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    * Cannon *


    (Wikipedia) - Cannon For other uses, see Cannon (disambiguation). Cannon History Operation By country By type
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    • Artillery in the Song dynasty
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    A cannon is any piece of artillery that uses gunpowder or other usually explosive-based propellants to launch a projectile. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees, depending on their intended use on the battlefield. The word cannon is derived from several languages, in which the original definition can usually be translated as tube, cane, or reed. In the modern era, the term cannon has fallen into decline, replaced by "guns" or "artillery" if not a more specific term such as "mortar" or "howitzer", except for in the field of aerial warfare, where it is usually shorthand for autocannon.

    First invented in China, cannon were among the earliest forms of gunpowder artillery, and over time replaced siege engines—among other forms of ageing weaponry—on the battlefield. In the Middle East, the first use of the hand cannon is argued to be during the 1260 Battle of Ain Jalut between the Mamluks and Mongols. The first cannon in Europe were probably used in Iberia in the 11th and 12th centuries. On the African continent, the cannon was first used by the Somali Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi of the Adal Sultanate in his conquest of the steppes of Ugaden in 1529. It was during this period, the Middle Ages, that cannon became standardized, and more effective in both the anti-infantry and siege roles. After the Middle Ages most large cannon were abandoned in favour of greater numbers of lighter, more manoeuvrable pieces. In addition, new technologies and tactics were developed, making most defences obsolete; this led to the construction of star forts, specifically designed to withstand artillery bombardment though these too (along with the Martello Tower) would find themselves rendered obsolete when explosive and armour piercing rounds made even these types of fortifications vulnerable.

    Cannon also transformed naval warfare in the early modern period, as European navies took advantage of their firepower. As rifling became commonplace, the accuracy and destructive power of cannon was significantly increased, and they became deadlier than ever, both to infantry who belatedly had to adopt different tactics, and to ships, which had to be armoured. In World War I, the majority of combat fatalities were caused by artillery; they were also used widely in World War II. Most modern cannon are similar to those used in the Second World War, although the importance of the larger calibre weapons has declined with the development of missiles.


    Etymology and terminologyJaivan Cannon - World''s largest cannon on wheels, cast in India by Jai Singh II.

    Cannon is derived from the Old Italian word cannone, meaning "large tube", which came from Latin canna, in turn originating from the Greek κάννα (kanna), "reed", and then generalized to mean any hollow tube-like object; cognate with Akkadian term qanu and Hebrew qāneh, meaning "tube" or "reed". The word has been used to refer to a gun since 1326 in Italy, and 1418 in England. Cannon serves both as the singular and plural of the noun, although in American English the plural cannons is more common.

    Cannon materials, parts, and termsSide elevation of a typical 19th-century cannon

    Cannon in general have the form of a truncated cone with an internal cylindrical bore for holding an explosive charge and a projectile. The thickest, strongest, and closed part of the cone is located near the explosive charge. As any explosive charge will dissipate in all directions equally, the thickest portion of the cannon is useful for containing and directing this force. The backward motion of the cannon as its projectile leaves the bore is termed its recoil and the effectiveness of the cannon can be measured in terms of how much this response can be diminished, though obviously diminishing recoil through increasing the overall mass of the cannon means decreased mobility.

    Field artillery cannon in Europe and the Americas were initially made most often of bronze, though later forms were constructed of cast iron and eventually steel.:61 Bronze has several characteristics that made it preferable as a construction material: although it is relatively expensive, does not always alloy well, and can result in a final product that is "spongy about the bore",:61 bronze is more flexible than iron and therefore less prone to bursting when exposed to high pressure; cast iron cannon are less expensive and more durable generally than bronze and withstand being fired more times without deteriorating. However, cast iron cannon have a tendency to burst without having shown any previous weakness or wear, and this makes them more dangerous to operate.

    The older and more-stable forms of cannon were muzzle-loading as opposed to breech-loading— in order to be used they had to have their ordnance packed down the bore through the muzzle rather than inserted through the breech.

    The following terms refer to the components or aspects of a classical western cannon (c. 1850) as illustrated here.:66 In what follows, the words near, close, and behind will refer to those parts towards the thick, closed end of the piece, and far, front, in front of, and before to the thinner, open end.

    Negative spaces Solid spaces

    The main body of a cannon consists of three basic extensions— the foremost and the longest is called the chase, the middle portion is the reinforce, and the closest and briefest portion is the cascabel or cascable.

