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"Artillery 'weights'" Topic

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John Edmundson23 Feb 2021 2:31 p.m. PST

Something I didn't realise the significance of (I knew measures were inconsistent in the Napoleonic era but didn't realise how much variance there was):

"Here the weight measures of the gun calibers (catalogued for the weight of the balls shot) are made simpler using the pdr. (pounders, Pfünder for Austrians). However there were some important differences between French and Austrian measures. Austrian measured weights in Löth, 32 of which made a Wiener Pfund (Austrian pound). 1 Löth was equal to current 17,5g (0.62oz.) so a Pfund was 560g and equal to 1,235lb (Imperial pounds). At least 100 Pfünder made 1 Zentner (56Kg). For example a 3 pdr. austrian light gun was really a 3,7 equivalent French pdr. (more similar to a French 4 pdr.); an austrian 6 pdr. gun was a 7,4 equivalent French caliber and so on."

So an Austrian 3pdr is virtually the same as a French 4pdr, a 6pdr is almost an 8pdr, and a 12pdr would have been the equivalent of 14.8 French pounds. Is there a table anywhere that collates this for the various Napoleonic powers?

From a footnote in link


von Winterfeldt23 Feb 2021 11:20 p.m. PST

I had a long discussion with Dave Hollins about Austrian artillery, the conclusion was that for cannon ball weights they did not use the Austrian Pound but the Nürnberg pound silverweight.

which is 477, 2 g

Allan F Mountford24 Feb 2021 1:30 a.m. PST

Thus for the Austrians:
3 pdr = 1.4316 kg = 3.1657 ib
6 pdr = 2.8632 kg = 6.3134 ib
12 pdr = 5.7264 kg = 12.6267 ib

Oliver Schmidt Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2021 1:51 a.m. PST

And actually, the classification by pounds was but a convenience.

The actual weight of the single cannon balls was allowed to vary up to around 10%. For example, in Prussia, in 1829, a 6pounder cannon ball had to weight at least 5,5 pounds and not more than 6,5 pounds, a 12pounder cannon ball at least 11 pounds and not more than 13 pounds.

What counted when casting cannon balls, was the exact diameter, which was slightly smaller than the diameter of the bore of the gun and of course corresponded to a cannon ball of ideal cast.

RittervonBek24 Feb 2021 3:01 a.m. PST

I am surprised that no one has measured and weighed what must be numerous surviving examples of roundshot. There must be a doctoral thesis in this?

von Winterfeldt24 Feb 2021 3:30 a.m. PST

what is ib? imperial pounds? what is that in gramm?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2021 5:41 a.m. PST

The pound weight the Austrians used was lighter than either the French or English pound.

Therefore, the weight of the rounds of an Austrian, French, and English 6-pounder were different, the Austrian being the lightest, the French the heaviest.

A French 4-pounder would be almost a 5-pounder in English weight; a 6-pounder almost a 7-pounder in English weight, an 8-pounder almost a 9-pounder in English weight, and so on.

For a comparison of the different weights and measures of the period, see Volume I of Louis de Tousard's American Artillerist's Companion, pages 116-128:


Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2021 5:52 a.m. PST

The actual weight of a roundshot depended on the production tolerances that were acceptable.

French tolerances for roundshot was as follows:

24-pounder: 24 pounds, 8 ounces.
16-pounder: 16 pounds, 4 ounces.
12-pounder: 12 pounds, 4 ounces.
8-pounder: 8 pounds.
4-pounder: 4 pounds.

See Tousard, Volume I, page 355.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2021 6:07 a.m. PST

The weight of roundshot for French artillery pieces in kilograms:

4-pounder: 2
6-pounder: 3
8-pounder: 4
12-pounder: 6
6-inch howitzer: 11
16-pounder: 8
24-pounder: 12

Allan F Mountford24 Feb 2021 7:40 a.m. PST

Thus for the Austrians:
3 pdr = 1.4316 kg = 3.1657 lb
6 pdr = 2.8632 kg = 6.3134 lb
12 pdr = 5.7264 kg = 12.6267 lb

'lb' is avoirdupois pound (it printed 'ib' in my original post. I used a conversion rate of 1 kg : 2.205 avoirdupois pounds.

