Russian Artillery Equipment

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Introduction

The great reformer of the Russian artillery in this era was General-Feldzeugmeister Count Peter Ivanovitch Schuvalov (1710-1762). Although he had little formal academic ballistic knowledge, his enthusiasm and ability to push forward improvements to the weapons and equipment bordered on genius. He came at just the right moment, for Peter the Great had neglected his artillery and many infantry regiments were now without their guns. He was supported by Mikhail Vasilievich Danilov (1722-1790) and by Peter Alexandrovich Rumyantsev (1725-1796).

Artillery Pieces

The artillery pieces of the Russian army were heavier that those of western European powers. Each piece was accompanied by two small ammunition wagons, holding 120 solid shot and 30 canister rounds.

Cannon

The Russian field artillery used 12-pounder, 8-pounder and 6-pounder cannon. The 3-pounder cannon were attached to infantry battalions.

In 1759, 181 of Schuvalov's secret howitzers, oval-muzzled pieces were issued to the infantry regiments in place of their 3-pounders; after one short year, they were withdrawn again and concentrated into batteries within the field artillery. Some of these weapons were captured by the Prussians, others were given to the Austrians; neither nation found them to be effective enough to be adopted into their armouries.

3-pdr Cannon

Russian 3-pdr Cannon – Picture taken at the Museum of Artillery, Engineer and Signal Corps reproduced with the kind authorisation of the website: SYW.CWG.narod.ru
Russian 3-pdr Cannon Top View – Korobkov's illustration reproduced with the kind authorisation of the website: SYW.CWG.narod.ru

Each 3-pdr cannon had 2 small mortars fixed to its carriage. Each 3-pdr cannon was drawn by 2 horses.

6-pdr Cannon

Russian "new" bronze 6-pdr Cannon – Picture taken at the Museum of Artillery, Engineer and Signal Corps reproduced with the kind authorisation of the website: SYW.CWG.narod.ru

These guns could fire balls, canister, and ¼ pud grenades. They were in use in the Russian army for about 100 years.

Model Barrel
Weight
Barrel
Length
Barrel
Bore
Calibre (Ratio
Length/Shot Diameter)
Shot
Weight
Shot
Diameter
Chamber Charge Horses
New Shuvalov 6-pdr 492 kg 146 cm ? cm 15 ¼ 2.84 kg 9.57 cm ? ? kg 7

8-pdr Cannon

Each 8-pdr cannon was drawn by 9 horses.

12-pdr Cannon

These guns could fire balls and big grenades. They were in use in the Russian army for about 100 years.

Model Barrel
Weight
Barrel
Length
Barrel
Bore
Calibre (Ratio
Length/Shot Diameter)
Shot
Weight
Shot
Diameter
Chamber Charge Horses
New Shuvalov 12-pdr 820 kg 201 cm ? cm 16 ½ 6.07 kg 12.19 cm conical ? kg 15

Howitzer

The Russian artillery used 1-Pud (a Pud weighed 16,4 kg) and 1/2-Pud howitzers.

1/2-Pud Shuvalov Secret Howitzer

Russian Half Pud Shuvalov Secret Howitzers Side View – Source: Johann Gottlieb Tielke, Copyright MZK BRNO, Czech Republic
Russian Half Pud Shuvalov Secret Howitzers Top View – Korobkov's illustration reproduced with the kind authorisation of the website: SYW.CWG.narod.ru

Each 1/2-Pud howitzer was drawn by 7 horses.

Russian Shuvalov Secret Howitzer – Picture taken at the Museum of Artillery, Engineer and Signal Corps reproduced with the kind authorisation of the website: SYW.CWG.narod.ru
Detail of the bore of a Russian Shuvalov Secret Howitzer – Picture taken at the Museum of Artillery, Engineer and Signal Corps reproduced with the kind authorisation of the website: SYW.CWG.narod.ru


1-Pud Howitzer

Russian 1-Pud Howitzer – Picture taken at the Museum of Artillery, Engineer and Signal Corps reproduced with the kind authorisation of the website: SYW.CWG.narod.ru

Each 1-Pud howitzer was drawn by 15 horses.

Unicorn

The Russian artillery also used a ballistic oddity: the “Unicorn”, a cross between a cannon and a howitzer. Therefore, it could fire, bombs, incendiary bombs, cannonballs and canister. This piece took its name from the unicorn (in fact Shuvalov's arms) decorating its breeche. It was lighter than a cannon and easier to move on the battlefield, but the reduced charge meant that its range was limited. Its main drawback was that it requires more time to load than most cannon, this seriously reducing its fire rate.

8-pdr Unicorn

Russian 8-pdr Unicorn – Picture taken at the Museum of Artillery, Engineer and Signal Corps reproduced with the kind authorisation of the website: SYW.CWG.narod.ru

Each unicorn had a 2-horse draught and 1 artilleryman; two 2-horse draught ammunition wagon with 1 servant each. Ready ammunition per piece was 60 bombs, 10 cannonballs and 50 canister rounds.

These pieces took more time to load than a 3-pdr cannon. However, their canister fire was stronger than 3-pdr and they could easily be transported on bad roads impracticable to 3-pdr cannon. These unicorns could also be disassembled. They were in use in the Russian army for about 100 years.

Model Barrel
Weight
Barrel
Length
Barrel
Bore
Calibre (Ratio
Length/Shot Diameter)
Shot
Weight
Shot
Diameter
Chamber Charge Horses
Shuvalov 8-pdr Unicorn ? kg ? cm ? cm 9 3.63 kg ball
2.72 kg grenade
? cm conical 0.68 kg 2


12-pdr Unicorn

These pieces were also designated as “¼-Pud Unicorn”. Each unicorn had a 2-horse draught and 1 artilleryman; three 2-horse draught ammunition wagon with 1 servant each. Ready ammunition per piece was 60 bombs, 10 cannonballs and 50 canister rounds.

