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"question range of grapeshot/cannister round" Topic


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1,499 hits since 3 Apr 2011
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wardog03 Apr 2011 12:07 p.m. PST

guys
what was the range of grapeshot/cannister round fired from a napolean 12 pounder

Femeng2 Inactive Member04 Apr 2011 4:08 a.m. PST

Napoleon's gunners stretched theirs to open fire at about 800 from 12 pounders. Most everyone else did so at a max of 350 yds

bgbboogie04 Apr 2011 6:42 a.m. PST

There a reference to the guns of D'Erlon Corps (8lbers) firing grape at the ridge and effectively scoring hits, this range is 450 – 500yards.

Hope this helps

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Inactive Member04 Apr 2011 6:48 a.m. PST

It depends on the size of the balls in the tin and the charge behind it. Austrian 12pdrs could fire out to 1000 paces (630m) with 32 Loth balls, but 12Loth were only getting to 700 paces. (440m). Out beuond about 800 paces, it was hard to see the target anyway.

Trajanus04 Apr 2011 10:34 a.m. PST

"It depends on the size of the balls in the tin"

I've often thought that.

1968billsfan Supporting Member of TMP04 Apr 2011 6:13 p.m. PST

The initial muzzle velocity of the balls, the weight of the balls (iron not lead) and the "elevation" of the barrel go most of the way in determining the effective range.

Cannister was mean to hit the ground just at the feet of the start of the enemy main unit and then bounce throught the ranks. It is not a "direct fire" weapon. Like roundshot it is a bounce thu the enemy ranks weapons. Cannon were basically leveled at the enemy and fired as fast as possible through a cloud of smoke. Slight changes in elevation, which were not appararent to the firers (a 3 degree slope at 200 yards was not apparent). A lot of rounds went overhead, a lot stuck in the ground, be the dispersion factors meant that some always hit, and each hit went through several humans. At 300 yards you can line up a cannon barrel to point right at a line or column of approaching enemy. You are goint to be close to right on to the target.

RockyRusso Inactive Member05 Apr 2011 9:32 a.m. PST

Hi

round ball dynamics shed speed like crazy. Meaning if you are using musket balls, you have musket range.

Rocky

boomstick86 Inactive Member05 Apr 2011 11:54 a.m. PST

Canister shot was richoceted? I really had no idea. I thought that it was cast from lead and would deform too much upon hitting the ground. Am I incorrect?

10th Marines Inactive Member05 Apr 2011 2:34 p.m. PST

'Cannister was mean to hit the ground just at the feet of the start of the enemy main unit and then bounce throught the ranks.'

No, it wasn't. It was an anti-personnel round that burst in the bore as it exited the gun tube and acted as a giant shotgun. The optimum way to fire the round for best effect was to have the canister balls hit the target on the fly, not after richocheting.

There were two sizes of canister for the French field artillery pieces-large and small. The large canister for the 8- and 12-pounder was composed of 112 iron balls, the small canister for those two calibers was composed of 41 iron balls. For the 4-pounder, the canister had 63 and 41 iron balls, respectively.

'It is not a "direct fire" weapon. Like roundshot it is a bounce thu the enemy ranks weapons'

Canister wasn't a 'weapon' it was ammunition, an artillery round. All artillery of the period was direct fire, as the gunners had to see their targets to hit it. Both roundshot and canister could be employed in richochet, which effectively doubled the range of the round, but that was a secondary mode of firing, not a primary one.

'Canister shot was richoceted?'

Yes-canister with iron balls can be very effective in richochet depending on the condition of the ground, which needed to be hard and compact. Plowed ground, as well as muddy, wet, or soggy ground, cut down the effectiveness of richochet fire.

'I thought that it was cast from lead and would deform too much upon hitting the ground.'

Some canister was initially made with lead balls, but the lead tended to melt in the gun tube and come out a solid mass which negated the effect sought from canister. The French experiemented with lead and iron canister balls and found the iron canister balls to be much more effective on target.

The French found that the maximum range for large canister for 12-, 8-, and 4-pounders to be 855, 534, and 427 yards, respectively. For small canister, the maximum effective ranges were 641, 534, and 427 yards, respectively. For maximum effect of any canister round for 12-, 8-, and 4-pounders the ranges were 800 yards, 700 yards, and 600 yards (or less), respectively with good effect on target.

K

1968billsfan Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2017 5:47 a.m. PST

You should consider the ballistics of these round balls. They slow down greatly and sink to the ground quickly with distance traveled. You want them to hit a 6 foot high man and not go over their heads. Yes they aimed at the knees rather than risk shooting everything over the heads of the enemy. How accurate do you think a 3/4 ton smoothbore is, when firing after recoil into a cloud of smoke?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2017 7:32 a.m. PST

There are two excellent examples of firing canister against attacking cavalry, one in 1807 and one in 1813.

