Midst Toil And Tribulation – Snippet 28

Midst Toil And Tribulation – Snippet 28

“All right!” Huntyr exclaimed, then clamped his mouth shut, blushing, but no one seemed to care, really. They were all too busy listening to the sound coming from the blast furnace — a sound of rushing air, growing louder and louder, challenging even the noise of the steam engine so close at hand. The steam-powered blowers of the forced draft system were bigger and more powerful than anything the Delthak Works had built yet, even for the furnaces driven by the hydro-accumulators, and Howsmyn beamed as Tairham slapped Huntyr on the back while they blew steadily harder and harder in time with the engine’s gathering speed.

“Well,” Wylsynn said loudly over the sound of the engine and the blowers, “it hasn’t blown up yet, at any rate.”

“I suppose there’s still time,” Howsmyn replied, still beaming. “But what say you and I retreat to the comfort of my office while we wait for the inevitable disaster?”

“I think that’s an excellent idea, Master Howsmyn. Especially since I understand you’ve recently received a shipment from Her Majesty’ favorite distillery back in Chisholm.”

“Why, I believe I have,” Howsmyn agreed. He looked at his employees. “Zosh, I want you and Kahlvyn to keep an eye on it for another — oh, half an hour. Then I want you, Nahrmahn, and Brahd to join me and the Father in my office. I think we’ll all have quite a few things to discuss at that point.” He flashed another smile. “After all, now that he’s let us get this toy up and running, it’s time to tell him about all of our other ideas, isn’t it?”

“Yes, Sir,” Huntyr agreed with just a shade less enthusiasm than his employer, and Howsmyn bowed to Wylsynn.

“After you, Father.”

* * * * * * * * * *

“I must confess I really did feel a moment or two of . . . anxiety,” Paityr Wylsynn admitted ten minutes later, standing at Howsmyn’s office windows and gazing out across the incredible, frenetic activity. “I know the design was approved by Owl, and I know his remotes were actually monitoring quality control all the way through, but all joking aside, it would’ve been a disaster if that thing had blown up! Too many people would’ve seen it as proof of Jwo-jeng’s judgment, no matter who’d attested it. I hate to think how far back that would’ve set the entire project, not to mention undermining my own authority as Intendant.”

“I know.” Howsmyn stepped up beside him and handed him a glass half-filled with amber liquid. “And, to be honest, I’d’ve felt better myself if I’d simply been able to hand Zosh a set of plans and tell him to build the damned thing. But we really needed him to work it out for himself based on the ‘hints’ Rahzhyr and I were able to give him.” He shrugged. “And he did. In fact, he and Nahrmahn did us proud. That single-cylinder initial design of theirs worked almost perfectly, and the two-cylinder is actually a lot more powerful than I expected — or, rather, it’s turned out to be a lot more efficient at moving a canal boat. Propeller design’s more complicated than I’d anticipated, but with Owl to help me slip in the occasional suggestion, they’ve managed to overcome each problem as it made itself known.

“But the really important thing — the critical thing — is that I’ve got a whole layer of management now, here and at the other foundries, who’re actually coming up with suggestions I haven’t even so much as whispered about yet. And best of all, we’ve documented every step of the process in which Zosh and Nahrmahn — oh, and let’s not forget Master Praigyr — came up with this design. We’ve got sketches, diagrams, office memos, everything. Nobody’s going to be able to claim one of Shan-wei’s demons just appeared in a cloud of smoke and brimstone and left the thing behind him!”

“Oh, don’t be silly, Ehdwyrd! Of course they are.” Wylsynn shook his head. “Zhaspahr Clyntahn’s never let the truth get in his way before — what makes you think he’s going let it happen now? Besides, when you come down to it, that’s almost exactly what did happen. I mean, wouldn’t you call Merlin one of Shan-wei’s ‘demons’? I use the term in the most approving possible fashion, you understand. And while I’d never want to sound as if I’m complaining, just breathing out there does put one firmly in mind of ‘smoke and brimstone,’ you know.”

“Yes, I do know,” Howsmyn sighed, his expression suddenly less cheerful as he gazed out at the pall of coal smoke which hung perpetually over the Delthak Works. It was visible for miles, he knew, just as he knew about the pollution working its way into Ithmyn’s Lake despite all he could do to contain it. “In fact, I hate it. We’re doing everything we can to minimize the consequences, and I’m making damned sure my people’s drinking water is piped down from upriver from the works, but all this smoke isn’t doing a thing for their lungs. Or for their kids’ lungs, either.” He grimaced and took a quick, angry sip from his glass. “God, I wish we could go to electricity!”

