The early projects of dynamite guns, developed by David M. Mefford, Edmund Zalinsky and other American gunsmith engineers, had a common characteristic flaw. These guns used pneumatic projectile throwing tools, because of which they represented a large and heavy complex of various means unsuitable for quick transfer to a new firing position. For example, the Zalinski-Rapieff guns weighed about two hundred tons, because of which they were used only by coastal batteries. However, troops also needed mobile systems. The inventor Dana Dudley proposed his own solution to this problem.
Designer D. Dudley began work in a promising direction no later than the first half of the nineties of the 19th century. At the same time, there is a little confusion in the materials on his first project. The fact is that the patent for the first design of a promising artillery gun was issued in 1898 year, but two years earlier the first combat use of another gun, the development of the very first project, took place. Thus, the first Dudley dynamite gun project was created no later than 1894-95.
Apparently, D. Dudley knew about recent works in the field of so-called. dynamite guns in which certain progress has already been made. Nevertheless, despite all the successes, the existing developments had some characteristic drawbacks. Wanting to save the dynamite artillery from existing problems and introduce it into the armaments of the ground forces, the inventor began work on his own project. The result of this activity was the formation of the original appearance weapons, further developed and come down to practical application.
Recall the emergence of the so-called. Dynamite guns contributed to the success in the creation of explosives. In the late sixties of the XIX century, Alfred Nobel created dynamite, which immediately attracted the attention of the military. At the same time, the military soon cooled to a new explosive: because of its high sensitivity, it could not be used as a charge for artillery shells. Powder throwing charge with a powerful impetus could provoke an explosion of a projectile directly in the gun. As a consequence, the creation of guns for projectiles with dynamite “stuffing” began later and was initially conducted by the forces of enthusiasts.
Later it was found that a projectile with a dynamite charge can be used by guns, but requires less rapid acceleration in the barrel than the "traditional" powder ammunition, and is literally afraid of too sharp shocks. It was not possible to obtain the required acceleration parameters using powder propellant charges, due to which a proposal to use compressed gas appeared over time. It was proposed to include a compressor with a steam engine, a cylinder for compressed gas and fittings for connecting various components into the composition of the perspective appearance of a dynamite / pneumatic gun. The guns of this appearance were brought to the test and even limited use of the US naval forces. The army, however, could not expect to receive similar systems due to unacceptable dimensions and weight.
An obvious solution to the issue of dimensions was the use of the existing principle of loading a cannon using carts or metal sleeves, but in this case it would have been necessary to use gunpowder, whose power was excessive for the safe throwing of dynamite projectiles. After analyzing the available opportunities, D. Dudley formed the original appearance of a powder gun, capable of throwing ammunition with a sensitive charge without any problems. To this end, it was proposed to introduce into the gun an additional chamber designed to reduce the rate of pressure increase in the bore.
The traditional design of artillery guns involves the use of a single tubular barrel, in the breech of which are sequentially placed projectile and propellant charge. With the breech-loading, the bore is locked with the shutter. In the project, D. Dudley was asked to place the projectile and the sleeve in different volumes, connected to each other. Due to this, it became possible to control the pressure and momentum acting on the projectile. The original and not too complicated principle of bringing the characteristics to the required values contributed to the formation of a non-standard gun design.
According to a later patent, the Dana Dudley dynamite gun was supposed to have a barrel with breech loading placed at the top of the whole structure. There was the possibility of using both smooth and rifled barrel. This required an increased relative length of the barrel, which was associated with the need for a little more than a long acceleration of the projectile with the transfer of the required energy to it. Specific parameters of the barrel should be selected in the development of a full-fledged project on which serial guns could be built in the future.
In the breech breech project envisaged a conical expansion, which was supposed to include a cylindrical piston valve, secured in place with the help of continuous cutting. For locking and unlocking the barrel, made by hand, it was proposed to equip the bolt with a set of handles that made it look like a ship's steering wheel. The means of keeping the bolt close to the breech were not used: the bolt had to be removed and removed from the gun completely.
Before the shutter in the lower part of the barrel provided an opening for the supply of powder gases from other volumes of guns. The patent drawing shows the use of two short vertical tubes and one horizontal one running between them. The rear vertical tube was connected to the barrel bore, while the front tube was designed to remove gases from the lower chamber of the gun.
In the lower part of the perspective gun was placed so-called. explosion chamber As conceived by the author, this camera was a tubular unit of sufficient volume with open ends. At both ends of the pipe provided cutting for mounting the necessary units. In the front upper part of the chamber there was a gas outlet for communication with the piping system and the barrel. Also on the outer surface of the blasting chamber and other units of the gun should have been located jumpers connecting all the pipes in one block and ensuring their correct location.
At the front end of the lower chamber, with the help of a thread, it was proposed to mount a removable cover with a large hole in the center. As well as the shutter, for ease of maintenance, the cover should have a set of handles that facilitate its disassembly and installation. Inside the cover should be placed a plate-diaphragm that performs the functions of a safety valve and prevents the chamber from exceeding the permissible pressure. The diaphragm could be made of metal or another material of sufficient strength, capable of withstanding normal pressure, but breaking through when reaching extreme values.
In the back of the blast chamber, which was the breech, should have placed a sleeve with a propelling charge. After loading, the camera was closed with a second lid, which was a shutter. The shutter of the camera was a large and thick-walled part with a set of internal channels and external fixtures for the necessary devices. Thus, in the center a through channel was provided for the installation of a spring-loaded drummer used by the trigger mechanism. In its place, the shutter had to be held in thread.
