Nelson
Nelson

5:34 PM - Oct 06, 2015 #71

Jacques,

First, a little history preceding the 1-pounder pompom. One might claim that the pompom was to the Hotchkiss revolving/revolver cannon, as the Maxim machine gun was to the Gatling gun: i.e., fully automatic versus fired by a manually operated hand-crank, each size to fill a particular niche. Couple of images attached of the pompom’s techno-predecessor. The first revolving cannon is manned by a German gun crew, likely somewhere on the plains of Africa, and the second—to maintain the continuity and integrity of this thread—on a smaller mount nicely appropriate as a mountain or landing gun.





Hate to burst your balloon, when belief in the pompom as the gun that almost won the Second Boer War lurks not that deeply in the heart of every red-blooded South African, needing only a pint or two of King’s Blockhouse IPA to find expression, BUT.... It was, I fear a highly overrated gun. I concede it saw use in virtually all of the world’s navies, and not a few of its armies, but at the same time, it fell out of favor just as fast as it had come onto the scene.

The gun is actually the Maxim-Nordenfelt, being that Maine Yankee Hiram Maxim, by fair means or foul, took over Thorsten Nordenfelt’s merchant-of-death empire, before his own fell in turn to Vickers & Sons. Perhaps ideal for bold, mobile, and hard-riding Boers to potshoot at British field batteries—pushed far too forward and thus becoming obvious targets—the pompom saw rather greater success at the beginning of the war than at the end, after British field battery doctrine had been changed to meet the threat. The article you post, although with not a few errors, is correct in its criticisms only so far as it includes them, short range and too light rounds being paramount. It misses a couple of other disadvantages of the 1-pounder pompom, viz., the field equipment, when including the gun carriage and limber carrying sufficient rounds for a largish automatic gun, required a six-horse team for a movement of any real distance (big investment in horseflesh for a light artillery piece), and hardly least, those rounds were muy expensive, leading more than one European monarch or his treasurer to reject the pompom’s adoption.

The U.S. Army, which despite poor judgment on ordnance adoption on more than one occasion, did exhibit the wisdom to acquire light field guns that could see multiple uses. For example, filling that bill might be a gun, on somewhat modified field carriage variants, that could serve both as a cavalry-accompanying light fieldpiece and as a beach defense gun protecting remote harbor defense batteries too large to defend themselves against a raid by a naval landing party. On that basis, the army acquired two batteries of 1-pounder pompoms c1899–1900, both to use against Philippine insurrectionists and as a candidate to defend HD batteries. The field artillerymen in the P.I. found the pompom too heavy and unwieldy to negotiate the bush, and the coast artillerymen felt they needed a longer-range piece, with both gunners wanting a piece capable of firing shrapnel. Which gets us back to the pompom’s serious disadvantages in wartime practice.

The field equipment, as alluded to previously, was heavy, requiring the same size team as for a 3-inch or 75mm fieldpiece, but with one third the effective range. As an automatic gun, the pompom’s need for ammunition must fairly be described as profligate, i.e., having an inexhaustible need/greed for rounds, which it must be pointed out were disproportionately expen$ive (and often the deal breaker). Despite what the article whose URL you provided doth claim, the 1-pounder and indeed even the 6-pounder used rounds too small to accomodate shrapnel, then felt to be an essential part of a gun’s repertoire. As an early 20th century design challenge to its commissioned junior officer-students serving at Sandy Hook Proving Ground, the U.S. Army instructed them to come up with a light field gun that could not only serve in a multitude of roles, but...BIG BUT...could fire shrapnel. Those bright young lads arrived at the smallest piece that could meet the need for that type of round: the 2.38-inch field gun or 7 1/2-pounder. The piece was a handsome one, but a one-off: turns out the army’s already-in-service 3.8-inch howitzer—lighter, more compact, and delivering a far larger and more effective shrapnel round at a greater distance—already filled the bill. Same as with your vaunted 1-pounder pompom: whatever it did, something else in the ordnance cupboard did it better, the automatic nature of the pompom notwithstanding and even defeating.

