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Canister 45mm tank rounds

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Originally posted by JasonC:

Canister is ridiculously overmodeled in CMBB.

I don't see the reasoning here. Canister was very effective in 19th century combat, so what changed? The same principles seem to apply. Men in the open, and at close range get chewed to bits by the stuff.

Stay in cover, and don't assault T-34s or 45mm ATGs, and you should be OK. ;)

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What changed?

Well, in the 18th and 19th centuries, cannons fired at 400 yards or less.

The targets were in close order. The sparsest open order formations of those eras would be wall to wall squads in CM terms.

The cannons involved were not 1.5 to 2 inch bore rifles but 3 to 6 inches, mostly smoothbore and some howitzer (firing explosive "shell").

And they still hit less than one man per ten rounds fired. E.g. at Borodino, infantry muskets undoubtedly caused more losses than artillery, and the French artillery alone fired more than 100,000 rounds (ball and canister and shell, full cannon loads). Total Russian losses were around 40,000, all causes.

A 37mm popgun is undoubtedly more effective as a shotgun than firing slugs. But the MGs on the same tank are vastly more effective than either.

76mm canister on the Russian tanks is ridiculously overmodeled in CM. I zero it in all my scenarios, replacing it with HE. In CM, it shreds entire squads inside stone buildings, which is completely silly. The MGs firing more bullets with greater accuracy are lucky to pin the same target.

Also, most of it isn't canister in the first place, but shrapnel. You might as well treat HE rounds as infantry fire with as many rounds shot as splinters made by the charge.

All powers discovered in WW I that shrapnel was ineffective, because the extra weight devoted to carrying projectile along with the round, was better spent on HE to drive the splinters faster, making smaller ones effective wounding agents. HE was much more effective against troops in any kind of cover.

The Russians nevertheless retained shrapnel as a round type into WW II. They thought it was useful against troops in the open, compared to HE. They had a somewhat different experience in WW I than the western powers, not facing as much in the way of trenches. And most of their artillery remained light throughout the war - 76mm being their standard piece at the start and at the end. Which wasn't nearly as effective as 105, 150s, 210s firing HE.

It is just a modeling error, pretending that 3 inch shrapnel shell is an M-1 beehive round with 3mm flechettes.

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Originally posted by JasonC:

All powers discovered in WW I that shrapnel was ineffective, because the extra weight devoted to carrying projectile along with the round, was better spent on HE to drive the splinters faster, making smaller ones effective wounding agents. HE was much more effective against troops in any kind of cover.

To clarify, during the opening rounds in August and Spet 1914 shrap served the British - at least - well, but it fell out of favour later. They found that true shrapnel rounds were ineffective for two reasons. Firstly, they felt that conscript gunners wouldn't be able to figure out the intricacies of fuzing the rounds to detonate correctly. Secondly, they found during 1915 that shrap was wholly ineffective against troops under cover in trenches. Nevertheless they retained their faith in shrap as a viable round - and stocks of the ammo - through into WWII.
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Originally posted by JonS:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by JasonC:

All powers discovered in WW I that shrapnel was ineffective, because the extra weight devoted to carrying projectile along with the round, was better spent on HE to drive the splinters faster, making smaller ones effective wounding agents. HE was much more effective against troops in any kind of cover.

To clarify, during the opening rounds in August and Spet 1914 shrap served the British - at least - well, but it fell out of favour later. They found that true shrapnel rounds were ineffective for two reasons. Firstly, they felt that conscript gunners wouldn't be able to figure out the intricacies of fuzing the rounds to detonate correctly. Secondly, they found during 1915 that shrap was wholly ineffective against troops under cover in trenches. Nevertheless they retained their faith in shrap as a viable round - and stocks of the ammo - through into WWII. </font>
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They also found that shrapnel had no effect against barbed wire.

To correct Jason's earlier post - artillery was undoubtably the major killer in Napoleonic times, not musketry - there were very few actualy musketry duels, while artillery fired all day at massed targets such as the Russian army at Borodino.

