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Speedy Builder512/10/2018 07:57:02
1595 forum posts
109 photos

Spot on Mick, how did the shell attach to the cartridge, were they loaded separately or as an ensemble as the shell weighed 96 lbs, and what sort of distance would the projectile travel ? Just out of interest.

Mick B112/10/2018 08:16:59
799 forum posts
47 photos

You can see from the short cartridge case that it was a low-velocity round - max range 8,800 M.

More details here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/15_cm_sFH_13

Mick B112/10/2018 16:08:34
799 forum posts
47 photos

The shell would be loaded separately, and rammed with the gun barrel at a low elevation to ensure the shell was rung hard into the start of the rifling, then the case with its charges. Maybe if the crew was strong, they could ram at shooting elevation (a howitzer, so usually high), but you didn't want the shell dropping back onto the propellant before firing - I don't know if the case was long enough to prevent that; its main purpose was obturation.

SillyOldDuffer12/10/2018 17:17:32
3512 forum posts
687 photos

The wikipedia article has an example of 'send three and fourpence we're going for a dance' in Footnote 5, ie "Robert Graves, in Good-Bye to All That, says "five-nines [were] called 'Jack Johnsons' because of their black smoke"[4] in reference to "the boxer Jack (John Arthur) Johnson (1878-1946), the first black American world heavyweight champion (1908-1915)."

A little misleading - my recollection is that 'Jack Johnsons' referred to the bursting shells, not the gun that fired them. Unusually at the beginning of WW1, 5.9" German shells were filled with TNT, which goes off with a characteristic cloud of dense black smoke, and (at the time) an unusually violent bang.

'Good-bye to All That' is an excellent book, but I also recommend Ernst Junger's 'Storm of Steel', especially in the less censored early editions. Well worth reading as a reminder that there are people who positively enjoy killing!

Dave

Mick B112/10/2018 17:50:09
799 forum posts
47 photos

My impression is that 'five nines' moniker was mainly used for the shells, rather than the guns - which themselves were rarely seen by Tommy unless such artillery was overrun.

Some versions of Wilfred Owen's 'Dulce Et Decorum Est' end the first stanza with:

...deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

...instead of 'gas shells dropping softly behind'. Apart from scanning better, the 'five-nines' can only be referring to shells.

As for 'Jack Johnsons', another common name was 'coalboxes'.

Edited By Mick B1 on 12/10/2018 17:50:38

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