Following some success during the wars taking place at the end of the 19th century—the USN used them most effectively as a defense against Spanish torpedo boats—the pompom became moribund during the first decade of the new century. It enjoyed a rebirth during WWI as an AA gun, briefly in the U.S. Navy, but as you’ve written, rather longer in the Royal Navy and its Commonwealth offshoots. The article you cite claims a natural size progression from 1-pounder through 1 1/2-pounder to 2-pounder. Not so: the 2-pounder appeared before the 1 1/2-pounder, with the latter a compromise because of space limitations on some British destroyer classes. The 1 1/2-pounder mount as designed, however, proved heavier than that for 2-pounder and was soon withdrawn as unsatisfactory. The article also declares, “By 1907 with the Vickers machine-gun replacing the less reliable Maxim...” The Vickers MG was a Maxim gun, and of course there were improvements over the years as for any gun having a lengthy history.

I likes ‘em and share your interest, but the true history of pompoms, particularly in army hands, was not that rosy for the variety of reasons I’ve chronicled here.

Nelson
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6:43 PM - Oct 09, 2015 #72

A pal contacted me off-line regarding my previous posting, bringing into question certain points I made. I believe his contentions are of interest, viz.:

1. The uniforms in the photo of the crew-served Hotchkiss revolving cannon are British, particularly the style of the pith helmets.
2. The view in the background is not African plain, but rather appears to be a bay. Although the contrast is poor, is that surf in the middle distance?
3. As with the British Army, the German army did not adopt the Hotchkiss revolving cannon. [Okay, then either way, how to explain that photo?]

First of all, virtually all of the European powers having colonies in Africa adopted tropical sun helmets identical or nearly so to the British Foreign Service pattern, as seen in such classic films as Zulu, Gunga Din, and Wee Willie Winkie. I’m certainly no authority on tropical colonial uniforms, but I believe the German late 19th century equivalent to the Brit Foreign Service sun helmet was the Pfeiffer, named for the firm in Hamburg, as shown here:



Around the turn-of-the-century, give or take, the British replaced their helmet with the wider Wolseley pattern, while the Germans went with the taller Bortfeldt (for the design from the company in Bremen). In each instance, the brim over the back of the neck was extended and recurved, and made more flexible—in the German case it could be folded up to some extent—to make prone firing easier than with the stiff Foreign Service pattern. Sun helmets were made from a variety of materials, most notably of sola pith or cork, whichever was closer at hand and less costly to the colony. Here is a photo of German colonial troops wearing the later Bortfeldt pattern sun helmet, date thus far unknown:



As far as the British sun helmets, in this out-take from Wee Willie Winkie, Victor is wearing the Foreign Service pattern, while Shirley has on the Wolseley.



Regarding my friend’s second comment, the photo has since been identified as having been taken in German East Afrika, likely somewhere on the coast as he contends. See

http://oldbritishguns.com/the-37mm-hotc ... ing-cannon

With respect to the German use of of the Hotchkiss revolving cannon, okay that is a puzzler. Although designed by a private firm, nonetheless its development came a result of France losing the Franco-Prussian War, 1870-71, and one would suppose France would have wished the gun kept out of the hands of the German states. Perhaps like the U.S., some of the German states acquired trial batteries of these rapidly firing guns. Anyway, here is that photo again.



Given the uniforms and the gun, my guess is the 1880s or early 1890s. For what it’s worth, note two different styles of sun helmet (the instructing soldier up on the gun has a cloth covering over his helmet), both with and without the ventilator knob on top. The gun’s emplacement on a headland to defend a potential landing beach would be one of the uses envisioned by Hotchkiss et Cie. For those knowing more about German tropical colonial uniforms or the possible German use of the Hotchkiss revolving cannon, please weigh in.

