Smoothbore Tank Gun Overview

With only two exceptions, the Indian Arjun and the British Challenger II, every single modern Main Battle Tank uses a smoothbore gun as its primary weapon. To some, this may seem to defy conventional wisdom. If rifled barrels were a huge advance in the field of weapons technology, why have many countries decided to switch back to the seemingly ancient smoothbore weapon? The answer revolves around the challenge of penetrating increasingly tough armour and the rounds used to do so. The primary rounds used by modern tank crews for engaging enemy armour are the Armour Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot (APFSDS) round, the High Explosive Anti Tank (HEAT) round and the High Explosive Squash Head round, all of which benefit from a smoothbore gun.


The APFSDS round began development in 1940 in France, the work was continued in England during WWII and has continued to advance ever since. During WWII, the standard tank shell looked a lot like a regular bullet.

These shells worked well enough but as armour thickened, the tank guns needed to fire at higher muzzle velocities to increase penetration. The problem was that at about 850 m/s steel rounds had a tendency to shatter harmlessly rather than carry through the armour. The solution was to switch from steel to tungsten carbide, an extremely hard and dense material. The problem with the tungsten carbide rounds was that they were too heavy to be effectively accelerated, nullifying their penetrative capabilities. The solution to this problem was to encase a smaller tungsten carbide round inside of a larger shell of a lighter material like aluminum. Upon impact, the lighter metal would shear away while the tungsten perpetrator would continue through the armour. This design allowed for shells to be projected at much higher velocities and as a result, penetrate much thicker armour. These shells were deployed during WWII, with some success, however, they were still not optimized as the outer shell caused unnecessary parasitic drag and the penetrator itself had to be relativity small and therefore relatively low in mass. The solution to the problem of parasitic drag was to create a shell or “sabot” that could fall away and allow the projectile to travel un-impinged through the air, while the problem of mass was solved by extending the projectile into a dart shape allowing for both a high mass and a low cross sectional area, decreasing drag and increasing penetration.

All this problem solving resulted in the creation of the APFSDS round as we know it today, however a problem still remained. The APFSDS round cannot be fired with a spin, like the kind imparted by rifling, because a rod tends to tumble when spun. Think about how a wide, squat top will remain stable when spun while a pencil will not. The solution was to either add slipping bands to the sabot that prevented the projectile itself from being spun by the rifling, or to get rid of the rifling altogether, which is what many countries have chosen to do. 

HEAT round

The HEAT round is an armour penetrating round that uses chemical energy to penetrate armour. HEAT rounds use shaped charges to create a jet of high velocity liquid metal which melts through most armour like butter. HEAT rounds were developed just before WWII and were used in the Panzerschreck and the Bazooka. 

Above is a general diagram of how a shaped charge works. The explosive melts the liner and as the liner moves forward it forms into a thin projectile. this projectile is hot enough to melt through metal armour. The liner must be a ductile metal, and copper is most commonly used. The HEAT round detonates at a stand off distance from the armour, typically determined by a standoff spike at the tip of the round, as shown below. 

Upon detonation, the liquefied liner will form into its most penetrative shape and impact the armour. If the round detonates too late, the stream will not have time to properly form. Too early, and the stream will dissipate or cool. HEAT rounds cannot be fired from a rifled gun in most cases. If the round is spinning when it detonates, the stream will be subject to extreme centrifugal force and dissipate rapidly. It’s hard to picture, but think of a merry-go-round. If it’s spinning really fast, all the kids fly off. Thusly, the fluid metal cannot form into a stream. HEAT round can be fired from rifled guns provided their is a slip ring that prevents the round from spinning. Another way in which HEAT rounds can be fired from a rifled gun is if the metal in the liner is crystallized in a specific spiraled fashion so that when it melts suddenly, the spin is negated. This basically seems like magic to me but whatever.

HESH Round

The High Explosive Squash Head round works by, at a certain standoff range, detonating and projecting a glob of explosive at the flat armour surface. The glob impact, spreads and is detonated, all within a fraction of a second. At this point, the armour is not penetrated, rather, the explosion creates a shock wave that travels through the armour and creates spallation on the opposite side of the armour. Spallation is when a shock wave travels through a material and knocks parts of the material off of the other side, as pictured below.

