A cannon is a type of artillery, usually large and tubular, that uses gunpowder or other explosive-based propellants to launch a projectile over a distance. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees, depending on their intended use on the battlefield. The word "cannon" is derived from several languages, in which the original definition can usually be translated as "tube", "cane", or "reed".

First used in China, cannon were among the earliest forms of gunpowder artillery, and over time replaced siege engines—among other forms of aging weaponry—on the battlefield. The first hand cannon appeared during the Battle of Ain Jalut between the Egyptians and Mongols in the Middle East. The first cannon in Europe were probably used in Iberia, during the Reconquista between Muslims and Christians, in the 13th century. English cannon were first used during the Hundred Years' War, at the Battle of Crécy, in 1346. It was during this period, the Middle Ages, that cannon became standardized, and more effective in both the anti-infantry and siege roles. After the Middle Ages, most large cannon were abandoned, in favor of greater numbers of lighter, more maneuverable pieces. In addition, new technologies and tactics were developed, making most defenses obsolete; this led to the construction of star forts, specifically designed to withstand artillery bombardment and the associated siege tactics.

Cannon also transformed naval warfare: the Royal Navy, in particular, took advantage of their firepower. As rifling became more commonplace, the accuracy of cannon was significantly improved, and they became deadlier than ever, especially to infantry. In World War I, a considerable majority of all deaths were caused by cannon; they were also used widely in World War II. Most modern cannon are similar to those used in the Second World War, with the exception of naval guns, which are now significantly smaller in caliber. In particular, autocannon have remained nearly identical to their World War II counterparts.

Etymology and terminology

"Cannon" is derived from the Old Italian word "cannone", meaning "large tube", which came from Latin "canna", in turn originating from the "kanna"—Greek for "cane", or "reed"—and ultimately deriving from the Akkadian term "qanu", meaning "tube" or "reed". solid shot, and could weigh up to convert|3400|lb|kg. [citebook|last=Stone|first=George Cameron|title=A Glossary of the Construction, Decoration, and Use of Arms and Armor in All Countries and in All Times|year=1999|publisher=Courier Dover Publications|isbn=0486407268|url=,M1|page=p. 162] Demi-cannon were capable of firing these heavy metal balls with such force, that they could penetrate more than a meter of solid oak, from a distance of convert|90|m|ft|abbr=on, and could dismast even the largest ships at close range. [cite book|first=Byron|last=Heath|title=Discovering the Great South Land|year=2005|publisher=Rosenberg Publishing|location=Kenthurst
url= |page=p. 127|isbn=1-877058-31-9
] Full cannon fired a convert|42|lb|abbr=on shot, but were discontinued by the 18th century, as they were too unwieldy. By the end of the century, principles long adopted in Europe specified the characteristics of the Royal Navy's cannon, as well as the acceptable defects, and their severity. The United States Navy tested guns by measuring them, firing them two or three times—termed "proof by powder"—and using pressurized water to detect leaks.cite book|last=Knox|first=Dudley W.|title=Naval Documents related to the United Stats Wars with the Barbary Powers, Volume I|year=1939|location=Washington, D.C.|publisher=United States Government Printing Office]

The carronade was adopted by the Royal Navy in 1779; the lower muzzle velocity of the round shot when fired from this cannon was intended to create more wooden when hitting the structure of an enemy vessel, as they were believed to be deadly.cite book|url=,M1|title=Siege Train: The Journal of a Confederate Artilleryman in the Defense of Charleston|year=1996|publisher=University of South Carolina Press|location=Charleston, South Carolina|last=Manigault|first=Edward|coauthors=Warren Ripley|page=p. 83|isbn=1570031274] The carronade was much shorter, and weighed between a third to a quarter less than an equivalent long gun; for example, a 32 pounder carronade weighed less than a ton, compared with a 32 pounder long gun, which weighed over 3 tons. The guns were, therefore, easier to handle, and also required less than half as much gunpowder, allowing fewer men to crew them. [cite web|url=|title=The Historical Maritime Society|accessdate=2008-05-26|publisher=The Historical Maritime Society|year=2001] Carronades were manufactured in the usual naval gun calibers, [12, 18, 24, 32, and 42 pounders, but 6 pounder and 68 pounder versions are known.] but were not counted in a ship of the line's rated number of guns. As a result, the classification of Royal Navy vessels in this period can be misleading, as they often carried more cannon than were listed.