Senarmont at Friedland was attacked on the left flank of his large battery by Russian Guard cavalry, and the gunners got off two rounds of canister each, which destroyed the charge.

Drouot at Hanau in 1813 fired canister at attacking allied cavalry causing heavy loss and only a relative few made the French gunline, where the gunners defended their pieces with musket, bayonet, handspikes and rammers. The remains of the allied cavalry were driven off by counterattacking Grenadiers a Cheval.

The usual French practice was to fire by piece-volley fire was discouraged because of the smoke problem. In the two above situations the gunners would be loading and firing as fast as possible. And perhaps double-shotted canister was used with one round of powder.

After firing and recoil, guns were not only rolled back into their previous position, but were relayed and pointed and good, well-trained gunners would be used to the drill.

So, regarding accuracy, French gunners trained and fought the same guns and would be used to them and well-trained gun crews would get off accurate fire with their pieces. And it should be remembered that French sights/optics were excellent and simple to use. In a hurry, I don't see any problem with them getting off up to six rounds per minute in an emergency.

I've seen that done on direct fire with modern 155mm howitzers and it should be noted that crew drill and loading/firing a modern howitzer is not that different from ca 1800. You still have to swab, use a primer, and the round is much heavier, about 95 pounds.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2017 8:13 a.m. PST

The French found that the maximum range for large canister for 12-, 8-, and 4-pounders to be 855, 534, and 427 yards, respectively. For small canister, the maximum effective ranges were 641, 534, and 427 yards, respectively. For maximum effect of any canister round for 12-, 8-, and 4-pounders the ranges were 800 yards, 700 yards, and 600 yards. (or less), respectively with good effect on target.

Brechtel/10th Marines:

Those numbers bolded don't match, maximum range and range for 'maximum effect', particularly when many artillerists of the period, French or Russian saw 1000 yards as the limit to 'effective artillery fire' for all types of ammo.

Supercilius Maximus15 Apr 2017 10:37 a.m. PST

A bit late to be spotting this now, but was the OP referring to Napoleonic 12-pdrs, or to the ACW 12-pdr Napoleon cannon?

Here's a modern-day ACW "Napoleon" firing canister as part of an exercise to work out the positioning of guns based on "fall of shot" on various battlefields, and to give an idea of the spread of canister when fired. Interesting that several of the rounds showed a distinct lack of "spread" and struck the ground in a fairly narrow cone.

YouTube link

And here's an 18th Century version, with Dan Snow lighting the blue touch paper…

YouTube link
During the Napoleonic period, British artillery used either "tiered case" (0.68" calibre balls stacked in rows, or "common case/canister" (increasingly replaced by "tiered" during this period) where the balls were packed randomly in sawdust. Typical loads were defined as "light" or "heavy" and these were 15 and 42 balls for medium guns (12-, heavy 6- and heavy 3-pdrs), and 12 or 34 balls for light guns (light 6- and light 3-pdrs). Heavy case was usually used from about 400 yards, with light being used for the last two rounds before the enemy reached the guns.

British artillery tended to "double shot" (canister over the top of round shot) in the last 60 yards of an enemy advance. Dickson, in 1812, recorded using tiered case at 800 yards.

Carl Frankin's "British Napoleonic Field Artillery" has tables for numbers of hits anticipated (based on trials in 1803 and 1806) from various types of canister.

Personal logo Weasel Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2017 10:40 a.m. PST

Most i've seen seems to suggest 300ish yards a typical range.

Anyone got the muzzle velocity compared to a musket ball?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2017 2:00 p.m. PST

Those numbers bolded don't match, maximum range and range for 'maximum effect', particularly when many artillerists of the period, French or Russian saw 1000 yards as the limit to 'effective artillery fire' for all types of ammo.

The ranges that I posted are from the period French artillery manuals.

The maximum effective range for roundshot was 1050 yards, according to Duteil in his Usage. It is available on line.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2017 5:17 p.m. PST

The ranges that I posted are from the period French artillery manuals.

The maximum effective range for roundshot was 1050 yards, according to Duteil in his Usage. It is available on line.


So,"the maximum range for large canister for 12-, 8-, and 4-pounders to be 855, 534, and 427 yards," but "For maximum effect of any canister round for 12-, 8-, and 4-pounders the ranges were 800 yards, 700 yards, and 600 yards. (or less), respectively with good effect on target."