    To pack a muzzle-loading cannon, first gunpowder is poured down the bore. This is followed by a layer of wadding (often nothing more than paper), and then the cannonball itself. A certain amount of windage allows the ball to fit down the bore, though the greater the windage the less efficient the propulsion of the ball when the gunpowder is ignited. To fire the cannon, the fuse located in the vent is lit, quickly burning down to the gunpowder, which then explodes violently, propelling wadding and ball down the bore and out of the muzzle. A small portion of exploding gas also escapes through the vent, but this does not dramatically affect the total force exerted on the ball.

    Any large, smoothbore, muzzle-loading gun—used before the advent of breech-loading, rifled guns—may be referred to as a cannon, though once standardized names were assigned to different sized cannon, the term specifically referred to a gun designed to fire a 42-pound (19 kg) shot, as opposed to a demi-cannon - 32 pounds (15 kg), culverin - 18 pounds (8.2 kg), or demi-culverin - 9 pounds (4.1 kg). Gun specifically refers to a type of cannon that fires projectiles at high speeds, and usually at relatively low angles; they have been used in warships, and as field artillery. The term cannon is also used for autocannon, a modern repeating weapon firing explosive projectiles. Cannon have been used extensively in fighter aircraft since World War II, and in place of machine guns on land vehicles.

    An illustration of an "eruptor," a proto-cannon, from the 14th-century Ming Dynasty book Huolongjing. The cannon was capable of firing proto-shells, cast-iron bombs filled with gunpowder.History Main article: History of cannon For more details on the historical use of gunpowder in general, see History of gunpowder. Development in China Main article: Gunpowder artillery in the Song Dynasty For more details on development of gunpowder warfare in China, see Technology of the Song Dynasty.Earliest known representation of a firearm (a fire lance) and a grenade (upper right), Dunhuang, 10th century

    The invention of the cannon, driven by gunpowder, was first developed in China and later spread to Islamic world and Europe. Like small arms, cannon are a descendant of the fire lance, a gunpowder-filled tube attached to the end of a spear and used as a flamethrower in China. Shrapnel was sometimes placed in the barrel, so that it would fly out along with the flames. The first documented battlefield use of fire lances took place in 1132 when Chen Gui used them to defend De''an from attack by the Jurchen Jin. Eventually, the paper and bamboo of which fire lance barrels were originally constructed came to be replaced by metal. It has been disputed at which point flame-projecting cannon were abandoned in favour of missile-projecting ones, as words meaning either incendiary or explosive are commonly translated as gunpowder. The earliest known depiction of a gun is a sculpture from a cave in Sichuan, dating to the 12th century that portrays a figure carrying a vase-shaped bombard, firing flames and a ball. The oldest surviving gun, found in Acheng, Heilongjiang, and dated to no later than 1290, is 34 cm long with a muzzle bore diameter of 2.5 cm (1 in) and weighs 3.5 kg. The second oldest, dated to 1332 is 35.3 cm long, a muzzle bore diameter of 10.5 cm (4 in) and weighs 6.94 kg; both are made of bronze.

    Hand cannon from the Mongol Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368)

    The earliest known illustration of a cannon is dated to 1326. In his 1341 poem, The Iron Cannon Affair, one of the first accounts of the use of gunpowder artillery in China, Xian Zhang wrote that a cannonball fired from an eruptor could "pierce the heart or belly when it strikes a man or horse, and can even transfix several persons at once."

    Joseph Needham suggests that the proto-shells described in the Huolongjing may be among the first of their kind. The weapon was later taken up by both the Mongol conquerors and the Koreans. Chinese soldiers fighting under the Mongols appear to have used hand cannon in Manchurian battles during 1288, a date deduced from archaeological findings at battle sites. The Ming Chinese also mounted over 3,000 cast bronze and iron cannon on the Great Wall of China, to defend against the Mongols.

    Cannon were used by Ming dynasty forces at the Battle of Lake Poyang. Ming dynasty era ships had bronze cannon. One shipwreck in Shandong had a cannon dated to 1377 and an anchor dated to 1372. From the 13th to 15th centuries cannon armed Chinese ships also travelled throughout Southeast Asia.

