Flintlock

Flintlock is a general term for any firearm that uses a flint striking ignition mechanism. The term may also apply to a particular form of the mechanism itself, also known as the true flintlock, that was introduced in the early 17th century, and rapidly replaced earlier firearm-ignition technologies, such as the matchlock, the wheellock, and the earlier flintlock mechanisms.

The true flintlock continued to be in common use for over two centuries, replaced by percussion cap and, later, the cartridge-based systems in the early-to-mid 19th century. Although long superseded by modern firearms, flintlock weapons enjoy continuing popularity with black-powder shooting enthusiasts.

Dogon Hunter
A Dogon hunter with flintlock musket, Mali, 2010

History

Gainsborough-Andrews
An English gentleman circa 1750 with his flintlock muzzle-loading sporting rifle, in a painting by Thomas Gainsborough.

French court gunsmith Marin le Bourgeoys made a firearm incorporating a flintlock mechanism for King Louis XIII shortly after his accession to the throne in 1610.[1] However, firearms using some form of flint ignition mechanism had already been in use for over half a century. The development of firearm lock mechanisms had proceeded from the matchlock to wheellock to the earlier flintlocks (snaplock, snaphance, miquelet, and doglock) in the previous two centuries, and each type had been an improvement, contributing design features to later firearms which were useful. Le Bourgeoys fitted these various features together to create what became known as the flintlock or true flintlock.

The new flintlock system quickly became popular, and was known and used in various forms throughout Europe by 1630, although older flintlock systems continued to be used for some time. Examples of early flintlock muskets can be seen in the painting "Marie de' Medici as Bellona" by Rubens (painted around 1622-25).

Various breech-loading flintlocks were developed starting around 1650. The most popular action has a barrel which was unscrewed from the rest of the gun. Obviously this is more practical on pistols because of the shorter barrel length. This type is known as a Queen Anne pistol because it was during her reign that it became popular (although it was actually introduced in the reign of King William III). Another type has a removable screw plug set into the side or top or bottom of the barrel. A large number of sporting rifles were made with this system, as it allowed easier loading compared with muzzle loading with a tight fitting bullet and patch.

One of the more successful was the system built by Isaac de la Chaumette starting in 1704. The barrel could be opened by 3 revolutions of the triggerguard, to which it was attached. The plug stayed attached to the barrel and the ball and powder were loaded from the top. This system was improved in the 1770s by Colonel Patrick Ferguson and 100 experimental rifles used in the American Revolutionary War. The only two flintlock breechloaders to be produced in quantity were the Hall and the Crespi. The first was invented by John Hall and patented c. 1817.[2] It was issued to the U.S. Army as the Model 1819 Hall Breech Loading Rifle.[3]

The Hall rifles and carbines were loaded using a combustible paper cartridge inserted into the upward tilting breechblock. Hall rifles leaked gas from the often poorly fitted action. The same problem affected the muskets produced by Giuseppe Crespi and adopted by the Austrian Army in 1771. Nonetheless, the Crespi System was experimented with by the British during the Napoleonic Wars, and percussion Halls guns saw service in the American Civil War.

Flintlock weapons were commonly used until the mid 19th century, when they were replaced by percussion lock systems. Even though they have long been considered obsolete, flintlock weapons continue to be produced today by manufacturers such as Pedersoli, Euroarms, and Armi Sport. Not only are these weapons used by modern re-enactors, but they are also used for hunting, as many U.S. states have dedicated hunting seasons for black-powder weapons, which includes both flintlock and percussion lock weapons.

Subtypes

Flintlocks may be any type of small arm: long gun or pistol, smoothbore or rifle, muzzleloader or breechloader.

Pistols

Pistolet-IMG 3196-b
French flintlock pistol circa 1790–1795.
Billing, flintlåspistol, 1700-1730 - Skoklosters slott - 90774
A flintlock pistol circa 1700–1730
Ketland1
Ketland brass barrel smooth bore pistol common in Colonial America.
Long gun firing system mg 7974
Flintlock firing system of a French naval gun.

Flintlock pistols were used as self-defense weapons and as a military arm. Their effective range was short, and they were frequently used as an adjunct to a sword or cutlass. Pistols were usually smoothbore although some rifled pistols were produced.

Flintlock pistols came in a variety of sizes and styles which often overlap and are not well defined, many of the names we use having been applied by collectors and dealers long after the pistols were obsolete. The smallest were less than 6 inches (15 cm) long and the largest were over 20 inches (51 cm). From around the beginning of the 1700s the larger pistols got shorter, so that by the late 1700s the largest would be more like 16 inches (41 cm) long. The smallest would fit into a typical pocket or a hand warming muff and could easily be carried by women.

