Chapter 276 New artillery research and development
While on her way to bring the ore to His Highness, Nightingale’s answer was running through Lucia’s mind.
She had to admit, she was shocked by the calm manner in which Nightingale had revealed her feelings.
Although she wasn’t entirely clear about the feelings of all the people involved, but a witch and a prince… simply couldn’t ever be with each other, right? So shouldn’t she be careful and hide her thoughts at the bottom of her heart, and never let others know about them?
Furthermore, why would she as a simple listener feel so excited and embarrassed?
Coming to a stop in front of the door to the office, Lucia took a deep breath before pushing open the door and entering.
“Your Highness, I’ve brought the ore.”
“Let me see,” Roland answered as he fought the urge to yawn.
The ruler of Border Town seemed the same as always, with his drowsy-eyed appearance it seemed it hasn’t been that long since he’d finished taking his nap and it wasn’t like he was in that much of a clear-headed state yet either. While leaning comfortably against the back of his chair, showing a natural bearing and speaking with an easy-going tone, he was completely unlike the other nobles with their strict and insulting mannerism.
Seeing him like this, Lucia’s former indescribable nervousness loosened by a small amount. She then calmly took out the ore granules they’d found in the Northern Slope Mine and place them on the desk one after another.
After being broken down with her ability, all those granules now seemed to have almost the same look. Their colors weren’t ash-colored, but were silver-white instead, and it was probably only a brilliant person of wide learning like the Prince that would be able to distinguish what these ores really were.
However, even after looking at them for a long time, the Prince still ended up knitting his brow. First, he took them into his hand one after another in order to estimate their weight. He then went to the window behind his desk to take a closer look from within the sunlight, only to finally wave with his hand and say, “Keke, seems I have no choice but to give these ores to Mr. Sichi to identify them. For now, you can go back to the courtyard at the North Slope and continue the practice of your ability, if there is something you don’t understand you can always go to Anna and ask.”
“…” Huh? There exist something His Highness doesn’t know? Lucia quickly bowed and said, “Yes.”
Just as she was about to leave the office, Roland called out to her again.
“Oh, that’s right, your present test grade is pretty good, sixty-eight ranking ninth in the class. And that’s after just one month of learning. Showing such a performance is not easy, so you must try and keep it up. Also…,” he paused for a moment. “I hope that Bell can also participate in the next exam together with everyone.”
“Yes!” Lucia excitedly agreed.
After watching the little girl happily bow away, Roland looked at the metal particles on the table and sighed.
I was too naive, thinking that by breaking them down into one element, I might be able to discover what kinds of ore veins are hidden within the Northern Slope Mine. However, I once again have to acknowledge that there is a great deal of difference between mechanical engineering and geology. If that wasn’t the case, I would have known that these stones would be broken down into three or four different kinds of metals. The most of the still remaining parts of the rocks can be considered as metalloid ores, but they have almost no difference in their color or shape. Such as iron, aluminum, magnesium, potassium when in a high purity state they are all silver-white metals, if I ever wanted to distinguish them by naked eye it will be much too difficult.
In the end, it is still better to give this issue to the chief alchemist to resolve, after all, he can verify the characteristics of the material through observing their chemical reaction, which should be much more reliable than my own guesses.
When he made up his mind regarding this matter, Roland took out a piece of paper and began planning on how to deal with the upcoming Months of Demons.
Seeing that summer was about to end, these three months of fall were his final preparation time. Besides resisting the invasion of the demonic beasts from the West, he had also had to keep an eye on Timothy and the Church who might come from the Eastern side. Unlike last year where he had to pull on his lapels exposing the elbows, Border Town’s population and income nowadays had gone through a substantial growth. They had also gradually increased the iron production, and with the help of more than a dozen witches, he was sure that he would be able to turn the Western Territory into an impassable iron bastion.
Based on to the previous year’s combat experience, the greatest threat to the wall was without a doubt the mixed demonic beasts. Especially so when the enemy had a thick crust, which would be hard to wear down using bullets, and thus could only be killed by explosion at a close proximity, or by sending witches out of the city. However, no matter what kind of countermeasure he used, they both held high risks.
