The Tsar Cannon is not a cannon at all: What stands in the Kremlin

Along with the Tsar Cannon, the poet Alexander Roslavlev even placed the famous monument to Alexander III by Trubetskoy:

Third wild toy

For the Russian serf:

There was a king-bell, a king-gun

And now the king is ...

But, alas, our venerable historians and dissident jokes are not right around. Firstly, the Tsar Cannon shot, and secondly, this weapon is not a cannon at all.

But I'll start in order. The Tsar Cannon was cast by the famous Russian master Andrei Chokhov (until 1917 he was considered Chekhov) by order of Tsar Fedor Ioannovich. A giant cannon weighing 2, 400 pounds (39, 312 kg) was cast in 1586 at the Moscow Cannon Yard. The length of the Tsar Cannon is 5345 mm, the outer diameter of the barrel is 1210 mm, and the diameter of the bulge at the barrel is 1350 mm.

Currently, the Tsar Cannon is on a cast-iron decorative carriage, and nearby are decorative cast-iron cores, which were cast in 1834 in St. Petersburg at the Byrd iron foundry. It is clear that it is physically impossible to either shoot from this cast-iron carriage or use cast-iron cores - the Tsar Cannon will smash it to smithereens! Documents about the tests of the Tsar Cannon or its use in combat conditions were not preserved, which gave rise to long disputes about its purpose. Most historians and military men in the 19th and early 20th centuries believed that the Tsar Cannon was a shotgun, that is, an instrument designed to shoot with a shot, which in the 16th – 17th centuries / bm9icg ===> ekami consisted of small stones. A smaller part of specialists generally excludes the possibility of combat use of the gun, considering that it was made specifically to frighten foreigners, especially the ambassadors of the Crimean Tatars. Recall that in 1571, Khan Devlet Giray burned Moscow.

In the XVIII - early XX centuries, the Tsar Cannon was called a shotgun in all official documents. And only the Bolsheviks in the 1930s decided for propaganda purposes to increase its rank and began to dignify the cannon.

The secret of the Tsar Cannon was revealed only in 1980, when a large automobile crane took it off the carriage and placed it on a huge trailer. Then the powerful KrAZ took the Tsar Cannon to Serpukhov, where the gun was repaired at the factory of military unit No. 42708. At the same time, a number of specialists of the Artillery Academy. Dzerzhinsky made her inspection and measurement. For some reason, the report was not published, but from the preserved draft materials it becomes clear that the Tsar Cannon ... was not a cannon!

The highlight of the gun is its channel. At a distance of 3190 mm, it has the appearance of a cone, the initial diameter of which is 900 mm, and the final - 825 mm. Then comes the charging chamber with reverse taper - with an initial diameter of 447 mm and a final (at the breech part) 467 mm. The length of the chamber is 1730 mm, and the bottom is flat.

So this is a classic bombard!

First bombardments appeared at the end of the XIV century. The name "bombard" comes from the Latin words bombus (thunder sound) and arder (burn). The first bombards were made of iron and had screw chambers. So, for example, in 1382 in the city of Ghent (Belgium) the “Mad Margarita” bombard was made, so named in memory of Countess of Flanders Margarita the Cruel. The caliber of the bombards is 559 mm, the barrel length is 7.75 caliber (CLB), and the channel length is 5 CLB. Gun weight - 11 tons. "Mad Margarita" shot with stone cores weighing 320 kg. The bombardment consists of two layers: the inner one, consisting of longitudinal strips welded together, and the outer one, consisting of 41 iron hoops, welded together and with the inner layer. A separate screw chamber consists of one layer of discs welded together and is equipped with sockets where the lever was inserted when it was screwed in and out.

It took about a day to load and aim large bombers. Therefore, during the siege of the city of Pisa in 1370, whenever the besiegers prepared to make a shot, the besieged left for the opposite end of the city. The besiegers, taking advantage of this, rushed to attack.

The charge of the bombardments was no more than 10% of the weight of the nucleus. There were no pins or carriages. The guns were stacked on wooden decks and log houses, and piles were hammered in the back or brick walls were erected for stop. Initially, the elevation angle did not change. In the 15th century, primitive hoisting mechanisms began to be cast and copper bombardments cast.

Let's pay attention - the Tsar Cannon has no pins with the help of which the elevation angle is attached to the gun. In addition, she has an absolutely smooth back section of the breech, with which she, like other bombards, rested against a stone wall or log house.

Defender Dardanelles

By the middle of the 15th century, the most powerful siege artillery was at the ... Turkish Sultan. So, during the siege of Constantinople in 1453, the Hungarian caster Urban cast a 24-inch (610 mm) copper bombard to the Turks, firing stone cores weighing about 20 pounds (328 kg). It took 60 bulls and 100 people to transport it to the position. To eliminate the rollback, the Turks built a stone wall behind the guns. The rate of this bombardment was 4 shots per day. By the way, the rate of fire of large-caliber Western European bombards was about the same order. Just before the capture of Constantinople, the 24-inch bombard was torn apart. At the same time, her designer Urban himself died. The Turks appreciated the large-caliber bombers. Already in 1480, during the fighting on the island of Rhodes, they used 24–35-inch caliber bombards (610–890 mm). The casting of such giant bombers required, as indicated in ancient documents, 18 days.