Are you saying you saying that French artillery manuals state the range of Large canister for maximum effect is beyond the maximum range of 8 and 4 lber canister rounds?

Maximum range for 12/8/4 lbers 855, 534, and 427 yards
Maximum effect range 800 700 and 600 yards

And as you and I have noted, the considered effective range for round shot was 1050 yards, it makes you wonder why so little canister was carried compared to round shot when the 'maximum effect' of canister was only 200 to 400 less than round shot.

OR are those ranges just typos?

Allan F Mountford15 Apr 2017 10:26 p.m. PST

I am sure Kevin intended to indicate the limit of canister ranges when some effect would be achieved. Gassendi suggested 900m, 800m and 700m as a general maximum range for roundshot for 12pdr, 8pdr and 4pdr cannon, respectively, with canister proportionately less.
I think part of the reason for limited canister useage is observing effect. Roundshot ploughing up the ground in front of or even within a target might be visible at ranges where canister would not.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP16 Apr 2017 6:48 a.m. PST

McLaddie,

Do you have source material for your suppositions on canister range?

Who were the 'many' French and Russian artillerymen to whom you refer?

Have you actually looked up the material in the subject artillery manuals?

DeScheel's manual is on line and there is plenty of material in secondary sources for canister ranges.

And for canister, you can also take into consideration richochet fire on dry ground as the iron balls that make up canister also had a richochet effect as did roundshot.

DeScheel describes the French experiments with iron canister balls in the 1760s when they compared it with lead canister balls.

So, instead of getting into the usual long and involved semantics discussion that usually accompanies a discussion of this sort, perhaps actually looking up the material would be actually more informative and conclusive.

Here is an example of a French firing table from Tousard's American Artillerist's Companion for canister in which the rounds were actually shot. The French developed two types of canister, large and small. The large canister had fewer iron balls in the can, but were larger, and the smaller had more iron balls but were smaller.

Large canister:

For the 12-pounder, 855 yards for large canister and 641 yards for small canister.

For the 8-pounder, 748 yards for large canister and 534 yards for small canister.

For the 4-pounder, 640 yards for large canister and 427 yards for small canister.

Again, if you're not satisfied with this information, which is based on rounds actually fired, then I do suggest that you look it up in the period manuals for yourself.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP16 Apr 2017 7:52 a.m. PST

Kevin:
I really wish you'd just answer the dang question instead of simply throwing out information willy-nilly, repeating yourself and suggesting that I look up some authors on-line.

The question is simple enough:

You have maximum ranges that are shorter by some two hundred yards than 'maximum effect' ranges. "Maximum effect" suggests best, most damaging or most deadly, right?

Tosard, DeScheel, Verner, Duteil, Adye, Khatove ,Kutaisov, etc. etc. etc. all have ranges for canister, which isn't what I questioned, so why you would repeat the ranges for large and small canister, I don't know.

And yes, I can "take into consideration richochet fire", but I haven't seen where contemporaries placed the range for 'maximum effect' beyond 'maximum range.'

For 12 lbers, the maximum effect range is shorter than maximum range by fifty yards, but not so for 8 and 4 lbers by some two hundred yards. 12 lbers did richochet too.

So, is that a typo, or is there somewhere among those authors or others that make that statement and why?

von Winterfeldt16 Apr 2017 11:08 a.m. PST

He cannot even cite as demanded by basic standards, book , author, place and date of publishing and page – DuTeil – I thought it is written in French and indeed my copy is – I cannot see any reference to 1050 yards – in case he cannot come up in any decent quote in French I assume that all his figures are based on immagination or mistranslations.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP16 Apr 2017 9:58 p.m. PST

I think part of the reason for limited canister useage is observing effect. Roundshot ploughing up the ground in front of or even within a target might be visible at ranges where canister would not.

Allan: From the videos and what I've read, canister did a good job of ploughing up the ground and raising dust too. However, I have read that the reason for few canister rounds compared to round shot because round shot went farther, could be aimed and did richochet at long ranges. Canister was a close range , stop the advance kind of ammo. Hughes made a good argument that a round shot would cause far more damage than canister to an infantry formation.

I was just asking for some clarification on one point.


The question is kind of rhetorical. If the canister range for maximum effect is 800 yards for 12 lbers, obviously that is something military men would want. IF maximum effect range for an 8 lber is 534 yards, but maximum effect is 700 yards, how do they ever achieve that?

