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WHITWORTH, ARMSTRONG, AND RIVAL GUNS.
At the last Exhibition, enclosed in a velopment to the enormous force that
It is said that the amendment is The whole is wrenched, as it were, by owing to the substitution of civilians this unequal process; and the surfor military in the supervision of the face has often been found quite porous manufacture-a most satisfactory ex- full of little cracks and flaws--and planation. Could the principles be the intermediate region quite soft to extended to other branches-say to the touch. It is obvious such offered courts martial, which are pretty much but an indifferent security against in the state they were, when the per- bursting. The next idea would be sons tried were firing arquebuses, it that of forged iron--iron pounded and might have the same excellent results. beaten into a firm, close texture, by
The secret of these improvements the agency of hammers, as is done consists really in giving its full de- with a ship's anchor. This process
gives, it will be seen, an artificial is then known to become dangerous
But this was only a the gun and the metal underneath scratch upon the skin of a giant. for a good way down is still sound.
There are further dangers, too, in But thedislocated innersurface he cuts iron guns, which have been cast or out altogether, flaws, “sets,” and allpounded into shape. There is the and fits in a tube or series of tubes of certain danger of what is called wrought iron. By this process and
set,” which results from the con- by the fact of the outer tubes of the flict of the inner and outer surfaces series being “shrunk” on the inner, of the gun. The inner surface has the shock is made to travel through to bear a greater strain, while the the whole mass with something like outer, as the shock travels to it uniformity, through a dense medium, suffers Cast and wrought iron being thus comparatively little. Very often, unsuitable-the former from its dethen, the inner surface is strained fects, the latter from the difficulty of beyond even its power of elasticity, using it in large masses, ---a new and does not return to its original shape of the material, known as “hostate ; whereas the outer, which has mogeneous," was thought of, for which received merely the proper shock, Krupp, of Berlin, an eminent founder, and is returning to its normal state, has attained a prodigious reputation. is checked by the sudden interior It consists of small ingots of the enlargement. The result is a “set," finest iron, picked as it were; these or general dislocation, the whole tex- are melted into ingots which again ture of the metal is shaken and dis- are forged into masses.
The strength organized, and the gun is sure to and tenacity of this sort of artificial burst on the first opportunity. Re- iron is amazing, and recommended flecting on this state of things one it to Mr. Whitworth for his guns. of the most useful and thoroughly So unyielding is it, that he has actupractical projects in connexion with ally plugged the barrel of a "homothis subject occurred to Captain Pal- geneous” musket, and discharged liser. Turning over this theory of it many times without bursting setting, and thinking, too, of the it. This valuable material, though enormous number of stray cast iron the best hitherto discovered, is yet guns which are in store, and lying far from perfect ; and it is owned by scattered about the kingdom like the great gun engineers that in large stones in a field, and perhaps, too, masses it is more or less uncerthinking of certain ratepayers whose tain and requires to be assisted by moneys are lavished a little profusely some artificial stays in the shape of in the purchase of these articles, it rings or coils or tubes, which brings“ occurred to him that this tremendous' us to the two great rival gun's of the accumulátiðn'of waste inaterial might" day, Mr. Whitworth and Sir William be turned toʻsome profit.** A' gun las" Armstrong, whose merits Sir "Jaines its youth, 'its manhood, and its old". Emerson Tennent has set out in a age. It is only allowed to live'through cléar, simple, though scarcely impartial a certain number of afschargés, for it "storý, from which has been glean
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ed some of the facts in this paper. Blakely gun is shall now be shown. Sir William Armstrong deals with These 'engines have received large yet another shape of iron. He no- patronage in foreign countries, but in ticed that the welding together what truth there is little to distinguish their might be called "strings of iron, pro- principle from that of Treadwell. duced a singular tenacity, and having It was constructed of an inner tube in his mind the old "twisted barrel of cast iron or steel, enclosed in a case of the common musket, conceived this of wrought iron or steel, heated or pattern of a gun known now as the shrunk upon the inner cylinder. The
Armstrong Sa tube of steel which diameter of the outer cylinder is made is not so much for strength as for a smaller than the inner, so as to comlining, which is wrapped round with press it very tightly, and thus all a number of “welded coils." No portions take their share of the shock. better idea could be given of a welded Strange to say, the Ordnance Comcoil than a flattened corkscrew-that mittee of 1861, with an inconceivable is, the coils of which are flattened so blindness, reported that the Blakely closely as to transform it into a tube. and Armstrong_guns were the same A number of these are joined end to in principle. But Captain Blakely end, according to the length of the does not admit the similarity, which gun required. It will be seen that is more obvious between his and by this means the bursting strain is Treadwell's patent. But the truth is, made to bear against the spiruls of this principle of “ hooping guns to the corkscrew, as it were, and it has give an artificial strength, is found to to struggle against a number of pa- be an old plan, and is too simple a rallel bars ; whereas in the common method of mechanical appliance (sugcast-iron gun there is nothing but a gested every day by the common surface which is the same in every barrel or tub)not to have been thought direction, either in the length of the of long ago. It is said to have been gun or in its breadth.
