps, like much of the "French war machine", the French artillery designs were optimized for short, spring-summer campaigns in rather economically developed places like the Rhineland and the Piedmont. When applied to multiyear conflicts, far from France, amid a hostile populations in un-developed lands, and with more extreme weather (Spain, Poland/Russia), this optimizaion proved ill-chosen.'

Do you have a source for these two rather sweeping (and somewhat inaccurate) statements? Where did you come up with the idea that the French army was designed for short campaigns? Napoleon definitely preferred short, decisive campaigns for in the long run they were less expensive in manpower and other assets. But I have not seen any comments by competent authorities that the Grande Armee was designed for short campaigns. If that was so, there was no way the French could have fought almost continuously for twenty-three years against just about everyone at one time or another.

Further, Rosen comments that the Gribeauval field artillery system was designed for a war of maneuver and that it was designed for wars of the future and not of past wars. Nothing is mentioned of short ones.

I would submit, though, that soldiers in general prefer short wars, but have to be prepared to fight long ones.

Sincerely,
K

summerfield Inactive Member20 Mar 2010 3:19 p.m. PST

Dear Chuvak
Certainly interesting comments upon iron axles that certainly need further investigation. The overhaul of the Russian Iron Industry by Gascoigne formerly of the Caron Company of Scotland in the 1790s meant that Russia had the technology to pursue using iron axles.

There were problems with the Gribeauval iron axles in 1765-70 and reports of them breaking. Alas I cannot recall much that has come down to us. It is interesting that the French did not seem to carry spair iron axles but lashed a wooden axle underneath see Dawson and Summerfield (2008).

The thoughts over the brittleness of the cast iron axle certainly rings some bells with me over the problems with the metallurgy and the Gribeauval axle being over twice the weight of the British iron axle that was surounded in a wooden axle.

Another consideration is the different wood that the French and the Russian built their carriages in let alone the consideration of keeping the weight down which was one of the most important considerations against the Seven Years War Russian Ordnance that was used early in the Revolutionary Wars.

Having used the Richtsmachine and Gribeauval Elevating Screw. I prefer the former as being simpler and less problematic in operation. Again that is very subjective. Due to the weight of the breach acting on the Gribeauval elevating screw, depression of the gun required the rammer to lean on the barrel or the use of trail spikes. However elevating was assisted by the weight. This way round is deprimental as targets advancing towards the guns require the guns to depress.

It is interesting looking at the temperatures of operation neglecting to consider the wars over Finland and the horendous winter in the Caucus etc… Russia is a contental country so suffers from extremes in temeratures.

Another consideration is that wooden axles can be repaired by any competant and experience carpenter with materials at hand. The cast iron axle cannot. Logistics is a large consideration when dealing with Russia. Another is the expense of iron axles to a country that is limited

As already been stated the Russian material, carriages and guns were lighter than the Gribeauval ordnance. This is particularly true for the limbers and ammunition carts. I remember Wilson commenting upon this.
Stephen

10th Marines Inactive Member20 Mar 2010 3:42 p.m. PST

Stephen,

Weight is not the only determination of how good a field piece is. The weight of the Gribeauval 8- and 12-pounders was counterbalanced by the mechanical advantage given to the pieces by the iron axel, the large artillery wheels, and the brass housings in the wheels which lessened friction.

Not to be either insulting or rude, I always take reenactor 'evidence' with a large grain of salt. They are not trained soldiers, reenacting isn't soldiering, and while useful and probably a lot of fun, the historical value can be suspect.