Nelson
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Joined: 10:57 PM - Dec 27, 2007

3:37 AM - Oct 11, 2015 #73

Guys,

As I conceded yesterday, when I read that an artillery piece is “well worn”, I pretty much automatically conclude bore wear (and I daresay most readers do too), but there are a lot of other parts that can suffer wear, ça va sans dire. Nonetheless, let me pursue my doubt about howitzer bore wear in the years between the two world wars, given the likely minimal firing that occurred. Let’s say the Kiwis got their 3.7-inch mountain howitzers c1923–1925, followed by G.O. 303 in 1926. Of course, then-current howitzers used semifixed rounds with variable charges to achieve different ranges, but during the ‘tween-wars period I imagine that when live firing took place, it was done mostly at 6000 to 7000 yards, i.e., for the very reason I’m arguing, to spare the barrel. The entry level muzzle velocity to achieve that end in the 3.7-inch mountain howitzer was around 300 m/sec (980 ft/sec). With greater loads to achieve greater distances, of course the muzzle velocity increased, and during WWII, supercharge rounds were available for AT use (admittedly uncommon for a small howitzer such as this). Because there was no 3.7-inch field gun in British service, just a few comparative figures from other services to make my point. The data are from Peter Chamberlain and Terry Gander, 1975, Light and Medium Field Artillery, part of Arco Publishing’s WW2 Fact Files series. Because families of ammunition differed, I concede the inexactness of these comparisons. Nonetheless, I’ll attempt to keep them as time-relative and fair as possible.

U.S. M1A1 75mm field howitzer, i.e., on the M3 cavalry-accompanying field carriage: 381 m/sec (1250 ft/sec)
U.S. M1897A4 75mm gun on the M2A3 carriage: 610 m/sec (2000 ft/sec)

Japanese Type 91 105mm howitzer: 546 m/sec (1790 ft/sec)
Japanese Type 92 105mm gun: 760 m/sec (2492 ft/sec)

The three German pieces listed below are of different howitzer versus gun calibers, but used the same field carriage, albeit with a bit of tweaking necessary (I have omitted n.A.—neuer Artillerie—from the designations, because such use for WWII guns differs among various sources).

10.5cm leichte Feldhaubitze 16: 505 m/sec (1657 ft/sec)
7.7cm Feldkanone 16: 600 m/sec (1968 ft/sec)
7.5cm Feldkanone 16: 662 m/sec (2170 ft/sec)

All right the point is made: there is a significant difference in typical muzzle velocities generated by howitzers versus guns, so that during the years of peace, bore wear is generally less in howitzers. In seasonal practice-firings of guns, the summertime soldiers back in the day would often fire mostly subcaliber pieces until the last week, when full-bore firing took place. So, where did all that wear come from in the 3.7-inch mountain howitzers passed on from the Kiwis to the Diggers? Not very much, if any, artillery was extracted during the withdrawals from Greece and Crete, and even if the New Zealanders took 3.7-inch howitzers to North Africa, what chance is there they would have been returned to the SW Pacific? Where during the years of interwar peace or the early couple of years of war could New Zealand’s 3.7-inch mountain howitzers have experienced that kind of wear? Or is the whole thing apocryphal, with the Aussies bellyaching that while the enemy—and to be sure, the Yanks—were equipped with the latest first-line stuff, they had to make do with Kiwi castoffs?

Nelson
With all of this concern about the British 3.7 inch mountain howitzer ("Ordnance QF, 3.7in Mountain Howitzer Mk I, on Carriage, QF Mountain Howitzer Mk 1"), I was going to ask how many of these guns were manufactured and for how long. Hogg says that 70 had been delivered by the end of WWI.