In the 1810s and 1820s, greater emphasis was placed on the accuracy of long-range gunfire, and less on the weight of a broadside. The carronade, although initially very successful and widely adopted, disappeared from the Royal Navy in the 1850s, after the development of steel, jacketed cannon, by William George Armstrong and Joseph Whitworth. Nevertheless, carronades were used in the American Civil War. [cite web|url=|title=Carronade|accessdate=2008-03-06|publisher=The Historical Maritime Society]

The Great Turkish Bombards of the Siege of Constantinople, after being on display for four centuries, were used to battle a British fleet in 1807, in the Dardanelles Operation. The artillery hit a British ship with two convert|700|lb|kg|abbr=on cannonballs, killing 60 sailors; in total, the cannon claimed over 100 lives, prompting the British to retreat. In 1867, Sultan Abdul Aziz gifted Queen Victoria the 17-ton "Dardanelles Gun", one of the cannon used at the siege of Constantinople.

In contrast to these antiquated weapons, Western cannon during the 19th century became larger, more destructive, more accurate, and could fire at longer range. One example is the American convert|3|in|mm|abbr=on|sing=on wrought-iron, muzzle-loading howitzer, used during the American Civil War, which had an effective range of over convert|1.1|mi|km|abbr=on. Another is the smoothbore 12 pounder Napoleon, which was renowned for its sturdiness, reliability, firepower, flexibility, relatively light weight, and range of convert|1700|m|ft|abbr=on. [cite book|last=Hazlett|first=James C.|coauthors=Edwin Olmstead, M. Hume Parks|title=Field Artillery Weapons of the American Civil War|edition=5th edition|publisher=University of Illinois Press|location=Champaign, Illinois|year=2004|isbn=0-252-07210-3|page=pp. 88–108|url=,M1]

Cannon were crucial in Napoleon Bonaparte's rise to power, and continued to play an important role in his army in later years. [cite book|url=,M1|page=p. 12|title=The Age of Napoleon|last=Conner|first=Susan P.|year=2004|publisher=Greenwood Publishing Group|isbn=0313320144|accessdate=2008-05-26] During the French Revolution, the unpopularity of the Directory led to riots and rebellions. When over 25,000 of these royalists—led by General Danican—assaulted Paris, Paul François Jean Nicolas, vicomte de Barras was appointed to defend the capital; outnumbered five to one and disorganized, the Republicans were desperate. [cite book|url=,M1|title=The Rise of Napoleon Bonaparte|last=Asprey|first=Robert B.|year=2000|publisher=Basic Books|isbn=0465048811|page=p. 111|accessdate=2008-05-26] When Napoleon arrived, he reorganized the defenses, while realizing that without cannon, the city could not be held. He ordered Joachim Murat to bring the guns from the Sablons artillery park; the Major and his cavalry fought their way to the recently captured cannon, and brought them back to Napoleon. When Danican's poorly trained men attacked, on 13 Vendémiaire, 1795October 5, 1795, in the calendar used in France, at the time—Napoleon ordered his cannon to fire grapeshot into the mob,Asprey, pp. 112–113.] an act that became known as the ""whiff of grapeshot". [Conner, p. 13.] The slaughter effectively ended the threat to the new government, while, at the same time, made Bonaparte a famous—and popular—public figure. [Conner, pp. 12–13.] Among the first generals to recognize that artillery was not being used to its full potential, Napoleon often massed his cannon into batteries, and introduced several changes into the French artillery, improving it significantly, and making it among the finest in Europe.Baynes, p. 669.] [cite book|title=The Waterloo Campaign: June 1815|,M1|page=p. 123|accessdate=2008-05-26|last=Nofi|first=Albert A.|publisher=Da Capo Press|isbn=0938289985] Such tactics were successfully used by the French, for example, at the Battle of Friedland, when sixty-six guns fired a total of 3,000 roundshot and 500 rounds of grapeshot, [cite book|title=The Pictorial History of England during the reign of George the Third: Being a History of the People, as well as a History of the Kingdom, volume 2|url=,M1|last=Craik|first=George L.|year=1884|location=London|publisher=Charles Knight|coauthors=Charles MacFarlane|page=p. 295|accessdate=2008-05-26] inflicting severe casualties to the Russian forces, whose losses numbered over 20,000 killed and wounded, in total. [cite book|last=Chandler|first=David G.|title=The Campaigns of Napoleon|location=New York City|publisher=Simon & Schuster|year=1995|isbn=0-02-523660-1|page=p. 582] At the Battle of Waterloo—Napoleon's final battle—the French army had many more artillery pieces than either the British or Prussians. As the battlefield was muddy, recoil caused cannon to bury themselves into the ground after firing, resulting in slow rates of fire, as more effort was required to move them back into an adequate firing position; [cite book|url=,M1|title=The Waterloo Companion|last=Adkin|first=Mark|publisher=Stackpole Books|year=2002|0811718549|accessdate=2008-05-26|page=p. 283] also, roundshot did not ricochet with as much force from the wet earth. [cite book|title=Napoleon's Artillery|url=,M1|page=p. 32|last=Wilkinson-Latham|first=Robert|publisher=Osprey Publishing|year=1975|location=France|isbn=0850452473|accessdate=2008-05-26] Despite the drawbacks, sustained artillery fire proved deadly during the engagement, especially during the French cavalry attack. [Wilkinson-Latham, p. 36.] The British infantry, having formed infantry squares, took heavy losses from the French guns, while their own cannon fired at the cuirassiers and lancers, when they fell back to regroup. Eventually, the French ceased their assault, after taking heavy losses from the British cannon and musket fire. [Nofi, pp. 115–116.]