This knocked-off material is called spall and can be extremely hot and can travel at high velocities. Just like HEAT rounds, HESH rounds suffer unacceptably from the centrifugal force imparted on them by spin. This is actually untrue, HESH rounds benefit from rifling as the same centrifugal force which dissipates the HEAT rounds liquid stream, flattens out the HESH rounds explosive glob, providing a larger surface area and more penetrative shock wave. 

Other Advantages of Smoothbore Guns

Beyond the ability to easily use these types of rounds, smoothbore guns are less susceptible to thermal variation which greatly increases accuracy. Smoothbore guns wear far more slowly than rifled barrels and are far cheaper to produce. Smoothbore guns do not sap velocity from a round as they impart little to no friction on the round as it travels through the barrel. In general, smoothbore barrels are far superior in terms of logistics and, because of modern ammo types, penetrating power and killing power.


I love getting questions from ya’ll so if anything is unclear or if I left something out, don’t hesitate to let me know. Also, suggestions for future topics.  

Northwest blanket gun

Manufactured for the North-Western fur trade beyond the Hudson Bay, sawn off and engraved by Tlingit natives c.late 18th century.
.69 caliber smoothbore barrel, flintlock single shot musket.

Northwest type guns were a specific model used to trade with American natives during the 18th and early 19th century, which were characterized by a brass serpent plate on the left side of the lock and an enlarged triggerguard to allow shooting with either thick gloves or two fingers.

A Northwest gun’s distinctive brass plate, signed Pritchett c.1829.

These were suited for war and hunting and were greatly appreciated by native tribes, who lacked the infrastructure to produce them but well understood their superiority to more ‘traditional’ weapons.

Two full-length Northwest guns.


Shortlane Scavenger 9mm Luger 12 Gauge Shotgun Adapter Review,

Now that I have a 12 gauge break action double barrel shotgun, one thing I’ve always wanted to try are those bizarre chamber adapters. Ever wonder if there was a way to fire 9mm out of a 12 gauge shotgun? Well thanks to Shortlane there is. Chamber adapters are fairly simple tools, basically a metal cylinder with a hole bored in the center to accommodate the cartridge. The adapter is inserted into the chamber of the shotgun, and the cartridge inserted into the adapter. Note that they cannot be used in pump or semi auto shotguns, only break actions.

They type I am firing is the Shortlane Scavenger series in 9mm Luger. It’s the simplest model which is smoothbore and 3 inches long. They also make the “Bug Out” series which is rifled and 3 inches long, the “Zombie Series” which is rifled and 5 inches long, and finally the “Pathfinder” series which is rifled and 8 inches long. They come in common pistol calibers such as .22 long rifle, 9mm luger, .380 ACP, .40 SW,.45 ACP, .45 Long Colt,.357 magnum, and .38 special. Rifled models also feature rubber O rings to make the inserts fit more snugly in the chamber. Another company called MCA sports makes rifled inserts that are 10 inches and 18 inches long, with more exotic pistol calibers, and three rifle calibers; .30-40 krag, .30-30, and 7.62x39.

Now I’m under no delusion that I’m going to get great performance out of these. Basically using these chamber inserts is like firing a smoothbore snubby revolver with a loose barrel. The bullet will not spin, definitely something that will ruin accuracy. It’s fired from only a 3 inch barrel which will decrease velocity greatly, and the insert probably vibrates with each shot. Also, my shotgun is meant for wingshooting, meaning the front sight (bead) is made for aerial targets, and thus shoots high when firing at ground targets. 

So is the Shortland adapter in 9mm as crappy as I thought it would be? Well, I’m proud to say that I can easily achieve MOA accuracy, if MOA was measured at five feet. Yeah, these things suck. I was firing American Eagle brand 9mm Luger FMJ with 115 grain bullets. Note that these inserts are not made to safely fire +P ammunition.  After doing some “sighting in” I determined that I needed to hold low, right at the bottom the target, and to the right, down at the right had corner. I first shot open handed at 25 yards, firing 12 rounds. The instruction manual says to expect practical accuracy at 10 yards, but I decided to push it a bit. 

At this range where the bullet will hit is near unpredictable.   I can hold in the same place, but sometimes it will fly high, fly low, and when it does hit the target it’s not anywhere near the bullseye. After firing at 25 yards, I moved up half distance to around 12 yards. At 12 yards I got much better results without missing the target and getting something close to a predictable group. Notice how the bullet holes look mangled rather than being clean round bullet holes. That’s because without rifling the bullet isn’t spinning, and it quickly loses flight stability and begins tumbling.