But Wikipedia is sometimes a marvelous source:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QF_3.7-in ... n_howitzer

On which is a link to an official manual for the piece available online

http://digital.slv.vic.gov.au/view/acti ... ePid2=true

And a fact sheet of some sort

http://nigelef.tripod.com/37inchowsheet.htm

It appears that production continued on into WWI in India

Hogg gives the models and carriages as follows

"Ordnance;
"Mk I: Two varieties of this existed; the first half-dozen or so guns had increasing twist rifling, but this was changed to uniform twist and the chamber was slightly enlarged without change of Mark number
"Mk I/1: Introduced in 1944, had a simplified breach mechanism.
"Mk I/2: Introduced 1945, had new firing pin unit.
"Mk I/3: This was declared obsolete in 1960, but no record of its introduction has been found and we are unable to say what the differences were.
"Carriage:
"Mk 1: Split trail, wooden wheels, shield, Pack carriage.
"Mk 2: As for Mk 1, but with additional fittings for animal draught.
"Mk 3: Fixed instead of movable spades, otherwise as for Mk 2.
"Mk 4P: Pneumatic tyres, no shield, not capable of being dismantled into pack loads
"Mk 5: Lightened model for airborne troops."

So while the Australians and New Zealand troops might have old worn out howitzers, it would appear that new wartime produced guns might have been used or were at least available?

P.S.

"(I have omitted n.A.—neuer Artillerie—from the designations, because such use for WWII guns differs among various sources)."

n.A. is 'neuer Art" - new model or mark
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Jacques
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7:03 AM - Oct 13, 2015 #74

Jacques,

First, a little history preceding the 1-pounder pompom. One might claim that the pompom was to the Hotchkiss revolving/revolver cannon, as the Maxim machine gun was to the Gatling gun: i.e., fully automatic versus fired by a manually operated hand-crank, each size to fill a particular niche. Couple of images attached of the pompom’s techno-predecessor. The first revolving cannon is manned by a German gun crew, likely somewhere on the plains of Africa, and the second—to maintain the continuity and integrity of this thread—on a smaller mount nicely appropriate as a mountain or landing gun.





Hate to burst your balloon, when belief in the pompom as the gun that almost won the Second Boer War lurks not that deeply in the heart of every red-blooded South African, needing only a pint or two of King’s Blockhouse IPA to find expression, BUT.... It was, I fear a highly overrated gun. I concede it saw use in virtually all of the world’s navies, and not a few of its armies, but at the same time, it fell out of favor just as fast as it had come onto the scene.

The gun is actually the Maxim-Nordenfelt, being that Maine Yankee Hiram Maxim, by fair means or foul, took over Thorsten Nordenfelt’s merchant-of-death empire, before his own fell in turn to Vickers & Sons. Perhaps ideal for bold, mobile, and hard-riding Boers to potshoot at British field batteries—pushed far too forward and thus becoming obvious targets—the pompom saw rather greater success at the beginning of the war than at the end, after British field battery doctrine had been changed to meet the threat. The article you post, although with not a few errors, is correct in its criticisms only so far as it includes them, short range and too light rounds being paramount. It misses a couple of other disadvantages of the 1-pounder pompom, viz., the field equipment, when including the gun carriage and limber carrying sufficient rounds for a largish automatic gun, required a six-horse team for a movement of any real distance (big investment in horseflesh for a light artillery piece), and hardly least, those rounds were muy expensive, leading more than one European monarch or his treasurer to reject the pompom’s adoption.

The U.S. Army, which despite poor judgment on ordnance adoption on more than one occasion, did exhibit the wisdom to acquire light field guns that could see multiple uses. For example, filling that bill might be a gun, on somewhat modified field carriage variants, that could serve both as a cavalry-accompanying light fieldpiece and as a beach defense gun protecting remote harbor defense batteries too large to defend themselves against a raid by a naval landing party. On that basis, the army acquired two batteries of 1-pounder pompoms c1899–1900, both to use against Philippine insurrectionists and as a candidate to defend HD batteries. The field artillerymen in the P.I. found the pompom too heavy and unwieldy to negotiate the bush, and the coast artillerymen felt they needed a longer-range piece, with both gunners wanting a piece capable of firing shrapnel. Which gets us back to the pompom’s serious disadvantages in wartime practice.

