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Brigand

Chain shot vs. Bar shot

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Hello,

 

Since there seems to be some people frequenting these forums who've actually read quite some history books related to naval battle, I thought I would ask a question I've had from a long time.

 

What was the intended use and difference between chain- and bar shot?

I've read times and again that they where both intended to damage the ships rigging, spars, yards and masts.

Which is probably true... but: many ships had BOTH types aboard.

 

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For example, the vasa carried both the jointed bar shot and chain shot (with interlocking balls) There are many other examples. In fact it from what I've been able to find, most warships carried both one type of bar shot and one variation of the chain shot, besides solid shot and a variety of other unpleasant projectiles offcourse.

 

So, if ships carried both types there must have been a difference? (Why else would you carry two different types?)

 

So my big question has been for a long time: what is the difference between the two? Did anyone of you ever come across a reference to this?

 

Regards,

Brigand

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There wasn't too much of a difference (both could be used for the same task) but it seems as if bar shot (since it was held together by a steel bar) was used when the point was to smash the wooden masts (imagine beating down a door with a crowbar) while chain shot was used when it was necessary to rip sails apart.

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Hello Brigand

J'ai regarder une vidéo sur les armes utiliser, de l'époques.

Toutes sortes de boulets et à ma grandes surprises, que les pirates utilisait euh des couteaux ,fourchettes, cuillères tous ce qui pouvais servires comme projectiles,

sur les hommes d'équipages.

Quand ils n'avait rien d'autres.

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Hello Brigand

J'ai regarder une vidéo sur les armes utiliser, de l'époques.

Toutes sortes de boulets et à ma grandes surprises, que les pirates utilisait euh des couteaux ,fourchettes, cuillères tous ce qui pouvais servires comme projectiles,

sur les hommes d'équipages.

Quand ils n'avait rien d'autres.

 

Hello,

 

Thanks for your reply. I think it plausible to stuff whatever you have left into the cannons when need arises.

 

However the British- and French Navy for example tried to equip their ships with the best loadouts available. They choose to equip their vessel of war whit both chain shot and bar shot. So I can only conclude that the two served different purposes; at least different enough to warrant two different types of shot.

 

Bringand

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Credible sources? if by that you mean something like: Treatise on Naval Armaments of the 18th century' or something, no.

I got what I know from reading, same as almost everyone else.  When I do read, bar shot is usually shown as being fired when the intent is demastation, and chain shot when the intent is just sail destruction.

Just because a ship has chain and bar does not mean that they have too much of a different purpose. Do you have any credible sources for saying that

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I'm sorry if I said something that caused you to feel offended, english is not my primary language. I ask for sources because I've seen too many internet discussions where people -with the best intentions- wrote down what they thought was right, but than it later turned out that they were incomplete, basing themselfs on heresay, etc.

 

I've read quite some books, I mostly focus on the 1670 - 1730 era. I've not come across any reference that states that the two types had explicit different purposes, neither have I came across a source that informs me about why they carried both types. But since it seems to have been common practice to carry both types, I deduced that they have different uses, hence my question.

 

Regards,

Brigand.

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Friendly reminder

lets keep it civil - forum is for opinions/ideas/suggestions. ))))

No one tried to offend anyone.

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Well what else can you be looking for? Bar shot and chain shot were used in the same situations and they did the same things.  If you fired a bar shot or a chain shot more than likely some yards/sails would be coming down.  That's it.  It's not like grapeshot which can be used for man killing as well as hull puncturing, it's not canister, and it's not solid shot.  that's all that is left

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Remember the time at hand here, 17th-18th century. For Sweden at least, where Vasa was built, much of the military production was handled by entrepreneurs, and not like it is today, where you order a certain amount of one type of ammunition and get that. The more of the ammunition that need to be made by hand (linking chains, linking them to the cannonballs), the higher the price. Bar shot on the other hand would be more about casting the different parts. So if a ship was to be loaded with a certain amount of ammunition for disable rigging, I imagine you could end up with bars and chain, depending on the current availability.

This at least was true about grapeshots/canister/cartousch, which at one time could be actual canisters with small, grapeformed lead bullets, but other times could be just whatever metaljunk lying around, sometimes even mixed up with bits and pieces of flint stone and/or rock.

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I believe bar-shot and it's variants were used mainly to destroy masts, though some preferred to use regular cannonballs for this task also. Chain-shot was used for cutting away ropes and spars. I believe Ampen also mentioned grapeshot and it's variants which were used to kill the enemy crew. Grape was also quite effective at shredding canvas, though some smaller guns didn't have the 'oompf' to pull this off. A feature I would like to see is 'crowfoot' - a sharpened four pronged spike (much like a tack you used to play with at school) which crews would load into their half-pound swivels and fire onto the decks of their enemies vessel, often a dozen or two at a time. The crowfoot would hinder the enemy crew as many sailors worked with bare feet. It would be an interesting feature to use in game as a means of demoralizing an enemy crew.

 

(I apologize if I got a little off track) 

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As a matter of fact, chain-shots were used in landbattles as an anti-personel/anti-cavalry ammunition.

 

Quite Possibly, though I too know for a fact that they were also used exactly how I said they were used in my previous post.

