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Demystifying the Sands of the Qing Army's Equipment Cannon in the Sino-Japanese War
Fun history2017-05-10 15:17:46

The classic film "Jia Wu Feng Yun" was produced in 1962. In the film, Deng Shichang ordered the sailors on the Yuanyuan ship to pull out the warhead, and it turned out to be sand from the shell. Seeing this plot, every Chinese son and daughter is bound to be extremely indignant.

However, why was the war coming soon, but the Beiyang Navy's shells were filled with sand? It turned out that there were mainly two types of shells used by the Beiyang Navy's ships at that time, one was a flower shell and the other was a solid shell. The bullet of the flowering bullet is filled with gunpowder or explosive, and it will explode when it hits the target. The bullet of the solid bullet is rarely or not charged, and more often it is filled with soil and sand to balance the weight. Of course, a solid bomb will not explode when it hits the target. Its combat intention is to penetrate the enemy ship with gravity acceleration to cause water ingress.

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What we see in the film is actually this kind of solid bomb. Although it does not explode and has low power, it is the most commonly used artillery shell by the Beiyang Navy. At that time, China's modern military industry had begun. The largest scale was Jiangnan General Machinery Manufacturing Bureau and Tianjin Machinery Bureau. However, these two factories mainly produced small-caliber camp guns, rifles and related ammunition for the army, and medium- and large-caliber artillery. The required artillery shells can only produce solid shells with relatively low technical difficulty, while flowering shells rely on imports.

According to the Beiyang Naval General Training and the German Hannagan reported after the Sino-Japanese War, Beiyang ’s flagship Dingyuan ship was supplemented with only 55 domestically produced ordinary flowering bombs, with an average of more than a dozen guns. In naval battles, such artillery shells ran out in just an hour and a half. For the remaining 3 hours or more, the Dingyuan ship's 305mm cannon could only fire solid bullets that would not explode at all.

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In the film, Deng Shichang tried to crash the Japanese Yoshino ship. After the naval battle, there were 1251 rounds of 120mm and 150mm artillery shells and 6,095 rounds of various artillery shells. The ammunition was still extremely sufficient. In addition, all artillery shells used by the Japanese Navy are flowering shells.

The Beiyang Navy's extremely scarce flowering bombs, whether purchased out-of-house or self-made, are filled with black powder. This ancient Chinese alchemist accidentally discovered a chemical substance during alchemy. The main ingredients were charcoal and sulfur, and its working principle was similar to the firecrackers that were released during the New Year. The use of this black powder as an explosive can only kill the enemy and destroy the enemy ship through the shock waves and exploded cannonball fragments generated during the explosion, and its power is extremely limited. This is why in the major naval battles before the Sino-Japanese War, no warship was directly sunk by artillery shells.

In 1891, the engineer Shimo Seta successfully formulated a powerful explosive containing picric acid as the main ingredient, and named it "Shimo Seta powder". On January 28, 1893, the Japanese Navy officially began to reload shells filled with Shimoose powder. This kind of shell filled with Shimoase powder is extremely powerful. It is highly sensitive, even if it hits a small rope, it can cause an explosion. In addition to the formation of shock waves and shell fragments after the explosion, it will be accompanied by a fire with a center temperature of thousands of degrees, enough to ignite steel; the flame formed by the explosion will ignite like gasoline. Generally scattered, even in water, it can continue to burn for a period of time.

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On the afternoon of September 17, 1894, twelve Japanese ships loaded with new artillery shells met with the main force of the Beiyang Navy in the Dadonggou of the Yellow Sea. After five hours of fighting, the twelve Chinese warships participating in the war sank and fled. Although the rate of shots of Chinese warships is not low, it cannot directly cause large damage to Japanese ships. The only obvious result is that Zhenyuan fired a gun and hit the ammunition room of Japanese flagship Matsushima ship, causing a serial explosion and a fire. The warship was hit hard.

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