    In the 1593 Siege of Pyongyang, 40,000 Ming troops deployed a variety of cannon to bombard an equally large Japanese army. Despite both forces having similar numbers, the Japanese were easily defeated due to the Ming cannon. Throughout the Seven Year War in Korea, the Chinese-Korean coalition used artillery widely, in both land and naval battles, including on the Turtle Ships of Yi Sun-sin.

    Islamic world See also: Inventions in the Islamic world, Alchemy and chemistry in Islam and Islamic Golden AgeThe Dardanelles Gun, a 1464 Ottoman bombard

    Arabic manuscripts dated from the 14th century document the use of the hand cannon, a forerunner of the handgun, in the Arabic world. Ahmad Y. al-Hassan argues that these manuscripts are copies of earlier manuscripts and reported on hand-held cannon being used by the Mamluks at the Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260. Al-Hassan also interprets Ibn Khaldun as reporting cannon being used as siege machines by the Marinid sultan Abu Yaqub Yusuf at the siege of Sijilmasa in 1274. Other historians urge caution regarding claims of Islamic firearms use in the 1204–1324 period as late medieval Arabic texts used the same word for gunpowder, naft, that they used for an earlier incendiary naphtha. The Mamluks had certainly acquired siege cannon by the 1360s, and possibly as early as 1320.

    Sixty-eight super-sized bombards referred to as Great Turkish Bombards were used by Mehmed II to capture Constantinople in 1453. Orban, a Hungarian cannon engineer, is credited with introducing the cannon from Central Europe to the Ottomans. These cannon could fire heavy stone balls a mile, and the sound of their blast could reportedly be heard from a distance of 10 miles (16 km). Shkodran historian Marin Barleti discusses Turkish bombards at length in his book De obsidione Scodrensi (1504), describing the 1478–79 siege of Shkodra in which eleven bombards and two mortars were employed.

    The similar Dardanelles Guns (for the location) were created by Munir Ali in 1464 and were still in use during the Anglo-Turkish War (1807–1809). These were cast in bronze into two parts. The chase (the barrel) and the breech, which combined weighed 18.4 tonnes. The two parts were screwed together using levers to facilitate moving it.

    In medieval Somalia, general Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi of the Sultanate of Adal was the first African commander presently known to have used cannon in warfare on the continent during Adal''s conquest of the Ethiopian Empire, which demoralized the Ethiopians.

    Fathullah Shirazi, a Persian-Indian who worked for Akbar the Great in the Mughal Empire, developed a volley gun in the 16th century.

    Medieval Europe Main article: Gunpowder artillery in the Middle AgesEarliest picture of a European cannon, "De Nobilitatibus Sapientii Et Prudentiis Regum", Walter de Milemete, 1326

    In Europe, one of the first mentions of gunpowder use appears in a passage found in Roger Bacon''s Opus Maius and Opus Tertium in what has been interpreted as being firecrackers. In the early 20th century, a British artillery officer proposed that another work tentatively attributed to Bacon, Epistola de Secretis Operibus Artis et Naturae, et de Nullitate Magiae contained an encrypted formula for gunpowder. These claims have been disputed by historians of science. In any case, the formula claimed to have been decrypted is not useful for firearms use or even firecrackers, burning slowly and producing mostly smoke.

    The first confirmed use of cannon in Europe was in southern Iberia, by the Moors, in the Siege of Cordoba in 1280. By this time, hand guns were probably in use, as scopettieri—"gun bearers"—were mentioned in conjunction with crossbowmen, in 1281. In Iberia, the "first artillery-masters on the Peninsula" were enlisted, at around the same time.

    Western European handgun, 1380

    The first metal cannon was the pot-de-fer. Loaded with an arrow-like bolt that was probably wrapped in leather to allow greater thrusting power, it was set off through a touch hole with a heated wire. This weapon, and others similar, were used by both the French and English during the Hundred Years'' War, when cannon saw their first real use on the European battlefield. While still a relatively rarely used weapon, cannon were employed in increasing numbers during the war. The battle of Arnemuiden, fought on 23 September 1338, was the first naval battle using artillery, as the English ship Christofer had three cannon and one hand gun. "Ribaldis", which shot large arrows and simplistic grapeshot, were first mentioned in the English Privy Wardrobe accounts during preparations for the Battle of Crécy, between 1345 and 1346. The Florentine Giovanni Villani recounts their destructiveness, indicating that by the end of the battle, "the whole plain was covered by men struck down by arrows and cannon balls." Similar cannon were also used at the Siege of Calais, in the same year, although it was not until the 1380s that the "ribaudekin" clearly became mounted on wheels.