The largest sizes would be carried in holsters across a horse's back just ahead of the saddle. In-between sizes included the coat pocket pistol, or coat pistol, which would fit into a large pocket, the coach pistol, meant to be carried on or under the seat of a coach in a bag or box, and belt pistols, sometimes equipped with a hook designed to slip over a belt or waistband. Larger pistols were called horse pistols. Arguably the most elegant of the pistol designs was the Queen Anne pistol, which was made in all sizes.

Probably the high point of the mechanical development of the flintlock pistol was the British duelling pistol; it was highly reliable, water resistant and accurate. External decoration was minimal but craftsmanship was evident, and the internal works were often finished to a higher degree of craftsmanship than the exterior. Dueling pistols were the size of the horse pistols of the late 1700s, around 16 inches (41 cm) long and were usually sold in pairs along with accessories in a wooden case with compartments for each piece.

Muskets

Flintlock
Flintlock mechanism

Flintlock muskets were the mainstay of European armies between 1660 and 1840. A musket was a muzzle-loading smoothbore long gun that was loaded with a round lead ball, but it could also be loaded with shot for hunting. For military purposes, the weapon was loaded with ball, or a mixture of ball with several large shot (called buck and ball), and had an effective range of about 75 to 100 metres. Smoothbore weapons that were designed for hunting birds were called "fowlers." Flintlock muskets tended to be of large caliber and usually had no choke, allowing them to fire full-caliber balls.

Military flintlock muskets tended to weigh approximately ten pounds, as heavier weapons were found to be too cumbersome, and lighter weapons were not rugged or heavy enough to be used in hand-to-hand combat. They were usually designed to be fitted with a bayonet. On flintlocks, the bayonet played a much more significant role, often accounting for a third or more of all battlefield casualties. This is a rather controversial topic in history though, given that casualties list from several battles in the 18th century showed that less than 2% of wounds were caused by bayonets.[4]

Antoine-Henri Jomini, a celebrated military author of the Napoleonic period who served in numerous armies during that period, stated that the majority of bayonet charges in the open resulted with one side fleeing before any contacts were made.[5] Flintlock weapons were not used like modern rifles. They tended to be fired in mass volleys, followed by bayonet charges in which the weapons were used much like the pikes that they replaced. Because they were also used as pikes, military flintlocks tended to be approximately 5–6 feet (150–180 cm) in length (without the bayonet attached), and used bayonets that were approximately 18–22 inches (46–56 cm) in length.

Rifles

Drevnosti RG v3 ill111 - Rifle of Alexei Mikhailovich
Russian flintlock rifle made in 1654 by master Grigory Viatkin.

Some flintlocks were rifled. The spiral grooves of rifling make rifles more accurate and give a longer effective range – but on a muzzle-loading firearm they take more time to load due to the tight-fitting ball, and after repeated shots black powder tended to foul the barrels. Military musketeers couldn't afford to take the time to clean the rifles' barrels in between shots and the rifle's greater accuracy was unnecessary when tactics were based on mass volleys. Most military flintlocks were therefore smoothbore. Rifled flintlocks did see some military use by sharpshooters, skirmishers, and other support units; but most rifled flintlocks were used for hunting.

By the late 18th century there were increasing efforts to take advantage of the rifle for military purposes, with specialist rifle units such as the King's Royal Rifle Corps of 1756 and Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort's Own) of 1800. Despite this, smoothbores predominated until the advent of the Minié ball – by which time the percussion cap had made the flintlock obsolete.

In the United States, modifications to small game rifles originally designed in Europe led to the long rifle ("Pennsylvania Rifle" or "Kentucky Rifle,") which due to their long barrels were exceptionally accurate for their time, with an effective range of approximately 250 meters.[6] Since Pennsylvania/Kentucky rifles were used primarily for hunting, they tended to fire smaller caliber rounds, with calibers in the range of .32 to .45 being common. This type of rifle was sometimes referred to as a "pea rifle" since the round ball was approximately the same size as a pea.[7]

The jezail was another example of a long flintlock rifle, but its use in Afghanistan, India, Central Asia and parts of the Middle East was primarily as a military weapon, so tended to fire a larger and heavier round.

Multishot flintlock weapons

Multiple barrels

Pistol (4)
A three barrel flintlock pistol.