Sincerely,
K

Chuvak Inactive Member20 Mar 2010 4:18 p.m. PST

K,

"In all the artillery material that I have read for the period, such as Boulart's and Noel's memoirs, there is no mention of having trouble with their axels in a catastrophic manner"
Gee, maybe they didn't understand the details of metallury well enough to figure it out – as the British and Swedish writers noted in the linked article did. Or maybe the Russians killed all the horses and the gunners before the axles started breaking.
Anyway, the fact remains that wrought iron under stress at -25 degrees C and lower tends to fracture. It is often that cold in Russia. Hence iron axles would not be much of an "improvement" if you proposed to ever use the carriages in those temperatures. Can we possibly imagine that someone in Russia stopped beating the serfs and sobered up long enough to think about this and decide to use wooden axles becasue they would work better through cold winters ?
You will also note that your supposed sources are writing about "France" – see the titles – not Russia, where it is cold in the winter.
This may come as a shock to you , but there other writers about artillery than those in English or French (I assume here you know French, althogh it is not so clear sometimes). In "all the artillery material that you have read", how much of it was written in Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish or Russian (places where, you see, it is cold in the winter)?

"The Russians may have kept the wooden axel because of technological deficencies in their manufacturing process."
Have you anything but your strange bias to even suggest that a nation capable of casting cannon, making rather nice rifles and even ships-of-the-line (not so great, but passable) – that this nation could not manage to make an axle in metal ?

"Their artillery equipment is still inferior …. systems."
Absurdly anachronistic. Only off by 200 years. But hey, if it fits your biases, why not toss it in, eh?
Oh, and "News Flash" : the Cold War is over.

Your miracle French screw quoin – which the Russians tested and then proactively de-selected in favor of the screw-activated wedge, as the latter was more robust and reliable – the French screw quoin would not be made of wrought (or cast) iron or anything else likely to crack under stress in the cold, would it ? Oh dear, it sure looks to me like the load bearing parts are iron in the drawings. Fancy that.

"Where did you come up with the idea that the French army was designed for short campaigns?"
From their abject failures in long campaigns (Russia, Spain, Naval War with Britain) compared to their stunning successes in short campigns (1800 Italy, 1805 Austria, 1806 Prussia).

"The weight of the Gribeauval 8- and 12-pounders was counterbalanced by the mechanical advantage given to the pieces by the iron axel, the large artillery wheels, and the brass housings in the wheels which lessened friction."
Care to provide any side-by-side testing data or arithmetic calculation ot support that ? Or is it just more biased "French are best" fantasies that you created for yourself ?

As a former bearing designer, I really think that the suet lubricant was the (fluid) bearing surface for all these designs. If the iron rubbed on the "brass", it would wear it away rather quickly, as it is harder and would be born down upon the brass housing by the weight of the carriage and gun. Also, absent a fluid layer, understanding that the coefficient of thermal expansion of the red brass of the era was about twice that of the wrought iron – I don't see why the French wheel didn't sieze as it warmed up : unless it was actually the suet that was the bearing surface, filling a rather substantial (by modern usage) gap between the two metals.
Then there is the issue of galvanic corrosion betwen dissimilar metals ….
Really, its the suet – I am pretty sure.

K, we know you love Gribeauval and the French – that French are +1 on all dice rolls – that it's all on page xxx of "Swords …." – blah, blah, blah. I just thought others might want a little more information to make their own comparisons.

Sincerely,
C

10th Marines Inactive Member20 Mar 2010 5:04 p.m. PST

Chuvak,

It is too bad that you cannot conduct a civil conversation. It is an indicator of not being able to conduct one or that you haven't any or enough evidence on your part to conduct one when you have to resort to sarcasm, condescension, and rudeness in your response to a posting. That is a definite indicator that you cannot back up your own assertions and opinions.

I do ask you to stop your rude and consdescending behavior on the forum. It is unseemly and wrong and the only one you're making look bad is yourself. Otherwise, I have nothing else to say to you except that much of your 'information' is incorrect and your conclusions are nonsense and quite inaccurate.

It is true that I admire Napoleon and the Grande Armee. It is also true that no other army could have conducted itself they way the Grande Armee did during the long wars. No one nation could defeat it-there had to be a coalition and the backing of subsidies from England.

Sincerely,
K

Steven H Smith Inactive Member20 Mar 2010 5:20 p.m. PST

K,

It is too bad that you cannot conduct a civil conversation. It is an indicator of not being able to conduct one or that you haven't any or enough evidence on your part to conduct one when you have to resort to sarcasm, condescension, and rudeness in your response to a posting. That is a definite indicator that you cannot back up your own assertions and opinions.