Battle of Manila, Philippine-American War] The practice of rifling—casting spiraling lines inside the cannon's barrel—was applied to artillery more frequently by 1855, as it gave cannon gyroscopic stability, which improved their accuracy. One of the earliest rifled cannon was the Armstrong Gun—also invented by William George Armstrong—which boasted significantly improved range, accuracy, and power than earlier weapons. The projectile fired from the Armstrong gun could reportedly pierce through a ship's side, and explode inside the enemy vessel, causing increased damage, and casualties. [cite journal|title=All the Year Round: A Weekly Journal|accessdate=2008-05-26|date=April 22, 1859|last=Dickens|first=Charles|authorlinks=Charles Dickens|url=,M1|pages=p. 373] The British military adopted the Armstrong gun, and was impressed; the Duke of Cambridge even declared that it "could do everything but speak." [cite book|url=,M1|page=p. 59|title=Arms and the State: Sir William Armstrong and the Remaking of British Naval Power, 1854-1914|last=Bastable|first=Marshall J.|year=2004|publisher=Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.|isbn=0754634043|accessdate=2008-05-26] Despite being significantly more advanced than its predecessors, the Armstrong gun was rejected soon after its integration, in favor of the muzzle-loading pieces that had been in use before. [cite web|last=Ruffell|first=W. L.|title=The Gun - Rifled Ordnance: Whitworth|work=The Gun|url=|accessdate=2008-02-06] While both types of gun were effective against wooden ships, neither had the capability to pierce the armor of ironclads; due to reports of slight problems with the breeches of the Armstrong gun, and their higher cost, the older muzzle-loaders were selected to remain in service, instead. [cite book|url=,M1|page=p. 94|title=Arms and the State: Sir William Armstrong and the Remaking of British Naval Power, 1854–1914|last=Bastable|first=Marshall J.|year=2004|publisher=Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.|isbn=0754634043|accessdate=2008-05-26] Realizing that iron was more difficult to pierce with breech-loaded cannon, Armstrong designed rifled muzzle-loading guns, [Bastable, p. 72.] which proved successful; "The Times" reported: "even the fondest believers in the invulnerability of our present ironclads were obliged to confess that against such artillery, at such ranges, their plates and sides were almost as penetrable as wooden ships." [Bastable, p. 73.]

