Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Range day!

Last winter I acquired a reprint of H.G. Wells' Little Wars, that most original and elegant of wargaming tretises. First published in 1913, this very slim volume set an early standard for wargaming in which the obvious agenda is fun and the not-so-hidden agenda is the futility of war and the advantages of peace.

The clever prose and the droll attention to simplicity and pragmatism make this a delight to read.

With the recent addition to the arsenal of that classic of all play-room floor skirmishes, the Britians's 4.7" naval gun, I'm now set to put Wells' pedantry into practice.

This beautifully manufactured breech-loading, spring fired gun is, in the words of H.G. Wells, a "priceless gift to boyhood", and this boy could not agree more.

The gun, purchased on ebay (for a song) a week ago is a beauty which operates flawlessly.  I've long coveted one of these guns, but not until this one appeared as a bargain, was a gun of this caliber (and caliber) within my easy reach.

The gun, coupled with my copy of Little Wars has put classic table top (or playroom floor) gaming within my reach.  Although the gun came sans ammunition, with guidance from Wells and a fully appointed woodshop, I set about making projectiles for this fierce iron dragon.

Although Wells writes of the shells being an inch long, I opted for an extra quarter inch to accommodate my ever stiffening fingers.

Here, I am filing stabilizing flutes into the sides of a projectile.

Something makes me think that these flutes will improve the ballistic characteristics of the shell.

I manufactured four different types of projectile:

From left to right: fluted, boat-tailed, tapered, and straight peg.

Prior to testing, I made one more which has spiral fluting.

Now its off to the range with field marshall Max Elevation to test each type of projectile.

Here, you can see one in mid-flight:

Captured here in closeup.

The fall of each shot was marked and recorded for a five-shot average for each of the five types of projectiles.

An initial distance of 14 inches revealed that the boat-tail was best left on the drawing board.

Upon their first outing, the straight peg and the taper were running neck and neck at a very respectable 80-ish inches.

With many extra inches it was the fluted rounds that took the prize for both distance and accuracy.

In the end, the fluted projectiles had the clear advantage, though there was little difference between the two types of fluted shells over an average of five shots. The fluting must, as I had hoped, provide some in-flight stability, averaging a very respectable 79 inches.

Now that the gun has been tested and a prototype ammunition has been selected for manufacture...

Ominous signs of future conflict are gathering in the basement:

I'll report back on the 15th of next month with dispatches from the front.  Until then...

Soldier on!



Funny Little Wars - Garden Campaigns said...

Welcome to the joyous world of the Wellsian 4.7" Naval Gun! Happy shooting and good hunting.

From the Padre.

Scott B. Lesch said...

Amazing Mannie! I did a science project on trajectory in 7th grade with my 4.7"


DC said...

I had a few Britains and Timpo guns when i was a kid, but never the 4.7 - i am envious!

Ross Mac said...

Marvelous! Will tests on the dropping screw ammunition from the annex follow?

Dan Eastwood said...

Wonderful. I'll looking forward to the battle report.

Johnnyburn said...

Can I ask what sets of figures you are using for cavalry and infantry?

Unknown said...

Hi. I collect toy soldiers and cannons. I own two hundred men and six guns. I play Little Wars. I even have the planks and blocks.
I really liked your experiment. Did you know that it's simple to calculate the muzzle velocity from your data? Let's play. Andre

RRLittle said...

Back in November of 2010, I lucked into not one but two 1930's era 4.7" field guns; one in excellent condition, the other missing the shield. The boxed weapon came with a bag of lead ammo. That's right, lead. Some of the rounds are clearly from a larger calibre weapon. I really need to get on the ball and post a scan of the box...

Christopher Walkerloo said...

I value this methodical approach to toy soldier armaments. I only hope the enemy do not read this blog. It could be the cause of the arms race that is our eventual undoing! ...