I am using this site to explore the engineering skills of the late Victorian era naval engineers, and in particular the mechanics underlying the ship tactics of the day. This is a broad subject, and my explorations have only started. These sites are intended to show how the guns worked. I have currently two sites:
The first British ironclad battleship that was built to mount large breech loading rifled guns.
Here I show the convoluted loading sequence, and expand this to show how the guns were mounted within a central armoured citadel (with 18 inch armour plate surrounding), and the lengthy delivery path from the shell rooms and powder stores located in the bow and stern.
This site includes an animation showing how the central armoured citadel protected the vital boilers, engines, gun mounts and loading mechanisms, while the magazines and shell rooms were protected below water level by an armoured deck.
The site also demonstrates how the large 12 inch bore guns were constructed using a series of cylinders and hoops which were finely machined and shrunk onto the gun while building. These guns weighed 47 tons and were machined to a few thousands of an inch.
Torpedoes and torpedo boats posed a major upset to Naval thinking in the 1880s. The torpedo was a weapon that could be delivered by the smallest of crafts but yet sink the mightiest battleship. Up until that time, Naval strategy assumed that armour would protect a ship against the largest guns, but torpedoes struck below the armour. In the early 1880s, locomotive torpedoes had a range of only a few hundred yards, typically 400 yards. Torpedo boats were flimsy craft but much faster than the battleships of the time, so to protect themselves ships had to mount fast firing guns that would be capable of disabling torpedo boats. My web site on anti-torpedo boat guns looks at how the Nordenfelt and Hotchkiss guns worked, and also how the anti-personnel machine guns,of the era: Gatling, Gardener and Mitrailleuse, worked.
The photo of the .65 10-barrel Gatling gun on a naval mount was taken at Explosion, the Museum of Naval Firepower, and the 2-barrel Gardner was taken at the Royal Armouries, Leeds.
Having delved into the hand-driven machine gun and anti-torpedo boat gun mechanisms, it seemed only natural to look at the guns that made all the hand driven guns obsolete, starting with Hiram Maxim's automatic machine gun of 1884. Maxim was the first to develop automatic machine guns that would load, fire, extract and eject cartridges using the explosive power of the cartridges - the recoil forces. So in the months to come I shall be creating animations to show how the earliest guns worked, and the development steps Maxim took to perfect his mechanism. In the longer term, this examination will have to look also at Browning and Lewis gun mechanisms.
The images show Maxim's first prototype gun of 1884 and a Vickers Enfield gun from 1912. Both were on view at the Royal Armouries, Leeds.
Click on the images to open the automatic machine gun web page.
The animations in my web sites are copyright Rob.b1904 (2009/2010)
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