"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

New Info

Yahoo, in their infinite wisdom, has made itself unusable for reliable e-mail.
New e-mail:
plowshareforge@gmail.com
Of course I still check the Yahoo account. They just suck for the day-to-day stuff.

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov

GMC

GMC
Second oldest truck manufacturer in the US - after Autocar.
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ya' Know What A Guy Could Do...
















...bout cartridges (circa 1860's)?
The little paper/fabric... reefer made up of the powder and ball, all of a piece, was brilliant but; if a guy could think up a way to make a cartridge that not only held the propellant and bullet together but also expanded to fill and therefore seal, the chamber at the appropriate instant - that would be cool.
Spoiler: We've got that now. That's what modern cartridges do but, of course things had to have started somewhere.
Some of the early entries were the rounds produced by Eley Bros. Ammunition manufacturers od Edmonton, London..
The design was the brain-wave of one Colonel Boxer of the Royal Arsenal in Woolrich.
It was called the "Boxer cartridge" and it's pictured above with two of its prettier step-sisters.
The venerable .577/450, AKA the Martini-Henry round, is what you find in the center.
To the left, the darling little turd, dressed-up-as-a-bullet-for-Halloween, that's a Zulu Wars vintage Martini-Henry; a Boxer round.
This particular artifact was obviously introduced during the feeling-your-way part, along the way toward mastering the metallic cartridge thing.
A look at the graphic next up will show you that it was most certainly a craft project.
If you can decipher the drawing shown, you could just about make the thing at home but for the primer and the projo.
First, a trapezoidal piece of brass foil is soldered-to and wound-up upon, a rimmed base-plate. One of the shorter sides is attached, then the rest of the brass winds on up in a spiral.
That makes up the body of the cartridge. Then the the smaller, rectangular piece wraps around the base.
Clumsy though the execution may have been, the concept was solid.
Prior to this, a cartridge was just a convenient way to marry projo to charge, ahead of time.
The thinking started running along the lines of "how about a cartridge that doesn't just keep everything of-a-piece but also helps to seal the breech in the bargain".
The idea that the brass expanding and sealing the chamber at the critical millisecond  is what keeps all our modren bullets heading downrange with speed and alacrity to this day.
They simply found out that drawn-brass works just as well as the elaborately coiled construction.
But, back to the wayback machine and that arts-and-crafts project, labor-intensive joke that was the Boxer.
I wouldn't even venture a guess regarding the unit cost of each round with a Boxer cartridge.
Man-hours per 1000 rounds.
Lots of work there.
But, back to our opening, the one gun that could reliably shoot these fragile, expensive and just-plain-funky-looking things was the Nordenfelt five-barrel machine gun.
Machine gun. Take note.
Though it could theoretically fire 600 rounds-per-minute, the Nordenfelt was a machine gun only in the pre-Maxim sense.
It wasn't hand-cranked like the Gatling. It was lever-operated.
Being that it sent five rounds down-range with each back-and-forth action of the lever, the 600 rounds per. is easy to visualize but aimed rounds - that was another matter.
That slowed her down to perhaps 20% of the maximum rate, down to around 120 rounds per minute.
Still formidable but that's not the point. Every one of those .577 projos headed, downrange at the rate of two per second, had burst forth from that most laughable example of Victorian "engineering" to date.
The Boxer cartridge. And the Nordenfelt was the reliable gun for these fragile, precious rounds!
Anyway, drawn-brass cartridges came into their own and the trail-blazing Boxer drifted into obscurity.
The Martini-Henry itself was due to be supplanted shortly thereafter.
Re the top photo: At the far right; the skinny, pointy bullet?  That would be the "it" girl of 1888, .303 British ("Seventy-five years of service and only fifty of obsolescence").
Makes you realize why they wondered about the .303 and thought of it as a "small" bullet back in the day.
To close: Some Nordenfelt porn.
Can't embed the vid so you'll have to click (Be strong!).
This guy is some kind of Victorian, machine-gun nut so you look at the other stuff on his site.

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