Advancements in gun development smokeless gunpowder

Originally published in "Guns. They have been used to provide food and protection since the formation of the earliest social units.

Advancements in gun development smokeless gunpowder

Sunday, January 22, Smokeless Powders: Developments in France In our last postwe looked into the development of Schultze powder, one of the first smokeless powders. Today, we will look at developments in France at around the same time.

Advancements in gun development smokeless gunpowder

The instability of gun cotton, as seen by unexplained explosions of stored gun cotton. We now know that this instability was caused by presence of acid residues in the gun cotton, which act as catalysts for decomposition of the gun cotton. The combustion behavior of gun cotton, which caused higher pressures and was responsible for weapons exploding and causing accidents.

In France, they stopped research into gun cotton and studied other substances like picric acid instead. Meanwhile, as we saw in an earlier postan Austrian officer, Baron Von Lenk, worked on solving the problems of gun cotton and discovered a process that enabled him to produce large quantities of gun cotton in Nevertheless, the Austrians also stopped production within a few years, due to explosions inside the two factories that produced their gun cotton.

Some more improvements in the production process were made by the British chemist, Sir Frederick Abel, but there was an explosion in the factory at Stowmarket in and from then on, they only used gun cotton for underwater torpedoes and mines.

In France, they also started production of gun cotton for use by the French Navy infor torpedoes and mines as well. The factory was in Moulin-Blanc near Brest, in the Brittany region of northwestern France, and it produced gun cotton using the methods pioneered by Abel.

While the British discoveries had paved the way for safer manufacture of gun cotton, the problems of ballistics was still an obstacle to adoption for use in armaments: As one report of that time put it, "Rifles that support 30 grams 1.

With a load of 2. This is why many experiments were done to reduce the rate of combustion, such as the development of a smokeless powder by Colonel Schultze in Germany. This was later improved by Frederick Volkmann of Austria, who improved the Schultze process and came up with a powder called Collodine.

This was manufactured between andbut the factory closed down indue to an Austrian state monopoly on powder manufacture. Some other similar powders were also made in the US Reid in Most of these powders found some success as hunting powders.

One of the attempts to reduce combustion rates led to the production of prismatic powdersbut this was only a partial success, because even when compacted properly, it didn't always burn progressively.

Additionally, prismatic powder being a black powder, it produced a lot of smoke and residue.

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Meanwhile, the hunting powders in the paragraph above had the same issue of not burning evenly as well, due to lack of a consistent shape and uniform composition of the material.

It was in the s that the French government decided to form a committee to study of the fundamentals of the combustion process of powders. The objectives of this group were to predict the ballistic behavior of a projectile from the characteristics of the explosive material and the weapon used.

Advancements in gun development smokeless gunpowder

To do this, it was necessary to understand the process of combustion of the powder, the formation of gases at various temperatures and pressures, the movement of the projectile in the barrel and the its trajectory in the air etc.

Such an analysis is very complex and it involves numerous subjects and disciplines that were not yet well understood in the 19th century: Way back ina French General named Guillaume Piobert had studied the combustion process of black powder and theorized that "burning takes place by parallel layers where the surface of the grain regresses, layer by layer, normal to the surface at every point.

We now know of this discovery as Piobert's law and it applies to solid propellants in general not just black powderbut when he first proposed it, it was a very controversial theory.

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In the light of new discoveries made since, the French decided to revisit his work in the s. A famous French chemist named Pierre Eugene Marcellin Berthelot had already conducted several studies on chemical thermodynamics and explosions and he was appointed head of the French explosives committee.

Pierre Eugene Marcellin Berthelot. Click on the image to enlarge. In his group were a couple of people, Emile Sarrau, the manager of the French Depot Central des poudres et salpetres, and his new deputy, Paul Vieille, then only 27 years old and a recent university graduate.

Sarrau and Vieille were tasked with the study of an apparatus called the crusher manometer or crusher gaugewhich was used to measure explosive forces. The device was invented by a British officer, one Captain Andrew Noble in the s and he published a research on explosives along with the above mentioned Frederick Abel.

Crusher Manometer invented by Noble and Abel. The Noble apparatus consists of crushing a small copper cylinder placed between a fixed anvil and a moveable piston and calculating the maximum pressure by measuring the deformation of the cylinder and comparing it against similar copper cylinders compressed under known loads.

We already studied this process a few years ago, when we studied how chamber pressures were measured. However, this process only gives approximate results, because there wasn't an accurate way to produce standard cylinders to measure against.

It was possible to subject two identical cylinders to the same pressure and end up with different amounts of deformation.Military and Naval Books and publications, including ephemera and postcards.

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In the past, gunpowder was the primary. Jan 22,  · This is why many experiments were done to reduce the rate of combustion, such as the development of a smokeless powder by Colonel Schultze in Germany.

This was later improved by Frederick Volkmann of Austria, who improved the Schultze process . TECHNOLOGY LEVELS A useful concept in science fiction gaming is the technology level (or “tech level”), denoting what a given world .

When gunpowder was used to create personal handguns and rifles, a new type of soldier was created: infantry. Photo shows a Revolutionary War reenactment at Fort Ward Historic Site in Alexandria.

Advancements in gun development smokeless gunpowder