Also, until now he had only faced attacks from the enemy’s cavalry or infantry, so he had never seen this era’s siege weaponry. If the other side could construct a torsion catapult, or the more advanced counterweight trebuchets, he feared that he would encounter a lot of trouble. After all, the process of loading a cannon so that it could fire was very inconvenient. Not only did they have to to raise the cannon chamber each time they loaded , it was also easy for the cannon ball to roll out of it.
These circumstances all meant it was inevitable that he would have to develop a new cannon.
After thoughtfully thinking about it, Roland began to list all of the requirements he had onto a piece of paper.
First of all, it had to have a sufficient shooting distance and force; enough that it could break through the shell of a mixed species that was a thousand meters away. Secondly, it had to be rear loaded, this way the head could freely be lowered or raised, while still preserving its ability to shoot quickly. Finally, in order to reduce the time of repeated research and development, the cannon should also be designed to fulfill several purposes. Meaning that in addition to being used to defend a stronghold and suppress the enemy, it could also be directly pulled onto a ship and be employed as the major weapon for future heavy gunboats.
Because of this it would have to be a large caliber with a long barrel type of heavy artillery.
Roland first thought of those 15-16 cun (2.5cm) huge monsters that were used on battleships, with a range of several scores of kilometers, and powerful enough for a shot to dig several meters deep into the ground, only to quickly reject an unrealistic idea such as this. Although there shouldn’t be any problem on the processing side, but with Border Town’s current level of materials, it meant that at least nine out of ten cannons would be explode. And if he thickened the cannon’s wall to more than one meter, they would lose their practical value since he would be no longer able to move them.
By now he could only give birth to high-purity wrought iron that had the performance of ordinary steel. So the plan still had to be on the conservative side.
Roland finally set the caliber to the sacred number of 152 millimeters.
The cannon used a vertical wedge breechblock, which was upwards and downwards sliding door..When it was pulled down it exposed the cannon’s chamber, and after loading it with an artillery shell, the block could be moved back up to completely lock the rear, so that the gunpowder could only erupt forward. Compared to a spiral breechblock and horizontal wedge breechblock, its speed was faster, and its principle was also very simple and was a blueprint he already knew by heart.
However, if he wanted to implement rapid firing, the artillery had to be equipped with a recoil mechanism, which in simple terms resembled two bicycle pumps, one that was filled with a padding of oil and the other with a spring or gas. Due to the recoil the muzzle would press against the two tubes, and would simultaneously compress the oil and the spring. The oil was used to buffer the recoil, while the spring would store the power and push the canon back into its original position after the shell left.
Lastly the shell.
Since he was already using the sacred cannon, there was no way he could be satisfied with using clumsy iron balls and paper wrapped canister shot anymore. But Roland decided to develop two sets of artillery shells just to be safe, one would be the enlarged version of a bullet, with a warhead made out of solid metal; and another kind, one that had an explosive warhead and using an impact detonator, like the howitzers used by later generations. After all, he would surely come across some technological problems while developing the explosive warheads, things like the development of a reliable detonator needed repeated testing. Because of this he couldn’t guarantee that he could achieve it before the begin of the Months of Demons, therefore they had to first produce the former before they could resolve the problems of the latter. Even with a solid warhead, it should still be possible to easily deal with the slow-moving thick-skinned mixed beasts and fixed siege equipment.
Of course, no matter which kind of shells he used in the end, both would still consume a lot of smokeless gunpowder. In case they weren’t able to start large-scale production of the two acids, the new guns could only be used as special weapons, which would mean that wanting to employ a large artillery barrage would be impossible to realize despite how much he wanted to do so.
At this moment, one of his personal guards pushed open the door and entered the office.
“Your Highness, a secret letter from King’s City has arrived.”
Roland put down the quill and opened the envelope. From start to finish, the letter didn’t have a signature, and its handwriting was also very unfamiliar, but its short sentence made it clear that Theo was undoubtedly the one who had sent it.
“Today a group of about a thousand people left King’s City, while heading toward the Western Border.”