I do ask you to stop your rude and consdescending behavior on the forum. It is unseemly and wrong and the only one you're making look bad is yourself. Otherwise, I have nothing else to say to you except that much of your 'information' is incorrect and your conclusions are nonsense and quite inaccurate.

Sincerely,

B

Chuvak Inactive Member20 Mar 2010 7:32 p.m. PST

K,

Thanks for your interest in me. I am flattered. However, I am not part of Napoleonic history. Nor am I a wargame or a miniature.

How about answering the questions put to you, instead of ducking them ?

I copy them below for reference.

Sincerely,
C

1. In "all the artillery material that you have read", how much of it was written in Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish or Russian (places where, you see, it is cold in the winter)?

2. Have you anything but your strange bias to even suggest that a nation capable of casting cannon, making rather nice rifles and even ships-of-the-line (not so great, but passable) – that this nation could not manage to make an axle in metal ?

3. [T]he French screw quoin would not be made of wrought (or cast) iron or anything else likely to crack under stress in the cold, would it ?

4. K writes : "The weight of the Gribeauval 8- and 12-pounders was counterbalanced by the mechanical advantage given to the pieces by the iron axel, the large artillery wheels, and the brass housings in the wheels which lessened friction."
Care to provide any side-by-side testing data or arithmetic calculation ot support that ?

Steven H Smith Inactive Member20 Mar 2010 7:47 p.m. PST

Chuey,

Are you being 'consdescending' again?

Sincerely,

B

Chuvak Inactive Member20 Mar 2010 8:06 p.m. PST

B,

I don't know what to think.

It is hard to stop crying after reading 711 words (plus 2 deleted expletives) on another thread about my evil ways. When I can pull myself together, I am sure I will realize that the 175 additonal words here are equally full of wisdom and sound guidance.

Shattered, but still sincere,
C

summerfield Inactive Member21 Mar 2010 1:20 a.m. PST

Dear Chuvak
Thank you for your very interesting and enlightening information. Alas my ability with Russian or Scandinavian languages are not very proficient.

Being a Chemist, I certainly understand the problems of cast iron and many of its forms depending upon impurities. Production of cast iron with charcoal under the correct conditions to produce high enough temperatures in the blast furnace produces low sulphur cast iron that is more ductile and harder. The best examples are the Wealdon cast iron of the mid 18th century. Alas the Weald in southern England was denuded of trees and coke was then introduced. However the coke had high levels of sulphur which made brittle and hence less ductile iron. The failure of British guns resulted especially the Carron company.

The speed of cooling greatly effects the crystal structure of cast iron. Spanish and French cast iron pieces of the 16th to 18th were cooled quickly so had areas of crystallisation that weakened them. I am not as yet sure of the processes post 1760 when Maritz took over cannon production. The quality of French cast iron that lagged behind Britian was greatly improved by British assistance in the 1780s.

Russia lagged behind this until they employed Gascoigne from the Carron company in the 1780s. He introduced the horizontal boring machine and this was first applied to Russian Ordnance for the 1805 system. It should be noted that much of the changes were carried out before this date and this is a ratification date. In addition, the quality of the Russian gunpowder was greatly improved.

Weight ratio of shot to gun tube metal is very useful. Gribeauval guns were designed in the 1760s and the Arackcheev system in the 1800s. There had been a considerable improvement in casting techniques, the understanding of and quality assurance in casting barrels. This permitted lighter gun tubes despite the 10-25% increase in power of the gunpowder. More energy was dissapated as recoil, heat and sound. Remember that gunpowder's quality is to do with the quality of the ingredients and the processing. France suffered by guilotining the Chemist Lavoisier.

