Page:EB1911 - Volume 01.djvu/916

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
865
AMMUNITION

for guns forming the movable armament, (b) that for guns placed in permanent positions. The movable armament will consist of guns and howitzers of small and medium calibre, and it is necessary to arrange suitable expense cartridge stores and shell stores in close proximity to the available positions. They can generally be constructed to form part of the permanent work in the projected face of traverses or other strong formations, and should be arranged for a twenty-four hours' supply of ammunition. These stores are refilled from the main magazine every night under cover of darkness. Light railways join the various positions. The guns mounted in permanent emplacements are divided into groups of two or three guns each, and usually each group will require but one calibre of ammunition. A cartridge store, shell store and a general store, all well ventilated, are arranged for the especial service of such a group of guns. In the cartridge store the cylinders containing the cartridges are so placed and labelled that the required charge, whether reduced or full, can be immediately selected. In the shell store also for the same reason the common shell are separated from the armour-piercing or shrapnel. Each nature of projectile is painted in a distinctive manner to render identification easy. The fuzes, tubes, &c., are placed in the general store with the tools and accessories belonging to the guns. The gun group is distinguished by some letter and the guns of the group by numerals; thus, A1 is No. 1 gun of group A. The magazine and shell stores are also indicated by the group letter, and so that mistakes, even by those unaccustomed to the fort, may be avoided, the passages are pointed out by finger posts and direction boards. For the immediate service of each gun a few cartridges and projectiles are stored in small receptacles—called cartridge and shell recesses respectively—built in the parapet as near the gun position as practicable. In some cases a limited number of projectiles may be placed close underneath the parapet if this is conveniently situated near the breech of the gun and not exposed to hostile fire.


Ammunition Hoist.jpg

Fig. 1.—Ammunition Hoist.


In order to supply the ammunition sufficiently rapidly for the efficient service of modern guns, hydraulic, electric or hand-power hoists are employed to raise the cartridges and shell from the cartridge store and shell store to the gun floor, whence they are transferred to a derrick or loading tray attached to the mounting for loading the gun.

Projectiles for B. L. guns above 6-in. calibre are stored in shell stores ready filled and fuzed standing on their bases, except shrapnel and high explosive shell, which are fuzed only when about to be used. Smaller sizes of shells are laid on their sides in layers, each layer pointing in the opposite direction to the one below to prevent injury to the driving bands. Cartridges are stored in brass corrugated cases or in zinc cylinders. The corrugated cases are stacked in layers in the magazine with the mouth of the case towards a passage between the stacks, so that it can be opened and the cartridges removed and transferred to a leather case when required for transport to the gun. Cylinders are stacked, when possible, vertically one above the other. The charges are sent to the gun in these cylinders, and provision is made for the rapid removal of the empty cylinders.

The number and nature of rounds allotted to any fortress depends on questions of policy and location, the degrees of resistance the nature of the works and personnel could reasonably be expected to give, and finally on the nature of the armament. That is to say, for guns of large calibre three hundred to four hundred rounds per gun might be sufficient, while for light Q. F. guns it might amount to one thousand or more rounds per gun. (A. G. H.)

With every successive improvement in military arms there has necessarily been a corresponding modification in the method of supplying ammunition and in the quantity required to be supplied. Supply of ammunition in the field. When hand-to-hand weapons were the principal implements of battle, there was, of course, no such need, but even in the middle ages the archers and crossbowmen had to replenish the shafts and bolts expended in action, and during a siege stone bullets of great size, as well as heavy arrows, were freely used. The missiles of those days were, however, interchangeable, and at the battle of Towton (1461) the commander of the Yorkist archers, by inducing the enemy to waste his arrows, secured a double supply of ammunition for his own men. This interchangeability of war material was even possible for many centuries after the invention of firearms. At the battle of Liegnitz (1760) a general officer was specially commissioned by Frederick the Great to pack up and send away, for Prussian use, all the muskets and ammunition left on the field of battle by the defeated Austrians. Captured material is, of course, utilized whenever possible, at the present time, and in the Chino-Japanese War the Japanese went so far as to prepare beforehand spare parts for the Chinese guns they expected to capture (Wei-Hai-Wei, 1895), but it is rare to find a modern army trusting to captures for arms and ammunition; almost the only instance of the practice is that of the Chilean civil war of 1891, in which the army of one belligerent was almost totally dependent upon this means of replenishing stores of arms and cartridges. But what was possible with weapons of comparatively rough make is no longer to be thought of in the case of modern arms. The Lee-Metford bullet of ·303 in. diameter can scarcely be used in a rifie of smaller calibre, and in general the minute accuracy of parts in modern weapons makes interchangeability almost impossible. Further, owing to the rapidity with which, in modern arms, ammunition is expended, and the fact that, as battles are fought at longer ranges than formerly, more shots have to be fired in order to inflict heavy losses, it is necessary that the reserves of ammunition should be as close as possible to the troops who have to use them. This was always the case even with the older firearms, as, owing to the great weight of the ammunition, the soldier could carry but few rounds on his person. Nevertheless it is only within the past seventy years that there has grown up the elaborate system of ammunition supply which now prevails in all regularly organized armies. That which is described in the present article is the British, as laid down in the official Combined Training (1905) and other manuals. The new system designed for stronger divisions, and others, vary only in details and nomenclature.

Infantry.—The infantry soldier generally carries, in pouches, bandoliers, &c., one hundred rounds of small-arms ammunition (S.A.A.), and it is usual to supplement this, when an action is imminent, from the regimental reserve (see below). It is to be noticed that every reduction in the calibre of the rifle means an increase in the number of rounds carried. One hundred rounds of

1. 28
5