submitted to the French governThe exquisite perfection to which ment so far back as 1833, and the Mr. Whitworth had brought his tools Belgians made some experiments and machinery, served him in good shortly after under the direction of stead for his principle. The interior Colonel Frederick. Mr. Mallet, with bore is of equal width from end the same principle before him, brought to end, but the outer surface tapers out his 50-ton monster mortar ; and a little towards the muzzle, in the Mr. Longridge constructed arms about degree of about an inch in every the same time on the same principle, hundred inches. The surface is then using wire ropes instead of hoops. brought to a mathematicalsmoothness, But the principle is faulty: the shock and overitis drawn a sort of short stock- is found, as might be imagined, to ing, tapering in exactly the same de- " start" the hoops. The strengthengree, which, by hydraulic pressure, is ing power is not almost homogeneous forced on up to the breech. This is with the mass it strengthens, as in the considered preferable to putting it on Whitworth cannon. Thus much for hot, and then “shrinking” it on; and the material of the gun-in itself a the surfaces correspond so accurately doubtful matter to decide on, but in that the cohesion is perfect. These which some glimmering of light begins metal stockings are in short lengths, to guide us. Twenty years ago, when and joined on end to end. Over them we had got thus far, the gun was again is drawn a second series, and virtually complete, a bore or touchover that again, at the breech, a third. hole being all that was needed ; but The whole has then tight compact now on this bore and the appliances mass, without any violent contraction depends the whole power of the gun. or wrench of the metal from sudden The mere brute-strength of the cancooling.
non is but a negative virtue-a mere It is the misfortune of the Arm- basis, as it were. A hundred points strong gun that, as an invention, all arise:-should the barrel be broad or its notable features should be con- narrow, short or long, the same width tested by many claimants. The all along, or smaller at one end than “welded coil” has been claimed both the other; should it be smooth or by the American Treadwell and the rifled, and if rifled, how should it Irish Captain Blakely. What the be rifled ? The Whitworth gun is
an open tube of equal width from is well known that this is the most end to end. The Armstrong tapers perishable feature in any gun, slightly to the muzzle for an object The feats of the French " that will be seen later. The rifled rayés” at Solferino and Magenta Armstrong must be loaded at the were what first attracted the public breech, for this reason ; the Whit- attention to the developing of a se
cret power in guns hitherto not utiSir Emerson Tennent remarks, that lized; and yet the idea was not new; this fancy of þreech-loading has it can be traced back a hundred years always exercised something like a at least. The first English attempt fascination on inventors; there is a in this direction was the Sebastopol cloud of ingenious patents dealing Lancaster gun, with an oval or ellipwith it; and yet, the advantage tical bore, with a slight twist, somegained-except with the object of thing in the nature of a turn in a compressing the shot, as in the Arm- hollow screw. But the
has strong gun—is very slight, not enough been unsuccessful, owing, it is be, to compensate for the delicacy and con- lieved, to the ball getting “jammed” sequent derangement of the mechan- in the gun. ism necessary.