Russian Medium 12-pdr 143:1
Russian Short 12-pdr 95:1
French Gribeauval 12-pdr 160:1

French Gribeauval 8-pdr 145:1
Russian 6-pdr 129:1
French Gribeauval 4-pdr 150:1

In all cases the Russian gun barrels are lighter than the Gribeauval system. There are no reports of their failure in battle for being so light. The light 12-pdr was lighter than the Gribeuval 8-pdr. Carriages are approximately the same weight as the gun tube. Those with iron axles are even heavier.

Chuvak would be interested in discussing this off-line so something can come of these important insights and test their validity.

Stephen

10th Marines Inactive Member21 Mar 2010 5:14 a.m. PST

'plus 2 deleted expletives'

Unfortunately for your argument, you're wrong again. I don't use expletives on the forums. The word that I did use twice was the more colorful word for 'donkey' which can also be defined as 'fool.' It has seven letters, the first syllable being 'jack.' It is neither swearing, an expletive, nor vulgar. It is, however, very expressive and the shortened form, which is the last syllable, is used in the Bible.

Sincerely,
K

Chuvak Inactive Member21 Mar 2010 8:48 a.m. PST

K,

141 more words about me.
No repsonses to the 4 direct questions about Napoléon artillery – still ducking these, one supposes.

Still counting, sincerely counting,
C

10th Marines Inactive Member21 Mar 2010 11:20 a.m. PST

Chuvak,

I've already responded to the artillery series. Here is a bibliography for you to peruse that might be of some help in your study of Napoleonic artillery. They are all in my personal library if you need information from them.

Sincerely,
K

Anonymous, Maneuvres des Batteries de Campagne pour L'Artillerie de la Garde Imperiale, Thionville: 1812.

Anonymous, Petit Manuel de Canonier, Paris: 1810.

Belidor, Bernard Forest de, Le Bombardier Francaise, Paris, De L'Imprimerie Royale, 1771.

Belidor, Bernard Forest de, Oeuvres Diverses de M. Belidor: Concernant L'Artillerie et le Genie, Amsterdam: Arkstee et Merkus, 1754.

Boulart, Bon, Memoires Militaires du General Bon Boulart sur les Guerres de La Republique et de L'Empire, Paris: La Librarie Illustree, no date.

Du Teil, Jean, The New Use of Artillery in Field Wars, Westchester: The Nafziger Collection, 2003.

D'Urtubie, Theodore, Manuel de L'Artilleur, Paris: 1794.

Fave, Ildephonse, The Emperor Napoleon's New System of Field Artillery, as Submitted to the French Service, London: Parker, Furnival, & Parker, 1854.

Gassendi, Jean-Jacques Basilien de, Aide-Memoire a l'usage des Officiers d'Artillerie attaches au service de Terre, Paris: Chez Magimel, Anselin et Pochard, 1819.

Girod de L'Ain, Maurice, Grands Artilleurs: Drouot, Senarmont, Eble, Paris: Berger-Levrault et Cie, 1895.

Graves, Donald E., editor, DeScheel's Treatise of Artillery, Ottawa: Museum Restoration Service, 1984.

Hulot, M., Instruction sur le Service de L'Artillerie, Paris: Magimel, 1813.

Kosciusko, Tadeuz, Maneuvers of Horse Artillery, New York, 1808.

LeBlond, Guillaume, Treatise of Artillery, 1746, Ottawa: Museum Restoration Service, 1970.

Officier du Corps, Essai sur L'Usage de L'Artillerie: Dans la Guerre de Campagne et dans celle de Sieges, Amsterdam: Arckstee et Merkus, 1771.

Persy, N., Elementary Treatise on the Forms of Cannon and Various Systems of Artillery, Ottawa: Museum Restoration Service, 1979.

Robins, Benjamin, New Principles of Gunnery, London: Wingrave, 1805.

Tousard, Louis de, American Artillerist's Companion, Westport: Greenwood, 1969.

Yermelov, Alexy, The Czar's General: The Memoirs of a Russian General in the Napoleonic Wars, edited by Alexander Mikaberidze, London: Ravenhall, 2005.

Secondary Sources

Alder, Ken, Engineering the Revolution: Arms and Enlightenment in France, 1763-1815, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997.

