Reply To: Naval Gunnery in the 17th and 18th centuries

Home Forums Nautical Research: 1500 – 1830 Naval Gunnery in the 17th and 18th centuries Reply To: Naval Gunnery in the 17th and 18th centuries

Matthew W

Hi Sam, by a marvellous coincidence I saw your info request just as I was reading a relevant source. For the start of your time period read The Art of Gunnery by Thomas Smith. He includes a wealth of ballistics info in his book. For the end of your time period, I was just reading a book by a Charles Bell who famously served as a surgeon at Waterloo. He describes how Naval warfare had changed from longer range to point blank range – giving fire within musket range. This reflects the use of carronades in the time of Nelson. Interestingly, the Admiralty tested the range of carronades in 1813 and found they did not have a significantly shorter range than standard length guns. A 32Lb carronade would fire a similar weight of shot to a 24Lb long gun at similar ranges. At point blank the carronade ranged to 320 yards to the 200 yards of the 24Lb. This difference is not so much due to ballistics or thermodynamics as the geometry of the carronade. They were short, fat and very conical, meaning an apparent external elevation of zero would have the bore of the gun elevated by several degrees.