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PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2018 11:09 pm 
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Napoleonic artillery is confusing as hell. Different measurements and nomenclature from 6 different sources (including USA). One thing I'm reading over and over is that howitzers and licornes were not actually indirect fired. Except for in sieges. They didn't use forward observers and signalmen at all. I wish there were a goto source for data and think like everything it gets down to contemporary manuscrpts written in foreign languages.
Haythornthwaite (Weapons and Equipment of the Napoleonic Wars) 'verifies' Osprey's Men at Arms 96 (or recycles incorrect data). Both sources state cannister shot was only good out to 500m though. It loses half effectivity around 300m according to Men at Arms based on one British test. Another point is that both sources say there was 5 times as much common shell ammo as cannister in the French howitzer caissons. So, it's doubtful they were really meant for close engagement like I thought.
Eylau and Friedland are where you want get artillery right since they played the pivotal roles in both battles.
I have all of these documents in PDF if anyone should want to fact check me. I also have several French manuals which I'm "reading" through.


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Last edited by Geoff McCarty on Sun Sep 23, 2018 8:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2018 7:42 am 
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While Osprey, which uses many different writers, may on occasion provide dubious information, the artillery performance section in the title mentioned above uses historical tests for some of their conclusions. These tests were conducted in England in 1835 using British Napoleonic era cannon and appear to have been quite in depth. Unfortunately, there is no bibliography provided for further research, only names of individuals that contributed to title.

I bought this copy years ago for miniature painting but it has much more information than gun carriage coloring.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2018 9:13 am 
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Kiley forgets that the Prussians had regular howitzer batteries. They were given a unique number and were put into use for special purposes or to add in their firepower to break up troop concentrations.

I like to group the howitzers into special sections in some of the titles for several reasons:

1. Gives them visibility and recognition as a weapon.

2. Follows what Kiley was getting at: special tasks - you can use them to lob shells behind the lines for unexpected results.

3. Allows the battery to be broken down to help with stacking but doesn't greatly diminish its impact (e.g. I dont use 2 gun sections for the French ... I usually stick with 4 as the least amount of guns for a unit). Jena was the only game where I used 2 gun sections a lot and I regret it ...

In miniature games we had the old "Plow Through" calculation for ball shot. Units behind and along the path of the ball were also fired on - usually it was a 10% chance of taking out a casting. There is no "Plow Through" for a howitzer shell of course. The density rules take care of extra losses.

Reminder to new players - skirmishers have a special target class but if you stack 250+ skirmishers in one hex they lose their status ...

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2018 9:21 am 
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Geoff McCarty wrote:
Napoleonic artillery is confusing as hell. Different measurements and nomenclature from 6 different sources (including USA). One thing I'm reading over and over is that howitzers and licornes were not actually indirect fired. Except for in sieges. They didn't use forward observers and signalmen at all. I wish there were a goto source for data and think like everything it gets down to contemporary manuscrpts written in foreign languages.
Haythornthwaite (Weapons and Equipment of the Napoleonic Wars) 'verifies' Osprey's Men at Arms 96 (or recycles incorrect data). Both sources state cannister shot was only good out to 500m though. It loses half effectivity around 300m according to Men at Arms based on one British test. Another point is that both sources say there was 5 times as much common shell ammo as cannister in the French howitzer caissons. So, it's doubtful they were really meant for close engagement like I thought.
Eylau and Friedland are where you want get artillery right since they played the pivotal roles in both battles.
I have all of these documents in PDF if anyone should want to fact check me. I also have several French manuals which I'm "reading" through.


Thanks for this, Geoff. Turns out that in our email discussion group on this topic (various playtesters from the team involved) I pointed out from an article that the Russians had a newer type of canister introduced in 1807-08. Thus for Austerlitz through Jena and Eylau the effectiveness was less than for the newer and more reliable canister of the 1808-1815 period. The older "canister" was not really canister. Open up the attached file and look down through the article to this heading:

Russian Canister of 1807

As we are now trying to standardize the weapons values throughout the games I helped with this means that the Russians had basically two periods for canister: 1805-1807 and 1808-1815. I am going to ask - would the canister values of 1805 also apply to the earlier Rev Wars period of 1792-1800?


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2018 10:11 am 
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I saw that too. These people were stupid I think. To many nobles in charge of production instead of scientists and industrialists. Although a tin backed cannister would still have great effects out to 200m it wouldn't go as far as a iron-backed cannister shot. If that unsourced document is correct than the Rus were using tin backed case shots as early as the 1750s when Shuvalov's gun was developed. Who knows, it was a good design (ovular muzzle) with bad ammunition? Maybe a poor translation of the Russian source because lead and tin projectiles were used by everyone in early naval and field gunnery then switched to cast iron balls during the Napoleonic wars.
I wonder if the Prussians used their shorter howitzers (I know they had a long barrel varient that the French really liked) as close support with directly shotgunning cannister like I would have. You've gotta figure the stubby barrel is great for spread and reloading cannister at short ranges quickly. 1/6th powder charge to cannister weight and elevated at 10° you'd get a conical blast 50-150m in length from the gun with musket balls. Beyond that it would just tickle. French howitzer methods seem deeply flawed but, I have a translated manual where in 1850 they begin standardising all artillery on good long barrel howitzer use concepts. Including actual indirect fire with signaling and fire tables.
Here's interesting dialogue on cannister and case shot usage: http://www.napoleonicwarsforum.com/view ... 3&start=40
I think it relates the tin-backed Russian case shot to an admitted translation mistake by Lipscombe. Zhmodikov actually said the Russian army switched from light lead cannister use only to including 'heavy' iron backed, tin case, and sawdust packed shot which mechanically exploded on contact for further range in 1807. There was an unused tin backed prototype during tests. That 'heavy case' is the type of ammunition that the French used solely for their howitzers. Thus, French howitzers were only meant for medium-long distance work. I've probably confused the issue more and am more confused myself. :p


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2018 12:46 pm 
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Neither here nor there, but in regards to the Shuvalov Secret Howitzer. The problem wasn't ever the "bad ammo". The beastie had a very notable RoF issue (with the Prussians at Zorndorf timing up their cav charges to sneak in between rounds), and then the lack of roundshot made it a short range piece only. It could be nasty within range, but in the end lacked flexibility.

Side amusing note: As I had to add the Secret Howitzer to the Weapons.dat file for SYW, I assigned it an unused letter. Then, in a playtest of Kunersdorf, I noticed that the assigned sound effect was the longbow sound that was still in the sound files from REN. Was a bit odd till we got that fixed :frenchoops:

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2018 1:00 pm 
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I suppose the weapons.dat are linked to their waves in the executable? That's kinda annoying (unmoddable) but, I get why the weapons.dat is a non-sequential mess now.


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