SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
A gunner lighting the fuse of an explosive bomb and the touch-hole of a mortar at the same time. In the sixteenth century the Dutch developed an indirect siege weapon capable of firing explosive bombs, the mortar. This was a stub-barrelled, large-bored and muzzle-loading weapon. It could propel the explosive projectiles, known then as “grenades” at low velocities in high-arcing ballistic trajectories. Its short range was used for close fire support. Whilst the fuse of the bomb faced away from the gunpowder charge of the mortar to prevent premature ignition, it was still a dangerous and risky operation.
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