Here are my results, the left target at 25 yards and right at 10 yards.

So yeah, these things really aren’t good for much of anything. If you have a 12 gauge shotgun, and some assorted ammo you want to make go bang, these inserts will do.  I guess if you only had a shotgun and only a box of 9mm, you could use it for hunting if you were starving and desperate. I wouldn’t hunt with it under normal circumstances, but if I was starving and had no other options, it would be a practical tool, though far from ideal. One advantage is that it does add more versatility to a shotgun. I could see people in the Great Depression appreciating these inserts, despite their limitations. Back in the days of my Great Grandfather, all the family could afford was a 12 gauge double barrel, which was used not only to feed the family with small game and birds, but also large game when loaded with slugs, and pressed into service scaring away Ku Klux Klan thugs whenever they decided it was “harass Italian Catholic Immigrant” day.

Finally I must state that the Scavenger series I used is the simplest and crudest model offered. They retail for $24.99 a piece. The longer rifled models are  more expensive but probably much more effective.  I’m going to purchase the 5 inch rifled model and test it to see how much better they perform. If I find they are practical I might get other calibers, and perhaps one of the 8 inch rifled models. While the scavenger might suck, I’ve seen youtube videos were shooters have gotten some pretty impressive accuracy out of the 5 and 8 inch rifled models. If they are practical, I might also considering getting 10 inch inserts from MCA sports in a rifle caliber cartridge, either .30-30 or 7.62x39 (which actually have similar ballistics).  We shall see.


Staring down the breach of Reinmetal’s new 130mm L51 smoothbore gun.
When Russia created the T14 Armata, incorporating a new super powerful 125mm gun, composite, ERA, and an active protection system, as well as a whole bunch of other goodies like an unmanned turret, they kick-started a new tank arms race.
For twenty years NATO has neglected our armoured units (my home the UK especially has allowed almost all our tanks to rot, and we shut down all the factories that make the parts, guns, ammunition and engines)
Now the Armata has shown the tank is potentially as deadly and vital as ever, and we’ve fallen very behind.
The first stage in NATO’s strategy laid out in 2014 to deal with the Armata threat, was to up gun our current vehicles to be able to hold a slight penertration advantage over the Armata. A 130mm gun began development at Reinmetal who had previously developed a 140mm monster at the end of the cold war. This is the first unveiling of that 130mm cannon, showing the beautiful barrel lining and enormous ammunition.
It is being stated that a new turret and autoloader will likely need to be developed to mount the gun, as it is heavier and more cumbersome than original estimates. One thing’s sure, it is damn powerful. A 50% increase in muzzle energy over the 120mm L55 gun, which in turn is 25% more powerful than the Abrams’ reinmetal L44.


Nock pepperbox musket

Manufactured by Henry Nock’s company in London c.~1800 - no serial number.
.44 ball, smoothbore manually indexed six-barrel cluster, self-priming flintlock.

A considerable upgrade on his 1779 seven-barreled volley gun, Nocks uses the revolving technology of American gunsmith Artemus Wheeler and adds to it a self-priming mechanism of his own design, which would later be the basis of Elisha Collier’s famous designs. This firearm would allow its user to fire a shot, lock the barrel cluster into its next position, cock the hammer, lower the frizzen and take another shot, up to six times in a row. It was a considerably faster rate of fire than any musket at the time.


The Paper Musket Cartridge,

Today when one thinks of ammunition one probably imagines modern cartridges made of brass which contain smokeless gunpowder, a bullet, and a primer.  Many firearms today even have magazines that can hold 20, 30, perhaps even 100 cartridges at a time.  However before the end of the American Civil War, when soldiers fought with flintlock or percussion muskets, most firearms were limited to one.  Cartridges of the time were also much different from the metallic self contained cartridges of today.  From the 17th century until around 1865, most cartridges were actually paper.

Before the invention of the cartridge, a soldier or hunter would typically load a musket by pouring loose powder from a flask, then loading a patch followed by the bullet, or maybe just the bullet.  Using a flask was often slow and if it lacked a tap, the amount of powder poured could vary from shot to shot, effecting performance. Eventually by the late 15th century soldiers in both Europe and Asia had the idea to place pre-measured powder charges in containers, typically worn on a bandoleer, thus speeding the loading process and ensuring better consistency.