Because of the time needed to reload (even experts needed 15 seconds to reload a smooth-bore, muzzle-loading musket[8]), flintlocks were sometimes produced with two, three, four or more barrels for multiple shots. These designs tended to be costly to make and were often unreliable and dangerous. While weapons like double barreled shotguns were reasonably safe, weapons like the pepperbox revolver would sometimes fire all barrels simultaneously, or would sometimes just explode in the user's hand. It was often less expensive, safer, and more reliable to carry several single-shot weapons instead.

Single barrel

Some repeater rifles, multishot single barrel pistols, and multishot single barrel revolvers were also made. Notable are the Puckle gun, Mortimer,[9] Kalthoff, Michele Lorenzoni, Abraham Hill, Cookson pistols,[10] the Jennings repeater and the Elisha Collier revolver.

Drawbacks

Scottishflintlockwiki
Scottish Flintlock pistol: David McKenzie, a Dundee gunsmith made this pistol. The heart shaped butt is commonly found on pistols made in Scotland. The gun is steel with silver inlay showing Celtic designs.

Flintlocks were prone to many problems, compared to modern weapons. Misfires were common. The flint had to be properly maintained, as a dull or poorly napped piece of flint would not make as much of a spark and would increase the misfire rate dramatically. Moisture was a problem, since moisture on the frizzen or damp powder would prevent the weapon from firing. This meant that flintlock weapons could not be used in rainy or damp weather. Some armies attempted to remedy this by using a leather cover over the lock mechanism, but this proved to have only limited success.[11]

Accidental firing was also a problem for flintlocks. A burning ember left in the barrel could ignite the next powder charge as it was loaded. This could be avoided by waiting between shots for any leftover residue to completely burn. Running a lubricated cleaning patch down the barrel with the ramrod would also extinguish any embers, and would clean out some of the barrel fouling as well. Soldiers on the battlefield could not take these precautions though. They had to fire as quickly as possible, often firing three to four rounds per minute. Loading and firing at such a pace dramatically increased the risk of an accidental discharge.

When a flintlock was fired it sprayed a shower of sparks forwards from the muzzle and another sideways out of the flash-hole. One reason for firing in volleys was to ensure that one man's sparks didn't ignite the next man's powder as he was in the act of loading.

An accidental frizzen strike could also ignite the main powder charge, even if the pan had not yet been primed. Some modern flintlock users will still place a leather cover over the frizzen while loading as a safety measure to prevent this from happening. However, this does slow down the loading time, which prevented safety practices such as this from being used on the battlefields of the past.

The black powder used in flintlocks would quickly foul the barrel, which was a problem for rifles and for smooth bore weapons that fired a tighter fitting round for greater accuracy. Each shot would add more fouling to the barrel, making the weapon more and more difficult to load. Even if the barrel was badly fouled, the flintlock user still had to properly seat the round all the way to the breech of the barrel. Leaving an air gap in between the powder and the round (known as "short starting") was very dangerous, and could cause the barrel to explode.

Handling loose black powder was also dangerous, for obvious reasons. Powder measures, funnels, and other pieces of equipment were usually made out of brass to reduce the risk of creating a spark, which could ignite the powder. Soldiers often used pre-made "cartridges", which unlike modern cartridges were not inserted whole into the weapon. Instead, they were tubes of paper that contained a pre-measured amount of powder and a lead ball. Although paper cartridges were safer to handle than loose powder, their primary purpose was not safety related at all. Instead, paper cartridges were used mainly because they sped up the loading process. A soldier did not have to take the time to measure out powder when using a paper cartridge. He simply tore open the cartridge, used a small amount of powder to prime the pan, then dumped the remaining powder from the cartridge into the barrel.

The black powder used in flintlocks contained sulfur. If the weapon was not cleaned after use, the powder residue would absorb moisture from the air and would combine it with the sulfur to produce sulfuric acid. This acid would erode the inside of the gun barrel and the lock mechanism. Flintlock weapons that were not properly cleaned and maintained would corrode to the point of being destroyed.

Most flintlocks were produced at a time before modern manufacturing processes became common. Even in mass-produced weapons, parts were often handmade. If a flintlock became damaged, or parts wore out due to age, the damaged parts were not easily replaced. Parts would often have to be filed down, hammered into shape, or otherwise modified so that they would fit, making repairs much more difficult. Machine-made, interchangeable parts began to be used only shortly before flintlocks were replaced by caplocks.