Such studies as have been done on musketry duels give extremely small % hits - somewher I have Brigadier Hughes' "Firepower", but I can't find it - however I also have an account of the Fusilier Brigade at LLAbuera, where 3 Bns of British infantry in line routed 3 columns of French - each column of 3 battalions - the firefight lasted 20 minutes at least - maybe 30, at ranges of not more than 40 yards. The French started with 540 men in their frontage, and the 2 bns of the 7th Foot (2/3rds of hte Fuliier Brigade) suffered 706 casualties from the entire battle, which included other actions.

Given that they were up against only 2/3rds of the French that's about 360 Frenchmen - so even if all the casualties were inflicted by this one fight each Frenchman did about 2 casualties in 20-30 minutes at 30-40 yards range.

This is an oft-studied action because such stand-up fights were so rare.

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Originally posted by Andreas:

According to Red Army anti-tank gunner E. Moniushev in his memoirs, 76mm guns were issued cannister, not Shrapnel, and it was extremely effective at close-in defense.

AFAIK only Soviet 45mm and 57mm guns had, strictly speaking, cannister rounds, while 76mm shrapnel ammo had a fuzing option that allowed its use also "на картечь", that is as cannister.


It's worth noting that there's a "dead" zone of 10m or so from the muzzle where no casualties should be expected... the same zone, in CM engine terms, where the 76mm cannister is dreadfully accurate.

Kind regards,


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Okay, note to self, never work from memory. First the chap's name is Moniushko. He calls it grapeshot, never had to use it, and explains it as having a density of 25-50 times greater than a machine gun firing 250rds/min, with all bullets spreading evenly.

So, whatever that might be, they had it.

All the best


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Originally posted by Andreas:

So, whatever that might be, they had it.

Of course! I hope I did't give the impression I was suggesting they hadn't them. smile.gif

Anyway, I noticed that the image I linked in my previous post (with the "K" setting on the fuze and the beaten zone for the 76mm shrapnel fired as cannister) didn't show.

Here's the address:


Best regards,


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Stalin's Organist - I do not agree with your correction. I do not believe artillery was the major killer or wound inflicter in the Napoleonic wars, or even came close to the total wounds inflicted by musketry.

Hits per shot fired by muskets were as low as one chance in 200, occasionally as high as 1 in 50, and they still inflicted more causalties than the guns did. The average soldier carried 60 ball onto the field with more in battalion and higher supply trains, and fights lasted hours, long enough to fire off entire loads (which in fact only takes about half a hour, and was frequently limited by fouling more than firing time). But the average soldier did not hit 1 time in 60, or nobody would have walked off the field whole.

2 hits per shooter in 20 minutes is a tiny number for so short a range. Even if the average is pulled down by half the men on the shooting side being wounded - which would be an outlier, because only about a quarter were overall, typically, and those fired some first, etc.

The average shot was fired at much, much longer ranges than the short and intense close order brushes highlighted in tactical accounts. There are perfectly believable accounts of French columns opening fire at 1000 yards, and frequently halting to fire at 300.

Yes there are also instances of very short range firefights, which are a game of "chicken" played with guns, in which firing first allows the other side to fire with his remaining men from closer in. But those short range brushes were by no means the sole way infantry fought, nor the way most of the rounds fired were fired. Battles would have been over in half an hour with almost everyone on the losing side wounded, if it had been.

The number of artillery guns and their average accuracy was far too low to shoot down any appreciably portion of the opposing army even in an entire day of shooting. 5% maybe. The average shot fired missed completely, even against massed infantry targets. Smoke and continuing to fire after the enemy formation had left the beaten zone are leading reasons for artillery ineffectiveness. This made artillery mostly an area denial weapon, which forces enemy to leave a spot of ground.

You can find particular instances of forces shot down by artillery when it failed to move or did not know where to go. But shot down means things like 30% casualties to sizable formations - but well less than full armies - or 50% to very small ones (individual battalions or regiments e.g.).

From the times spent engaged in infantry vs. infantry fights and the number of ball carried, it is clear most of the men were not firing most of the time. Deep formations and skirmish line tactics account for much of that. Nor was the accuracy high when they did fire, so they were not saving their shots for point-blank. They were delivering them very rarely compared to theoretical maximum rate of fire.