 In the late 16th century soldiers in Denmark and Naples had the idea to wrap a pre-measured amount of gunpowder as well as a bullet inside a piece of paper.  Doing so ensured consistency of powder and sped up the process of loading.  By the 17th century the use of paper cartridges became widespread in Europe and the America’s.

To load a musket with a paper cartridge, the user would first bite off an end of the cartridge.  The user would first pour a little bit of powder in the flashpan, unless the musket was a percussion lock which became common around the mid 19th century. Then the user would drop the cartridge, powder and all into the barrel. The ramrod would be used to push the entire cartridge down the barrel, thus properly seating it and ensuring there was no air gaps between the bullet, gunpowder, and chamber (which could cause an explosion).  

Typically the paper was also pre-lubricated with wax, tallow, or lard to protect it from moisture, allow it to travel the down the bore easier, and lubricate or clean the muzzle.  Using this method a well trained soldier could expect to fire around 3-4 shots a minute. Some of the most battle hardened soldiers could achieve even more. This was the case when in April of 1866 seven hundred soldiers of the Fennian Brotherhood invaded Canada.  Composed entirely of battle hardened Irish Union Army veterans who served in the American Civil War, the Fennians were able to maintain such an intense rate of fire that initial Canadian Militia reports stated that the invaders were armed with repeating rifles.

 A seat of your pants, loading on the run method called the “tap method”, made famous by the Sharpe’s Rifle’s book and TV series, could speed up the loading process further. In this method the user pours primes the pan, drops the cartridge down the muzzle, then taps the rifle butt against the ground to seat the cartridge. The tap method made the process faster since the user didn’t have to withdraw and replace the ramrod.  This method was certainly not officially used in any army, and I myself am unsure how often it was used in history, if at all. One thing to note, as a flintlock smoothbore musket shooter myself, I would never recommend doing this, as an improperly seated cartridge could turn your musket into a pipe bomb. Below is the famous scene from Sharpe’s Eagle, and a vid of murphysmuskets using the same technique.

The paper musket cartridge would be most popular in the 18th up to the mid 19th century.  By the mid 1800’s gun makers began designing others types of cartridges, eventually inventing the self-contained metallic cartridge, which allowed for conventional loading and practical multi-shot repeating firearms.  The last conflict which saw the widespread use of paper cartridges and muzzleloading firearms was the American Civil War.  By 1870 the reign of the paper cartridge ended with the production of rimfire and centerfire metallic cartridges and repeating firearms technology.  

A musket cartridge wrapped from newspaper, late 18th century.

OTs-20 Gnom -  12.5x40mm STs-110

A rather odd gun, the Gnom serves as one of the few revolvers to come out of Russia. Intended originally to replace the older Makarov PM with street police, it was to be a very large caliber 5 shot revolver. 

The Gnom is also interesting in it’s ammo, 12.5x40mm. Derived from the 32 Gauge shotgun shell, this was intended to maximize stopping power as well as allow more different loading than other revolver cartridges. This included a number of less-lethal ammo consisting of rubber baton rounds or tear gas. Even more so, the guns are smoothbore so these custom rounds can work.

Due to this, the guns are fairly inaccurate at anything past close range, and this left them a bit unliked in the hands of Russian police. So far only 200 guns have been made since the program began in 1993, mostly used by the MVD who need a large caliber option.


Elaborately Engraved and Inlaid Four Barrel Swivel Breech Percussion Combination Gun by M. J. Whitmore of Potsdam, New York

from Rock Island Auctions

“M. J. Whitmore of Potsdam, New York, worked at the Wagon & Gun Shop and is believed to have been the man who trained Lewis L. Hepburn of Remington fame. He was one of the men listed on a breech loading patent in 1860 and also received a patent for a "clock, calendar.” Many of Whitmore’s surviving firearms utilize the swivel breech mechanism and have long metal actions like this example. Most, however, are over/under combination guns, but this unusual mid-19th century arm has four barrels. Three are .40 caliber and rifled and one is .410 caliber smoothbore. The paired rifle barrels share a blade front sight and adjustable notch rear sight, and the other rifled barrel and smoothbore barrel have individual sets of sights. All four barrels and the left side of the action at the wrist are stamped with “M. J. WHITMORE/POTSDAM N.Y.” The barrels have floral engraving patterns and the action has additional floral engraving as well as rural scenes and patriotic motifs. There is clever trap compartment in between the barrels that contains a wooden ramrod. The butt has numerous engraved German silver inlays, including a reposed stag, a cabin scene on the patch box door, a sun, and stars. The engraving and stock inlays are similar to known Whitmore rifles manufactured in Massachusetts by Nathaniel and Nathaniel Gilbert Whitmore and pictured in the included copy o the article “My Magnificent Whitmore” by David Wood, Jr. suggesting a family connection. N. G. Whitmore was the master armorer at Springfield Armory and also manufactured a very fine rifle for General Grant that was displayed at the Smithsonian.“