Firing at level [point blank] would achieve some richochet, but firing even round shot, 700 yards couldn't be achieved at the level. At higher elevations, the less possibility of significant richochet

For instance, for a 12 lber, the ranges achieved at:
1 degree elevation 738 yards
2 degree elevation 1080 yards
3 degree elevation 1376 yards

This is true of 8, 6, and 4 lbers at shorter ranges.

1968billsfan Supporting Member of TMP17 Apr 2017 5:38 a.m. PST

One thing to point out, is that canister gave a pattern of shot that was roughly a circle or cone. From somewhere I recently read (sorry- can't find the reference) that the pattern had a diameter of 30 feet wide for each 100 yards of range. So 10 yards wide at 100 yards, yards wide at 200 yards and 30 yards wide at 300 yards.

That diameter is ~ a 23 degree arc. If you extend both fists out at arms length that covers about 20 degrees- just to give an idea of how wide that is. It is interesting that a 12# napoleon usually has a bore of 4.62" and a bore length of 63.5". If you calculate the angle from one edge of the closed end of the bore to the opposite edge of the muzzle (and double that angle) you get 8.2 degrees, so the 23 degree arc is not that unreasonable.

Okay, now let me defend my statement that gunners usually sought to "bounce" the canister into the target. In lieu of any data saying otherwise, lets assume that the canister rounds are evenly distributed in the shot pattern. If the gunners centered that circle of canister at 3 foot height, then (say tall 6' soldiers), only ~10% of the shot would hit the soldiers directly. ~45% would go overhead and ~45% would hit short and likely bounce into them. Aiming very short of the front rank of the troops would mean that more of that "lost in air" 45% high stuff would hit. Sounds like what they would and should do.

Another thing to consider is that shooting a loud cannon is not like running a pinball machine. When you hit, lights don't flash and bells don't ring. If they fired high and clipped the enemy with just part of the pattern, they would not see how high the "overs" were. Firing low they could definately see the balls kicking up dust and debris in front of the target.

I'll maintain that the practice was to "bounce" the majority of the pattern into the enemy.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP17 Apr 2017 7:41 a.m. PST

I'll maintain that the practice was to "bounce" the majority of the pattern into the enemy.

1968billsfan:

I don't know whether that was a consistent practice or not, but to do that with effect required a lower angle of fire which would reduce the distance of the shot overall, both in where the first bounce would hit, but also the distance because of the drag created by the bounce.

So, that doesn't address my original question to Kevin… other than to make the numbers he gave even more curious.

1968billsfan Supporting Member of TMP17 Apr 2017 8:57 a.m. PST

DELETED

1968billsfan Supporting Member of TMP17 Apr 2017 9:01 a.m. PST

A 12# issued canister at about 1200fps. (Information obtained from The Confederate Ordnance Manual pages 367-369 and The Artillerist Manual pages 455-462)

Doing a 1" lead round ball calculation from black powder site gives the following table. The body of the table shows how many 5 foot "man heights" above or below the muzzle the shot is as a function of target range, for different target zeroing settings. (e.g. the range at which the shot is at the same height as the muzzle).


ranges at 1200fps 1" lead
calibre 1 1 1 1
aim point YARDS 100 200 300 400
fps= 1200 1200 1200 1200
==============================================
0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
20 0.0 0.1 0.2 0.3
40 0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6
60 0.1 0.3 0.5 0.9
80 0.0 0.3 0.7 1.1
100 0.0 0.3 0.8 1.4
120 -0.1 0.3 0.9 1.6
140 -0.2 0.3 0.9 1.7
160 -0.3 0.2 0.9 1.9
180 -0.5 0.1 0.9 2.0
200 -0.7 0.0 0.9 2.1
220 -0.9 -0.2 0.8 2.1
240 -1.2 -0.4 0.7 2.1
260 -1.5 -0.7 0.5 2.0
280 -1.9 -1.0 0.3 1.9
300 -2.3 -1.3 0.0 1.7
320 -2.8 -1.8 -0.3 1.5
340 -3.4 -2.2 -0.7 1.3
360 -4.0 -2.8 -1.2 0.9
380 -4.7 -3.4 -1.7 0.5
400 xxx xxx xxxx 0.0

Notice that if you sight in for 300 yards, then the shot will stay no higher than one man height all the way out to that range. At 400 yards, some problems arise. If you elevate to hit the "ground" at 400 yards, then your shot will be over the heads of the 5' tall man when he is closer than about 350 yards.

As to the angle of the shot at the time that a "short" hit the ground- it is never all that great. It is about 2 degrees to 400 yards and 0.2 degrees at 100 yards. The balls will bounce just fine in either case. The situation will be worse for the less dense iron balls of bigger cross-section- but not so much as to change the conclusions.

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