These wheellock hand mortars, or katzenkopf, are an example of a weapon made and used for everything from front line military application to civilian parades to simple decoration. The pair we are looking at today are of the middle sort – they are signaling arms or firework launchers in the German or Dutch style from the early 1600s.
Martial grenade throwing mortars like this from the 17th century were typically built with more capacity for controlling recoil and aiming, but they were legitimate weapons made and used in battle. However more were made for throwing signal firecrackers and fireworks exhibitions – fireworks were a popular novelty among the royalty and aristocracy of the period. With a two-inch bore, you could launch quite the explosive from one of these!
Flag used this time is Cruz de Borgoña which has query in Wikipedia:
I associated it with Spain, but after some reading I found it was used in a variety of contexts in a number of European countries and in the Americas
“made for throwing signal firecrackers”
So there are ancestors of flare pistols? Anyway there are relatively big-caliber in common with WW1 flare pistols – for example France use 25 mm caliber
British forces used 37 mm flare guns:
which seems to be more close size-wise to Wheellock Hand Mortars
Um, actually, colored smoke signals and fireworks were used going back to the very beginning of the “black powder era”.
Artificers in first China (11th Century AD) and then Europe (14th Century AD) learned to add other materials to black powder to create colored flashes and smoke.
Adding indigo produced blue-green flashes. Red lead tetroxide generated bright red-orange flashes and smoke. Cinnabar yielded purple, dark black smoke could be created by adding lignite and dried, ground soap beans, arsenical disulfides generated yellow smoke, and violet was created by adding cotton fibers (no, really).
Chinese fireworks makers were using these methods as early as the mid-11th Century (before the Norman Conquest of Britain in 1066), and the techniques were known to European fireworks makers by the mid-1400s.
Temple, Robert. The Genius of China; 3,000 Years of Science, Discovery, and Invention. New York; Simon and Schuster, 1986.
Von Braun, Wernher, with Frederick I. Ordway III. The Rocket’s Red Glare. Garden City, NY; Anchor Press, 1976.
“Red lead tetroxide generated bright red-orange flashes and smoke. Cinnabar yielded purple, dark black smoke could be created by adding lignite and dried, ground soap beans, arsenical disulfides generated yellow smoke, and violet was created by adding cotton fibers (no, really).”
Could they make smoke white?
Left unadulterated, black powder (potassium nitrate + charcoal + sulfur) generates whitish-gray smoke. So, no special “ingredients” needed for that.
H2O ((and yea I know notation changed)). A bit of water vives you white. And it,s tricky –with fireweapons–. I,ve seen only once here –and it,s not on the film–. It happened on the last gun shot ((about 4 pe)) and gived a nice white halo. Our senior gunner J.Valera sr told me it happened after having refreshed that gun for the final cannonade ! https://youtu.be/sxNAi09ji8Q
Guns like that are still in use on some traditional festivities in the bavarian/austrian regions. It’s called “Böllerschiessen” and just like “shooting salute”. Usually it’s just for the massive boom it makes and no other fancy ammunition is used.
Note: In Deutsch general term for salute gun is Salutkanone
Russian President Putin got a percussion one off ze Bavarian, Germans in 2006. http://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-russias-president-vladimir-putin-receives-a-traditional-bavarian-gun-119499342.html
They remind me of cut down m-79 grenade launchers used by a SOG guys in Laos, and later supposedly by DEVGRU or Unit guys kicking doors in AFG or Iraq (and who knows where else).
I was thinking more like a japanese “knee” mortar. put thet buttplate on the ground and use some “kentucky windage” to throw a bomb over a wall.
At first glance I thought they were Dueling shot-pistols for the visually impaired.