Musee des Blindés Part 18

1 & 2) AMX-30 Roland. French mobile SAM system based off of the AMX-30. The Roland was the dedicated platform to operate the Roland SAM missile, co-developed with West Germany. The prototype was tried in 17 January 1976 and the final design was validated in 1977 and an order of 183 vehicles followed. Eight Roland missiles are carried plus two loaded.

AMX-30 Roland. Sistema SAM móvil basado en el AMX-30. El Roland era la plataforma dedicada a operar el misil SAM Roland, desarrollado conjuntamente con Alemania Occidental. El prototipo fue probado el 17 de enero de 1976 y el diseño final validado en 1977, siguiendo una orden de 183 vehículos. Transporta ocho misiles Roland junto a dos cargados. 

3) AMX-30 Derived Vehicle (?). A true mystery machine. It appears to be a AMX-30 chassis with some kind of armored compartment on the top. No clue what it was built for.

Vehiculo derivado (?) del AMX-30. Una verdadera maquina misteriosa. Pareciera ser el chasis de un AMX-30 con algún tipo de compartimiento blindado en su tope. Ni idea para que fue construido. 

4 & 5) AMX-30 ACRA. A bit like the US-built Sheridan, a special version of the AMX-30 with a 142 mm tank gun able to fire the supersonic missiles of the ACRA Anti-Char Rapide Autopropulsé anti-tank guided missile type, as well as same caliber HE rounds for support. The turret was enlarged also to allow bigger guns (like a 120 mm smoothbore) to fit in. However, due to the cost of the missile program, it was abandoned in 1970.

AMX-30 ACRA. Algo similar al Sheridan estadounidense, era una versión especial del AMX-30 con un cañón de 142mm capaz de disparar misiles supersónicos guiados anti-tanque tipo ACRA Anti-Char Rapide Autopropulsé, junto con munición HE del mismo calibre para apoyo. La torreta fue alargada también para permitir que cañones más grandes (como un 120mm de amina lisa) pudieran caber. Sin embargo, debido al costo del programa del misil, fue abandonado en 1970.

6 to 8) AMX-13 DCA. French SPAAG based off of the AMX-13 chassis. Development started in the early 1960s, around a new weapons system. The twin 30mm AA self propelled was a highly maneuverable armored vehicle for the defense low altitude troops defence within 1000 m. The AMX-13 DCA assumed forward air defense to French tank battalions and was introduced in 1969. The AMX-13 DCA never saw combat, spending its active career in training exercises with armored units.

AMX-13 DCA. Cañón antiaéreo autopropulsado francés basado en el chasis del AMX.13. Su desarrollo empezó a principios de los 60, alrededor de un nuevo sistema de armas. El vehículo de cañones gemelos de 30mm era un sistema muy maniobrable para la defensa de tropas a baja altura dentro de 1000 metros. El sistema asumió la defensa aérea frontal de los batallones de tanques franceses y entró en servicio en 1969. Nunca vio combate, mantiendo su tiempo operativo en ejercicios con unidades blindadas.

9) AMX 10 AC. French experimental tank destroyer. Not much info on this. The main armament might be the 142 mm ACRA. 

AMX 10 AC. Destructor de tanques experimental francés. No hay mucha información sobre este. El armamento principal aparenta ser el ACRA de 142mm.

10) AMX-VTT/VCI. The first French APC and IFV. It was developed in the 1950s based on the prolific AMX-13 after a specification of 1952 from the army for an APC. This platform was the French most produced APC/IFV so far with 3,300 vehicle, and exported with the same success as the light tank it was based on. It was replaced by the more conventional AMX 10P in 1973 and is now retired in France, although several armies still use it today.