Skalka muszkietu 1
The flint for flintlock – 17th century

Method of operation

Flintlock ignition animation
Flintlock firing
Flintlock ignition movie
Sparks generated by a flintlock mechanism
  • A cock tightly holding a sharp piece of flint is rotated to half-cock, where the sear falls into a safety notch on the tumbler, preventing an accidental discharge.
  • The operator loads the gun, usually from the muzzle end, with black powder from a powder flask, followed by lead shot, a round lead ball, usually wrapped in a piece of paper or a cloth patch, all rammed down with a ramrod that is usually stored on the underside of the barrel. Wadding between the charge and the ball was often used in earlier guns.
  • The flash pan is primed with a small amount of very finely ground gunpowder, and the flashpan lid or frizzen is closed.

The gun is now in a "primed and loaded" state, and this is how it would typically be carried while hunting or if going into battle.

To fire:

  • The cock is further rotated from half-cock to full-cock, releasing the safety lock on the cock.
  • The gun is leveled and the trigger is pulled, releasing the cock holding the flint.
  • The flint strikes the frizzen, a piece of steel on the priming pan lid, opening it and exposing the priming powder.
  • The contact between flint and frizzen produces a shower of sparks (burning pieces of the metal) that is directed into the gunpowder in the flashpan.
  • The powder ignites, and the flash passes through a small hole in the barrel (called a vent or touchhole) that leads to the combustion chamber where it ignites the main powder charge, and the gun discharges.

The Royal Infantry and Continental Army used paper cartridges to load their weapons.[12] The powder charge and ball were instantly available to the soldier inside this small paper envelope. To load a flintlock weapon using a paper cartridge, a soldier would

  • move the cock to the half-cock position;
  • tear the cartridge open with his teeth;
  • fill the flashpan half-full with powder, directing it toward the vent;
  • close the frizzen to keep the priming charge in the pan;
  • pour the rest of the powder down the muzzle and stuff the cartridge in after it;
  • take out the ramrod and ram the ball and cartridge all the way to the breech;
  • replace the ramrod;
  • shoulder the weapon.

The weapon can then be cocked and fired.

Cultural impact

Firearms using some form of flintlock mechanism were the main form of firearm for over 200 years. It was not until Reverend Alexander John Forsyth invented a rudimentary percussion cap system in 1807 that the flintlock system began to decline in popularity. The percussion ignition system was more weatherproof and reliable than the flintlock, but the transition from flintlock to percussion cap was a slow one, and the percussion system was not widely used until around 1830. The Model 1840 U.S. musket was the last flintlock firearm produced for the U.S. military.[13] However, obsolete flintlocks saw action in the earliest days of the American Civil War. For example, in 1861, the Army of Tennessee had over 2,000 flintlock muskets in service.

As a result of the flintlock's long active life, it left lasting marks on the language and on drill and parade. Terms such as: "lock, stock and barrel", "going off half-cocked" and "flash in the pan" remain current in English. In addition, the weapon positions and drill commands that were originally devised to standardize carrying, loading and firing a flintlock weapon remain the standard for drill and display (see manual of arms).

FlintlockFiring

A flintlock musket being fired

Musket

Reproduction flintlock musket detail

Flintlock firearm ignition sequence

See also

Notes

  1. ^ "Pistols: An Illustrated History of Their Impact" by Jeff Kinard. Published by ABC-CLIO, 2004
  2. ^ Flayderman, 1998
  3. ^ Flayderman, 1998
  4. ^ Lynn, John A. Giant of the Grand Siècle: The French Army, 1610-1715. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997. Print.
  5. ^ Jomini, Antoine Henri. The Art of War. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1971. Print.
  6. ^ "What about the rifle?", Popular Science, September 1941
  7. ^ "American Rifle: A Treatise, a Text Book, and a Book of Practical Information in the Use of the Rifle" By Townsend Whelen, Publisher: Paladin Press (July 2006)
  8. ^ Dennis E. Showalter, William J. Astore, Soldiers' lives through history: Volume 3: The early modern world, p.65, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007 ISBN 0-313-33312-2.
  9. ^ Mortimer multishot pistol
  10. ^ Flintlock revolvers
  11. ^ "Elements of military art and history" By Edouard La Barre Duparcq, Nicolas Édouard Delabarre-Duparcq, 1863
  12. ^ Day of Concord and Lexington (French, 1925) p. 25 note 1. See also pp. 27-36.
  13. ^ Flayderman, 1998