    The first Western image of a battle with cannon: the Siege of Orleans in 1429

    The first cannon appeared in Russia around 1380, though they were used only in sieges, often by the defenders. Large cannon known as bombards ranged from three to five feet in length and were used by Dubrovnik and Kotor in defence in the later 14th century. The first bombards were made of iron, but bronze was quickly recognized as being stronger and capable of propelling stones weighing as much as a hundred pounds (45 kg). Byzantine strategists did not have the money to invest in this technology. Around the same period, the Byzantine Empire began to accumulate its own cannon to face the Ottoman threat, starting with medium-sized cannon 3 feet (0.91 m) long and of 10 in calibre. The first definite use of artillery in the region was against the Ottoman siege of Constantinople, in 1396, forcing the Ottomans to withdraw. They acquired their own cannon, and laid siege to the Byzantine capital again, in 1422, using "falcons", which were short but wide cannon. By 1453, the Ottomans used 68 Hungarian-made cannon for the 55-day bombardment of the walls of Constantinople, "hurling the pieces everywhere and killing those who happened to be nearby." The largest of their cannon was the Great Turkish Bombard, which required an operating crew of 200 men and 70 oxen, and 10,000 men to transport it. Gunpowder made the formerly devastating Greek fire obsolete, and with the final fall of Constantinople—which was protected by what were once the strongest walls in Europe—on 29 May 1453, "it was the end of an era in more ways than one."

    Early modern periodVarious 16th-century artillery pieces, including culverin, falconet and mortar

    By the 16th century, cannon were made in a great variety of lengths and bore diameters, but the general rule was that the longer the barrel, the longer the range. Some cannon made during this time had barrels exceeding 10 ft (3.0 m) in length, and could weigh up to 20,000 pounds (9,100 kg). Consequently, large amounts of gunpowder were needed, to allow them to fire stone balls several hundred yards. By mid-century, European monarchs began to classify cannon to reduce the confusion. Henry II of France opted for six sizes of cannon, but others settled for more; the Spanish used twelve sizes, and the English sixteen. Better powder had been developed by this time as well. Instead of the finely ground powder used by the first bombards, powder was replaced by a "corned" variety of coarse grains. This coarse powder had pockets of air between grains, allowing fire to travel through and ignite the entire charge quickly and uniformly.

    The Tsar Cannon, the largest howitzer ever made, cast by Andrey Chokhov

    The end of the Middle Ages saw the construction of larger, more powerful cannon, as well their spread throughout the world. As they were not effective at breaching the newer fortifications resulting from the development of cannon, siege engines—such as siege towers and trebuchets—became less widely used. However, wooden "battery-towers" took on a similar role as siege towers in the gunpowder age—such as that used at siege of Kazan in 1552, which could hold ten large-calibre cannon, in addition to 50 lighter pieces. Another notable effect of cannon on warfare during this period was the change in conventional fortifications. Niccolò Machiavelli wrote, "There is no wall, whatever its thickness that artillery will not destroy in only a few days." Although castles were not immediately made obsolete by cannon, their use and importance on the battlefield rapidly declined. Instead of majestic towers and merlons, the walls of new fortresses were thick, angled, and sloped, while towers became low and stout; increasing use was also made of earth and brick in breastworks and redoubts. These new defences became known as "star forts", after their characteristic shape which attempted to force any advance toward it directly into the firing line of the guns. A few of these featured cannon batteries, such as the Tudors'' Device Forts, in England. Star forts soon replaced castles in Europe, and, eventually, those in the Americas, as well.

    Remains of a post-medieval cannon battery, mounted on a medieval town wall, although without proper carriages

    By the end of the 15th century, several technological advancements made cannon more mobile. Wheeled gun carriages and trunnions became common, and the invention of the limber further facilitated transportation. As a result, field artillery became more viable, and began to see more widespread use, often alongside the larger cannon intended for sieges. Better gunpowder, cast-iron projectiles (replacing stone), and the standardization of calibres meant that even relatively light cannon could be deadly. In The Art of War, Niccolò Machiavelli observed that "It is true that the arquebuses and the small artillery do much more harm than the heavy artillery." This was the case at Flodden, in 1513: the English field guns outfired the Scottish siege artillery, firing two or three times as many rounds. Despite the increased maneuverability, however, cannon were still the slowest component of the army: a heavy English cannon required 23 horses to transport, while a culverin needed nine. Even with this many animals pulling, they still moved at a walking pace. Due to their relatively slow speed, and lack of organization, and undeveloped tactics, the combination of pike and shot still dominated the battlefields of Europe.

