Shooting Chains

Ever hear of chain shot?

Clearly, it is a couple of cannon balls connected by a chain.  I mean, DUH!

It was used mainly during the great Age of Sail.

The idea was to load that bad boy in a cannon, and use it to chop up the rigging.  It would act as a giant buzzsaw, ripping through sails, masts and ropes.

It also did a pretty good job against enemy combatants.

The problem was that cannons, like any gun, can only be loaded with so much propellant before going kaboom.  Double cannon balls, with a length of chain, would be moving significantly slower when fired than a single cannon ball.  This meant that the range was severely curtailed, and one would have to get really, really close to some extremely angry strangers before letting loose with the noisy balm that was sure to calm them down.

So what to do?

A long time reader sent me a link to an interesting site that discusses a rather curios cannon.  (Hi, Greg!)  It seems that a double barrelled cannon is on display in Athens, Georgia that was designed to fire chain shot.

One cannon ball per barrel, and the muzzle velocity will be nice and high.  No reduction in potential range as long as the chain or balls don’t hit anything prematurely.

The cannon pictured above was made in 1862, but it was hardly a new idea at the time.  I came across another existing example that was sold at auction in 2015 which dated from 1848.

Pretty interesting stuff!  Click on some links, the text isn’t very long, probably because such cannon didn’t play a very significant role in warfare.  And let me give a note of thanks to Greg for the heads up!

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