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Subject: Civil War 'Claymores'...or even Rec'less rifles.
HeavyD    2/22/2011 1:54:13 PM
On the Armor board someone posted about the feasibility of a Steam-engine tank. Got me to thinking about a cable-propelled wagon with side-firing opposing cannon (to negate recoil) which could be sent out to blunt an attack or to create a breach in defensive lines. Well, carrying the thought one step farther, a Claymore is essentially a recoil-less command-fired mine with projectiles launched in one direction, debris in the other. Why not a black-powder Claymore, fired by a string pulling a trigger on a flintlock mechanism? How terribly effective would these have been against troops marching abreast, especially the first time? A row of black powder claymores and an intentionally weak point in the line to invite an attack? Nasty surprise, and they would not know what hit them. Carrying the thought yet farther (as genius is want to do...) why not a true recoilless gun then? if black powder can propel a cannon shot several thousand meters, why not a nasty cannister round ("Back blast area clear!") fired out of an open steel/iron tube? Far more mobile than a Napoleon, can be deployed right in with the troops. (Back blast area clear!) Paper cartridges can be pre-loaded, and Rate of Fire would be terrifying in short bursts: Swab from the rear, load from the rear (a pin in the tube near the pilot hole tears the cartridge open) and fire. 10 - 15 RPM? Am I blowing billows of black powder smoke, or is the North damn lucky that I have not teleported back to Charleston, circa 1861?
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JFKY    A Recoilless Rifle   2/22/2011 3:34:32 PM
I have read, uses 1 unit of propellant to move the projectile and about 4 units of propellant to counter the recoil.  Considering that Black Power is a rather inefficient propellant it would seem you proposal would use a tremendous amount of black power.  A 24 pounder shot requiring about 8 pounds to move it and about 32 pounds to counter the recoil, for a total of 40 pounds of powder per round.  Quite the logistic undertaking and quite the ball of smoke when you touch it off.
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HeavyD       2/22/2011 6:24:01 PM
Is a 6-pounder deployed in the front line, firing cannister point-blank more effective than 3 napoleons firing solid shot over the front line?  Yup.  Same amount of powder, more effect.  (and a lot of smoke, but that's the beauty of cannister - it is pointed, not aimed!)
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WarNerd       2/23/2011 12:07:23 AM
The basic problem is that black powder is a deflagrant (i.e. it burns rapidly), not an explosive.  The combustion rate is pressure sensitive and if tightly confined it becomes a low explosive.  The only way to achieve this is a properly shaped heavy walled container (note: submerged naval mines could get away with thinner walls because of the confining and taming effects of the water). 
So your 'claymore' is more likely an artillery shell with a pull fuse.  But they already had a better design over 3 centuries old, the Fougasse, just an angled hole in the ground with your black powder charge, firing mechanism, and shrapnel on top.
As for the recoilless gun, well lets see . . .
You will need to supply a pressure seal on each end of the charge.  In cannon of that period this was job of the wadding which was rammed down in the barrel to achieve a tight fit. 
1.  You could achieve this by incorporating the wadding into your cartridge and then ram it simultaneously from both ends as part of the loading process, but that would require a well trained crew and be difficult to achieve in the middle of battle. 
2.  Another alternative would be thick felt pads cut slightly larger than the cannon bore, which would be hard to ram.  3.  Finally you could go with a preloaded cylinder that would be inserted between sections of the barrel, similar to some removable breach cannon designs, but cylinder would be very heavy and locking everything together would be an engineering and fabrication nightmare. 
Firing rate would probably be between 1/2 and 3 rounds per minute for small guns.
Oh, and don't forget run a damp swab through the barrel before loading.  Ramming a cartridge on an ember or hot spot will instantly ruin your day.  Designs 1 and 2 would require a fairly rigid cartridge design that could easily leave parts behind that would also be removed by the swab.
The gun is also going to have to use a counter mass.  Sand might be a good choice, but it will be bulky at 1/4 the density of iron.
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ker    Iron Dice   2/23/2011 10:22:50 PM
In sunken wreckage of a English war ship from Henry VIII period they found a weapon related to this question.  It was an Iron funnel with a rectangular opening. It had propelent in the the funnel behind rows of iron dice. 
For a civil war "claymore" desighn you might be able to replace gun powder with gun cotton. 
British had rocket artilery in the Revolutionary war.  You could put a can round in front of a rocket motter. A zero time delay between running out of rocket fuel and detonating the can round isn't hard to do. The lack of accuarcy in Civil war stickless rockets is much less important if your range is 50 yards and your using a can round type warhead. You could fire them out of iron tubes or off wooden rails. If you like a really modern idea fire them out of wooden storage box/launch tube. A caste iron test tube with iron dice and gun cotton in the front and hydraulically compressed black powder in the back. Gyroscopic stabilization was used on Union stickless rockets. I like to skip that and just have it fly 20 yards before warhead goes off. Fire them out of trenches or off rails. You can fire any number you like simultaneously.
Calvery would learn quickly to never put more than two men on a bridge at the same time.
Now that I've said all that just make a comand fired bouncing betty mine.
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heraldabc       2/24/2011 2:32:53 AM
20 yards and detonate from  a Korean style rocket battery with Hale or Congreve rockets? That is crazy.  So is gun-cotton which was not really stable enough to be artillery safe using 1860 tech.

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doggtag    in case anyone's interested....   2/24/2011 8:13:15 AM
Food for thought.
(Even if these guys and their crew do get carried away from time to time...)
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Mikko       2/24/2011 3:51:53 PM
I am quite confident that modern military thinking could've made better use of 1860's available technologies. Even if only by surprise and shock effect. 

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JFKY    Mikko,   2/24/2011 4:02:05 PM
I'm sure that our grand-children will same of US, and theirs of them....hindsight being what it is....
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Mikko       2/24/2011 4:10:32 PM

I'm sure that our grand-children will same of US, and theirs of them....hindsight being what it is....

True. "If they only would've know that getting their leaders play Angry Birds would've collapsed their governments." Or something like that :)

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ker       2/24/2011 4:23:33 PM

20 yards and detonate from  a Korean style rocket battery with Hale or Congreve rockets? That is crazy.  So is gun-cotton which was not really stable enough to be artillery safe using 1860 tech.


I stand corrected. I was thinking the weapon would be fired using a string by a person well behind it and in a hole in the ground. Manufactuing my idea could be high risk.

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