The field equipment, as alluded to previously, was heavy, requiring the same size team as for a 3-inch or 75mm fieldpiece, but with one third the effective range. As an automatic gun, the pompom’s need for ammunition must fairly be described as profligate, i.e., having an inexhaustible need/greed for rounds, which it must be pointed out were disproportionately expen$ive (and often the deal breaker). Despite what the article whose URL you provided doth claim, the 1-pounder and indeed even the 6-pounder used rounds too small to accomodate shrapnel, then felt to be an essential part of a gun’s repertoire. As an early 20th century design challenge to its commissioned junior officer-students serving at Sandy Hook Proving Ground, the U.S. Army instructed them to come up with a light field gun that could not only serve in a multitude of roles, but...BIG BUT...could fire shrapnel. Those bright young lads arrived at the smallest piece that could meet the need for that type of round: the 2.38-inch field gun or 7 1/2-pounder. The piece was a handsome one, but a one-off: turns out the army’s already-in-service 3.8-inch howitzer—lighter, more compact, and delivering a far larger and more effective shrapnel round at a greater distance—already filled the bill. Same as with your vaunted 1-pounder pompom: whatever it did, something else in the ordnance cupboard did it better, the automatic nature of the pompom notwithstanding and even defeating.

Following some success during the wars taking place at the end of the 19th century—the USN used them most effectively as a defense against Spanish torpedo boats—the pompom became moribund during the first decade of the new century. It enjoyed a rebirth during WWI as an AA gun, briefly in the U.S. Navy, but as you’ve written, rather longer in the Royal Navy and its Commonwealth offshoots. The article you cite claims a natural size progression from 1-pounder through 1 1/2-pounder to 2-pounder. Not so: the 2-pounder appeared before the 1 1/2-pounder, with the latter a compromise because of space limitations on some British destroyer classes. The 1 1/2-pounder mount as designed, however, proved heavier than that for 2-pounder and was soon withdrawn as unsatisfactory. The article also declares, “By 1907 with the Vickers machine-gun replacing the less reliable Maxim...” The Vickers MG was a Maxim gun, and of course there were improvements over the years as for any gun having a lengthy history.

I likes ‘em and share your interest, but the true history of pompoms, particularly in army hands, was not that rosy for the variety of reasons I’ve chronicled here.

Nelson
Nelson,

Never had a bubble to burst about the pompom - I've read enough to know of its limitations but I still think that another forty years of development could have resulted in a very useful infantry support weapon. But, let's leave it at that, it didn't happen. Have a look at this fearsome piece - now, if only the ZAR had a few more of these!



A 150mm mortar in use by Boer forces at the siege of Ladysmith, listed as being in the hands of the Transvaal at the outbreak of the war. (Captain Reichmann -Reports on Military Operations in South Africa, p.130)

From Henry Woodd Nevinson's "Ladysmith - Diary of a Siege" (pg. 245): "To-day we enjoyed a further variety, well worth the risk. At the foot of Surprise Hill, hardly 1,500 yards from our position, the Boers have placed a mortar. Now and then it throws a huge column of smoke straight up into the air. The first I thought was a dynamite explosion, but after a few seconds I heard a growing whisper high above my head, as though a falling star had lost its way, and plump came a great shell into the grass, making a 3ft. hole in the reddish earth, and bursting with no end of a bang. We collected nearly all the bits and fitted them together. It was an eight or nine-inch globe, reminding one of those “bomb-shells” which heroes of old used to catch up in their hands and plunge into water-buckets. The most amusing part of it was the fuse—¬a thick plug of wood running through the shell and pierced with the flash-channel down its centre. It was burnt to charcoal, but we could still make out the holes bored in its side at intervals to convert it into a time-fuse. This is the “one mortar” catalogued in our Intelligence book. It was satisfactory to have located it. Two guns of the 69th Battery threw shrapnel over its head all morning; then the Naval guns had a turn and seem to have reduced it to silence." The complete text available at:

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/16603/16 ... tm#image01

It is well known that the Boer republics were well equipped with modern artillery before the war. The "Staatsartillerie" of the ZAR and the "Oranje Vrijstaat Artillerie Corps" were also very well trained and possessed the latest field guns and howitzers available from German manufacturer Krupp and the French company of Creusot, not forgetting the Nordenfelt Maxims made in England. The Staatsartillerie was apparently the first modern artillery unit to use indirect fire (Battle of Spioenkop 24 January 1900) and the first to use their guns as fire support to the infantry. Their outstanding service led to Winston Churchill to comment "These are the finest gunners in the world....they can teach the Royal Artillery a lesson or two!"

Anyway, with all this modern artillery and tactics, where on earth did this ancient old black powder muzzle loader come from - can you identify this piece? It is described as a 150mm mortar and therefore probably German or French in origin. From the picture it appears that a wooden frame with block-and-tackle was used to remove the wheels and then to lower it in place, pointed in the general direction of the enemy. Nothing else is known about this peculiar weapon and I think that it was only ever used during the siege of Ladysmith.

An observation with regards to the photos posted by Jim, of the memorial and grandfather Thomson's troop - comparing the cartridge belts and the way they were worn, US forces at the time always had them around the waist whereas the Boers (and British) in South Africa wore their cartridge belts (bandoliers) over the shoulder. Care to comment?


General Ben Viljoen and staff. My grandfather pictured sitting in front, holding a shotgun.

Regards,

Jacques
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Nelson
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3:24 PM - Oct 14, 2015 #75

Jacques,

> Never had a bubble to burst about the pompom - I've read enough to know of its limitations, but I still think that another forty years of development could have resulted in a very useful infantry support weapon. But, let's leave it at that, it didn't happen. >

Not so fast. I still want to know how this could have happened. In a nutshell, the larger the bore of the gun, the heavier the barrel, the heavier the breech and chamber, the heavier the carriage, the heavier the limber laden with projectiles. A unit of infantry in a dense forest or in the mountains dragging an artillery piece along crude twisting trails was going to be limited in what size gun could accompany it. And that meant what size rounds. In the tropical forest or jungle during the Philippine Insurrection, the bush and timber did much to neutralize the effect of such small projectiles.



Send us guns that will fire larger rounds than the Hotchkiss 1.65-inch (42mm or 2-pounder) mountain gun [shown above], the soldiers exorted. Given the unsat nature of its Hotchkiss 3-inch bigger brother [a second glance at the photo above tells me those rounds are larger than 1.65-inch ones, so that piece may be the bigger bro], the U.S. Army purchased the Vickers-Maxim 2.95-inch mountain gun, a piece that the British Army wanted no part of. Similar cries for a gun that would shoot farther or faster simply would have led to a substantial weight gain: the adoption of a heftier recoil apparatus or split trails or automatic firing had its cost in weight, not to mention all the extra ammo one needed to bring along when the automatic gun was pumping out rounds, pom-pom-pom-pom.

Okay, so you’re no longer in the jungle or mountains (or both). It’s now 1916 and your lads are going over the top and across no-man’s land. The ground is busted up plenty, with mud and craters and other nasty obstacles. What wheeled crew-served gun is going to negotiate that morass? And even 16 months earlier, before such ruination occurred, a crew-served pompom supporting an infantry attack would have been tres conspicuous and quickly annihilated. Yeah, 1-pounders (37mm) did serve in an infantry support role, but they were not automatic guns. See how this French Mle 1916 hugs the ground on its tripod.