Bibliography

  • Flayderman's Guide to Antique Firearms and Their Values 7th Edition, by Norm Flayderman 1998 Krause Publications ISBN 0-87349-313-3, ISBN 978-0-87349-313-0
  • Blackmore, Howard L., Guns and Rifles of the World. Viking Press, New York, 1965
  • Blair, Claude, Pistols of the World. Viking Press, New York, 1968
  • Lenk, Torsten, The Flintlock: its origin and development, translation by Urquhart, G.A., edited by Hayward, J.F. Bramwell House, New York 1965

External links

Action (firearms)

In firearms terminology, an action is the mechanism of a breech-loading weapon that handles the ammunition (loads, locks, fires, extracts and ejects) or the method by which that mechanism works. Actions are technically not present on muzzleloaders, as all are single-shot weapons with a closed off breech. Instead, the ignition mechanism is referred to (Matchlock, Flintlock, etc.)

Actions can be categorized in several ways, including single action versus double action, break action versus bolt action, and others. The term action can also include short, long, and magnum if it is in reference to the length of the rifle's receiver and the length of the bolt. The short action rifle usually can accommodate a cartridge length of 2.8 in (71 mm) or smaller. The long action rifle can accommodate a cartridge of 3.34 in (85 mm), and the magnum action rifle can accommodate cartridges of 3.6 in (91 mm), or longer in length.

Belton flintlock

The Belton flintlock was a repeating flintlock design using superposed loads, conceived by Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, resident Joseph Belton some time prior to 1777. The musket design was offered by Belton to the newly formed Continental Congress in 1777. Belton wrote that the musket could fire eight rounds with one loading, and that he could support his claims "by experimental proof." Belton failed to sell the musket to Congress, and later was unable to sell the design to the British Army a year after the American Revolution. There are no records that indicate that the gun was ever supplied, and it is uncertain if or how exactly the Belton improvement operated.

Caplock mechanism

The caplock mechanism or percussion lock was the successor of the flintlock mechanism in firearm technology, and used a percussion cap struck by the hammer to set off the main charge, rather than using a piece of flint to strike a steel frizzen. The caplock mechanism consists of a hammer, similar to the cock used in a flintlock, and a nipple (sometimes referred to as a "cone"), which holds a small percussion cap. The nipple contains a tube which goes into the barrel. The percussion cap contains a chemical compound called mercuric fulminate or fulminate of mercury, whose chemical formula is Hg(ONC)2. It is made from mercury, nitric acid and alcohol. When the trigger releases the hammer, it strikes the cap, causing the mercuric fulminate to explode. The flames from this explosion travel down the tube in the nipple and enter the barrel, where they ignite the main powder charge.

Doglock

A doglock is a type of lock for firearms that preceded the 'true' flintlock in rifles, muskets, and pistols in the 17th century. Commonly used throughout Europe in the 17th century, it gained popular favor in the British and Dutch military. A doglock carbine was the principal weapon of the harquebusier, the most numerous type of cavalry in the armies of the Thirty Years' War and English Civil War era. Like the snaphance, it was largely supplanted by the flintlock.

Much like the later flintlock devices, it contained the flint, frizzen, and pan, yet had an external catch as a half-cock safety, known as the "dog". This type of lock had no internal, half-cock loading position as the later flintlock mechanism contained. To load a firearm with a dog lock, the cock was secured with the external dog, preventing it from moving forward to strike the frizzen and begin the firing sequence. The user could then safely load the musket or pistol. To fire, the cock was moved to the full-cock position, which caused the dog to fall backward and no longer prevent the lock from firing. A pull of the trigger would then fire the piece. This fell out of favor with the British before 1720. Later flintlocks would contain no such catch, as the half-cock position had been created with the internal parts of the lock.

Flintlock mechanism

The flintlock mechanism is a type of lock used on muskets, pistols, and rifles in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. It is commonly referred to as a "flintlock" (without the word mechanism), though that term is also commonly used for the weapons themselves as a whole, and not just the lock mechanism.

The flintlock, also known as the true flintlock, was developed in France in the early 17th century. It quickly replaced earlier technologies, such as the matchlock and wheellock and the earlier flintlocks. It continued to be in common use for over two centuries, until it was finally replaced by the percussion lock.

Knapping

Knapping is the shaping of flint, chert, obsidian or other conchoidal fracturing stone through the process of lithic reduction to manufacture stone tools, strikers for flintlock firearms, or to produce flat-faced stones for building or facing walls, and flushwork decoration. The original Germanic term "knopp" meant strike, shape, or work, so it could theoretically have referred equally well to making a statue or dice. Modern usage is more specific, referring almost exclusively to the hand-tool pressure-flaking process pictured.

