Testing 17th-century naval ordnance: the Vasa Cannon Project

Author(s): Fred Hocker

Year: 2018


When the Swedish warship Vasa  sailed on its ill-fated maiden voyage in 1628, it was probably the most heavily-armed warship in the world, with a total broadside of over 300 kg. In 2013, the Vasa Museum constructed a replica of one of the guns, a 24-pounder demi-cannon. This was test fired 54 times in order to assess range, accuracy, effect and ergonomic aspects of this type of early modern ordnance as part of a larger project to investigate the tactical capability of 17th-centry warships. Rounds were fired at static targets and at a detailed replica of part of the side of the ship. Instrumentation allowed the measurement of muzzle velocity, accuracy, breech pressure, impact energy and splinter distribution and penetration. This paper summarizes the results of the trials, which include some surprising conclusions about the risk endured by naval crews in the age of broadside gunnery.


Cite this Record

Testing 17th-century naval ordnance: the Vasa Cannon Project. Fred Hocker. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2018 ( tDAR id: 441954)

Spatial Coverage

min long: 11.113; min lat: 55.34 ; max long: 24.167; max lat: 69.06 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 354