Test firing a mortar, 19th century

Test firing a mortar, 19th century

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Credit: ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Test firing a mortar. This test took place in the Plumstead area of London, England. This marshy area near the Thames is where a famous test firing of new mortar technology took place in October 1857. A large mortar, called Mallet's Mortar, was test-fired here, but fractured after the first shot was fired. It was also damaged on subsequent testing, and so was never used in the Crimean War as intended. It was designed by the Irish engineer Robert Mallet (1810-1881), and was intended to fire shells of over a ton in weight over distances of 2.5 kilometres. The mortar itself weighed 43 tons and had a muzzle width (calibre) of nearly a metre.

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