List of individual weapons of the U.S. Armed Forces

This is a list of weapons served individually by the United States armed forces, sorted by type and current level of service. While the general understanding is that crew-served weapons require more than one person to operate them, there are important exceptions in the case of both squad automatic weapons (SAW) and sniper rifles. Within the Table of Organization and Equipment for both the United States Army and the U.S. Marine Corps, these two classes of weapons are understood to be crew-served, as the operator of the weapon (identified as a sniper or as a SAW gunner) has an assistant who carries additional ammunition and associated equipment, acts as a spotter, and is also fully qualified in the operation of the weapon. These weapons are listed under the List of crew-served weapons of the U.S. armed forces.

Miquelet lock

Miquelet lock is a modern term used by collectors and curators, largely in the English-speaking world, for a type of firing mechanism used in muskets and pistols. It is a distinctive form of snaplock, originally as a flint-against-steel ignition form, once prevalent in Spain, Portugal, Italy, the Balkans, North Africa, the Ottoman Empire and throughout Spain's colonies from the late 16th to the mid 19th centuries.

The term miquelet lock was not recorded until the 19th century, long after the appearance of the mechanism in the 16th century, and is of uncertain origin. One commonly held view is that it was coined by British troops in the Peninsular War to describe the style of musket used by the Miquelet (militia) that had been assigned to the Peninsular Army of the Duke of Wellington. In most of Spain, it was traditionally called the "llave de rastrillo", and in Catalonia and Valencia it was called the "pany de pedrenyal" or simply "pedrenyal".

There is often confusion, or at least a difference of opinion, as to what constitutes a snaplock, snaphaunce, miquelet and a flintlock. The term flintlock was, and still is, often applied to any form of friction (flint) lock other than the wheellock with the various forms sub-categorized as snaphaunce, miquelet, English Doglock, Baltic Lock, and French or "true" flintlock ("true" being the final, widely used form). Strictly speaking, all are flintlocks. However, current usage demands the separation of all other forms of flintlock from the so-called "true flintlock".

Model 1816 Musket

The Springfield Model 1816 Musket is a .69 caliber flintlock musket used in the United States during the early 19th century.

Nock gun

The Nock gun was a seven-barrelled flintlock smoothbore firearm used by the Royal Navy during the early stages of the Napoleonic Wars. It is a type of volley gun adapted for ship-to-ship fighting, but was limited in its use because of the powerful recoil and eventually discontinued.Its bizarre appearance and operation has led to it being portrayed in modern fictional works, notably in The Alamo feature film, and the Richard Sharpe series of novels by Bernard Cornwell.

Operation Flintlock (World War II)

Operation Flintlock was the campaign against the Japanese in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific theatre of World War II, from 31 January to 4 February 1944. The operation involved the invasions of Kwajalein, Eniwetok, and Majuro atolls. Admiral Nimitz, Commander of the U. S. Pacific Fleet, chose two islands in Kwajalein Atoll, Roi-Namur Island and Kwajalein Island, as primary targets in the U. S. invasion of the Marshall Islands. Kwajalein Atoll contained communication and weather observation units and two Japanese airstrips on Roi-Namur and Kwajalein Islands, a seaplane base situated at Ebeye Island, a submarine base at Roi-Namur Island, and other Japanese installations scattered on various islands throughout Kwajalein atoll. Kwajalein atoll, particularly Roi-Namur and Kwajalein Islands, were subjected to heavy bombardment. This attack also sank a large number of Japanese ships in Kwajalein Lagoon. Bitter fighting between Japanese forces and the U. S. 4th Marine Division on Roi-Namur, and the U. S. 7th Infantry Division on Kwajalein, resulted in a U. S. victory on 4 February 1944. The attack of the Japanese in the Marshall Islands was the first US attack, and capture, of Japanese territory, since the land was held by Japan before the start of World War II. The capture of Kwajalein Atoll during Operation Flintlock provided American forces with a base of operations that assured the recapture of the Philippines and eventually the fall of Japan.

Operation Flintlock (nuclear test)

The United States's Flintlock nuclear test series was a group of 47 nuclear tests conducted in 1965-1966. These tests followed the Operation Whetstone series and preceded the Operation Latchkey series.

Operation Juniper Shield

Operation Juniper Shield formerly known as Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans Sahara (OEF-TS) is the military operation conducted by the United States and partner nations in the Sahara/Sahel region of Africa, consisting of counterterrorism efforts and policing of arms and drug trafficking across central Africa. It is part of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). The other OEF mission in Africa is Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa (OEF-HOA).