AMX-VTT/VCI.  El primer transporte blindado de personal y vehículo de combate de infantería francés. Fue desarrollado en los 50, basado en el prolífico AMX-13, después de unas especificaciones del ejercito para un TBP. Esta plataforma fue la mas producida de su tipo en Francia con 3,300 vehículos, y exportado con el mismo éxito que el tanque ligero en el que está basado. Fue reemplazado por el mas convencional AMX-10P en 1973 y hoy en día ya fue retirado en Francia, aunque varios ejércitos aun lo usan hoy en día. 

Submitted by panzerfluch, go follow him!

Traducción por mi. 


Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor Part 2

1) M1A1 Abrams. American third-gen MBT named after General Creighton Abrams. Highly mobile, the Abrams is designed for modern armored warfare and tank-to-tank combat. Notable features include the use of a powerful multifuel turbine engine, the adoption of sophisticated composite armor, and separate ammunition storage in a blow-out compartment for crew safety. The M1 Abrams entered U.S. service in 1980, replacing the M60. The M1 remains the principal main battle tank of the United States Army and Marine Corps, and the armies of Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Iraq. The M1A1 upgrade began production in 1985 and continued to 1992, adding a pressurized NBC system, a rear bustle rack for improved stowage of supplies and crew belongings, redesigned blow-off panels and new M256 120 mm smoothbore cannon.

2 & 3) XM1 Abrams. American limited production prototype for the M! Abrams MBT. After the MBT-70 program was cancelled, as well as the iterative XM803, funds were reallocated to the XM815, renamed later XM1 Abrams. This new program reused most of the XM803 features but again, in a simpler and cheaper way. The need to eliminates the costliest technologies from the failed MBT-70 project, defined those used in the new tank. In June 1973, Chrysler and GM were awarded the contract to built prototypes of the new tank designated M1, handed over to the US Army for trials in February 1976. The first batch of M1s, before standardization, were still designated XM-1s, as Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) models.

4 & 5) M52A1. American 105mm SPG based off of the M41 Walker Bulldog light tank’s chassis. Development began in 1948 and was known as the T98 Howitzer Motor Carriage and entered service in 1951. Total production amounted to some 541 vehicles and the M52 saw extensive use during Vietnam and remains in service with some armies to this day. This M52A1 was donated by the Army in 1965

6) XM551 Sheridan. American prototype for the M551 Sheridan light tank. In the immediate post-World War II era, the US Army introduced the M41 Walker Bulldog into service to fill the role of a light tank. The lifespan of the M41 was fairly short; at 25 tons it was considered too heavy to be a true light tank, and had a rather short cruising range. With the appearence of the Pt-76 amphibious tank, the prototypes in development were scrapped and the XM551 begun. The XM551 would turn into the questionably useful M551 Sheridan and serve in Vietnam. This Sheridan was acquired by the museum from Army Material Command at Rock Island, Illinois in May 1971/

7) M4A3E8(76)w HVSS. American medium tank of WWII, the M4A3(76) HVSS upgraded the standard M4′s main gun to a more powerful 76mm cannon and Horizontal Volute Spring Suspension. This new suspension allowed for greater mobility as well as heavier armor. The vehicle was mass-produced beginning in late March 1945, with a total of 4542 the М4А3(76)W tanks with both suspension types manufactured.

8) M7B1 Priest. American SPG of WWII. Witnessing the events of the war, U.S. Army observers realized that they would need a self-propelled artillery vehicle with sufficient firepower to support armored operations. Lessons learned with half-tracks also showed that this vehicle would have to be armored and fully tracked. The result was the Priest, based off of the M3 Lee chassis, mounting an open superstructure and a 105mm gun. In addition to WWII, the Priest would fight in Korea with UN forces, and with Israel in the Six-Day War, War of Attrition and Yom Kippur War. The M7B1 variant uses the M4A3 Sherman chassis instead of the M3 Lee.

9 & 10) M41 Walker Bulldog. American postwar light tank that saw limited service in Korea and Vietnam. Designed to succeed the M24 Chaffee. While the Chaffee was a success, its main gun was not effective enough against well armored opponents. Although the primary mission of a light tank was scouting, the U.S. Army wanted one with more powerful armament. The M41 was the solution, thought it did not exactly fulfill the role of a light tank, and rather fit somewhere inbetween a medium and light tank. While the M41 was an agile and well armed vehicle, it was also noisy, fuel-hungry and heavy enough to cause problems with air transport. In 1952 work began on lighter designs (T71, T92), but those projects came to naught and were eventually abandoned.

swedebeast  asked:

In terms of range and accuracy, just how big of a difference does rifling do to muskets? Was there a revolutionary step above those that did not rifle their muskets? Was there ever a battle when it was decided by rifled barrels versus smooth-bore barrels?