In the first draft of D. Dudley, a dynamite gun received a trigger mechanism of a rather simple design. On protruding mounts on the outer surface of the bolt, the trigger, made in the form of a two-armed lever, was supposed to be hinged. One of the arms of the lever was intended to strike the striker, the second - to interact with the mainspring. In the cocked position, the trigger was held by a swinging L-shaped sear. The latter was equipped with a cord to control the fire.
The drawing to the patent shows the possible construction of a perspective tool carriage. A design with a two-wheeled undercarriage and a frame for resting on the ground was shown. The swinging artillery part of the gun was a single unit comprising the barrel, the explosion chamber and the pipes connecting them. With the help of a bracket with a hole, the swinging part had to be connected to the axle of the wheels. For vertical guidance, a screw mechanism was proposed that connected the swinging part to the carriage. Horizontal guidance should be carried out by turning the whole gun. Obviously, with the further development of the project, the weapon D. Dudley could receive a carriage of a different design.
The appearance of the weapon by the authorship of Dana Dudley allowed to build artillery systems of different caliber and with different characteristics. At the same time, similar ammunition should be used. The project initially provided for separate loading, and this principle was brought to a logical end: a projectile and a sleeve with a charge should not only be fed into the gun separately, but also be placed in different parts of it. It was assumed that the shells for the new gun will be equipped with a charge of dynamite, explosive jelly or other new explosives that can not be used in traditional powder artillery. As a propellant charge, existing gunpowder could be used in the corresponding sample.
The principle of using a pneumatic / dynamite gun D. Dudley was very interesting. After deploying the towed gun according to the standard methodology, unusual combat work began. The calculation was supposed to unscrew the bolt from the barrel, as well as remove the bolt from the explosion chamber. Then the shell was placed in the barrel. At the same time, it should be pushed to a certain depth so that the gas inlet would not be blocked. A shell with a propellant charge was placed in the explosion chamber. After that, the "lower" bolt returned to its place, the trigger moved to the cocked position and was fixed with a sear. Pointing the gun at the target, the calculation could pull the cord, performing a shot.
The impact of the cord on the sear led to unlocking the trigger, which, under the influence of the mainspring, had to turn on its axis and hit the firing pin, making a shot. The ignition of the propellant charge in the sleeve should have led to the formation of a large amount of powder gases, rapidly spreading through the volume of the explosion chamber, the connecting pipes and the bore. Before the start of interaction with the projectile in the barrel, the powder gases needed to expand for some time, which made it possible to reduce the sharpness of the impulse to acceptable values. A further increase in pressure in the system moved the projectile from the spot, conducted it along the bore, accelerated to the required speed, and then threw it out of the barrel in the direction of the target.
In the event of an abnormal burning of a propellant charge and an excess of the permissible pressure, the gun of the design D. Dudley was equipped with a safety valve in the form of a diaphragm being pierced. In case of overpressure in the explosion chamber, the diaphragm should have ripped, throwing gases out. Due to this, the gases could be released outside, before reaching the projectile and not causing it to explode in the barrel. Returning the safety valve to working condition was quite simple - it was required to unscrew its cover, replace the diaphragm and return all parts to their place.
After the shot was executed, the calculation of the tool could reload or, if necessary, replace the safety diaphragm and remove the projectile. After completing all the required procedures, gunners could make a new shot.
The project of D. Dudley allowed to get rid of one of the main problems of dynamite guns - the proposed appearance of the artillery system ensured a drastic reduction in size in comparison with the existing pneumatic tools. This made it possible to count on the possible use of such weapons by artillery units of the ground forces in need of powerful but mobile weapons. In addition, an important advantage of the project was the ability to adapt the structure to the tasks: changes in the structure and various fire parameters were achieved, achieved by refining certain elements of the structure.
Initially, the main task of the project D. Dudley and other designers of dynamite guns was to increase the power of artillery through the use of more powerful explosives. The use of dynamite projectiles allowed the Dudley dynamite gun to outrun existing powder systems in the destructive effect of ammunition on the target. However, there may have been some noticeable flaws. First of all, the dynamite gun was larger and heavier than a similar system of traditional architecture. The presence of an explosive chamber and pipelines adversely affected the weight and overall characteristics and, in some cases, the usability. In addition, there could be problems in the form of a shorter firing range. Thus, the prospects of the proposed system should be determined by the customer in accordance with the existing requirements, as well as taking into account the specific ratio of the main characteristics.
Apparently, the initial project of D. Dudley could not interest the military, which is why he remained in the form of a set of drawings and calculations. However, the curious and original proposal was not forgotten and developed. In the mid-nineties of the 19th century, Dana Dudley, in collaboration with inventor Winfield Scott Sims, developed an improved version of the gun based on existing ideas. This weapon was brought to the ground tests, and later even was able to take a limited part in the actual hostilities.
Only a few years later D. Dudley was concerned about the protection of his copyright on inventions. 26 April 1898, the designer filed three applications for patents. Two of them dealt with a promising dynamite gun with an explosive chamber: one application described the principle of operation of the gun, the other - the very design of the artillery system. 23 July of the same year, the US Patent Office confirmed the rights of the inventor. On the principle of the gun was issued a patent US 407474, on the design of the gun - US 407476. Interestingly, the original patent owner in the first document was the company Hotchkiss Ordnance Company.
In addition, in July 1898, D. Dudley received a patent for another design of a dynamite gun. The document number US407475 described an alternative version of a promising weapon worthy of separate consideration. In this project, the designer managed to solve the tasks without a significant increase in the size of the weapon.
The project of dynamite gun D. Dudley (USA)
- Ryabov Kirill