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One of the most fascinating topics in ballistics would have to be superguns. These are giant cannon intended to hurl ordnance to far away places, competing with surface-to-surface missiles.

These superguns have appeared throughout history. In 1457, a giant cannon made in Mons, Belgium was presented to King James II of Scotland by the Duke of Burgundy. Known as Mons Meg, it could hurl cannon balls over two miles.

A century ago, Jules Verne wrote an entertaining book about a bored gun club who builds a cannon to fire some of its members to the moon. Hmm, this gives me an idea...

In WWI, the Germans unveiled the Paris Gun. The Germans fired on Paris from over 75 miles away. French citizens collaborating with the Germans directed the cannon fire via telephone. Initially the French had no clue, thinking the explosions to be an accident of Paris's gas lines.

Those clever Germans were at it again in WWII with a gunpowder-fired, compressed-air boosted, supergun that shelled England. Looking more akin to a small town's sewer system, this monstrosity was built into the face of a sloped earth surface.

In the late 1950's and early 1960's, the guru of superguns, the late G. V. Bull, designed guns that fired probes into space for the U.S., Canada and Great Britain. Bull's superguns of this period were so successful that they spawned conspiracy theories that they were for shooting down UFO's! Using basic engineering principles Bull designed artillery and shells that could outrange anybody else's guns. Sadly, he went astray and designed for the Communist Chinese and Iraq. His Iraq superguns brought his name to the public's attention.

His Iraq superguns fired shells 0.3 meters and 1.0 meter in diameter. The 0.3m gun was fired on several occasions. The 1.0m gun could have put WMD warheads on other continents! (Some of the people who taught me mechanical engineering as it relates to ballistics were involved in the U.S. analysis of these guns.)

The fundamental problems with superguns have been heat and friction, they make a lot of it. Superguns wear out their bores so fast that the shells of previous superguns usually had to be sequential in diameter, each one slightly larger in diameter than the previous shell. So great was the wear that German superguns required relining of the barrels every 20 shots. Initial analyses of Bull's superguns were pessimistic. However, I disagree. Bull had overcome many of the wear issues. His designs were brilliant. Ultimately superguns cannot operate alone, they need air and ground protection. The lack of mobility would have eventually doomed his superguns; their usefullness lasting only until the first airstrike.

Currently NASA is designing a supergun to launch spacecraft. Maybe Jules Verne gets the last laugh after all.
 

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i for [1]

am glad to read this post! G-BULLET



keep them coming, please!






thanks.
 

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Fascinating history. Thanks GB. Aren't you doing development work on a supergun now?

RIKA
 

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I saw Mons Meg in Scotland a few years ago. Remarkable technology for the 14th century.
 

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I always thought about super guns in terms of mass drivers (magnetic propulsion) or rail guns (electric current) type weapons.

I always thought that a mass driver would be the most efficient for lobbing a shell into orbit, as you could very easily control the acceleration so that it would be smooth. (you'd just need an incredibly long weapon - possibly miles long)

I've toyed with the idea of building a small mass driver using steel ball bearings for ammo. (The trick, of course, is getting the magnets timed correctly to keep the projectile accelerating.)

wouldn't be practical for much, but it would be fun. Btw, I once was involved in the use of a very large electromagnet to get a screw driver to break the sound barrier. But that's a whole 'nother story...


:devil:
 

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Hmmm...You left some stuff out. :poke:

The cannon which fired 2-ton boulders, used by the Turks in the final assault on Constantinople.

The cannon referenced to have been built by the Germans in WWII (aka, the V3) was never completed, and there were a series of them. A Tallboy went down one of the barrels, and that was the end of that.

The Iraqi Supergun (Project 'Babylon'), was also never completed. The barrel components, which were subcontracted to a British firm under the guise of "oil pipelines," were seized by British customs.

You also didn't mention Atomic Annie, which trumped them all (at least in firepower.) :fullauto: :blowup01:

You also didn't mention rail guns (average velocity 3.5km/s), coil guns (gauss rifles) similar to a rail gun, or quench guns (superconducting coil guns). All work, and all have functioning prototypes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
84 C4 said:
The cannon referenced to have been built by the Germans in WWII (aka, the V3) was never completed, and there were a series of them. A Tallboy went down one of the barrels, and that was the end of that.
No, the V3 didn't see use, but one of the experimental predecesors did.

84 C4 said:
You also didn't mention Atomic Annie, which trumped them all (at least in firepower.) :fullauto: :blowup01:

You also didn't mention rail guns (average velocity 3.5km/s), coil guns (gauss rifles) similar to a rail gun, or quench guns (superconducting coil guns). All work, and all have functioning prototypes.
I forgot about Atomic Annie.
 

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GBullet said:
No, the V3 didn't see use, but one of the experimental predecesors did.
Never heard that, [accurate] info on the V3 program is hard to find.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
84 C4 said:
Never heard that, [accurate] info on the V3 program is hard to find.
The V3 used the side charges for added boost. Some of its predecessors used side mounted, high pressure, air bottles. The Soviets later copied this technique for use on their high velocity aircraft cannon. I believe that the MiG-19 was the first to use it.

If it is of interest, I will try to post a separate thread about the V3.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Aslan said:
I always thought about super guns in terms of mass drivers (magnetic propulsion) or rail guns (electric current) type weapons.

I always thought that a mass driver would be the most efficient for lobbing a shell into orbit, as you could very easily control the acceleration so that it would be smooth. (you'd just need an incredibly long weapon - possibly miles long)

I've toyed with the idea of building a small mass driver using steel ball bearings for ammo. (The trick, of course, is getting the magnets timed correctly to keep the projectile accelerating.)
The timing of electromagnetic "guns" is similar to the timing for a linear motor or your average monorail.
 

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Aslan said:
I've toyed with the idea of building a small mass driver using steel ball bearings for ammo. (The trick, of course, is getting the magnets timed correctly to keep the projectile accelerating.)
A metal rod would work better, and rail guns don't need to have the magnets timed, gauss rifles do.
 
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