In the Armstrong But the utility of rifling once congun the shot or bolt is put in at the ceded, a hundred questions arose as to open breech, a vent-piece” is then detail. Should the turns of the screw dropped down, like the slide of a be rapid and numerous, or the rephotographic camera, and a turn of a verse? The discussion fluctuated hollow screw, through which the ball between as many turns as are in a had passed, fixes the slide tightly in corkscrew and a single wavy line-a its place. But there are grave ob- fraction of a single turn, and so faint jections to this system--the most as to be scarcely appreciable. With common of all, that of the vent-piece numerous turns, there was an obbeing liable to be blown out. The vious loss of power, and a more viocause of this is the imperfect contact lent strain on the gun. The tendency of the breech screw and the vent- has, therefore, been to a turn, as piece; and safety will be secured if nearly as possible in a line with the the artillerymen are careful to see direction of the projectile. Sir W. that the allowance should be exactly Armstrong has carried out this prin
Tööoths” of an inch! If the allow- ciple so far, that he does not, strictance is less or more, the soldiers, in ly speaking, “ rifle,” but merely the heat of rapid firing, become in- grooves” his pieces ; and the secaccurate in their calculation of the tion of one of his guns seems like the respective 1000ths. There is sure to outline of a circular saw. But there be an accident; and as the vent- is a sacrifice of the spiral motion, piece is kept firm by a hollow screw which imparts an accurate aim to the only, the pressure is merely caused shot. by the edge of a ring and is unequal. Mr. Whitworth scores, as it were,
The superior simplicity of the with a free hand the interior of his Whitworth plans commends itself at gun. Common rifling does not alter
Mr. Whitworth does not fancy the character of the bore ; but the the breech-loading system at all; Whitworth plan converts the interior but there is a craze for it; and he of the gun into a sort of hollow screw. gratifies it with certainly the simplest There is said to be a greater strain form. The breech of his cannon and violence on the gun where the swings back on a hinge, like the top shot first starts from, owing to the of a heavy glass ink-bottle. The suddenness of the shock; and to obshot is put in, the cap shut back, and, viate this, Captain Palliser ingeniwith a turn or two, screws on tightly. ously proposes that the ball should There are no delicate pieces and fine have travelled some part of its road adjustments, and but two pieces. before coming in contact with the Above all, the gun can be used as a rifling. muzzle loader. On the other hand, the Having now the material, the shape, touchhole of the rival gun, being in the bore, and the rifling-in short, ali the movable vent-piece, can be re- the appliances for despatching the newed as often as necessary; for it missiles, and despatching it truly, the
next question is, what is to be des- found that with a spherical head the patched ? And it is now found that bolt had to overcome a lateral rethe shape and properties of this latter sistance; with a flat head, the edges are as important for speed and direc- "punched”
“punched” in a hole the same size tion as the points we have been con- as itself. The real problem of our sidering in the gun itself. A Belgian day in all discoveries of this sort is not General has laid down the prin- the invention of new forces, of which ciple that “whether with a smooth there is a superabundance, but of or a rifled bore the projectile has al- economizing what we have, and givways a more extended influence than ing them a fair field. the piece which throws it.” And in For the rival gun was found a rival their shape a perfect revolution has bolt or shell-certainly one of the taken place. The old spherical shot most tremendous contrivances ever was about the worst for receiving dreamt of ; a portable mine, as Lord force that could be imagined. We Rosse described it. This terrible may be said to have finished with engine consists of a series of metal them. The word “ball” disappears; layers or discs, forty-two in number, for it is substituted “bolt.” A short laid on each other, with a hollow cavity cylinder, of which the little lengths traversing them all. It then made of the Atlantic cable, that used to be use of, for a core, as it were, a thin sold in inches would be a good mo- lead casting which keeps all these del, is found to be a true pattern. pieces together. In this state, says It is twisted like the cable, and, as its inventor, it is so compact that it it were, screws out of the gun. For may be fired through six feet of hard the remarkable principle has been timber without injury, while its rediscovered, that an “elongated shot” sistance to a bursting force from the allows of the weight being increased, interior is so slight, that an ounce of without experiencing additional re- powder is sufficient to break it in sistance from the air. This could pieces. To suit his shell, Sir William not be done in the case of a sphe- also invented a “time fuse," which rical ball, without increasing the bore by a dial and hand can discharge it at of the gun. The Armstrong projec- any time. Once burst-say on leavtile being coated with a soft metal, ing the gun-every fragment acquires is forced, as it were, to“ rifle” itself; a velocity equal to the original shell ; for on the explosion taking place, it is and one being let off, by way of exdriven, as it were, through a mould, periment, in a closed chamber, the and is obliged to take a shape cor- pieces were collected and counted and responding to the interior of the gun. reached to over two hundred. At The Whitworth missile, on the other three thousand yards distance a hunhand, is of hard metal, and projec- dred distinct holes have been made tions on its surface have to travel in targets by this destructive engine, through corresponding indentures in yet its principle, like every detail of the lining of the gun prepared to re- this famous gun, is not new. A Belceive them. This does appear to be gian has claimed the time fuse, and an imperfection, from a liability to in the Patent Lists of 1854, one Holjam, if all does not run pefectly land is registered for a shell quite the smooth.
same in principle. It is surprising what slight modi- The Whitworth shell is in shape fications in shape, even after this new much what is the Whitworth bolt. model had been adopted, were found But it has this surprising advantage, to add to its speed and efficiency. Mr. it requires no time fuse. The heat Whitworth found that by merely generated by the striking of the flat sloping away the hinder portion of head upon the object struck is so his bolt something into the shape of sudden and excessive that it lets off a pigeon's egg, the velocity was in- the charge. The various experiments creased. But more marvellous still against targets at Shoeburyness and was the surprising result obtained by other places—the piercing of iron merely flattening the head of the shot. plates-the“ discoveries of flaws”. This was suggested to him by the the bursting of guns-in short, the action of the common'“punch” fami- battle now raging between guns and liar to every whitesmith. It was plates, with doubtful issue, these are