The biggest obstacle to creating breech-loading cannon was to ensure that, when the firing lanyard was pulled, the resulting explosive force exited the barrel at the muzzle and not back at the gun crew. Although several inventive ideas were tried, it was not until the 1860s that Alfred Krupp developed perhaps the most successful design to achieve this, depending on both good design and improvements in metallurgy. Krupp synthesized ideas from other attempts to create a gun whose basic elements would go on to be found in everything from the Prussian artillery that helped defeat France in 1871 to the 38.5-centimeter (cm) guns of the mighty Bismarck that sank HMS Hood in 1941. A sliding-wedge breechblock can still be found in almost all systems whose ordnance uses cased and fixed ammunition.
1. Lewis Wells Broadwell, U.S. Patent No.55,762, “Improvement in Breech-Loading Ordnance,” awarded 19 June 1866.
2. LT Edward W. Very, USN, Navies of the World, (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1880).
3. ADM 231-25, Anon., “Narrative of Naval Engagement off the Yalu River, with Remarks Thereon” (M931/95), Admiralty Intelligence Department, March 1895.
4. J. F. V. Kronenfels, ed., Die Kriegsschiffbauten, 1881–1882 (Leipzig, Germany: A. Hartleben’s Verlag, 1883); Maritime Reprints Band II (Munich, Germany: Christian Schmidt’s Verlag, 1976); author’s collection.
5. Vz-Adm. Karl Galster, Die Schiffs- and Kustengeschutze der deutschen Marine (Berlin, Germany: Siegfried Mittler, 1885).
6. ADM 186-251, Anon., “Progress in Gunnery Material, 1921.”
7. Nicholas A. Lambert, “‘Our Bloody Ships or Our Bloody System’? Jutland and the Loss of the Battle Cruisers,” The Journal of Military History 62, no. 1 (January 1998): 29–55.
8. Norman Friedman, Naval Weapons of World War One (Barnsley, UK: Seaforth Publishing, 2011).
9. U.S. Navy, “Testing the Eugen,” All Hands, NAVPERS-O no. 348, March 1946, 45.