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Volley Guns

Most of the volley guns That I have seen were seven barreled smooth bore guns.

Henry Nock Volley gun

The Henry Nock Volley guns are the most famous and were designed by James Wilson and some 600 were made around 1780. They were used on board ships in the fighting tops of naval vessels. Henry Nock became sole supplier of these weapons to the British Navy. All seven barrels fire at once, this considerable flash is purported to have risked setting fire to the sails. The first few weapons were rifled, but that made them difficult to load as well as delivering an uncomfortable recoil.

I have heard it said that these weapons were also known as 'ribaldequin', but I suspect that term is more applicable to the harmonica styled battery guns rather than the seven barrelled version.

General Origen Vandenburgh of the New York State Militia, designed a multi barrelled salvo cannon in 1860.

Weighing in at 181 kg this had many separate .50 calibre rifle barrels that were held parallel between the breech and a front plate. Vandenburgh is reported as selling small quantities of the 910 mm long, short and stubby cannon styled guns to the Confederate States of America.

  Front and rear views of the Vandenburgh volley gun

Side view of the Vandenburgh volley gun When the breech was screwed home by the handle, it forced the individually loaded and barrels against a seal closing the weapons firing chamber. All the barrels were fired simultaneously by means of a percussion cap located in the centre of the breech locking handles.

It is not certain whether each barrel was withdrawn for re-loading or whether some sort of open backed cartridge was used, it may well have produced a quite effective volley, but the delay in loading would be considerable, which makes you wonder how the loading crew were protected.

The number of barrels (this one has 85), that are mentioned in various documents varies, I am not sure whether they were different models or just items from a development sequence. I believe that some attempt was made to split the total number of barrels into two or more groups that could be fired independently, but unless they had individual breach caps, they could only be reloaded as a whole.

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