The Congress approved $500 million for the Trans-Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative (TSCTI) over six years to support countries involved in counterterrorism against alleged threats of al-Qaeda operating in African countries, primarily Algeria, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Nigeria, and Morocco. This program builds upon the former Pan Sahel Initiative (PSI), which concluded in December 2004 and focused on weapon and drug trafficking, as well as counterterrorism. TSCTI has both military and non-military components to it. OEF-TS is the military component of the program. Civil affairs elements include USAID educational efforts, airport security, Department of the Treasury, and State Department efforts.Canada deployed teams of less than 15 CSOR members to Mali throughout 2011 to help combat militants in the Sahara. Although the special forces will not engage in combat, they will train the Malian military in basic soldiering. Areas include communications, planning, first aid, and providing aid to the general populace.

Percussion cap

The percussion cap, introduced circa 1820, is a type of single-use ignition device used on muzzleloader firearms that enabled them to fire reliably in any weather conditions. This crucial invention gave rise to the caplock or percussion lock system.

Before this development, firearms used flintlock ignition systems that produced flint-on-steel sparks to ignite a pan of priming powder and thereby fire the gun's main powder charge (the flintlock mechanism replaced older ignition systems such as the matchlock and wheellock). Flintlocks were prone to misfire in wet weather, and many flintlock firearms were later converted to the more reliable percussion system.

Primer (firearms)

In firearms and artillery, the primer () is the chemical and/or device responsible for initiating the propellant combustion that will push the projectiles out of the gun barrel.

In early, black powder guns such as muzzleloaders, the primer was essentially the same chemical as the main propellant (albeit usually in a finer-powdered form), but poured into an external flash pan, where it could be ignited by an ignition source such as a slow match or a flintlock. This external powder was connected through a small opening at the rear of the gun barrel that led to the main charge within the barrel. As gunpowder will not burn when wet, this made it difficult (or even impossible) to fire these types of weapons in rainy or humid conditions.

Modern primers, by contrast, are more specialized and distinct from the main propellant they are designed to ignite. They are of two types, those using shock-sensitive chemicals, and those reliant on chemicals ignited by an electric impulse. In smaller weapons the primer is usually of the first type and integrated into the base of a cartridge. Examples include handgun cartridges, rifle cartridges and shotgun shells. Larger artillery pieces in contrast typically use electric priming. In artillery the primers are frequently a separate component, placed inside the barrel to the rear of the main propellant charge -- but there are other examples of guns, including for example some automatic weapons, designed to shoot cartridges with integral electric primers.

Upon being struck with sufficient force generated by the firing pin, or electrically ignited, primers react chemically to produce heat, which gets transferred to the main propellant charge and ignites it, and this, in turn, propels the projectile. Due to their small size, these primers themselves lack the power to shoot the projectile, but still have enough energy to drive a bullet partway into the barrel — a dangerous condition called a squib load.

Snaphance

A snaphance or snaphaunce is a type of lock for firing a gun or is a gun using that mechanism. The name is Dutch in origin but the mechanism cannot be attributed to the Netherlands with certainty. It is the mechanical progression of the wheellock firing mechanism, and along with the miquelet lock and doglock are predecessors of the flintlock mechanism. It fires from a flint struck against a striker plate above a steel pan to ignite the priming powder which fires the gun. Examples of this firearm can be found through Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.

Snaplock

A snaplock is a type of lock for firing a gun or is a gun fired by such a lock.

A snaplock ignites the (usually muzzleloading) weapon's propellant by means of sparks produced when a spring-powered cock strikes a flint down on to a piece of hardened steel. The snaplock is therefore similar to the snaphaunce (sometimes classed as an advanced type of snaplock) and the later flintlock (see below).

In all snaplocks, the flint is held in a clamp at the end of a bent lever called the cock. When the gun is "cocked", the cock is held back, against the pressure of a spring, by a catch which is part of the trigger mechanism. When the trigger is pulled, the catch is released and the spring moves the cock rapidly forwards. The flint strikes a curved plate of hardened steel, called the "steel". The flint strikes from the steel a shower of white hot steel shavings (sparks) which fall towards the priming powder held in the flash pan. The flash from the pan's ignited primer travels (unless there is only a "flash in the pan") through the touch hole into the firing chamber at the rear of the barrel, and ignites the main charge of gunpowder.Before the weapon is fired, the pan has a closed cover: the mechanism for opening this cover (i.e. manual or automatic) can affect whether the weapon is classed as a snaplock. In fact, the term snaplock may be used in three ways, as follows:

The most general use of snaplock is for any lock which strikes flint against steel but which does not have the defining feature of a true flintlock. This is the frizzen, a single piece of metal which is a combined "steel" and self-opening pan cover.