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We have 1 type of anti-mast ammo in game right now. 

You can also demast the ship with cannonballs if you get lucky and hit the mast

 

later we can add additional ammo types if it will help to improve gameplay.

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We have 1 type of anti-mast ammo in game right now. 

You can also demast the ship with cannonballs if you get lucky and hit the mast

 

later we can add additional ammo types if it will help to improve gameplay.

 

Admin, have you already added grape, or canister shot into the game as an anti-personnel? Or will that be one of the ammo types to come? 

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This is a good discussion though, since I think it's important to nail down the different damage/effects of each ammo type in game. As Admin says, a lucky hit with a roundshot can take down a mast, and the damage to the mast in that sense should be bigger than if hit with a chain-shot (I'm thinking physics here).

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We have 1 type of anti-mast ammo in game right now. 

You can also demast the ship with cannonballs if you get lucky and hit the mast

 

later we can add additional ammo types if it will help to improve gameplay.

Unless I'm mistaken, use of specialized dismasting shot was not the standard tactic.

 

In large fleet actions and single-ship engagements, the combatants would usually shoot plain old roundshot at the rigging. It's a lot cheaper, plentiful and most importantly, more accurate and not so finnicky to load. Maybe you have some good sources on this topic, but I suspect chain and bar shot would only be used at very short ranges. Modeling this dynamic in the game would be both easy and increase the depth by giving captains an opportunity to make a timed tactical decision.

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Unless I'm mistaken, use of specialized dismasting shot was not the standard tactic.

 

In large fleet actions and single-ship engagements, the combatants would usually shoot plain old roundshot at the rigging. It's a lot cheaper, plentiful and most importantly, more accurate and not so finnicky to load. Maybe you have some good sources on this topic, but I suspect chain and bar shot would only be used at very short ranges. Modeling this dynamic in the game would be both easy and increase the depth by giving captains an opportunity to make a timed tactical decision.

 

it is exactly like this in our game now

Chain shot has a smaller range and you actually a lot better off if you use cannonballs, unless your ultimate goal is to demast for some reason.

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Indeed, to my knowledge (gained like everyone else, from reading, not any specific sources) it seems that good old round shot was used. In addition to the damage it would cause to the crew, rigging sails and hull, round shot also had a much better chance of blowing apart rigging blocks and mast stays, causing massive damage to the sailing capabilities of a ship. I am very happy to hear that this aspect of Naval warfare has been included in the game. 

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It is widely written (in fiction) that the French tended to aim high (for rigging, sails and spars) using an expanding type shot. The goal was to disable an enemy ship and allow them to control the action by rendering the enemy unable to manoeuvre. In contrast the British tended to aim "twixt wind and water" to cause great damage to hull, guns and personnel rendering the enemy unable to continue the action due to loss of firepower, as well as manpower to fire guns, handle sails, repel boarders etc...

 

While it is merely repeating information read in works of fiction, Dudley Pope for example spent much time reading after action reports from the Royal Navy in order to be as accurate as possible in his fiction.

 

I believe it is generally accepted that chain, bar, expanding bar etc... are all examples of shot intended to do the same job. Perhaps it is just a matter of evolution in arms and reluctance of the old guard to adopt newer ideas, or relative cost per round that saw multiple variants of the same type of shot in use at the same time.

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By now, I'm fairly certain (but no one source stating the facts) that bar shot is better at destroying masts, yards, spars, etc (all the rigid wooden stuff, above the hull), while chain shot did, in general, more damage to the rigging and sails.

The challenge in damaging sail/rigging and masts/yards/spars is that this area of the ship has lots of empty air. So, a projectile with a broadest reach, has the best chance of hitting something. Chain shot expands the most, and, as a result, has the biggest chance to hit something while also tearing the biggest holes in sails.
When chain shot hit rigging, it tended wrap around the rigging and tear it apart. Chain shot would also wrap itself around spars, mast and yards, but would not always have the energy to actually break them. So, while lighter spars may have been more vulnerable to chain shot, the bigger masts and yards would be capable of resisting chain shot (not indefinitely off course, but you get the idea).

Bar shot had a smaller cross-section compared to chain-shot, but was a lot more sturdy. So, it combines the increased chances to hit of chain shot, with the more solid impact of round shot. It seems it could damage woodwork in one of two ways. The first was when hitting something with the bar, which could break the (top)mast/yard/spar or send the projectile violently spinning (in which case it had a very good chance of damaging something else) the other, more damaging option was 'clipping' when one of the (half) balls chopped a bite out of the mast or chewed itself through the deck planking.

Another interesting fact I found is about cannister vs grape shot (source: Arming and Fitting of English Ship of War 1600-1815). Cannister shot exploded into a cloud of balls upon impact, while grape shot burst into a cloud of balls upon leaving the barrel. So, while they both are intended to do maximum wounds to the enemy crew, they are a bit different. If you wanted to kill everyone in a certain quarter, you would increase your chances by using canister shot, while if you merely wanted to kill whomever stuck his head above the cover, grape shot would be best. (Although I've not read anywhere that captains switched types during battle, some do seem to have had a preference for on or the other when ordering ammunition supplies).

Cheers,
Brigand

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