The Geschwindstück

I want to share this link to a wonderful file describing light artillery pieces of the mid-18th century that were built for rapid fire.


A superficial look at such guns would not reveal that and why they fired so much more rapidly than other guns:
Rapid fire with light muzzleloader guns was restricted by the risk of premature propellant (blackpowder) explosion in the hot barrel. To elevate the barrel as highly as otherwise known from howitzers only allowed for a loading procedure which did not endanger any crew member even when the barrel was hot already. This allowed for about six shots per minute during what we called Sturmabwehrschießen since the 20th century at least, the defence against a rapid assault with fire. The rate of fire for normal firing wasn't any different from that of comparable ordinary guns.

Geschwindstück ~ quick (artillery) piece
geschwind = old German word for "quick" (not really in use any more)
Stück = piece

Such guns were used as a kind of infantry gun, serving alongside the infantry battalions and regiments instead of in separate artillery batteries. The fusil (flintstone musket) had an effective range of about 300-350 m against infantry lines (few per cent hits and sufficient effect of hits), but such light guns made shots at 1 km range worthwhile and thus brought hostile infantry lines into disorder before the infantry began shooting. They also helped when hostile infantry used walls or for protection and such guns were the reason why wagon circles fell out of use as a tactic in Europe.


edit 2016:
Two more interesting, related links

edit 2020:
Regarding the ranges: Those are kind of maximum battle ranges, but lethality was poor at 1,000 m for such light cannons and 300 m for muskets. High lethality was achieved at less than 400 m (grape shot of cannon) and less than 200 m for muskets (against formations, not single man-sized targets).

1 comment:

  1. Thx for that great link. That article is pretty interesting