When fighting cavalry, their use of grenades was more effective than the cannonballs fired by 3-pdr cannon. They were in use in the Russian army for about 100 years.

Model Barrel
Weight
Barrel
Length
Barrel
Bore
Calibre (Ratio
Length/Shot Diameter)
Shot
Weight
Shot
Diameter
Chamber Charge Horses
Shuvalov 12-pdr Unicorn 197 kg 109.7 cm ? cm 9 6.07 kg ball
4.15 kg grenade
12.19 cm conical 1.02 kg 2

24-pdr Unicorn

Russian Half Pud Unicorn Side View – Korobkov's illustration reproduced with the kind authorisation of the website: SYW.CWG.narod.ru

These pieces were also designated as “½-Pud Unicorn”. Each unicorn had a 5-horse draught and 2 artillerymen; five 3-horse draught ammunition wagon with 1 servant each. Ready ammunition per piece was 90 bombs, 10 fireballs and 50 canister rounds.

They weighed less than 6-pdr cannon and fired as 12-pdr cannon. They loaded twice faster than Russian howitzers of this period and could fire bombs, balls and canister.

Model Barrel
Weight
Barrel
Length
Barrel
Bore
Calibre (Ratio
Length/Shot Diameter)
Shot
Weight
Shot
Diameter
Chamber Charge Horses
Shuvalov 24-pdr Unicorn 410 kg ? cm ? cm 9 10.89 kg ball
9.07 kg bomb
? cm conical 2.27 kg 5


48-pdr Unicorn

These pieces were also designated as “1-Pud Unicorn”. Each unicorn had a 7-horse draught and 3 artillerymen; six 3-horse draught ammunition wagon with 1 servant each. Ready ammunition per piece was 70 bombs, 10 fireballs and 70 canister rounds.

They were very accurate for firing at earth fortifications. Because of their small weight, they were used in the field.

Model Barrel
Weight
Barrel
Length
Barrel
Bore
Calibre (Ratio
Length/Shot Diameter)
Shot
Weight
Shot
Diameter
Chamber Charge Horses
Shuvalov 48-pdr Unicorn 738 kg ? cm ? cm 9 21.77 kg ball
18.14 kg bomb
? cm conical 3.17 kg 7

96-pdr Unicorn

Russian 96-pdr Unicorn – Picture taken at the Museum of Artillery, Engineer and Signal Corps reproduced with the kind authorisation of the website: SYW.CWG.narod.ru

These pieces were also designated as “2-Pud Unicorn”. Each unicorn had a 16-horse draught and 6 artillerymen; twelve 3-horse draught ammunition wagon with 2 servants each. Ready ammunition per piece was 90 bombs, 10 fireballs and 50 canister rounds.

They were very accurate for firing at earth fortifications. They could advantageously replace 2-pud mortars because they could fire at distant range as far as 3,000 meters (mortars had a range of about 1,500 meters). In fact this piece could fire fireballs and bombs as far as 5,300 meters. No other piece could do that.

Canister used in these pieces had 8 times more balls than the canister for a 24-pdr cannon.

Model Barrel
Weight
Barrel
Length
Barrel
Bore
Calibre (Ratio
Length/Shot Diameter)
Shot
Weight
Shot
Diameter
Chamber Charge Horses
Shuvalov 96-pdr Unicorn 1476 kg ? cm ? Cm 7 ½ 43.54 kg ball
32.8 kg bomb
? cm conical 5.44 kg 16


Mortars

Russian Mortar – Korobkov's illustration reproduced with the kind authorisation of the website: SYW.CWG.narod.ru

The Russian field artillery used 2-Pud (a Pud weighed 16,4 kg) mortars while 6-pounder Coehorn mortars where attached to infantry battalions. Each 2-Pud mortar was drawn by 9 horses.

Types of Shot

Artillery cannon used solid shot and grape or canister. All howitzers used explosive shells as well as incendiary bombs.

Russian Artillery Grenades – Korobkov's illustration reproduced with the kind authorisation of the website: SYW.CWG.narod.ru
Russian Unicorn Ammunition – Korobkov's illustration reproduced with the kind authorisation of the website: SYW.CWG.narod.ru

Firing Procedures

No information available yet

Piece Barrel

As with the artillery of other nations at this time, the bronze barrels were ornately decorated and the pieces were heavier that those of western European powers.

Gun Carriages

No information available yet

References

Dawson, A L and P L Dawson and Stephen Summerfield, Napoleonic Artillery, Crowhurst Press, 2007

Großer Generalstab, Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung II (Publisher). Die Kriege Friedrichs des Großen. Dritter Teil: Der Siebenjährige Krieg 1756–1763. vol. IV Gross-Jägerndorf und Breslau, Berlin 1902, Anlagen 1, Das Kaiserlich Russische Heer, p. 9-13

Konstam, Angus; William Younghusband; The Russian Army of the Seven Years War

Korobkov, N.; Siemiletniaja wojna: (diejstwia Rossi w 1756-1762 g.g.), Moscow, 1940

Russian websites

Stein, F von, Geschichte des Russischen Heeres vom Ursprung Desselben bis zur Thronbesteigung des Kaisers Nikolai I Pawlowitch, Leipzig 1895

Acknowledgments

Digby Smith for the initial version of this article and Tomasz Karpiński from Gniezno/Poznań for additional information