The superior cannon of the Western world brought them tremendous advantages in warfare. For example, in the Opium War in China, during the 19th century, British battleships bombarded the coastal areas and fortifications from afar, safe from the reach of the Chinese cannon. Similarly, the shortest war in recorded history, the Anglo-Zanzibar War of 1896, was brought to a swift conclusion by shelling from British battleships. [cite book|last=Young|first=Mark C.|title=Guinness Book of World Records, 2002 edition|page=p. 112|publisher=Bantam Books|isbn=0553583786|year=2002] The cynical attitude towards recruited infantry in the face of ever more powerful field artillery is the source of the term "cannon fodder", first used by François-René de Chateaubriand, in 1814; [fr icon – full text in the French Wikisource.] however, the concept of regarding soldiers as nothing more than "food for powder" was mentioned by William Shakespeare as early as 1598, in Henry IV, Part 1. [cite book|last=Shakespeare|first=William|title=Henry IV, Part 1|year=1598 Part 1, act 4, sc. 2, l. 65-7.]

20th and 21st centuries

Cannon in the 20th and 21st centuries are usually divided into sub-categories, and given separate names. Some of the most widely used types of modern cannon are howitzers, mortars, guns, and autocannon, although a few superguns—extremely large, custom-designed cannon—have also been constructed. Nuclear artillery were experimented with, but were abandoned as impractical. [cite web|title=Nuclear artillery|url=|accessdate=2008-05-26|publisher=United States Department of Energy] Modern artillery is used in a variety of roles, depending on its type. According to NATO, the general role of artillery is to provide fire support, which is defined as "the application of fire, coordinated with the maneuver of forces to destroy, neutralize, or suppress the enemy." [cite book|title=AAP-6 NATO Glossary of Terms and Definitions|year=2007|publisher=North Atlantic Treaty Organization|accessdate=2008-05-26|url=|format=PDF|page=p. 113]

When referring to cannon, the term "gun" is often used incorrectly. In military usage, a gun is a cannon with a high muzzle velocity and comparatively flat trajectory, as opposed to other types of artillery, such as howitzers or mortars, which have lower muzzle velocities, and usually fire indirectly. [cite web|url=|title=Definition of "Howitzer"|accessdate=2008-05-26|publisher=Merriam-Webster's Dictionary] [cite web|url=|title=Definition of "Mortar"|accessdate=2008-05-26|publisher=Merriam-Webster's Dictionary]


By the early 20th century, infantry weapons became more powerful and accurate, forcing most artillery away from the front lines. Despite the change to indirect fire, cannon still proved highly effective during World War I, causing over 75% of casualties. [Manucy, p. 20.] The onset of trench warfare after the first few months of World War I greatly increased the demand for howitzers, as they fired at a steep angle, and were thus better suited than guns at hitting targets in trenches. Furthermore, their shells carried larger amounts of explosives than those of guns, and caused considerably less barrel wear. The German army took advantage of this, beginning the war with many more howitzers than the French. [cite book|first=Bruce I.|last=Gudmundsson|title=On Artillery|publisher=Greenwood Publishing Group|isbn=0275940470|year=1993|url=,M1|page=p. 43] World War I also marked the use of the Paris Gun, the longest-ranged gun ever fired. This convert|200|mm|in|0|sing=on|abbr=on caliber gun was used by the Germans to bombard Paris, and was capable of hitting targets more than convert|122|km|mi|abbr=on away. [Young, p. 113.]

