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16 May 1808

Slaget ved Alvøen var et sjøslag som ble utkjempet mellom en engelsk fregatt og en norsk styrke bestående av fire kanonjoller og en kanonsjalupp. Slaget fant sted i Vatlestraumen ved Alvøen like sørvest for Bergen, og var en del av den såkalte... Read more ...

16 May 1808

Slaget ved Alvøen
Slaget ved Alvøen var et sjøslag som ble utkjempet mellom en engelsk fregatt og en norsk styrke bestående av fire kanonjoller og en kanonsjalupp. Slaget fant sted i Vatlestraumen ved Alvøen like sørvest for Bergen, og var en del av den såkalte Kanonbåtkrigen fra 1807 til 1814 under Napoleonskrigene.

Den britiske fregatten HMS Tartar var på vei inn til Bergen for å uskadeliggjøre eller ta som prise et hollandsk kaperfartøy som hadde søkt inn til Bergen for reparasjon. Om kvelden den 15. mai løp det inn melding til Bergenhus om at en engelsk fregatt var i leden. Om natten/morgenen den 16. mai ble fem norske kanonfartøyer sendt ut for å møte fienden.

Slaget varte i vel en time og endte med at fregatten flyktet nordover ut Hjeltefjorden. Engelskmennene mistet totalt tolv mann, og skipet fikk store materielle skader. Blant de falne var skipssjefen selv. De norske tapene skrev seg til fem mann, i tillegg til flere sårede. Trefningen fikk betydning da en så at små kanonbåter kunne bekjempe større fartøy innenskjærs langs norskekysten.


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    Featured article

      .577/.450 Martini-Henry Rifles - Part 1

    • .577/.450 Martini-Henry Rifles - Part 1

      The Martini-Henry rifle was the British military service rifle from the end of the 1880\'s. It served on all continents and was a powerful and reliable rifle. This article is the first part in a series of two on the Martini-Henry rifles. This part deals about the background history of the Martini-Henry rifles.

    The Norwegian Kammerlader

    Category: Norwegian kammerlader
    Published: 24 November 2007 by Øyvind Flatnes.
    Edited: 25 November 2007.
    Views: 53879
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    18 bore (16,63mm) kammerlader rifle Model 1842.

    18 bore (16,63mm) kammerlader rifle Model 1842.

    Norway was among the first countries in the world to equip the entire first line army with breech-loading firearms. After extensive trials and experiments starting in 1837 with muzzle-loading flintlock and percussion muskets and rifles, as well as several foreign breech-loading firearms, the first kammerlader model was adopted for trial in 1842.

    In 1837 king Karl Johan of Sweden and Norway ordered a group of Norwegian officers to form a small-arms committee. The officers were tasked with assessing all small-arms used by the infantry and cavalry and to suggest firearms for future use. During the war with Sweden in 1814, the Norwegian line infantry had been armed with Danish smooth-bore flintlock muskets. The light infantry – such as jäger and ski-borne troops – was equipped with muzzle-loading flintlock rifles. After losing the war in 1814, Norway was forced into a union with Sweden. The same year Kongsberg Våpenfabrikk (Kongsberg Small-Arms Factory) was founded. Now Kongsberg was mainly producing flintlock muskets heavily influenced by the Swedish Model 1815 musket.

    The smooth-bore muskets were inaccurate but could be reloaded relatively fast. The muzzle-loading rifle was accurate but slow to reload. The small-arms committee’s ambition was to unite the accuracy of the rifle and loading speed of the smooth-bore musket. The committee also predicted that the percussion lock would replace the flintlock in the near future.

    After extensive tests, the committee concluded that:

    • The calibre had to be reduced
    • The new firearm had to have the reliable percussion lock
    • Fast reloading was only achieved with a breech-loading firearm

    Based on the results of the committee’s work, a ‘18-lødig’ kammerlader rifle was adopted on 18 May 1842. ’18 lødig’ or 18 bore means that you can cast 18 roundballs from one pound of lead (1 Norwegian pound = 498 gram). Converted to length, 18 bore equals 16.63mm or .65".

    Small-arms committee member and artillery captain Frederik W. Scheel has been credited with the invention of the kammerlader, but he had not managed without the help of of gunsmith Niels Gregersen. Although not a member of the committee, it was Gregersen who created working mechanisms based on Scheels sometimes vague ideas.

    Trial rifle dated 1838 and marked «SCHEEL» and «N. GREGERSEN».

    Trial rifle dated 1838 and marked «SCHEEL» and «N. GREGERSEN».

    400 of the first 500 rifles were produced at Kongsberg, while the remaining 100 was manufactured by Auguste Francotte in Liège, Belgium. Subsequent kammerlader models were also produced by C.P. Crause & Söhne in Herzberg am Harz in Niedersachsen in present-day Germany.

    Infantry rifle Model 1849/55. This is the most common of all the kammerlader models.

    Infantry rifle Model 1849/55. This is the most common of all the kammerlader models.

    Models

    Over 100 different models of the Norwegian kammerlader were manufactured for the army, navy and civilian shooters and hunters from 1842 to the early 1880s – including carbines and metallic cartridge conversions. In 1860, a new smaller calibre 4-linjer (linjer = lines) version was adopted. In modern terms the calibre was reduced from 16.63 mm to 11.77mm (.65" to .46").