They also achieved nothing remotely like the theoretical test accuracies recorded in firepower tests. When, e.g. musketry typically achieve 25% hits at ranges over 100 yards against realistic formed target proxies. If men carrying 60 call did that in practice, every man on the field would have been shot down with only a minute fraction of the available ammo expended - which never happened.

But men hitting one time in 100 or 200 and firing 30 to 60 times, will put down 30% of an opposing force equally numerous. And armies fell apart under such losses.

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I believe Stalin's Organist was correcting your first assertion that artillery was not the major killer at Borodino, not your later assertion that artillery was not the major killer throughout the Napoleonic Wars.

All participants describe Borodino as an artillery slug-fest with the bulk of the killing performed by cannon. Both sides remarked on how the day had been dominated by massive cannon fire, which produced an indecisive bloodbath.

This is actualy not so suprising when one remembers that by September 1812 both the Grande Armee's and the Russian Army's field strengths in soldiers (i.e., musket toters) had shrunk by roughly two-thirds, while numbers of guns present on the field of Borodino remained effectively unchanged from June.

Cannon density was probably higher at Borodino than at any other major Napoleonic battle, with the possible exception of Leipzig, which, unsurprisingly, also was at the end of a long campaign where strategic wastage cut down infantry numbers while leaving cannon numbers basically intact.

Now if the question is which arm was more effective over the course of the Napoleonic wars, you certainly can make the arguement muskets killed or maimed more people than cannon, if nothing else by being ubiquitious. Muskets after all were the basic weapon of the era.

If the question of which arm was more the more effective killer in battle, then you enter a discussion on how to compare the two arms in typical roles. A single gun = How many infantry?

Mercer's account of the Waterloo campaign makes clear a battery of smaller-caliber artillery properly handled could keep its front clear of all infantry, assuming a good fields of fire, for as long as the ammo held out. Calvary was iffier, as men on horses could sometimes - but not always - cross the artillery kill zone without taking enough casualties to break their attack.

Infantry fire by that standard was not as effective; in most cases (I am assuming the Napoleonic Wars took place not just in the Peninsula) an infantry formation intent on making contact with another infantry formation could do so, as it could in most cases accept casualties while crossing the very short effective range of musket fire. Infantry was considered to be, by firepower alone, ineffective against cavalry; an infantry formation caught out of square by organized horsemen were considered pretty much doomed.

The success of the British infantry in delivering effective defensive fire to halt infantry attacks was very much the exception for the period, see Brent Noseworthy's "With Cannon, Musket and Sword" for details.

The thing is, cannon could not advance against infantry and kill it, usually the infantry would get under cover, and even when it didn't there are plenty of examples of infantry standing under artillery fire for hours, taking cumulatively horrific casualties, and then marching off in good discipline to perform some mission. Nor could artillery make itself impervious to cavalry; if the short-range cannister blast failed against the cavalry charge, then the artillery was going to get cut to bits.

And that of course opens another line of discussion about cavalry, which usually didn't kill too many people, but shock effect sometimes destroyed the integrity of other formations, allowing the fleeing members of those formations to be shot down or captured.

[ February 23, 2006, 02:24 AM: Message edited by: Bigduke6 ]

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Sorry, still all a completely false picture of Napoleonic combat, driven by romantic narratives of the most dramatic passages.

Here are the wound causes of French soldiers admitted to hospitals.

69% musket ball

13% artillery

15% sword wounds

2% bayonet or lance wounds

Artillery may be over-represented among the KIAs as opposed to the WIAs, with the opposite true for swords. But since KIAs were only 1/5th of the overall total while wounds (covered above) are 4/5ths, this cannot account for any appreciable change in the wound causing standings. It might push artillery as high as 20% and swords as low as 10%, but it leaves muskets causing 2/3rds of all casualties, and almost certainly the majority of KIAs as well.

Cavalry and artillery were supports to infantry in the Napoleonic era. Infantry was the major combat arm, by a long way. And a wound ratio of 35 to 1 for musket ball vs. bayonets gives the lie to stories of infantry fights being matters of pike rushes.

The truth of the matter is in close combat, the guys with empty tubes gave way to the guys with fully charged ones, and point blank musket fire was the way close combat was conducted by infantry. And close combat was the exception for all arms except cavalry.