Good question. Traditional history holds that the rifle was considerably more effective range-wise than the musket. Old history books usually tell you that a musket’s maximum range is a hundred yards, whereas a rifle’s is three hundred.

The thing is, modern tests combined with closer studies of a range of sources (rather than a few well-known ones) more or less disprove this. It seems a hundred yards was actually a fairly comfortable range for a musket. Hitting at two hundred yards, while certainly difficult, was not utterly impossible. The reason commanders preferred a range of fifty to a hundred yards with muskets is more to do with the tried and tested methods of massing your firepower rather than the idea that nobody could hit anything from far away (and, as a side-note, yes, 18th century infantrymen were actually taught to aim individually, as opposed to the myth that they all just pointed their weapons in a general direction and “aimed low”).

As for the decisiveness of muskets versus rifles, it’s difficult not to be counterfactual. You could probably claim a lot of American Revolutionary War battles would have turned depending on how the militia were armed (though at least half actually used muskets, not rifles, as many histories make out), or you could perhaps argue that Wellington’s army in the Peninsula may have been destroyed but for their rifle-armed skirmishers. One point I will make however; during the American Civil War, some ill-equipped Confederate regiments were still armed with smoothbore flintlocks, as opposed to percussion-capped rifled muskets. These regiments, while certainly at a disadvantage, weren’t immediately and totally outclassed by the rifle-armed Federals. Rifles were definitely a step up (though due to the use of fine grain powder and ball patches, conversely took longer to load, hence why Napoleon wasn’t a fan of them), but muskets weren’t vastly inferior or technologically backwards.


Lord Paget’s Carbine,

In the 18th and early 19th century commonly issued British cavalry carbines were merely shortened versions of the common infantry musket. While the shortened length and lighter weight made the carbine much easier to load from horseback, they didn’t really have any special features which made them cavalry friendly. 

In 1806 the English gunmaker Henry Nock began the development of a new cavalry carbine for British forces fighting in the Napoleonic Wars. Supposedly the famed British cavalry commander Lord Henry Paget contributed to many design elements, however it is doubtful that Lord Paget had that much influence over it’s design. Rather Lord Paget was instrumental in the adoption of the new carbine, using his influence as Britain’s most famous cavalry commander to lobby for the mass production and issuance of the weapon. Thus while the carbine was officially known as the Model 1805 light cavalry carbine, it was popularly known as the Lord Paget Carbine.

The Lord Paget Carbine was adopted in 1808 and instantly became a favorite of British mounted forces. With a 16 inch barrel and weighing around 5 lbs, it was certainly a handy little weapon for cavalrymen. However, the Lord Paget Carbine had other notable features which made it especially popular. One major complaint with cavalry carbines was that it was easy for a cavalryman to lose his ramrod while loading from a horseback, especially during the heat of battle. This problem was solved by attaching the ramrod to the muzzle with a special swivel, thus the ramrod remained attached to the gun but was still available for loading. This feature would become common among cavalry carbines produced by other nations.

Second, the carbine had a hook attached to the left lockplate with a ring. This was so that the carbine could be connected to a shoulder strap, a belt, or even attached to a saddle. The biggest downside of the Paget Carbine was that it was a smoothbore with only a 16 inch barrel, which greatly reduced accuracy and range. However, they were typically loaded with buck and ball cartridges, thus making them into deadly shotguns. Unlike British infantry muskets which were .75 caliber and fired a .69 caliber ball, the Paget carbine was .66 caliber and typically fired a .62 caliber ball.

The Paget carbine was used extensively during the Peninsula Campaign in Spain during the Napoelonic Wars, and continued in use well afterwards. In the 1830′s and 40′s the Paget Carbine was phased out in favor of new percussion lock designs. However the history of the Paget carbine would continue an ocean away. Mexico had recently become independent of Spain and needed cheap weapons to equip it’s new army. Thus Mexico purchased large amounts of British military surplus, including 15,000 Paget carbines. They were typically used to arm cavalry and light infantry, and were common during the Texas War of Independence and the Mexican American War.