    The 18 bore infantry rifles are made in two lengths: a long three-band version with socket bayonet for line infantry and a short two-band version with sword bayonet for jägers, light infantry and non-commissioned officers. Cadets at the Military Academy and the Navy had their own models.

    The cavalry and artillery were issued carbines, but not until the late 1850s and early 1860s. The carbines are not included here because they were mainly of the small-bore calibre adopted in 1860. Only a few trial carbines were 18-bore.

    Roughly, the main models of the 18 bore kammerlader rifles are:

    • Three band army rifles: M/1842, M/1846, M/1849 and M/1855
    • Two band army rifles: M/1859
    • Three band naval rifles: M/1845, M/1849 and M/1852
    • Two band naval rifles: M/1855 and M/1857
    • Cadet rifle Model 1848 (made in four different lengths)

    All naval rifles are identical in length and are only marginally shorter than the two-band army rifles.

    The Norwegian Army's main model of large-bore kammerlader rifles. From top to bottom: Model 1842, Model 1846, Model 1849, Model 1855 and Model 1859.

    The Norwegian Army's main model of large-bore kammerlader rifles. From top to bottom: Model 1842, Model 1846, Model 1849, Model 1855 and Model 1859.

    Examples of Naval kammerlader rifles. From top to bottom: Model 1845 and Model 1857.

    Examples of Naval kammerlader rifles. From top to bottom: Model 1845 and Model 1857.

    Improvements, changes and new model designations

    After the adoption of a conical bullet in 1855, all existing Army rifles of the models 1842, 1846 and 1849 had to be converted with new rear sights. New rifles with the new sight made in 1855 and after was designated Model 1855. A trailing /55 was added to the model designation of the rifles converted with the new sight, for example: M/1842/55 or M/1849/55.

    The short two-band kammerlader was adopted in 1859. To speed up production, a number of long three-band rifles were shortened. These were now designated M/1842/59, 1846/59 and so on. The cadet rifles were shortened and converted from socket bayonet to sword bayonet in 1857 and equipped with the sight of 1855. They are designated Model 1848/57.

    Accessories

    The following was issued to soldiers as accessories to the kammerlader:

    Bayonet

    Socket or sword depending on model.

    From top to bottom: Socket bayonet Model 1846 and sword bayonet Model 1859.

    From top to bottom: Socket bayonet Model 1846 and sword bayonet Model 1859.

    Sling

    The sling was made from leather that was stained dark brown.m

    Tompion

    Several models were used, but the most common was a split birch or maple dowel with a wooden head.

    Nipple pick

    A small brass needle used to clean the percussion nipple.

    Stopper

    A leather covered iron needle that prevented the hammer from hitting the hammer during dry firing. It could also act as a safety since the hammer lacked a half cock notch.

    Screwdriver

    A star-shaped screwdriver with three arms. This model was later replaced with two different screwdrivers that was kept in a tin container. The container was used as a handle for the screwdrivers. The container lid served as an oil bottle.

    Cleaning rod

    The soldier carried a coiled rattan cleaning rod in the backpack. It is not known exactly how the cleaning rod looked like.

    Model 1849 Army sharpshooter rifle with accessories. From left to right: Screwdriver, nipple pick, stopper, bullet, paper cartridge, cartridge bundle, tin container with oil bottle in the lid, bayonet with scabbard and tompion.

    Model 1849 Army sharpshooter rifle with accessories. From left to right: Screwdriver, nipple pick, stopper, bullet, paper cartridge, cartridge bundle, tin container with oil bottle in the lid, bayonet with scabbard and tompion.

    Shooting the 18 bore kammerlader

    Until 1855, the general-issue ammunition was paper cartridges that contained roundball and an 84-grain black powder charge. Selected sharpshooters had successfully been using a conical ball since 1849. In 1855 it was decided to issue conical ammunition to all troops. The same year a new conical ball was adopted for the kammerlader and Norwegian pillar-breech rifles.

    Shooting the Model 1849/55 infatry rifle (photo: Audun Nygaard).

    Shooting the Model 1849/55 infatry rifle (photo: Audun Nygaard).

    The paper cartridges were used to speed up loading. The cylindrical part of the bullet was wrapped in paper that was fastened to the bullet with wool or linen thread. The remaining paper behind the bullet formed the powder container. After the cartridge was filled with 96 grains of Fg black powder the casing was closed by folding the paper into a tail. Lastly, the bullet end was dipped in a molten mix of sheep’s tallow and beeswax.

    In 1861 a new paper cartridge was adopted. The new model was based on French and British cartridges and is quite similar to the British .577 Enfield cartridge.

    See videos on how to make the different models of paper cartridge for the kammerlader: roundball cartridges, conical ball cartridge Model 1855 and 1857 and conical ball cartridge Model 1861.





    To load, the soldier opened the chamber and capped the nipple. He then bit open the rear end of the cartridge and poured the powder into the chamber. Then the bullet was placed on top of the charge and the chamber was closed. The hammer was then cocked, and the rifle was ready to fire. Note that as a safety precaution it is recommended to cap the nipple as the last step in the loading process.

    The book From Musket to Metallic Cartridge have more information about the practical use of the kammerlader.