A wheeled carriage was also available, but deployed mostly in defense, where it was too small to be much good. The irony is that such a small gun was only useful when used offensively, i.e., where it was size-limited as much as possible to provide a smaller target and its role equally finite. After the conclusion of the war, in the American army the M1916 37mm gun died a slow death. In WWII, the M3 37mm “antitank” gun did see useful service in the Pacific, mostly firing canister against the insane mass charges to which the Japanese all too often resorted. I’ll stop here, but do note the limited postwar roles these guns had, leading inevitably to their desuetude, not to mention the non-automatic nature of such pieces. History does not support your contention, but I’m willing to consider your always interesting argument. But you in turn have to be willing to write at greater length to support that argument.

> A 150mm mortar in use by Boer forces at the siege of Ladysmith, listed as being in the hands of the Transvaal at the outbreak of the war. >

As regards the photo, clearly taken from a movie—look, there’s bearded Brad Pitt under that very broad-brimmed hat—the mortar shown is quite old and certainly a deal larger than 150mm (6 inches), when you compare the bore with the physical features of the men grouped around it. The report you quote mentions rounds 8 or 9 inches—203 or 230 mm—in diameter when their shattered fragments were reassembled. The trunnions on the piece are clearly located just behind the breech, as on the 8-inch mortar used in the American Civil War about 40 years before (note the wooden quoin used to elevate the latter piece at the muzzle).



I like the photo of your granddad. A shotgun toter, eh? He must have been a close-in fighter and in action a ferocious gorilla....no, no, I meant to write guerrilla!

Best,

Nelson
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10:23 AM - Oct 16, 2015 #76

Nelson,

In my earlier post I wrote that "...I still think that another forty years of development could have resulted in a very useful infantry support weapon."

What I had in mind was something like the pompom but a lot lighter; not a wheeled artillery piece but something more transportable like a heavy belt-fed machine gun that could lob explosive shells over a distance of, let's say 1000 yards at 60 rounds per minute. Something like this:



OK, it turns out that it took a bit longer than forty years, and it wasn't until the war in Vietnam that the US military saw value in a portable short range automatic weapon that could provide high-volume suppressive fire support. This resulted in the "Mk. 19 40mm Machine Gun", developed by Saco Industries in 1966. (Later termed "grenade machine gun" or "automatic grenade launcher")

Still in use today, the Mk.19 (MOD 3) has an effective range of 1 600 metres and a sustained rate of fire of 40 rounds per minute which is not too different to the old pompom of a hundred years ago, but with a much lower muzzle velocity. Also it's a whole lot lighter (33 kilos, gun only) than the pompom (186 kilos, gun only) but still requires a small team of men to operate it when not fitted to a vehicle or helicopter.

Automatic grenade launchers such as the Mk.19 are considered indispensible as infantry support weapons these days and just about every army uses them. The Mk.19 of which more than 35 000 units have been manufactured, is in service with the armed forces of more than 20 other nations. Production and further development of this weapon type and its ammunition is ongoing in the US and a number of other countries, including Russia, China, South Korea, Spain, Germany and South Africa.

Perhaps the Nordenfelt Maxim 1-pounder pompom was just way ahead of its time.

Regards,

Jacques
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4:46 AM - Oct 17, 2015 #77

Jacques,

> Lighten up! >

Hey, give me some slack! I think "As regards the photo, clearly taken from a movie—look, there’s bearded Brad Pitt under that very broad-brimmed hat..." is pretty light.

Regarding the remainder of that sentence and paragraph: "...the mortar shown is quite old and certainly a deal larger than 150mm (6 inches), when you compare the bore with the physical features of the men grouped around it. The report you quote mentions rounds 8 or 9 inches—203 or 230 mm—in diameter when their shattered fragments were reassembled. The trunnions on the piece are clearly located just behind the breech, as on the 8-inch mortar used in the American Civil War about 40 years before (note the wooden quoin used to elevate the latter piece at the muzzle)."