    Innovations continued, notably the German invention of the mortar, a thick-walled, short-barrelled gun that blasted shot upward at a steep angle. Mortars were useful for sieges, as they could hit targets behind walls or other defences. This cannon found more use with the Dutch, who learned to shoot bombs filled with powder from them. Setting the bomb fuse was a problem. "Single firing" was first used to ignite the fuse, where the bomb was placed with the fuse down against the cannon''s propellant. This often resulted in the fuse being blown into the bomb, causing it to blow up as it left the mortar. Because of this, "double firing" was tried where the gunner lit the fuse and then the touch hole. This, however, required considerable skill and timing, and was especially dangerous if the gun misfired, leaving a lighted bomb in the barrel. Not until 1650 was it accidentally discovered that double-lighting was superfluous as the heat of firing would light the fuse.

    Contemporary illustration on how a cannon could be used with the aid of quadrants for improved precision.The use of gabions with cannon was an important part in the attack and defence of fortifications.

    Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden emphasized the use of light cannon and mobility in his army, and created new formations and tactics that revolutionized artillery. He discontinued using all 12 pounder—or heavier—cannon as field artillery, preferring, instead, to use cannon that could be manned by only a few men. One obsolete type of gun, the "leatheren" was replaced by 4 pounder and 9 pounder demi-culverins. These could be operated by three men, and pulled by only two horses. Adolphus''s army was also the first to use a cartridge that contained both powder and shot which sped up reloading, increasing the rate of fire. Finally, against infantry he pioneered the use of canister shot - essentially a tin can filled with musket balls. Until then there was no more than one cannon for every thousand infantrymen on the battlefield but Gustavus Adolphus increased the number of cannon sixfold. Each regiment was assigned two pieces, though he often arranged then into batteries instead of distributing them piecemeal. He used these batteries to break his opponent''s infantry line, while his cavalry would outflank their heavy guns.

    At the Battle of Breitenfeld, in 1631, Adolphus proved the effectiveness of the changes made to his army, by defeating Johann Tserclaes, Count of Tilly. Although severely outnumbered, the Swedes were able to fire between three and five times as many volleys of artillery, and their infantry''s linear formations helped ensure they didn''t lose any ground. Battered by cannon fire, and low on morale, Tilly''s men broke ranks and fled.

    In England cannon were being used to besiege various fortified buildings during the English Civil War. Nathaniel Nye is recorded as testing a Birmingham cannon in 1643 and experimenting with a saker in 1645. From 1645 he was the master gunner to the Parliamentarian garrison at Evesham and in 1646 he successfully directed the artillery at the Siege of Worcester, detailing his experiences and in his 1647 book The Art of Gunnery. Believing that war was as much a science as an art, his explanations focused on triangulation, arithmetic, theoretical mathematics, and cartography as well as practical considerations such as the ideal specification for gunpowder or slow matches. His book acknowledged mathematicians such as Robert Recorde and Marcus Jordanus as well as earlier military writers on artillery such as Niccolò Tartaglia and Thomas Malthus.

    Fort Bourtange, a star fort, was built with angles and sloped walls specifically to defend against cannon.

    Around this time also came the idea of aiming the cannon to hit a target. Gunners controlled the range of their cannon by measuring the angle of elevation, using a "gunner''s quadrant." Cannon did not have sights, therefore, even with measuring tools, aiming was still largely guesswork.

    In the latter half of the 17th century, the French engineer Vauban introduced a more systematic and scientific approach to attacking gunpowder fortresses, in a time when many field commanders "were notorious dunces in siegecraft." Careful sapping forward, supported by enfilading ricochet fire, was a key feature of this system, and it even allowed Vauban to calculate the length of time a siege would take. He was also a prolific builder of star forts, and did much to popularize the idea of "depth in defence" in the face of cannon. These principles were followed into the mid-19th century, when changes in armaments necessitated greater depth defence than Vauban had provided for. It was only in the years prior to World War I that new works began to break radically away from his designs.

    18th and 19th centuries

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