You can't find an instance of artillery just shooting down and stopping charging cavalry, of any consequence, from one end of the Napoleonic wars to the other. You find the reverse - the gunners run down or abandoning the pieces when charged - in nearly every battle.

As for artillery, you can indeed find instances when it was particularly effective and played a major role in deciding battles. But close examinations shows it had that effect by setting up attacks for other arms, usually by causing disorder or forcing infantry to abandon key terrain, or otherwise to present a favorable occasion for infantry - or occasionally cavalry - attack.

Consider one of the most frequently cited "outliers" of artillery success - the French VII corps at Eylau. Accounts frequently speak of it being "almost annihilated", and ascribe this to massed artillery fire, especially from the 72 gun Russian grand battery in their center. One is thus given the impression that 72 cannons firing for half an hour or so could and did kill 10,000 man bunches. But that is not what actually happened.

VII corps advanced in a snowstorm and could not see the source of the fire hitting them. They strayed into the line of fire of the French guns. The Russians had 460 cannon on the field, not 72, and 150 heavies bore on the area in converging lines. It is called a mistake that they advanced where they did, and considered a weather excused command failure. Then the snow abated with them right in front of the 72 gun battery, within not just cannon range, but canister range.

The French formation may have been as few as 7500 men, and were already somewhat disordered. It received a few volleys of canister fire and more of ball from 3 directions. Then - often left out but clear in Russian eyewitness accounts - the disordered resulting mess was charged frontally by 5000 Russian infantry, supported by cavalry too on the left. About 2000 prisoners were taken. The Russian advance carried clear across the field. Murat's countercharge stopped it. Later in the day, 3000 to 4000 "survivors" of VII corps were still fighting in the center, having rallied in the Eylau town area during and after Murat's charge.

Starting strength minus survivors and prisoners imply anywhere from 1000 to 5000 actual casualties, with 3000 probably correct. Those losses were incurred not just from the artillery, but from an equal and more ordered body of infantry that went right through their previous positions. They were disordered by artillery, and routed by charge. It is possible as many as 1500 were actually hit by artillery, some their own or ball at longer range.

Meanwhile in the battle as a whole the French lost around 20,000 men, not 1500. With an error bar as large as 5,000, accounts differ so much.

The typical dynamics of a Napoleonic battle in attrition terms have to be faced, and combined with the apparently still decidedly counterintuitive axioms of operations research. The battles last many hours, not minutes. Artillery ammunition expenditure runs high 5 to low 6 digits. No more than 40% of the losing side, and typically more like 25-33%, are hit. On the winning side it can be as low as 5% or as high as 30% in the bloodiest fights, with more like 15% typical.

Meaning, 3 out of 4 soldiers that walked onto a Napoleonic battlefield and fought equally numerous enemies for hours, walked off again without a scratch. Of the 1 in 4 that were hit, only 1/5 died - 1/20 of the overall forces present. The average soldier failed to hit a single enemy, despite theoretical accuracies of 25-40% for their main weapon against typical mass targets, and 60 to 100 rounds per man available, and ammo typically a real problem by late in the fighting.

OR says, first theorem, the average weapon system fails to account for a single opposite number over its service life. The realism difficulty for all the romantic accounts of period fighting is to reconcile how much they fired and for how long, with how few men were actually hit by any of it. And the inescapable conclusion is that lots of men shirked close fighting, average shots were taken at much longer ranges than tactical drills called for, with vastly lower achieved average accuracy as a direct result.

Bravery was scarcer than ammo, ammo was scarcer than time to fire, hits were scarcer than men present - all by large, not trivial, factors.

The artillery, meanwhile, was hitting only a seventh to a fifth of the quarter that were hit at all, despite firing up to 100 rounds per gun. Rounds fired outnumber men hit by all causes by factors of 2 to 5, and wounds by artillery are outnumbered by rounds fired by a factor of 10 to 25.

And some of that is canister at shorter ranges. Some is shell. Outlier best shots occasionally hit up to 25 men at a time, which to keep the average as calculated needs to be balanced by as many additional misses. The average shot must have missed, and more than that, it probably took something like 20 shots on average to hit anybody. A battery firing for an hour might have averaged 25 to 50 men hit. With, undoubtedly, a huge variance - plenty of that is firing blind into smoke at locations long since clear of all enemy. But a decisive arm through casualties directly caused, it most certainly was not.

