04 January 2016

Prussian SYW Artillery Scale Drawings – part 4 – A Spectacular New Source

A truly spectacular new source filled with 18th century military material has been digitalized and made available online. It is the extensive encyclopedic collection of the former Wuerttemberg general Ferdinand Friedrich von Nicolai (*1730 +1814). It belongs to the archive of the Württembergische Landesbibliothek, Stuttgart – or the ‘Wuerttemberg State Library’ in English. It includes several folders on artillery with about the biggest collection of scale drawings I have ever seen. Simply overwhelming it all is. The bulk of the material should originate from the hands of the Zeugmeister or ‘Masters of Ordnance’ of the once so famous Nuermberg Arsenal, but it is also including many drafts illustrating other European Armies guns and other material. Most is of the period around 1700 – and somewhat earlier – to around 1750 or 1760. It does include awsome and most bizzare constructions, such as the one below:
Source: copyright restricted
Digital Collection
Württembergische Landesbibliothek.
It is published here for purely academic use without any commercial intention.
The upper draft is a breech loading ‘Quick Firer’ Geschwind-Stück dated 1750 as per this sheets caption on the lower right. But I just love the sheets lower construction.
I consider to quit my present job, and start a new business selling the ‘Ultimate Mole Terminator Solution’. I'll tour all the US golf courses and turn a millionaire within short.
The frustrating part of the story, though, is the fact that only but few sheets give any information apart from foot and/or calibre scales and other measurements. No dating is found, and moreoften no information of what armies ordnance you are looking at. It is for that reason, I was told, this material has never really been employed with accademic research, so far. 
Given my years of studying the subject and the countless illustrations I have done myself during the past years, I can say that I have arrived at a sharpend eye-ball, which now enables me to identify at least some of the material with considerable ease. Browsing the pages of all this fantastic material you suddenly drop on a page with the below content:
Source: copyright restricted
Digital Collection
Württembergische Landesbibliothek.
It is published here for purely academic use without any commercial intention.
Now – That could be Prussian! – I thought. And really, the unfolded sheet disclosed a most beautiful looking draft of a Prussian 3-pounder cannon.
Source: copyright restricted
Digital Collection
Württembergische Landesbibliothek.
It is published here for purely academic use without any commercial intention.
The sheets caption identifies it as a ‘Prussian 3-pdr battalion gun, 16 calibres or 4 feet long, and weighing 4.5 centner’. Now, what piece is it we are looking at? With all the details provided with my extensivly employed principal source on Prussian gun construction by Malinowsky & Bonin (M&B), it can be identified as Holtzmann's revised M1738 construction dating to around 1747. It should be noted that all the pencil drawn markings and notes found on this sheet were certainly done or added by a ‘Non-Prussian’. We don't know the foot scale employed here for arriving at the authors' ‘4 foot’ length. Its certainly not the Berlin Fuss. The ink drawn parts of this draft should have been done by another earlier author. This earlier authors' draft makes a rather dead-on match with all the figures and dimensions recorded in M&B, such as the widened chamber of the conic bore in order to hold a charge 0.5 the weight of its shot, rather then 1/3 with his initial 1738 master construction. The pieces principal proportions are found by dividing the barrel into 7 parts. The axis was placed into the 3/7, as with the Holtzmann designs of this range in 1738. Hotzmanns' revised 1747 design had added trunnion shoulders, it is said in M&B – and that's precisely what we see here. Also the pieces received gun sights in 1747, which are all neatly added with pencil with this illustration. Another volume of the collection even has a draft of Holtzmanns' 1747 introduced Richtmaschine. Again, despite this sheets little information, with the help of M&B, the 1747 Holtzmann construction can easily be identified. 
The entire collection includes a wealth of ‘Prussian’ drafts, that may either be original Prussian, or copies of original Prussian material. A total of 5 barrel constructions, including the afore Holtzmann 3-pdr are found. Two 6-pdr designs that should be identified as the Dieskau M1754 conic chamber design, a short barrel 12-pdr, 14 calibres long, which is most obviously oncemore a Dieskau M1754 conic chamber design. I'll have investigated this one in detail. Since I have done an earlier tentative reconstruction of this piece in my below article ‘Prussian SYW Artillery scale drawings – part 3’, this one is my ‘revised’ illustration:
The original Nicolai Collection draft is the one seen below.
Source: copyright restricted
Digital Collection
Württembergische Landesbibliothek.
It is published here for purely academic use without any commercial intention.
Finally, it also includes a draft of this bizarre ‘super light’ 24-pdr field gun M1744. All figures and dimensions that can be extracted from this draft leave no doubt to its identity. I have presented a tentative reconstruction in my earlier article ‘Prussian SYW Artillery scale drawings – part 2’. I will need to present a revised draft with the new information found in the Nicolai Collection material. Below see a draft of the barrel found here. It is most fantastic, for I thought I'll never manage to ever find an illustration of this piece. Oncemore, I did a closer investigation.
The original Nicolai Collection draft of this 24-pdr is the one seen below.
Source: copyright restricted
Digital Collection
Württembergische Landesbibliothek.
It is published here for purely academic use without any commercial intention.
We even find a draft for the carriages bracket cheek for this piece. Very exciting this is to me. 
Source: copyright restricted
Digital Collection
Württembergische Landesbibliothek.
It is published here for purely academic use without any commercial intention.
Without doubt, this is the carriage bracket cheek for this piece. Some details provided in M&B make a good match, while some others don't. Especially the manner of the metal fittings do cause me some embarassement, for the time being. Apart from all this spectacular new material available, the collection also includes drafts of the entire Linger M1717 system providing the dimensions for the guns, as well as for the carriages and wheels and furthermore the Linger light 18-pdr howitzer along with the drafts of the Linger M1717 50-pdr mortars. The below sheet is one of three found here.
Source: copyright restricted
Digital Collection
Württembergische Landesbibliothek.
It is published here for purely academic use without any commercial intention.
It illustrates the 3- and 6- pdr dimensions, as well as Linger's two 1717 Mortar designs. Also the small cast iron 4-pdr mortar is found here. A forerunner of the later 54 mm infantry heavy weapons light mortar, so to say. 
The Prussian Linger system M1717 range howitzers are also found with another neat illustration.
Source: copyright restricted
Digital Collection
Württembergische Landesbibliothek.
It is published here for purely academic use without any commercial intention.
The two left hand drafts I have done earlier based on drafts gathered from elsewhere. These Nicolai collection ones make a fine match. To the right you also see a so entitled ‘Swedish cast iron 16-pdr howitzer’. This piece was apparently also fielded during the period 1717 to 1740. I must confess that I did not bother to have a closer look at the cast iron ordnance of Prussia of this period, as it was almost exclusively guns for fortress armament. Obviously, this cast iron model (imported from Sweden? – hence the name?) had also been fielded.
As you can see, I need to do some more reading and engage in a closer investigation on all this new material. 
By the way, the content of the entire Collection Nicolai can be found here – Link: http://digital.wlb-stuttgart.de/sammlungen/sammlungsliste/werksansicht/?no_cache=1&tx_dlf[id]=3116&tx_dlf[page]=1
Turn to the side bar on the left. All folders here are found in French language