The Second World War sparked new developments in cannon technology. Among them were sabot rounds, hollow-charge projectiles, and proximity fuses, all of which were marginally significant. [cite book|last=McCamley|first=Nicholas J.|title=Disasters Underground|publisher=Pen & Sword Military|year=2004|isbn=1844150224] The proximity fuse emerged on the battlefields of Europe in late December 1944. [cite web|url=|title=Radio Proximity (VT) Fuzes|accessdate=2008-05-26|date=2000-03-20] They became known as the American artillery's "Christmas present" for the German army, and were employed primarily in the Battle of the Bulge. Proximity fuses were effective against German personnel in the open, and hence were used to disperse their attacks. Also used to great effect in anti-aircraft projectiles, proximity fuses were used in both the European and Pacific Theaters of Operations, against V-1 flying bombs and kamikaze planes, respectively. [cite web|publisher=Smithsonian Institution|title=Variable Time Fuse Contributed to the Victory of United Nations|year=2007|accessdate=2007-10-05|url=] Anti-tank guns were also tremendously improved during the war: in 1939, the British used primarily 2 pounder and 6 pounder guns. By the end of the war, 17 pounders had proven much more effective against German tanks, and 32 pounders had entered development.cite book|url=,M1|title=World War II: A Visual Encyclopedia|last=Keegan|first=John|publisher=Sterling Publishing Company, Inc.|year=2000|isbn=1855858789|page=p. 29] [cite web|url=|title=British Anti-Tank Guns|publisher=Avalanche Press|last=Rahman|first=Jason|date=2007-11|accessdate=2008-05-26] Meanwhile, German tanks were continuously upgraded with better main guns, in addition to other improvements. For example, the Panzer III was originally designed with a 37 mm gun, but was mass produced with a 50 mm cannon.cite book|url=,M1|title=German Tanks of World War II in Color|accessdate=2008-05-26|year=2000|publisher=Zenith Imprint|page=p. 46|last=Green|first=Michael|coauthors=Thomas Anderson, Frank Schulz|isbn=0760306710] To counter the threat of the Russian T-34s, another, more powerful 50 mm gun was introduced, only to give way to a larger 75 mm cannon. [Green, p. 47.] Despite the improved guns, production of the Panzer III was ended in 1943, as the tank still could not match the T-34, and was, furthermore, being replaced by the Panzer IV and Panther tanks. [cite book|url=,M1|title=Kursk 1943: A Statistical Analysis|publisher=Routledge|year=2000|last=Zetterling|first=Niklas|coauthors=Anders Frankson|isbn=0714650528|page=p. 63] In 1944, the 8.8 cm KwK 43—and its multiple variations—entered service, used by the Wehrmacht, and was adapted to be both a tank's main gun, and the PaK 43 anti-tank gun. [cite book|title=German Early War Armored Fighting Vehicles|last=Bradford|first=George|year=2007|publisher=Stackpole Books|location=Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania|page=p. 3|isbn=0811733416] [cite book|title=The Mediterranean and Middle East|last=Playfair|first=Ian S. O.|coauthors=T. P. Gleave|publisher=HMSO|isbn=0116309466|page=p. 257] One of the most powerful guns to see service in World War II, it was capable of destroying any Allied tank at very long ranges. [cite book|url=,M1|accessdate=2008-05-26|title=Panzerkrieg: The Rise and Fall of Hitler's Tank Divisions|last=McCarthy|first=Peter|coauthors=Mike Syron|year=2003|publisher=Carroll & Graf Publishers|page=p. 239|isbn=0786712643] [cite book|url=,M1|title=Tank Tactics: From Normandy to Lorraine|accessdate=2008-05-26|page=p. 115|last=Jarymowycz|first=Roman Johann|year=2001|publisher=Lynne Rienner Publishers|isbn=1555879500]

Despite being designed to fire at trajectories with a steep angle of descent, howitzers can be fired directly, as was done by the 11th Marine Regiment at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, during the Korean War. Two field batteries fired directly upon a battalion of Chinese infantry; the Marines were forced to brace themselves against their howitzers, as they had no time to dig them in. The Chinese infantry took heavy casualties, and were forced to retreat. [cite book|last=Russ|first=Martin|year=1999|title=Breakout: The Chosin Reservoir Campaign, Korea 1950|page=pp. 383–384|publisher=Penguin Books|isbn=0-14-029259-4]

The tendency to create larger caliber cannon during the World Wars has been reversed in more recent years. The United States Army, for example, sought a lighter, more versatile howitzer, to replace their aging pieces. As it could be towed, the M198 was selected to be the successor to the World War II-era cannon used at the time, and entered service in 1979.cite web|url=|title=M198 information|accessdate=2008-05-26|] Still in use today, the M198 is, in turn, being slowly replaced by the M777 Ultralightweight howitzer, which weighs nearly half as much, and can be transported by helicopter—as opposed to the M198, which requires a C-5 or C-17 to airlift. [cite web|url=,14632,Soldiertech_M777,,00.html|title=M777 information|accessdate=2008-05-26|] Although land-based artillery such as the M198 are powerful, long-ranged, and accurate, naval guns have not been neglected, despite being much smaller than in the past, and, in some cases, having been replaced by cruise missiles.cite web|url=|title=Affordable precision|publisher=National Defense Magazine|accessdate=2008-05-26] However, the Sclass|Zumwalt|destroyer|1's planned armament includes the Advanced Gun System (AGS), a pair of 155 mm guns, which fire the Long Range Land-Attack Projectile. The warhead, which weighs convert|24|lb|kg, has a circular error of probability of convert|50|m|ft|abbr=on, and will be mounted on a rocket, to increase the effective range to convert|100|nmi|km|abbr=on—a longer range than that of the Paris Gun. The AGS's barrels will be water cooled, and will be capable of firing 10 rounds per minute, per gun. The combined firepower from both turrets will give "Zumwalt"-class destroyers the firepower equivalent to 18 conventional M-198 howitzers.cite web |url= |title=DDG-1000 Zumwalt / DD(X) Multi-Mission Surface Combatant |accessdate=2008-05-26 |authos-John Pike |last=Pike |first=John |publisher=Global Security |date=2008-02-18] [cite web |url= |title=Raytheon Company: Products & Services: Advanced Gun System (AGS) |accessdate=2008-05-26 |publisher=Raytheon, Inc.] The reason for the re-integration of cannon as a main armament in United States Navy ships is because satellite-guided munitions fired from a gun are far less expensive than a cruise missile, and are therefore a better alternative to many combat situations.