Artz, Frederick B., The Development of Technical Education in France 1500-1850, Cambridge, MIT Press, 1966.

Elting, John, Swords Around A Throne: Napoleon's Grande Armee, New York: The Free Press, 1988.

Esposito, Vincent J. and Elting, John R. A Military History and Atlas of the Napoleonic Wars, New York: Greenhill, 1999.

Griffith, Paddy, The Art of War of Revolutionary France, London: Greenhill, 1998.

Hennebert, Gribeauval, Lieutenant-General des Armess du Roy, Paris, 1896.

Houssaye, Henry, Napoleon and the Campaign of 1815: Waterloo, London: Naval and Military Press, 2004.

Hughes, BP, Firepower: Weapons Effectiveness on the Battlefield, 1630-1850, London: Arms and Armour Press, 1974.

Hughes, BP, Open Fire: Artillery Tactics from Marlborough to Wellington, Chichester: Antony Bird Publications, 1983.

Hughes, BP, Smooth-Bore Artillery: The Muzzle Loading Artillery of the 18th and 19th Centuries, London: Arms and Armour Press, 1969.

Kiley, Kevin F., Artillery of the Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815, London: Greenhill, 2004.

Lachouque, Henry, and Brown, Anne, The Anatomy of Glory, London: Greenhill, 1997.

Lauerma, Matti, L'Artillerie de Campagne Francaise Pendant les Guerres de la Revolution: Evolution de l'Organization et de la Tactique, Helsinki, 1956.

Litre, Emile Francois, Les Regiments d'Artillerie a Pied de la Garde, Paris: 1895.

Lombares, Michel de, L'Histoire de la Artillerie Francaise, Paris: Charles-Lavauzelle, 1984.

Lynn, John A., The Bayonets of the Republic, Motivation and Tactics in the Army of Revolutionary France, 1791-1794, Boulder: Westview Press, 1996.

Nafziger, George, Imperial Bayonets, London: Greenhill, 1996.

Nardin, Pierre, Gribeauval, Lieutenant general des armees du roi (1715-1789), Paris: Fondation pour les etudes de defense nationale, 1981).

Naulet, Frederic, L'Artillerie Francaise (1665-1765) Naissance d'une Arme, Paris: Economica, 2002.

Peterson, Harold K., Roundshot and Rammers: An Introduction to Muzzle-Loading Land Artillery in the United States, Harrisburg: Stackpole, 1969.

Picard, Ernest, L'Artillerie Francaise au Dix-Huit Siecle, Paris: Berger-Levrault et Cie, 1906.

Quimby, Robert, The Background of Napoleonic Warfare, New York: Columbia University Press, 1957.

Ropes, John Codman, The Campaign of Waterloo, A Military History, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1893.

Roquerol, G., L'Artillerie au Debut des Guerres de la Revolution, Paris: 1898.

Saski, Commandant, Campagne de 1809 en Allemagne et en Autriche, Tome I, Paris: Berger-Levrault et Cie, 1899.

Siborne, W., History of the Waterloo Campaign, London: Greenhill, 1995.

Articles

Becke, AF, Friedland, Magenta Publications, 1991.

Carnet de la Sabretache, Volume 3, ‘Le 7e Corps a Eylau', Paris: 1895.

Carnet de la Sabretache, Volume 5, ‘Un pelerinage du bord de la Beresina', Paris: 1897.

Carnet de la Sabretache, Volume 5, ‘Bataille de Friedland (Journal d'operations du 1st corps de la Grande Armee', Paris: 1897.

Carnet de la Sabretache, Deuxieme Serie, Volume 7, ‘Le passage du grand Saint-Bernard', Paris: 1908.

Graves, Donald E., ‘Louis de Tousard and his Artillerist's Companion: An Investigation of Source Material for Napoleonic Period Ordnance,' Ottawa: Arms Collecting, 1983.

Kiley, Kevin F., ‘The Cannon's Breath: Jean-Baptiste de Gribeauval and the Development of the French Artillery Arm 1763-1789,' First Empire Magazine, Volume 81, Summer 2005.

