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  #11  
Old July 20th, 2020, 11:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Condottiere View Post
Alternatively, cast the cannon barrel in bronze.

I believe the Spanish cast some of theirs in platinum.
Bell metal also makes reasonably good gun metal, and bell casting was quite advanced in the Middle Ages. It did require both copper and tin, neither of which was as cheap as iron, but it did make good guns. The British were making cast iron cannon by the end of Henry the Eighth reign, who was firmly convinced on building up England's military power. England had large supplies of good quality iron ore, but not that much copper, although they did have the Cornish tin mines.

The problem with cast iron cannon is that when they fail, it tends to be a bit spectacular, with fatal results to those nearby. Bronze guns tend to bulge before bursting. Thomas Rodman developed probably the best method for casting large cast iron cannon shortly before the American Civil War, making possible the production of the 10 inch, 15 inch, and 20 inch Rodman pieces, along with the U.S. Navy's 11 inch and 15 inch Dahlgren guns. Alexander Holley in his treatise on arms and armor looks are the various materials for cannon and gives some records of use. For the most part, except for the Rodman process cast pieces, touching off a big cast iron cannon was always a bit chancy.
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Old July 21st, 2020, 03:19 PM
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Bronze becomes a strategic material.

Iron is easier to access and cheaper to manufacture.

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Old July 23rd, 2020, 05:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Condottiere View Post
Alternatively, cast the cannon barrel in bronze.

I believe the Spanish cast some of theirs in platinum.
Mel Fisher found some iron cannon that had 2-4% platinum content, but there wasn't a way to melt elemental platinum until 1782, when Lavoisier did it by adding oxygen to increase the heat. Malleable platinum didn't exist until 1772, when Carl von Sickingen alloyed it with gold by sintering powdered metals, dissolved the alloy in hot aqua regia, precipitated the platinum out with ammonium chloride, set that on fire, and wound up with malleable elemental platinum.
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