Do you agree (I hope) that the Boer mortar in the photo you posted is larger than 150mm, likely 200–230mm? The U.S. 8-inch (203mm) mortar I put up is the Model 1841, still used in the Civil War two decades later.

> OK, it turns out that it took a bit longer than forty years, and it wasn't until the war in Vietnam that the US military saw value in a portable short range automatic weapon that could provide high-volume suppressive fire support....Perhaps the Nordenfelt Maxim 1-pounder pompom was just way ahead of its time. >

I disagree: the Maxim-Nordenfelt (wish you would get it right) 1-pounder pompom was a gun of its time, the natural and next larger step after the Maxim automatic gun of rifle (or infantry) caliber. Both the Brits and Boers got pretty good at moving big guns in the rough country of the Transvaal, but in very difficult terrain of course they had to settle for a smaller gun. Same with the Americans in the Philippines: although a larger gun was often needed for a task, the nature of the terrain and the vegetation of the tropical forest or jungle restricted the artillery support to small mountain guns. All of those soldiers accepted the reality that a larger gun meant a heavier mount, with the greater difficulty in its movement. What was not acceptable for many armies, including those of Britain and the U.S., was a heavy mount carrying a small gun firing light rounds with a limited range, e.g. the 1-pounder pompom. And they were an expen$ive investment. Sure, 70 or 80 years later, better metallurgy and more modern technology permitted much smaller and lighter guns of like caliber to accomplish the identical task for which the old 1-pounder pompom did not truly fill the bill.

As regards the cross-chest ammunition bandoleers carried by British Commonwealth troops versus the waist ammo belts of the Americans, I have noticed the diff, but I don't know the answer. Contrary beliefs in the accessibility of rounds when engaged in action? The 19th century fear in the U.S. of giving its troops too much ammunition lest they squander it? An area for Jacques research, say I.

Nelson
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6:20 AM - Oct 18, 2015 #78

Nelson,

> Lighten up! >

Uhh...you do know that I was referring to the Nord...sorry Maxim Nordenfelt, right?

As far as the mortar is concerned; I'm inclined to agree with you that the opening at the front end does seem larger than 6 inches. British intelligence (paradox or oxymoron?) of the time could have got it wrong but where do you think the mortar came from. Any way of identifying that piece?

Regards,

Jacques
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Nelson
Nelson

3:33 AM - Oct 19, 2015 #79

Jacques,

> Uhh...you do know that I was referring to the Nord...sorry Maxim Nordenfelt, right? >

So, you making leetle joke, yes? Sorry to have been a bit...er...heavy-handed, but I remained focused on the cost to benefit ratio of using the 1-pounder pompom. No matter what the beast of burden—whether straining their oxen or exhausting their horses or overtaxing their mules or busting their asses—it made the best sense that the effort in hauling the load was commensurate with the rounds delivered against the foe. The opinion by most soldiery that the pompom mount was too hefty and its rounds not hefty enough has hardly been a revelation. Here are a couple more photos showing the sizable nature of the pompom gun on its wheeled carriage.






> Where do you think the mortar came from. Any way of identifying that piece? >

As I've already specified, the mortar in Boer hands looks a great deal like the U.S. Model 1841 8-inch field mortar in bore and external configuration. Not claiming they are one and the same, but keep in mind that nations borrowed—read stole—from each other's designs and innovations, so strong similarities were inevitable.

Nelson
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Jacques
Jacques

12:40 PM - Oct 19, 2015 #80

Nelson,

I fear that the axe will soon come down for this digression but while on the subject of the Boer War, I thought I'd take the opportunity, cause I know you'll appreciate a good story:

You might not be familiar with the adventures of Fritz Duquesne, wounded at Ladysmith and a captain in the Staatsartillerie – I think, the greatest spy that ever lived or greatest conman ever, depending on what you choose to believe!

http://reprobate.co.za/fritz-duquesne-t ... -the-cold/

http://boryanabooks.com/?p=4355

Regards,

Jacques
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