Reply To: Question About Gun on HMS Victory

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Malcolm Lewis

    Welcome, Bob to the SNR Forum. The gun illustrated is a Bloomfield Medium pattern 24 pounder. One of 28 on the middle deck. The Blomefield gun design replaced the 24pdr Armstrong gun in 1794 following a disastrous period of gun barrels bursting open when fired causing casualties amongst the gun crews. General Thomas Blomefield had been appointed Inspector of Artillery and Superintendent of the Royal Brass Foundry at Woolwich. He designed a new “hot proof” gun, strengthening the walls of the barrel at the breech end and with the barrel bored out from the solid instead of cast. The Navy Board adopted the new gun although rearming the Navy was a massive task. Some 500 old guns were condemned.
    There were various buckets around each gun with water for swabbing out the barrel after each firing to remove wads and burning debris as well as a match tub with linstocks and a slow match. A bucket of sand was handy for spreading on the deck to absorb water and blood. The gunners were barefoot.
    The strong breech rope through the cascabel loop restrained the gun and its carriage when fired. It recoiled some 11 feet according to Peter Goodwin, one time curator of Victory.
    The Blomefield guns were cast at Woolwich which put the Wealdon gunmakers out of business. Carronades were manufactured at the Carron Iron Works on the Firth of Forth.
    Guns was the usual term used for a ship’s armament. Maybe “cannon” was more frequently used for land artillery.
    Malcolm Lewis