Chapter 73 Artillery Test
In the west of Border Town, near the Chishui river.
The snow didn’t permit the cart to move a single step further; the entire group of people had already spent half a day dragging the carriage to the artillery field.
“What is this?” asked Carter, who had already become somewhat accustomed to the fact that the Prince would repeatedly come up with new inventions, “Is this just a bigger gun?”
“You are almost right,” Roland confirmed. He directed his men to remove the cover so that he could personally adjust the angle of the cannon. He Set its angle parallel to ground level, pointing towards a snow pile.
The principles of cannons and guns were identical, so calling it a larger version of a gun wasn’t inappropriate. The cannon used for the test was able to shoot 12-pound heavy iron balls. Before they could ignite the lead, the chamber had to be loaded with gunpowder and the iron ball. As a reference for the cart, Roland took the old designs from the cannons seen in history books. But to improve their durability, Roland had told the carpenters to replace many parts that were usually built out of wood with their iron counterparts.
In order to manufacture the cart for the cannon, Roland almost spent as much time on it as for the cannon itself. Three skilled carpenters needed one whole week to finish it, the especially time-consuming part was the wheels that had the diameter of half a human.
First, the carpenters had to produce four square bars of equal length. These bars were then baked by fire until they could be bent. Afterwards, knives were used to peel away the excess. Finally, an outer coating of iron was applied to the wheels. This process alone took more than four days.
So in Roland’s eyes, this limited cannon made by hand took on a very special place. Now, when he dragged it out for a test, he had already made special arrangements.
Chief Knight Carter and the Militia Commander Iron Axe were both at his side, as always. Also, there was his personal guard along with twenty members of the militia who were acting as sappers and lookouts. As for the witches, he had Nightingale and Lightning by his side. Thanks to Nana, the prejudice towards witches had been significantly reduced. In the eyes of the Militia, the most important person here was Nana when excluding the Prince.
“According to the usual process, we have to clean the cannon’s barrel first.”
Roland said,, while he could picture the blueprints of the cannon, this particular operation plan was a blank sheet for him. Within his brain he went through various cannon shots he had seen in films, trying to figure out the right process, but only heaven alone would know how effective it would be.
Lightning, in high spirits, took a mop and began cleaning the cannon. While cleaning the muzzle – her contract was different to that of the other witches – as long as she was allowed to personally operate all of Roland’s new inventions, she would always be willing to help him to the best of her abilities, even without any other payment or remuneration.
Since Roland had to save money, he quickly accepted her terms. However, if he had any secret projects, he would still be able to study it secretly. Within his mind there were still many ideas he hadn’t realized and were only waiting to be implemented. For now, he would just have to throw her the occasional few pieces in order to distract her.
Sweeping around with the mop, Lightning was able to clean up some junk, but in accordance to the process, she had to clean it a second time. Taking another mop, she started the cleaning again until she’d finished.
“Has everyone seen it?” asked Roland towards the crowd of guards and militias. The artillery test was also a drill. If he was able to increase the production rate of guns, the militia was bound to turn into an infantry, exchanging the pike for the gun. But even then they would need to go through many training sessions before they were good enough to use both types of hot weapons.
When he saw that everyone nodded, he told Lightning to proceed.
The little girl first opened the bag and took out a pocket-sized paper cartridge filled with gunpowder then stuffed it into the end of the muzzle with a ramrod. She then took an iron ball and used the ramrod once more to push it into the barrel. Afterwards, she took out a lead wire from the rear end of the cannon barrel and inserted it into the eyelet to pierce it into the paperback. Thus, the launch preparation was complete.
To prevent accidents, everyone had to step fifteen meters away from the cannon. Lightning, who was standing close to the lead, saw the first sparks of the lead, but within the blink of an eye, it had already drilled into the barrel.
Then there came a loud roar – air sprayed out of the muzzle with such speed, that it even threw up the snow lying on the ground.
The theoretical effective range of a twelve-pounder cannon was up to a kilometer.
Even without any rifling, the cannon ball would still fly in a straight line.
Everyone could hear the sound when the iron ball hit the armor that was placed 100 meters away. The Iron-ball’s speed wasn’t reduced much, every time it hit the ground, it would bounce back up again, blowing up even more snow.
After the smoke cleared, Roland, along with Carter, and Iron Axe, all went directly to inspect the target. When they arrived near the armor, they noticed that the front of the armor was already in contact with its back, and that there was a palm-sized hole within the center. Obviously, the ball’s speed still hadn’t been reduced to zero, since it had still flown 100 meters further. Even after it had dropped to the ground, it had kept on rolling, showing the incredible amount of power it contained.
“What frightening penetrative capability!” sighed Carter. He could already picture what would happen when the enemy stood together in groups; getting hit by several cannonballs that brought terror to the whole battlefield
“Three deities above,” Iron Axe began to pray. According to him, Roland had to be the messenger of Mother Earth. Except for a messenger of God, who else could bring such a frightening power to the world? He’d already studied the gun-powder’s chemistry; it was made of common chemicals which only needed to be carefully prepared. The flame was the incarnation of Mother Earth’s anger, as well as her most powerful weapon – at least these were the thoughts of the people in the south. Whenever they saw the never-ending orange flame produced by volcanic eruptions, they couldn’t help but begin to pray.
The result of the test was similar to what Roland had expected of a classical 12-pound cannon. The cannon’s biggest moment to shine had been during the US Civil War and in the time of Napoleon.
Afterwards, he loaded the cannon with different amounts of gunpowder to test their power levels. Although he knew that it could cause damage to the cannon, it was still necessary to do the tests.
Even after shooting with three different amounts of gunpowder, the cannon still didn’t show any sign of deformation. Apparently, the quality of steel used to make the cannon was excellent. In the end, Roland decided that the amount of powder they would use would be the 1.2 times the amount used during the tests. Afterwards, he used the tests to select a gunner.
“Your Highness, this is indeed a very powerful weapon but it is much too heavy. If we were to hit a pothole, we wouldn’t be able to move any further.” Carter, who was immediately able to see the problems with the new weapon, criticized, “And, after every shot, the barrel has to be cleaned with a wet mop, then it has to be reloaded. Carrying the gunpowder, the cannon balls, and the cannon itself, I’m afraid that you will need five to six people to operate one cannon alone it.”
“Indeed, but it’s all worth it! As long as we will be able to use two to three cannons, Duke… No, I mean the demonic beasts, like the kind of giant tortoise, won’t be able to break through the wall any longer.” Roland coughed, that was close. As for the disadvantages of a 12-pound cannon, he intended to resolve it by shipping. With the help of the steam engine, he would be able to convert a traditional boat into a steam-powered boat. Even if it was the most primitive of paddle boats, it would still have a complex and bulky mechanical system.
So instead of changing the boat, he purchased a two-masted sailing boat. With Wendy’s help, he would even be able to ship the cannons behind the Duke’s troops. With this he would be able to attack the enemies from both sides, and be being able to easily and efficiently annihilate the Duke’s forces.