Autocannon have an automatic firing mode, similar to that of a machine gun. They have mechanisms to automatically load their ammunition, and therefore have a faster rate of fire than artillery, often approaching—and, in the case of Gatling guns, surpassing—that of a machine gun. While there is no minimum bore for autocannon, they are usually larger than machine guns, typically 20 mm or greater since World War II.

Most nations use these rapid-fire cannon on their light vehicles, replacing a more powerful, but heavier, tank gun. A typical autocannon is the 25 mm "Bushmaster" chain gun, mounted on the LAV-25 and M2 Bradley armored vehicles.

Autocannon are often found in aircraft, augmenting or even replacing traditional machine guns, while providing greater firepower. The first airborne cannon appeared in World War II, but each airplane could carry only one or two, as large bore cannon are generally heavier than machine guns, the standard armament. They were variously mounted, often in the wings, but also high on the forward fuselage, where they would fire through the propeller, or even through the propeller hub. Due both to the low number of cannon per aircraft and the lower rate of fire of cannon, machine guns continued to be used widely early in the war, as there was a greater probability of hitting enemy aircraft. However, as large cannon were more effective against more heavily armored bomber aircraft, they were eventually integrated into newer fighters, which usually carried between two and four autocannon. The Hispano-Suiza HS.404, Oerlikon 20 mm cannon, MG FF, and their numerous variants became among the most widely used autocannon in the war. Nearly all modern fighter aircraft are armed with an autocannon, and most are derived from their counterparts from the Second World War. The largest, heaviest, and most powerful airborne cannon used by the military of the United States is the GAU-8/A Avenger Gatling-type rotary cannon; [cite web|url=|title=GAU-8/A|publisher=442nd Fighter Wing|accessdate=2008-05-26] it is surpassed only by the specialized artillery pieces carried on the AC-130 gunship. [cite web|url=|title=Information on the GAU-8/A|publisher=The Language of Weaponry|accessdate=2008-05-26]

Although capable of generating a high volume of fire, autocannon are limited by the amount of ammunition that can be carried by the weapons systems mounting them. For this reason, both the 25 mm Bushmaster and the 30 mm RARDEN are deliberately designed with relatively slow rates of fire, to extend the amount of time they can be employed on a battlefield before requiring a resupply of ammunition. The typical rate of fire of modern autocannon ranges from 90 rounds per minute, to 1,800 rounds per minute. Systems with multiple barrels—Gatling guns—can have rates of fire of several thousand rounds per minute; the fastest of these is the GSh-6-30K, which has a rate of fire of over 6,000 rounds per minute.cite book|last=Williams|first=Anthony G.|page=p. 241|title=Rapid Fire|publisher=Shrewsbury: Airlife Publishing Ltd.|year=2000|isbn=1-84037-435-7]


In the 1770s, cannon operation worked as follows: each cannon would be manned by two gunners, six soldiers, and four officers of artillery. The right gunner was to prime the piece and load it with powder, and the left gunner would fetch the powder from the magazine and be ready to fire the cannon at the officer's command. On each side of the cannon, three soldiers stood, to ram and sponge the cannon, and hold the ladle. The second soldier on the left tasked with providing 50 bullets.cite book|title=Encyclopedia Britannica|year=1771|publisher=Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.|location=Edinburgh|chapter=Gunnery]

Before loading, the cannon would be cleaned with a wet sponge to extinguish any smoldering material from the last shot. Fresh powder could be set off prematurely by lingering ignition sources. The powder was added, followed by wadding of paper or hay, and the ball was placed in and rammed down. After ramming the cannon would be aimed with the elevation set using a quadrant and a plummet. At 45 degrees, the ball had the utmost range: about ten times the gun's level range. Any angle above a horizontal line was called random-shot. Wet sponges were used to cool the pieces every ten or twelve rounds.