Stoppage24 Feb 2021 9:25 a.m. PST

Using 477.2 to convert OES Nuremberg pfund to kg, and 453.6 to convert GBR Imperial pounds to kg:

GBR: 3 lbs= 1360.8 gr, Nuremberg: 2 lb 13 oz, Imperial: 3 lb 0 oz.
OES: 3 lbs= 1431.6 gr, Nuremberg: 3 lb 0 oz, Imperial: 3 lb 2 oz.
FRA: 4 lbs= 2000 gr, Nuremberg: 4 lb 3 oz, Imperial: 4 lb 6 oz.
GBR: 6 lbs= 2721.6 gr, Nuremberg: 5 lb 11 oz, Imperial: 6 lb 0 oz.
OES: 6 lbs= 2863.2 gr, Nuremberg: 6 lb 0 oz, Imperial: 6 lb 4 oz.
FRA: 6 lbs= 3000 gr, Nuremberg: 6 lb 4 oz, Imperial: 6 lb 9 oz.
FRA: 8 lbs= 4000 gr, Nuremberg: 8 lb 6 oz, Imperial: 8 lb 13 oz.
GBR: 9 lbs= 4082.4 gr, Nuremberg: 8 lb 8 oz, Imperial: 9 lb 0 oz.
OES: 9 lbs= 4294.8 gr, Nuremberg: 9 lb 0 oz, Imperial: 9 lb 7 oz.
GBR: 12 lbs= 5443.2 gr, Nuremberg: 11 lb 6 oz, Imperial: 12 lb 0 oz.
OES: 12 lbs= 5726.4 gr, Nuremberg: 12 lb 0 oz, Imperial: 12 lb 9 oz.
FRA: 12 lbs= 6000 gr, Nuremberg: 12 lb 9 oz, Imperial: 13 lb 3 oz.
FRA: 16 lbs= 8000 gr, Nuremberg: 16 lb 12 oz, Imperial: 17 lb 10 oz.
GBR: 18 lbs= 8164.8 gr, Nuremberg: 17 lb 1 oz, Imperial: 18 lb 0 oz.
OES: 18 lbs= 8589.6 gr, Nuremberg: 18 lb 0 oz, Imperial: 18 lb 14 oz.
GBR: 24 lbs= 10886.4 gr, Nuremberg: 22 lb 13 oz, Imperial: 24 lb 0 oz.
FRA: 24 lbs= 12000 gr, Nuremberg: 25 lb 2 oz, Imperial: 26 lb 7 oz.

Stoppage24 Feb 2021 9:26 a.m. PST


Thx 4 link :)

rmaker24 Feb 2021 1:29 p.m. PST

Note that captured Austrian 6pdrs were designated 5pdrs by the French.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP24 Feb 2021 4:46 p.m. PST

What is your reference for that comment? I'm asking because I am interested.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP26 Feb 2021 6:19 p.m. PST

You know, if this keeps up, I'm going to have to stop mocking moderns players for their continual quibbling over minor differences in caliber and velocity.

At any level of game so low that different weights of 12pd ball are more important than ammo issue or battery organization, crew training becomes far more important than any of this.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP27 Feb 2021 11:23 a.m. PST

It's another 'arrow in the quiver' of overall period knowledge and is interesting and important to some if not all.

Stoppage27 Feb 2021 11:25 a.m. PST

Another important measure is barrel length.

At the beginning (Revolutionary) many nations had long versions of their guns – these pieces were heavy but gave long ranges – and would be 'position' pieces.

However, many changed to using the short, or medium, versions – perhaps this reflected tactical changes.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP27 Feb 2021 1:08 p.m. PST

The length of gun tubes changed for the better in Prussia, Austria, and France in the 1740s-1760s, not after the Revolutionary Wars.

And other improvements such as reduction in powder charges, gun tube weight, windage and many other improvements can be taken into consideration.

Prince of Essling01 Mar 2021 7:05 a.m. PST

Calibre is also very important (sizes in British inches)
24pdr = 5.823 (Britain); 6.03 (France & Spain); 5.92 (Netherlands); 6.00 (Russia) 5.93 (Portugal);
12pdr= 4.623 (Britain); 4.78 (France); 4.8 (Spain); 4.76 (Netherlands); 4.76 (Russia); 4.7 (Portugal);
9dr = 4.2 (Britain & Spain); 4.3 (Portugal);
8pdr = 4.18 (France); 4.13 (Netherlands); 4.17 (Russia)
6pdr = 3.668 (Britain); 3.78 (Netherlands & Russia); 3.75 (Portugal);
4pdr = 3.204 (Britain); 3.315 (France);

Above extracted from page 391 in Haythornthwaite's "The Napoleonic Source Book" saying the data taken from "The Bombardier and Pocket Gunner" by R W Adye, London 1802

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP01 Mar 2021 7:43 a.m. PST

Regarding the measuring of caliber it is noteworthy that while almost every artillery arm measured caliber by the bore of the piece, the French measured it by the diameter of the roundshot.

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