Guns for snipers


As is known, the US civil war has become a "testing ground" for many types of weapons and military equipment, among which can be called tower battleships, submarines, multiply-charged rifles, armored trains and mitraliezs. It is less known that rifled breech-loading guns were used for the first time in the same war situation.

True, these guns were designed and made not in the US, but in the UK, in the company of Joseph Whitworth. In 1855, Whitworth patented a gun with a hexagonal (hexagonal) barrel and a projectile for it. The edges had a spiral twist and played the role of rifling, but at the same time the projectile went along them freely, without braking, therefore the initial speed of such a projectile was higher, and the range of flight was greater than that of conventional ammunition with leading belts.

An additional advantage was that the "faceted" barrel wore less during firing than rifled. But there was a drawback: the manufacture of such a barrel was four times more expensive than a barrel with spiral grooves. Accordingly, the price of the gun was much higher. Therefore, the British army refused to buy Whitworth guns, although, in the British navy - a much richer structure - they have found application.

The first samples of hexagons were muzzle-loading, but in 1859, Wheatworth presented a line of breech-loading tools consisting of three-pound, six-pound and 12-pound field guns. In England, they again did not arouse interest, but in 1860, seven breech-loading 12-pounds were purchased by the US Department of Defense for familiarization, intending to get a larger batch in case of positive reviews. However, this was not the case.

Guns and ammunition arrived in the country literally on the eve of the civil war, and for some reason they all ended up in the territory of the separated southern states. Of course, the Southerners actively used this "gift of fate", but it was too small to have at least some influence on the course of the war as a whole and even on the results of individual battles.

It is known that the Confederates divided the rifled guns between several batteries that fought on different fronts, with no more than two such guns falling into each battery. In particular, two guns that were part of the 3-th corps battery under the command of Captain Hart, took part in the famous Gettysburg battle, but the northerners noticed them only by the specific piercing howl of flying projectiles. Veterans of the battle said that the one who had ever heard the sound would not forget it to death. Two more guns were used in the Anthite massacre with the same result.

Having quickly consumed the stock of shells from England, the Southerners began to make them on their own. At the same time, it turned out that such ammunition, due to their original form, flies into a solid kopeck. Someone came up with the idea of ​​shooting hexagonals with ordinary cores turned on a hexagon. They were much cheaper, but the range and accuracy of shooting sank very well.

On the range and accuracy of “Whitworth” is worth a special mention. In those days, they were just fantastic. The 12-lb (2,75-inch) field gun threw 5,75 kg shells per 10 kilometers! True, with the then primitive sights and means of observation firing at such distances did not make sense, since the gunners simply did not see its results. A firing of "hexagonalok" on the squares was too expensive pleasure.

But on the ranges of the direct shot, the exceptional accuracy and accuracy of the firing of these guns was manifested. The American magazine Engineering wrote in 1864 that at a distance of 1600 yards the lateral deviation of 12-pound Whitworth shells from the aiming point was only 5 inches! Such accuracy made "Whitworth" an ideal tool for counter-battery struggle and "jewelry" work on point targets. Undoubtedly, if the southerners were not seven of these guns, and once more in 20, and even with the corresponding number of "native" ammunition, the outcome of a number of battles could be much more advantageous for them.

During the fighting, four Whitworth guns were captured by northerners. Two of them are now part of a memorial erected on the Gettysburg Battlefield. Their photo is placed on the screen saver.

The initial muzzle-loading model of Whitworth's cannon and its projectiles.

Modern replica of breech-loading "Whitworth" and its ammunition, including the turned core.

"Whitworth" equipped with flaps, screwing on the breech.

Position "hexagonalok" battery Hart at the edge of the forest near the Gettysburg field. Shells are visible near the carriages of the carriages.

Whitworth's gun, captured by northerners in Richmond at the end of the civil war. Perhaps one of those that stand now as monuments at Gettysburg.
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  1. -13
    25 2016 June
    I hate SySHYa. Their politics and Russophobia, which they promote the whole world.
    (sorry, off topic)
  2. +9
    25 2016 June
    Quote: dr.Bo
    I hate SySHYa. Their politics and Russophobia, which they promote the whole world.
    (sorry, off topic)

    but nothing to say in the case?
  3. +5
    25 2016 June
    And they didn’t say that Whitworth also developed the production of hot pressed steel, which improves the strength and microstructure of the products, in this case the trunks!
  4. +11
    25 2016 June
    if I'm not confusing anything, Whitworth was not only a gunsmith, but also related to one of the first computers — the Charles Babbage analytical machine. He set up parts of the mechanism. The mechanical device was never fully created, and only in the new century was it completed according to the drawings.