The article will be continued…



12 comments:

  1. Great find.
    Is there anything about pre1715 guns ?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, there is a lot. Anything in particular you are interested in?

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  2. Very interesting to see what is still turning up from old archives.

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  3. Interesting material and thus far, I have seen the pendulum sights, but that still leaves me with a conundrum, which goes back to the 7YW. This is when the hausse sight was developed to replace the pendulum - it is the flat plate sight, which is in the 1767 Austrian Okonomie. I cannot find anything earlier, but I think Lichtenstein introduced it to Austrian service in his 1750s reforms.

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  4. Not sure what you mean with the pendulum sights. The Prussian Holtzmann introduced model was a flat plate sight attached at the breech with 3 screws and had a height of 1 inch clear over the base ring. In the centre at 0.5 inch was a hole and the top edge had the shape of two thumbs set against another. It could be flipped. It was first introduced in 1747 or 1748 for Hotzmann's 3-pdrs, but possibly later also for the other battalion guns. I don't have an image, but the device seems to have remained in use, albeit later with more complex design. I did see later cast 3- and 6-pdr barrels that all had these holes at the breech – meant for attaching the sights – apparently.

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    Replies
    1. The fitting of the sight was a French idea in the late 18th century - there are obvious advantages and disadvantages! By pendulum sight, I mean those drawings in this fascintaing collection, which show a suspended pendulum hanging over a curved piece of metal, so you put it on the barrel and viewed it from the side. It is really just a simple plumbline. Anyway, thanks for clarifying the origin of the hausse sight - it is one of those things that the Napoleonic mythmakers claim as an invention of Gribeauval, even though the French sources just say he "introduced" it into French service.

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  5. Looks a wonderful resource. I hope it will have some drawings of Hanoverian artillery.

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  6. Great page , thank you for all the info on the artillery. And congrats for a great site with outstanding painting work on flats figures. BTW, what are the sizes of the bases stands you use (infantry/cavalry/artillery) ?

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. Glad to read you like what I'm doing.
      My linear close order infantry is based on stands 10 by 5 cm or 4 by 2 inches. Recently I have cut them in halves now 5 by 5 cm. This I did for better preservation of my figures, the 10 cm frontage being a bit difficult to handle resulting in just too many bent sabers and bayonets. Too much damage. Atrillery is 5 by 10 cm for a piece with its crew. Cavalry the same, though here rule wise a massed cavalry stand is 10 by 10 cm – also cut in halves for same reason.

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  7. Thank you for the answer. I did not realized that Flats could be that fragile but probably the alloy is more brittle than the ones used for round figs (?).
    Back to your figures : it's extremely rare to see such quality in wargames figures painting.
    This had to be said ,
    and has to be repeated :-)

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  8. I own a manuscript which has a spreadsheet with almost every countries measurements which may possibly be of some value to you? I'm not 100% sure on the dates as I'll have to dig it out and try to reconfirm. I t appears to be the plates and info to a greater body of work although that work itself is not referenced anywhere that I could find. Let me know if you're interested and I'll scan it for you, but it may take a little time due to it's size.

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  9. Dear Christopher,
    Thank you so much for this offer. I am interested, indeed. I would much apreciate having it sent to me.
    Thank you so much.

    Cheers,
    Christian

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