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Breech loading artillery

  • 25-04-2014 2:41pm
    Registered Users Posts: 3,610 ✭✭✭

    How does the firing mechanism work on breech loaded artillery?
    You see footage of gun crews loading a shell, closing the breech and then one lad pulls a handle or chain and the gun fires.
    Is there a percussion cap on the shell? how does the shell fire?
    I've searched for images, they don't show the detail I'm looking for, the breeches are either closed or I can't make out a firing pin if there is one.
    Also I had to wade through images of breech babies.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,049 ✭✭✭discus

    Electrically. The charge in the cartridge (which detonates, and propells the shell out of the barrel) is 'ignited' by an electrical current. This is regardless of wether the gun is fired by lanyard or firing box.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,539 ✭✭✭John_D80

    Depends on the weapon system. Some are as discus states fired by electric current and others are percussion fired.

    In the Irish DF we he have the 105mm L118 (electrically fired) and the 105mm L119 (percussion fired).

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,504 ✭✭✭tac foley

    Some are still even fired off by fuzes [about the size of a cigarette] inserted in the breech-block, either automatically or by hand.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,539 ✭✭✭John_D80

    And then of course you have.....


    Not the first choice obviously but misfires are a doddle to remedy :-) :-) ;-)

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,601 ✭✭✭cerastes

    depends on the era and the size of the piece, I'd suppose,

    Id always thought it would be percussion of some form up to a point, WW2 and even beyond?
    are you talking footage of WW1 artillery or something more modern?

    I thought most artillery even up to know had the shell and the charge loaded separately.

    Is there some component of the charge that lines up with the firing mechanism for electrically fired?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,979 ✭✭✭Stovepipe

    Some guns had bag charges to propel the shell and those bag charges were set off by a small cartridge fired from a firing pistol set into the breech block. The old Irish coastal guns used them and the cartridges were called flame tubes. If you see some of the old training films on the net, you will see the man opening the breech (called the breech operator). The two main types of breech were a sliding block type, like the German 88mm, which used a one-piece cartridge-and-shell set-up or a screw breech, like the American 155mm, which used seperate-loading shell and charge bags. The breech operator's job was to open and close the breech and make sure the breech opening was clear of unfired material and reload the firing pistol. He would often swab out the opening with rags or even a wet brush to make sure that any hot remnants didn't set off the next charge inadvertantly. Artillery crews are also trained to do each others job, so that the same guys didn't end up doing all the hauling and that the gun could still be fired if there were casualties.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,979 ✭✭✭Stovepipe

    One of the uses of electrical firing is for remote weapons where the firer doesn't need to put his hand on the weapon, such as for aircraft or for ships guns. This also tends to be used with automatic loading systems, such as in ships turrets or self-propelled artillery.