    By the way, Whitworth rifles appeared in front of the cannon. Also with 6 coal bore. The weapon was twice as expensive as the Anfield rifle, but it was accurate and even equipped with primitive sniper sights. During the war years, a special unit "Whitworth Snipers" operated, they were engaged in shooting artillery servants. It was from the Whitworth rifle that Major General Sedgwick, commander of the 9th Corps of the Army of the Potomac at the Battle of Spotsylvenia, was killed on May 1864, 6, and thus became the highest-ranking US general killed in the war.

    And yes, as noted above, he had excellent locksmithing skills, improved the accuracy of many precision machine tools, and also modified iron casting foundations for machine tools.
    1. +2
      25 2016 June
      Quote: Choi
      Schemes of iron casting of the base of machine tools.

      From what kind of "iron" were the "foundations" of the machine tools poured? The English "iron" means not only "iron", but also cast iron. I remember the iron foundries and the iron beds of machine tools. When, of course, there was machine tool building and metalworking in our country. Should we translate Iron Duke as Iron Duke? The case of the translator. But "chugunok" - dishes for the Russian stove - let it remain a cast iron. Or will we rename it to the "iron pot" according to the new fashion? It sounds different in Chinese anyway ...
  5. +4
    25 2016 June
    What does the modern USA have to do with it? At that time, we supported the USA and fought along with the hegemony of the British Empire. Of course, today it is clear that if the Southern states defended their independence it would delay the development of America, but then it was not so obvious, and in military terms the USA helped the Russian Empire modernize the army and navy (Colt, Berdan, Smith and Wesson, frigate General admiral, tower monitors.)
  6. +4
    25 2016 June
    I have always been for the Confederates, even as a child reading historical articles I was mentally worried about them, for some reason. And no stories about poor blacks touched me! wassat
  7. The comment was deleted.
  8. +2
    26 2016 June
    A curious sample of artillery guns. Very informative.
  9. PKK
    26 2016 June
    It wasn’t calm in Russia at that time. New historians called some movements Peasant unrest. Great doubts about this. GW in North America took place over the possession of river canals from New York to Chicago. The Severians completely took control of all rivers and canals, river mouths .Economy passed to them. Soon the Chicago slaughter began, grinding tens of millions of cattle, horses from the prairies. Bisons, carcasses also sailed along canals, rivers and lakes to the coast and further to Europe. Europe also received thoroughbred cows and horses, compare Mongolian horses and English-Indian horses. About the guns. The guns had outstanding characteristics, they shot well. The guns would now be useful in defense with modern sights, screaming the adversary with their howl. Author plus.
  10. +2
    26 2016 June
    Deviation of the projectile at a distance of 1600 yards, just 5 inches from the aiming point, this is a blatant blunder. This is how big-eyed it is necessary to be through the front and rear sights so precisely determine the aiming point itself.
    1. +3
      26 2016 June
      Quote: Denimax
      1600 yards just 5 inches from the aiming point, this is a blatant blunder.

      Plus you for your observation! There is such a story that Galileo showed his mother the planet Venus through a telescope, and she asked him why her "horns" are directed from a month in the other direction? The most excellent human vision is the ability to distinguish the shape of objects up to 30 arc seconds. Converting your yards and inches to centimeters, respectively 146300 and 12,7 centimeters. Since the sines and tangents of small angles are approximately equal to the angles themselves (in radian measure), we get the figure 0,000086808. Even translating it into the radian measure of the angle by multiplying / roughly, of course roughly, gentlemen-comrades! / By 57 we get only 0,004948052, which is clearly not up to half a minute (30 arc seconds).
      1. 0
        26 2016 June
        You, too, + for your knowledge of geometry and the section of trigonometry.)
        As soon as I rested on what I saw, I know from the programs that a tin can (about 13 centimeters)) through a 10x sniper scope at a distance of more than a kilometer looks like a point. I don’t even believe in such accuracy of this gun. It could be more believable: In tests, at 600 yards, a cannon on a rigid machine, from a series of shots, gave an accuracy of 5 inches.
    2. 0
      October 10 2016
      Perhaps the aiming point was in the center of the scattering ellipse. Can you imagine this? By the way, the big-eyed gunner should be put, as indeed any shooter.
  11. +1
    26 2016 June
    Dear author! Thank you for the article and for your comments ...... in LiveJournal (Aviamaster) and please evaluate the levels of discussion in the comments here and here))))
  12. 0
    26 2016 June
    I would like to look at the equipment of the company where these tools were made. Surprisingly, in the courtyard were 1860.
  13. 0
    August 14 2020
    There's a Whitfort thread - I suppose he invented it too? The book "metalworker's guide" prof. Znamensky (32 years old) in my St. Petersburg Tool Museum, in particular, because of her, they were xerilized.

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