A more restrictive definition excludes the snaphaunce, more sophisticated weapons with a lateral sear and a pan cover, separate from the steel, that opens automatically.

Sometimes the term is used only for specific Scandinavian, German, and Russian varieties of lock.

Springfield musket

Springfield musket may refer to any one of several types of small arms produced by the Springfield Armory in Springfield, Massachusetts, for the United States armed forces. In modern times, these muskets are commonly referred to by their date of design followed by the name Springfield ("1855 Springfield", for example). However, U.S. Ordnance Department documentation at the time did not use "Springfield" in the name ("Rifle Musket, Model 1855", for example).

They are sometimes incorrectly referred to as "Springfield rifles". Rifles have grooves on the inside of their barrels. Smooth bore muskets do not. The term "Rifled musket" originally referred to smooth bore muskets that later had their barrels rifled. This term was extended to include weapons that were produced with rifled barrels, as long as the overall design was very similar to the original smooth bore musket.

Smoothbore muskets:

Model 1795 Musket First longarm to be manufactured at Springfield.

Model 1812 Musket .69-caliber flintlock musket

Model 1816 Musket .69-caliber flintlock musket

Model 1822 Musket .69-caliber flintlock musket

Model 1835 Musket .69-caliber flintlock musket

Model 1840 Musket .69-caliber flintlock (later percussion) musket

Model 1842 Musket .69-caliber percussion musketRifled musket:

Springfield Model 1855 .58-caliber Rifled Musket

Springfield Model 1861 .58-caliber Rifled Musket

Springfield Model 1863 .58-caliber Rifled MusketOverview:

The Springfield Model 1795 was the first musket to be produced in the United States. It was essentially a direct copy of the French Model 1763 Charleville musket, which had been imported in great numbers during the American Revolution. The War of 1812 revealed many weaknesses in both design and manufacturing, which the Model 1812 sought to correct. The Model 1812 borrowed many design features from the French Model 1777 Charleville musket. The Model 1816 standardized all of the changes that had been made during production of the Model 1812. This design was produced for many years with only minor changes, such as the modification to the sling swivel on the Model 1822. The Model 1835 was likewise very similar in design, but was produced using significantly different manufacturing techniques with an emphasis on machine made parts and parts interchangeability. Minor changes were again made for the Model 1840, which culminated in the Model 1842, which was the first musket to be produced with completely interchangeable, machine-made parts. As these muskets were produced with only minor changes, some historians consider the Models 1816 through 1840 to all be minor variants of a single model type.

The Model 1840 was the last musket to be produced as a flintlock. Many Model 1840 muskets were converted to percussion lock before they made it to the field. The percussion lock was seen as such an improvement that many earlier muskets (all the way back to the Model 1816) had their flint locks replaced with percussion locks.

The 1840s also saw the introduction of the minie ball, which allowed rifled barrels to be used with muzzle-loading black-powder weapons. Model 1840 and 1842 muskets were produced as smoothbore weapons, but many had their barrels rifled after production, causing them to be referred to as rifled muskets. Subsequent models in the series continued to be referred to as rifled muskets, even though they had not been produced as smoothbore weapons originally.

The minie ball, being an elongated, conical bullet, has much more mass than a round ball of the same diameter. Springfield muskets until this time had all used .69 caliber rounds, the same as the Charleville musket that the first Springfield muskets had been based on. The U.S. Army began experimenting with smaller diameter rounds, and settled on .58 caliber for use in rifled muskets, as the .58 caliber minie ball had approximately the same mass as a .69 caliber round ball. The .58 caliber minie ball became standard starting with the Springfield Model 1855.

The Model 1855 also attempted to improve the overall fire rate of the musket by replacing the percussion lock with the Maynard tape primer. This proved to be unreliable, and the Model 1861 reverted to the original percussion lock. The model 1863 featured only minor improvements to the Model 1861, and is often considered to be a variant of that model.

After the U.S. Civil War, many Model 1861/1863 muskets were converted to breech-loading weapons, creating the Model 1865 rifle. After the change from muzzle-loading to breech-loading, these weapons were no longer referred to as rifled muskets and instead were simply referred to as rifles.

Targetmaster

Targetmaster is a subline of the Transformers toyline that include Nebulan sidekicks who can transform into the Transformers' weapons.

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