Encyclopædia Britannica"] During the Napoleonic Wars, a British gun team consisted of five gunners to aim it, clean the bore with a damp sponge to quench any remaining embers before a fresh charge was introduced, and another to load the gun with a bag of powder and then the projectile. The fourth gunner pressed his thumb on the vent hole, to prevent a draught that might fan a flame. The charge loaded, the fourth would prick the bagged charge through the vent hole, and fill the vent with powder. On command, the fifth gunner would fire the piece with a slowmatch. [cite book|last=Holmes|first=Richard|title=Redcoat: the British Soldier in the age of Horse and Musket|year=2002|publisher=W. W. Norton & Company|isbn=0393052117|url=]

Deceptive simulation of cannon

Historically, logs or poles have sometimes been used to simulate cannon, in order to mislead the enemy as to the strength of an emplacement. The "Quaker gun trick" was used by Colonel William Washington's Continentals, during the American Revolutionary War; in 1780, approximately 100 Loyalists surrendered to them, rather than face "bombardment." [cite web|url=|title=December of 1780|publisher=National Park Service|accessdate=2008-05-26] During the American Civil War, Quaker guns were also used by the Confederates, to compensate for their shortage of artillery. The decoy cannon were painted black at the "muzzle", and positioned behind fortifications to delay Union attacks on those positions. On occasion, real gun carriages were used to complete the deception. [cite web|url=|title=Definitions of Civil War terms||accessdate=2008-05-27]


Cannon have sometimes been used in classical pieces with a military theme. Giuseppe Sarti is believed to be the first composer to orchestrate real cannons in a musical work. His "Te Deum" celebrates the Russian victory at Ochakov (1789) with the firing of a real cannon and the use of fireworks, to heighten the martial effect of the music.

One of the best known examples of such a piece is another Russian work, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture". [cite web |url= |archiveurl= |archivedate=2007-08-28 |title="1812" Overture in E Flat Major Op. 49 (1880) |author=Dave Lampson |last=Lampson |first=Dave |publisher=Classical Net |accessdate=2008-05-26] The overture is properly performed using an artillery section together with the orchestra, resulting in noise levels requiring musicians to wear ear protection. The cannon fire simulates Russian artillery bombardments of the Battle of Borodino, a critical battle in Napoleon's invasion of Russia, whose defeat the piece celebrates. When the overture was first performed, the cannon were fired by an electric current triggered by the conductor. [cite book|accessdate=2008-05-26|title=Tchaikovsky|last=Lee|first=Ernest Markham|year=1906|publisher=G. Bell & sons|location=Harvard University|url=|page=p. 21] However, the overture was not recorded with real cannon fire until Mercury Records and conductor Antal Doráti's 1958 recording of the Minnesota Orchestra. [cite web |author= Flynn, Tony |url= |title=Antal Dorati - Recording Legend - October 2007 |accessdate=2008-05-26] Cannon fire is also frequently used annually in presentations of the "1812" on the American Independence Day, a tradition started by Arthur Fiedler of the Boston Pops in 1974. [cite web |url= |archiveurl= |archivedate=2007-08-28 |title=Classical Net - Tchaikovsky - 1812 Overture |accessdate=2008-05-26] cite news |first=Andrew |last=Druckenbrod |title=How a rousing Russian tune took over our July 4th |url=|publisher=Pittsburgh Post-Gazette |date=2003-08-04 |accessdate=2008-05-26 ]

The hard rock band AC/DC also used cannon in their song "For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)."cite web |url= |title=For Those About to Rock We Salute You |accessdate=2008-05-26 |publisher=All Music Guide] The album of the same name also featured a cannon on its cover. [cite web |url= |title=For Those About to Rock We Salute You |accessdate=2008-05-26 |publisher=All Music Guide] In live shows, real cannon were used to perform the piece.