Incidentally, in the later 19th century the advent of rifles made infantry even more dominant, sweeping cavalry from the field and equaling the range of the guns. In the US civil war, wounds in hospital are 94% bullets, 5.5% artillery, and 0.5% bayonets.

Artillery only became the dominate wound causing agent in WW I. It was high explosive - the high is critical, earlier shell is not remotely in the same league - for steel breech-loading artillery, that brought about that change.

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Ihaven't got my references here at work - Jason yo may well be right overall, but thereis at least one account of a squadron of cavalry being stopped in a charge on an artillery unit in the Peninsular, having suffered something like 8 or 10 casualties and beignthrown into disorder. Not sure where I read it, and my memory has been known to be faulty - may have been in Oman.

I never suggested that swords & baynets were of much use at all - and personally think they were only a morale boost for attacking infantry, and a bit of a morale hit on defenders if attackers got close enough to actually use them - defenders would normally break at that point, relying upon fire to stop the charge. AFAIK most cases of "crossed bayonets" involved fighting in towns and other built up areas.

However AFAIK the Russian army is not included in any stats, and their battles with the French include a fairly large number of actions where cavalry over-ran infantry, and also of artillery doing massed execution - eg both happened at Eylau.

[ February 23, 2006, 05:22 PM: Message edited by: Stalin's Organist ]

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A squadron?

Who cares?

As for other arms and Russian losses at Eylau, they lost 20-25k all causes. The formation charged through twice by over 10,000 cavalry still existed afterward, because they have this tendency to go around the tighter knots. Reduced of course, and a fair number of prisoners taken. The main cause of loss, though, was the long afternoon drive by Davout's corps around their left flank, which won whatever the French can be said to have won, of the battle. Which was a many hours' long infantry musketry affair, like most Napoleonic battles.

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I'm sure the men in the squadron and battery cared.

Certainly Davout's attack carried the field, and yet the Russian army survived.

Above you give misleading numbers for teh fate of the VII Corps too - you compare the minimum likely numbers it might have staretd with, then allocate the maximum numbers of guns the Russians had.

I fail to see how it is in the least bit relevant that they came into sight at cannister range, since that is precisely where the artillery would be most effective, and the fact that 2000 or so were captured bespeaks something other than a tough close range musketry fight.

What evidence is there of "long infantry musketry affairs" in any Napoleonic battles? AFAIK the longest musketry duel ever recorded was in the 7 years war at Zorndorf, where the Prussian and Russian lines blazed at each other for an hour or more at various times, inflicting massive casualties but failing to break either side.

The Napoleonic wars, OTOH, were characterised by much more decisive threats of close combat following relatively short periods of firefight - usually by skirmishers, or by close range volleys as practised by the British.

Such tactics persuaded enemy infantry to flee, but inflicted few casualties absent cavalry to pursue, and the enemy often rallied to carry on teh fight - this is indicitive of what happened at Eylau - the infantry beign over-run by cavalry or routed by infantry, but not actually killed or wounded in any great numbers at any one time.

I also now note that your figures are for men in hospitals - which of course by definition excludes those left dead on the battlefield.

I find your arguments interesting, but you're not actually giving balanced figures for anything so aren't actually telling me anything useful.

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I may just lack imagination, but I find it so difficult to actually visualize what goes on in battle and in combat-- true for WWII, true for black powder warfare, true for edged weapon combat. You might as well try to write the story of a ball.

-- but please carry on the discussion: illuminating, and well beyond r-Oman-esque views of "column vs. line" which dominates e.g. popular fiction on Nap. warfare.

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E.g. at Borodino, infantry muskets undoubtedly caused more losses than artillery
Every single primary source I've read contradicts your statement. Both sides. Offhand I can think of Marbot, Marmont, Yermelov, Davydov, and Uxhull; there have to be dozens if not hundreds more. Borodino was a pretty well-documented battle. Not once have I read anything to the effect of "Borodino was an affair of musketry, the artillery was not particularly dangerous there."

Do you have any grounds for your claim beyond your statistic of hospital admissions for the French?

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