It is curious that the bombers of the 15th – 16th centuries CE in Turkey were in service until the middle of the 19th century. So, on March 1, 1807, when the Dardanelles was forced by the English squadron of Admiral Duckworth, the marble core of 25 inches (635 mm) weighing 800 pounds (244 kg) fell into the lower deck of the Windsor Castle ship and ignited several cannons with gunpowder, resulting in there was a terrible explosion. 46 people were killed and injured. In addition, many sailors with a fright rushed overboard and drowned. The same core fell into the Active ship and struck a huge hole in the board above the waterline. Several people could stick their heads out into this hole.

In 1868, over 20 huge bombers still stood at the forts defending the Dardanelles. There is evidence that during the Dardanelles operation of 1915, a 400-kilogram stone core fell into the English battleship Agamemnon. Of course, it could not break through the armor and only amused the team.

Let's compare the Turkish 25-inch (630-mm) copper bombard, cast in 1464, which is currently stored in the museum in Vulwich (London), with our Tsar Cannon. The weight of the Turkish bombard is 19 tons, and the total length is 5232 mm. The external diameter of the barrel is 894 mm. The length of the cylindrical part of the channel is 2819 mm. The length of the chamber is 2006 mm. The bottom of the chamber is rounded. The bombardment shot stone nuclei weighing 309 kg, the charge of gunpowder weighed 22 kg.

The bombard at one time defended the Dardanelles. As you can see, externally and in the arrangement of the channel, it is very similar to the Tsar Cannon. The main and fundamental difference is that the Turkish bombardment has a screw-in breech. Apparently, the Tsar Cannon was made on the model of such bombers.

Shotgun King

So, the Tsar Cannon is a bombard designed for firing stone cores. The weight of the stone core of the Tsar Cannon was about 50 pounds (819 kg), and a cast-iron core of this caliber weighs 120 pounds (1.97 tons). As a shotgun, the Tsar Cannon was extremely ineffective. At the cost of the costs, instead of it, it was possible to produce 20 small shotguns, which took much less time to load - not a day, but only 1-2 minutes. I note that in the official inventory “At the Moscow Arsenal of Artillery” # for 1730 there were 40 copper and 15 cast-iron shotguns. Pay attention to their calibers: 1, 500 pounds - 1 (this is Tsar Cannon), and then the calibers follow: 25 pounds - 2.22 pounds - 1.21 pounds - 3, etc. The largest number of shotguns, 11, falls on a 2-pound caliber.

And yet she shot

Who and why wrote the Tsar Cannon in shotguns? The fact is that in Russia, all old guns that were in fortresses, with the exception of mortars, were automatically transferred to shotguns over time, that is, in case of a fortress siege, they had to shoot with a shot (stone), and later with cast-iron buckshot on infantry marching to storm. Using old guns for firing nuclei or bombs was impractical: what if the barrel would blow, and the new guns had much better ballistic data. So the Tsar Cannon was recorded in shotguns, at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries the military forgot about the orders in smooth-bore serf artillery, and civil historians did not know at all and by the name "shotgun" decided that the Tsar Cannon was to be used exclusively as an anti-storm guns for firing "stone shot."

The point in the dispute, whether the Tsar Cannon shot, was put in 1980 by experts from the Academy. Dzerzhinsky. They examined the canal of the gun and, according to a number of signs, including the presence of particles of burnt gunpowder, concluded that the Tsar Cannon was fired at least once. After the Tsar Cannon was cast and finished at the Cannon Yard, it was dragged to Spassky Bridge and laid on the ground next to the Peacock cannon. # To move the gun, ropes were tied to eight brackets on its trunk, 200 were harnessed to these ropes simultaneously horses, and they rolled a cannon lying on huge logs - skating rinks.

Initially, the Tsar and Peacock guns were lying on the ground near the bridge leading to the Spasskaya Tower, and the Kashpirov gun was at the Zemsky order, which was located where the Historical Museum is now located. In 1626 they were lifted from the ground and installed on log cabins densely packed with earth. These platforms were called roscates. One of them, with the Tsar Cannon and the “Peacock”, was placed at the Frontal Place, the other, with the Kashpirova Cannon, at the Nikolsky Gate. In 1636, wooden roskats were replaced by stone ones, inside which warehouses and shops selling wine were arranged.

After the "Narva confusion", when the tsarist army lost all the siege and regimental artillery, Peter I ordered the urgent pouring of new guns. The tsar decided to get the necessary copper for this by remelting the bells and old cannons. According to the “personal decree”, it was “ordered to transfer the Peacock cannon to cannon and mortar castings, which is located in the Lobny place on a Roschat in China; the cannon Kashpirov, which is near the new Monetary yard, where there was a Zemsky order; gun "Echidna", which is under the village of Voskresensky; cannon "Gyrfalcon" pound ten pound core; "Nightingale" cannon with a core of 6 pounds in China in the square. "

Peter, by virtue of his ignorance, did not spare the most ancient tools of Moscow casting and made an exception only for the largest tools. Among them, naturally, was the Tsar Cannon, as well as two casting mortars by Andrei Chokhov, which are currently in the Artillery Museum in St. Petersburg.

The article was published in the journal Popular Mechanics (No. 3, March 2005).


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