Cannon recovered from the sea are often extensively damaged from exposure to salt water; because of this, electrolytic reduction treatment is required to forestall the process of corrosion. [cite web|last=Welss|first=Carmen|title=Rescue Project "Endeavour Cannon"|publisher=Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife|url=|accessdate=2008-05-26] The cannon is then washed in deionized water to remove the electrolyte, and is treated in tannic acid, which prevents further rust and gives the metal a bluish-black color. [cite web|publisher=Canadian Conservation Institute|url=|title=Preserving My Heritage - Before & After Gallery - Cannon|accessdate=2008-05-26] After this process, cannon on display may be protected from oxygen and moisture by a wax sealant. A coat of polyurethane may also be painted over the wax sealant, to prevent the wax-coated cannon from attracting dust in outdoor displays.cite web|url=|archiveurl=|archivedate=2005-01-01|title=Civil War Union Cannon Conservation, CRL Report 5|accessdate=2008-05-26]



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External links

* [ Artillery Tactics and Combat during the Napoleonic Wars]
* [ Handgonnes and Matchlocks - History of firearms to 1500]
* – "Patent for a Casting ordnance"
* – "Cannon patent"
* – "Muzzle loading ordnance patent"

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cannon — steht für: Cannon (Fernsehserie), US amerikanische Fernsehserie mit William Conrad Cannon Films, US amerikanische Filmproduktionsgesellschaft Cannon, englischer Sammelbegriff für einen Kanonentyp im 16. Jahrhundert Cannon ist der Familienname… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Cannon — Can non, n.; pl. {Cannons}, collectively {Cannon}. [F. cannon, fr. L. canna reed, pipe, tube. See {Cane}.] 1. A great gun; a piece of ordnance or artillery; a firearm for discharging heavy shot with great force. [1913 Webster] Note: Cannons are… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Cannon — Can non, n.; pl. {Cannons}, collectively {Cannon}. [F. cannon, fr. L. canna reed, pipe, tube. See {Cane}.] 1. A great gun; a piece of ordnance or artillery; a firearm for discharging heavy shot with great force. [1913 Webster] Note: Cannons are… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Cannon — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Cannon Género Policiaco Reparto William Conrad Blaine H. McKee País de origen Estados Unidos Duración 60 min. Idioma/s …   Wikipedia Español

  • cannon — [kan′ən] n. pl. cannons or cannon [ME & OFr canon < It cannone < canna: see CANE; in CANNON n. 5 & vt. 2, vi. 2, altered < CAROM] 1. a) a large, mounted piece of …   English World dictionary

  • Cannon —   [ kænən],    1) Anny Jump, amerikanische Astronomin, * Dover (Delaware) 11. 12. 1863, ✝ Cambridge (Massachusetts) 13. 4. 1941; wirkte am Harvard Observatorium; entwickelte eine Sternklassifizierung nach Spektralklassen (die Harvard… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • cannon — 1. This word for a large gun is now confined, apart from its historical reference, to a shell firing gun in aircraft (a use first recorded in 1919). Historically the word is used both as an ordinary noun (with plural cannons), and as a collective …   Modern English usage

  • cannon — c.1400, tube for projectiles, from O.Fr. canon (14c.), from It. cannone large tube, augmentive of L. canna reed, tube (see CANE (Cf. cane)). Cannon fodder (1891) translates Ger. kanonenfutter (Cf. Shakespeare s food for powder in I Hen. IV ).… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Cannon — Can non, v. i. 1. To discharge cannon. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] 2. To collide or strike violently, esp. so as to glance off or rebound; to strike and rebound. He heard the right hand goal post crack as a pony cannoned into it crack, splinter, and… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • cannon — ► NOUN (pl. usu. same) 1) a large, heavy piece of artillery formerly used in warfare. 2) an automatic heavy gun that fires shells from an aircraft or tank. ► VERB chiefly Brit. (cannon into/off) ▪ collide with forcefully or at an angle. ORIGIN… …   English terms dictionary

  • Cannon — Can non, n. & v. (Billiards) See {Carom}. [Eng.] [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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