MacLannan, Ken, ‘Liechtenstein and Gribeauval: ‘Artillery Revolution' in Political and Cultural Context,' War and History, Volume 10, Issue 3, July 2003.

McConachy, Bruce, ‘The Roots of Artillery Doctrine: Napoleonic Artillery Tactics Reconsidered,' The Journal of Military History: Volume 65, Number 3, 617-640, July 2001.

Rosen, Howard, ‘The Systeme Gribeauval: A Study of Technological Development and Institutional Change in Eighteenth Century France,' PHD Dissertation, University of Chicago, 1981

Ruty, Charles-Etienne-Francois, ‘Observations on the Part of the System AN XI Related to the Subdivision Scale of the Calibers of the Pieces of Ordnance for the Field and Siege Equipment Companies,' Scott Bowden, translator, Carton 2w84, Archives du Service Historique de l'Etat-Major de l'Armee de Terre, Vincennes.

Chuvak Inactive Member21 Mar 2010 1:30 p.m. PST

K,

56 works listed :

…. 1/3 primary, of which
…….. 52% in French
…….. 48% in English
…….. none in any other language
…. 2/3 secondary/tertiary
…….. 27% in French (of which almost half magazine articles)
…….. 73% in English (including two that you wrote yourself)
…….. none in any other language
…….. 42% about artillery or an artillerist, Gribeauval (not counting your own works)
…….. 58% about batles, campaigns or other general topics

This is not exactly impressive, you know ? Or, to be more charitable, it is certainly understandable that you have developed some rather odd opinions and marked biases.

I take it that you do have French. Do you know German, Russian, Spanish or any of the Scandanavian languages?

For example, I struggle with Finnish, and would be the very first person to admit that this presents a great handicap in understanding the history of Finland. The view of Finnish history that you get by reading Russian, German and Swedish works is, at best, incomplete and, at worst, quite biased.

In any case, you have provided great insight with your list into why you seem to have such large gaps in your understanding of artillery. Thank you for your frankness. Perhaps you will, upon reflection, be less assertive or "sure" of your opinions, in recognition of these gaps.

Sincerely,
C

10th Marines Inactive Member21 Mar 2010 2:16 p.m. PST

Again, which works are 'tertiary?' I only have listed primary and secondary works.

This is a partial listing of what I have on artillery. I also have German, Spanish, Russian, and Polish material, if that helps.

Sincerely,
K

Chuvak Inactive Member21 Mar 2010 6:24 p.m. PST

K,

What works in Polish do you have about artillery of the Napoleonic era ?
Are you fluent in Polish ?

Thanks,
C

10th Marines Inactive Member21 Mar 2010 6:42 p.m. PST

It's a survey work with some nice uniform and equipment plates in it. I am not even conversant in Polish and the book is in French and English, sometimes mirroring the captions that are in Polish. Something new to learn. I bought the book over the internet from a bookseller in Warsaw and he has been very gracious and helpful over the years.

Sincerely,
K

Chuvak Inactive Member21 Mar 2010 9:13 p.m. PST

K,

Did you see a copy of the Chelminski-Malibran in Warsaw ?
There are a few there that were not destroyed or sold over the years.
link

Anyway, the question was about, you know, artillery.

The thing that gets this going is when you toss off little pro-French snippets as if they are facts, beyond dispute. If you added something like "according to French and modern English writers" or "in my opinion" or similar, it would not grate so much. You have alot to offer everybody here, if you could just stop beating your drum and bring a little more detail and balance to your posts. Then we could all work together on finding new information.

OK, off to beat some serfs – hope that vodka for beakfast is nice and cold, I must be as drunk as my co-workers before getting to work, you know.
:-)

Chuey

1968billsfan Supporting Member of TMP31 Jan 2019 10:22 a.m. PST

Reading old posts. Thank you Chuvak for your contributions.
Mr. Shovel.

Nine pound round31 Jan 2019 11:59 a.m. PST

With all these resurrected technical artillery threads, somebody is bound to get dawghoused.

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