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IMPORTANT EXPERIMENTS AT SHOE- BURYNESS. A number of officers and scientific gentlemen met at the old practice ground at Shoeburyness on Thursday to witness further naval experiments. It will be remembered that the preceding week Mr. Whitworth's 12 and 74-pounders were tried at 200 yards' range, with shell, against iron plates of various thicknesses and sizes, and always with the most astonishing effect, the 74-pounder shell, with a comparatively very light charge of powder, being driven through the mass of 4-inch iron, apparently with the greatest ease. No breach, however, was made in the target so complete as to satisfy the Ordnance and Iron Plate Committee that the same astonishing effects could be obtained with a larger gun when tried at a greater range than 200 yards, and against a target constructed of the same strength as the broadside of the renowned Warrior. It was to set at rest whatever doubts existed in the minds of those who thus disbelieved in the powers of Mr. Whit- worth's gun and its flat-fronted shot and shell that the most important of these last trials were made in the presence of Lord Clyde, Sir W. Armstrong, Mr. Whitworth, the members of the Iron Piate Committee, and a very large assemblage of artillery and naval officers. The gun on this occasion was an ordnance muzzle loader, manufactured at Wool- wich on Sir. W. Armstrong's wrought iron coil principle, but with the beautiful hexagonal bore of Mr. Whitworth's mode of rifling. Its weight was 7 tons 8 cwt., its length about 12 feet, and its calibre a 120-pounder, though, in fact, capable of and quite equal to throwing shot of at least double that weight with perfect safety. It was placed on a platform at a distance of 600 yards from the section of the Warrior target, a longer range by 400 yards than any gun has hitherto been laid at Shoe- buryness to penetrate such a formidable mass of iron and teak. At a distance of 800 yards the great Horsfall or Mersey gun was also levelled at the same target. This gun, on the previous occasion, at 200 yards' range, sent its shot through the target, on the last occasion, making a huge ragged hole in the very centre of the plate, and crashing through all beyond it. The admirers of this now very old-fashioned smooth-bore gun maintained that what it had done at 200 yards it would do again with the same ease at 800. Accordingly, after the Whitworth experiments were over, this huge and most unwieldy piece of ordnance (its weight is no less than 24 tons) was tried at the same mark, but, as will be seen, with very different and most unsatisfactory results. The target aimed at on this occasion was a built- up section representing the Warrior's side. It was a new target, specially made for these experiments, 21 feet long by 15 high, with 41 inch iron plates, 18 inches of teak beams laid transversely, and an inner sk n of iron 5ths of an inch thick, supported by massive upright angle irons, at intervals of 18 inches apart. Some few 11 shots were first fired from the Whitworth with low charges, at a wooden target, to get the range, though even these were not. without interest, as illustrating the wonderful precision with which it threw its projectiles. The first experimental shot was fired with a charge of 231b. of powder and a solid hexagonal shot weighing 1291b., the piece being laid at half a degree of elevation. It struck the left centre of the target within an inch almost of the white spot at which it was aimed, and at the instant of the tremendous concussion of the metals, a bright sheet of flame was emitted, almost as if a gun had been fired from the target in reply. This shot passed completely through the armour plate, shattering the teak beyond into minute splinters, and fell full upon one of the massive vertical angle lines we have mentioned, which it tore in half as if it had been paper, sending its screw bolts and rivets in all directions. The shot, however, did not pass through the target, but remained buried in the teak with its flat. head resting against the broken angle iron. But the fracture it made was much worse than a mere penetration. It was a smash, not a bole, and the inner skin of the ship was bulged and torn wide in many places, so that in the case of an actual vessel such a shot striking on the water line would have made a leak which nothing could have stopped. As regarded the effect of those flat- fronted shot on iron ships, the experiment was con- clusive. Such a missile against a wooden ship would have gone through both sides, making a clean hole and doing little damage, but the iron, without protecting, ottered only sufficient resistance to make the fracture, if below the water line, an irremediable mischief. The next experiment was with a live shell loaded with 31b. 8oz. of powder.. The total weight of this projectile was 13 lib., and it was fired at the same range and elevation with a 251b. charge of powder. The effect of this shot astounded every one. The previous solid shot, at 600 yards, was for Whitworth nothing very extra- ordinary, but to get a shell through the target at the same range was regarded as almost an impos- sibility. Yet the shell went completely through everything, bursting apparently when it encountered the last resistance of the inner skin, which the ex- plosion blew completely away, lighting for a moment the timbers at the back which supported the target, and sending the bits of shell onward and over what, had it been the Warrior, would have been her main- deck, and therefore right in the midst-of her crew. Than this experiment nothing could possibly have been more conclusive. Not only was the armour- plate pierced, but the piece opposed to the actual stroke of the flat-headed shell was driven through .teak and inner lining, and, in truth, became another shot of some 30lb. weight. In fact. this last shell might have destroyed the whole of one side of the target had the shell been only capable of containing an adequate burning charge- say 101b. or 121b. of powder. This latter most im- portant requisite, however, the Whitworth shell, from its peculiar construction, is as yet unable to accomplish, and until it is brought about nearly all the advantages gained by its enormous powers of penetration will be comparatively lost against iron frigates. Once, however, that the shell is made to hold a powerful charge of 101b. of fine powder, iron vessels will probably become almost as much at the mercy of these ordnance as wooden ones now are to the terrible shells of Armstrong.


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