Chapter 276: The Research and Development of New Cannons
Lucia went to see His Highness with the ores in her hands, dwelling on Nightingale’s words.
In truth, she was shocked by the calm attitude showed by Nightingale.
Although she did not quite understand exactly what love was, she knew that the witches and the prince could never be together. Thus, should not Nightingale carefully hide her feelings deep in her heart rather than letting the other side know the truth?
Moreover, why would herself, being just as a listener, feel embarrassed and blush?
Standing outside the door, Lucia took a deep breath and stepped in.
“Your Highness, I’ve brought the ores.”
“Let me see.” Roland yawned.
This ruler of Border Town looked normal. He seemed still sleepy with his bleary eyes as if he had not long awoken from his noon nap. He was leaning on his chair in a casual manner and was easygoing when he spoke, totally different from the other nobles.
Lucia suddenly felt relieved and relaxed. She took out the pieces of ore found in North Slope Mine from her leather bag and spread them on the desk.
After they had undergone decomposition from her ability, the particles seemed almost identical. Some were white and some gray. Probably only the erudite prince could identify exactly what these ores actually were.
The prince gazed at the ores for a long time frowning and weighed them one by one in his palm. Then he looked at them carefully under the sunshine before he finally waved his hands. “Ahem, I’ll give theses ores to Shichi to discern them. Continue to practice your abilities in the backyard of North Slope. You can ask Anna if there’s anything you don’t understand.”
[What, not even His Highness can distinguish them?] Lucia bowed her head. “Yes.”
When she was about to leave the office, Roland stopped her.
“By the way, you did a good job in the examination, you ranking ninth with a score of 68. It isn’t easy for you to have such a performance after only a month’s worth of study, so try to maintain it. And…” He paused. “I hope Ring can join you all in the next test.”
“Yes, Your Highness,” Lucia said excitedly.
The little girl happily bowed to him and left. Then Roland stared at the metal particles on the desk and sighed.
He was still naive. He thought that he could have found out what mineral veins were hidden in North Slope Mine through decomposing the ore. However, the reality made him realize the huge gap between mechanical engineering and geology. These stones would eventually differentiate into three or four kinds of metal. Although the ore was predominately a single kind, they all looked almost identical in color and shape. For example, iron, aluminum, magnesium, and potassium were silver-white metals at their purest state. It was too difficult to distinguish with a naked eye.
[I had better ask the chief alchemist for some help rather than waste time here. After all, chemical reactions can verify the material properties properly, and it’s better than just guessing,] thought Roland.
After finishing this, Roland got a piece of paper to plan how to deal with the Months of Demons from this year on.
Summer was coming to an end leaving only the three months of fall for him to prepare. Not only should he get ready to defend against the demonic beasts in the west, but he should also be aware of what Timothy and the church were doing in the east as well. Compared to last year, the population and income under his rule had risen sharply. Ironmaking output had been gradually increasing, and he even had a dozen more witches than last year. He was completely confident in his ability to make the Western Region an insurmountable one.
Based on the combat experience of last year, the biggest threat to the city wall was undoubtedly the demonic hybrids which had strong armor that was hard to be penetrated with bullets. He had to either use an explosive package when demonic hybrids came near or send witches to fight outside. However, both of these strategies were incredibly risky.
In addition to the demon beast, most of the enemies he encountered were cavalry and infantry and had never seen the siege weapons of this era yet. If they built torque trebuchets, or an even more advanced trebuchet, they would be a problem. After all, it was very inconvenient for the current artillery to shoot downwards. Each barrel needed raising in order to fill with shells and the shells could easily fall out of the barrels.
It was imperative to invent a kind of more powerful cannon.
Roland pondered and listed the indicators he needed on paper.
Firstly, it should have sufficient range and power to penetrate the carapace of demonic hybrid beasts at one kilometer. It also needed to be reloaded from the back and should be freely adjustable, in terms of the angle so that it could rapidly fire. Finally, a multi-purpose design should be considered for the cannons to save time for repetitive development. It could suppress the enemy as a fixed fort and be pulled directly onto the ships as the main weapon for the shallow water gunboats in the future.
So it should be a kind of heavy artillery with a large caliber and a long barrel.
Roland first thought of those 15 to16 inch cannon on a battleship with a range of up to tens of kilometers, whose shells could make a deep pit of a few meters when exploding. But he quickly rejected this unrealistic idea. Although there was no problem in processing, using the materials in Border Town, most of the cannons would break when firing… The inventions would be abandoned because of their poor flexibility and they would quickly lose their value.
He could at most produce wrought iron with a higher purity and ordinary steel, so the plan had better be more conservative.
Roland finally decided to use the caliber of ‘152 millimeters’, a sacred number.
The cannon was with a vertical wedge-type breechblock. When sliding down the breechblock, one could fill the shell into the cannon bore, and then pulling up to lock it and igniting, the gunpowder gas could eject the shells. Compared to the screw-type, the wedge-type breeches had the fastest firing speed and the simplest principle. Not to mention that its mechanical structure had been well documented in Roland’s mind.
However, to achieve rapid firing, the cannon would need to harness recoil that would act like a double pump. One was filled with oil and the other, a spring or gas. The barrel would be pushed backward from recoil, which would release the oil and the compressed spring. The oil was used to smooth the recoil, while the spring was what pushed the barrel back after firing.
Finally, the shells…
Since they would be upgrading the cannons, Roland naturally also needed to upgrade the shells. Solid iron and paper wrapped grapeshot would no longer fulfill ——ccothe needs of the upgraded weaponry. Roland thus decided to develop two kinds of shells at the same time. One was an enlarged bullet, the head of which was made of solid metal, while the other was a kind of explosive warhead with a fuze which would later be known as the howitzer in modern time. However, there was a certain technical difficulty for the latter and it would need testing, especially in terms of the reliability of the fuze. There was also no guarantee that this weapon could be assembled before the Months of Demons. So it was very necessary to produce the former to solve current problems. Even firing solid warheads from fixed siege equipment could easily deal with the slow-moving demonic beasts.
Of course, no matter what kind of shell it was, they all needed a large amount of smokeless gunpowder. Before he could mass produce the two acids, this new type of cannon could only be used as a special weapon, so arming his forces with such a weapon would be impossible.
Suddenly, a guard walked in.
“Your Highness, a secret letter from the king’s city.”
Roland put down the quill and opened the envelope. There was no sign in the whole letter and the handwriting was strange. But one sentence showed that the letter was undoubtedly sent from Theo.
“A platoon of about 1,000 left the king’s city today in the direction of the Western Region.”