Agema Publications

A forum for the disscussion of the Play by Mail games from Agema Publications


French Triple Barrel Artillery

Share

Guest
Guest

French Triple Barrel Artillery

Post by Guest on Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:05 pm

One of the rather odd units available to France in LGDR is the Triple-Barrelled Artillery Battery. The rules describe them as having "3 barrels mounted on a single carriage. This makes them more effective when firing roundshot, but slower to load. They are light cannon (necessary due to having 3 barrels on one carriage, set in a triangular arrangement). At close battle ranges where grapeshot is used, there is no great advantage to them."

Knowing next to nothing about artillery, I couldn't get a picture in my head, but found one here:





The picture is of a canon in the Royal Artillery Museum in London.

It was one of 50 ordered by Louis XIV in 1704, and thought to have been captured at the battle of Malplaquet in 1709. Its calibre is five and a half pounds and was designed by a Venetian Augustinian friar who was a Master of Theology and a self-styled 'Master of Military Arts'. He may have had the idea from Leonardo who invented a triple-barrelled canon which had 3 barrels, was mounted on a triangular height-adjustable carriage which looks more like a medieval ballista. Leonardo's invention also fired all 3 balls at once.

The 1704 design seems to have been abandoned so it either wasn't a great success for the reasons stated in the rules or was superseded by other single-barrelled guns. I was surprised just how small it is (about 3 feet high), so appears more like a battalion gun than a piece of field artillery. In the rules, the maximum calliber of battalion guns or galloper guns is 4pdr, whereas field guns are 8-12pdr.

Given how it was used, I can see it of being more benefit as a kind of battalion gun firing roundshot. I don't know if anyone has ever used one in the game as either a field piece or as a substitute battalion gun, whether drill improves the rate of fire or if being a small calliber means they need regular cleaning (as battalion guns do). If the crew numbers are correct then I estimate each gun would need a crew of 10 plus 2 officers, which seems extraordinary for such a small gun. Perhaps someone who knows something about artillery can enlighten me?


J Flower
King
King

Number of posts : 747
Age : 47
Location : Paderborn, Germany
Reputation : 13
Registration date : 2012-02-16

Re: French Triple Barrel Artillery

Post by J Flower on Tue Nov 06, 2012 8:18 am

Looking at the picture, it seems a lot of weight of metal for such a small carriage, Casting the Barrels would also have be a more complex prossess than a normal piece, as it looks like a one piece casting, further increasing the weight of the whole.

Aiming could also have been a problem, maybe not so much with canister, but with round shot over a longer range, sighting down the barrel(s) would have been a task in itself, think of firing a shot gun, it you were to fire a single ball with a side by side gun then you need to aim off to hit the mark, add in the wind factor and over long distances the inaccuracies mount.

Number of Gun crew members seems a bit high, I have figures for the Napoleonic period,indicating 8 man crews for 4pdr including 5 specilist, 8pdr 13men, including 8 specilists, 12pdr 15men also with 8 specilists. the specilists being an NCO, or senior gunner who gave the orders aimed the gun & observed the fall of shot, two senior gunners who rammed home the charge & sponged out the barrel after firing, a gunner who operated the elevation screw & covered the touch hole during loading( to prevent the ignition of unburnt powder in the vent) One gunner who carried the matches & actually fired the gun, an assistant who cleaned out the vent, prepared the cartridge bag & inserted the priming tube, an assistant who carried the the Cartridges foward, & a spare gunner who stood by replace casualties or help where needed, the larger crews for the larger pieces would also be needed to run the guns back to ther firing posiiton after each round fired.

Battalion Guns in General slow movement of the units they are attached to as they are normally manhandled into action, maybe the added weight of the triple barrelled version added to the problem making them a more of a hinderence to mobility than an advantage in a fire fight.

Are battalion guns more of a Morale booster for the infantry they support, than an effective means of fire support? Afterall why were they so quickly abandoned at the end of the 17th century, although Napoleon did reintroduce them when the quality of his infantry declined, towards the end of the war.

I hope that has helped a bit Louis.

Guest
Guest

Re: French Triple Barrel Artillery

Post by Guest on Tue Nov 06, 2012 8:59 am

Thanks Jason,

Perhaps the barrels are thick and heavy because of the complex casting? After all you wouldn't want a gap in the metal and production facilities would have been very primitive in 1700.

I had always assumed that the barrels were fired separately, but this was not the case, so you are right there would have to be an in-built inaccuracy. Seems incredible that someone should go to all the trouble to invent an inaccurate gun! I suppose one use could have been simply as a one-shot weapon against an enemy attacking in column: that shot would have taken out 3 times as many enemy and disorder a larger number of troops.

I took the number of gun crew from the Agema rules: 100 for a unit of 8 guns, the same as for ordinary artillery, so that would be 12 men per gun +4 more senior officers. This doesnt include contractors who moved the guns. I always assumed that larger guns needed more men, so your analysis of the crew is helpful. I suppose more could be needed to carry ammunition, but in the rules the rate of fire is slow so perhaps this is not the reason.

I admit I dont really understand battalion guns either, but I do like the idea of them helping to maintain discipline on the battlefield. If they help stop over-eager troops becoming disordered as well as giving them a morale boost, then perhaps the presence of battalion guns is more to do with control than offensive capability.

Im still curious as to whether anyone has taken this invention and developed it, perhaps so each barrel fired individually or increased its rate of fire?

J Flower
King
King

Number of posts : 747
Age : 47
Location : Paderborn, Germany
Reputation : 13
Registration date : 2012-02-16

Re: French Triple Barrel Artillery

Post by J Flower on Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:26 am

A question on a totally differant track is the colour of the Gun Carriage itself, I had always thought France painted there Carriages Green, Other nations also having there individual colour schemes to help aid identification. I was under the impression (faslely it seems) that British guns were Grey, Austrian Yellow Ochre, Prussian sky blue, Russian Dark Green to give a few examples. Anyone knowing any differently from painting /collecting wargames armies. I admit my info is based on post 1792 armies.

Sponsored content

Re: French Triple Barrel Artillery

Post by Sponsored content


    Current date/time is Mon Dec 18, 2017 8:43 am