“At least you’ve given them decent housing, as far from the foundry as you can put it,” Wylsynn said after a moment, resting his left hand on the other man’s shoulder. He didn’t mention the schools, or the hospitals, that went with that housing, but he didn’t need to. “And I wish we could go to electricity, too, but even assuming the bombardment system didn’t decide to wipe us all out, daring to profane the Rakurai would be the proof of our apostasy.”

“I know. I know!”

Howsmyn took another, less hasty sip, savoring the Chisholmian whiskey as it deserved to be savored . . . or closer to it, at any rate. Then he half-turned from the window to face Wylsynn fully.

“But I’m not thinking just about health reasons, either. I’ve done a lot to increase productivity per man hour, which is why we’re so far in front of anything the Temple Loyalists have, but I haven’t been able to set up a true assembly-line, and you know it.”

Wylsynn nodded, although the truth was that his own admission to the inner circle was recent enough he was still only starting to really explore the data stored in Owl’s memory. The AI was an incredibly patient librarian, but he wasn’t very intuitive, which hampered his ability to help guide Wylsynn’s research, and there was a limit to the number of hours Wylsynn could spend reading through several thousand years of history and information, no matter how addictive it might be. Or perhaps especially because of how addictive it was.

“I know you and Merlin’ve been talking about that — about ‘assembly-lines,’ I mean — for a while,” he said, “but I confess I’m still more than a little hazy on what you’re getting at. It seems to me you’re already doing a lot more efficient job of assembling things than I can imagine anyone else doing!”


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51 Responses to Midst Toil And Tribulation – Snippet 28

  1. Allan G says:

    Sounds like Mr Weber needs to talk to a good process engineer. Electrostatic precipitators are one solution, but at this tech level a good bag house filter works too. You just need to be able to weave glass fiber. (A heat exchanger to cool the out flow gas to under 500 degrees to avoid melting the filter bags helps too (and improves efficency if you use this to heat the incoming air) (big boiler tech 201)). Induced Draft fans to match the Forced Draft help manage the air flow too. (Dust from the bag house is recycled into the furnace).

    • Lee Parker says:

      Glass fiber for baghouse filters may not be necessary. This is after all, a work of fiction, and Steel Thistle silk may work even better. As for heat exchangers, etc. DW has to leave room for future improvements.

  2. Nimitz13 says:

    Canal boats? Propeller design? I realize in the previous snippet that Paityr said he’d been in Howsmyn’s steam-powered boat, but that probably used the single cylinder design, not the much more powerful two cylinder design that Paityr is here to approve. The “canal boat” Howsmyn already has in use probably employs the new two-cylinder engine, presumably to tow loads of coal, iron ore, coke, steel, iron, etc. to where they are needed.

    Since Howsmyn already has canal boats with powerful steam engines in use, the ICN must already be interested via the inner-circle. I realize the engines we’re seeing in this snippet won’t drive a battleship, but the war in Siddarmark is a war of logistics, and a great deal of those logistics require canals – and Howsmyn has just added steam engines to boats that can travel through them. Add some guns and steel armor and I’m reminded of the ironclads from the book “1634- The Baltic War” which the MWW co-wrote with Eric Flint. It looks like the MWW just gave us a Big Hint about a new weapon the EoC may have soon.

    The EoC is about to enter a shooting war in Siddarmark where control of the canals is crucial. I’ll admit that getting a boat designed for smooth water across the rough seas to the canals where they’re needed won’t be a trivial task. A small fleet of heavily armed steam-powered boats would be invaluable in seizing and controlling the choke points in northern and southern Siddarmark, and would cut off resupply for the invading armies who have already passed those choke points.

    The technology is now available and could be critical. So will we see steam-powered canals boats, possibly ironclads, and if so, will they appear in this book or the next? We haven’t seen any evidence that the ICN is building any canal boats, but it’s early yet in the book and who knows how many two-cylinder engines Howsmyn has built – or can build? With access to OWL there won’t be any mistakes in building ironclads either, so if the ICN is thinking in that direction, we ought to see them pretty soon. So the $64k questions are: “When will the ICN start building steam-powered canal boats, and how soon can they get some to Siddarmark?

    I wonder what Thirsk will think if his galleons, which are now “competitive” because they have exploding shells, run into an ICN ironclad? (Assuming any of his ships survive to report back of course!) Bleek!

    • Spktyr says:

      I don’t think Thirsk will be thinking much of anything for very long if the ship he’s personally on encounters an ironclad unless he’s lucky enough to get captured or smart enough to surrender. Historically, the only thing that could stop a Terran ironclad in battle was another ironclad, short of suicidal ramming attacks (with special ram-equipped ships) that usually didn’t actually work because if you mounted a ram on a wooden ship, it usually got blown into driftwood long before it could ram.

      Even without what we’d think of as ironclads (post-Virginia/Monitor), steam in and of itself was usually a decisive factor in any Terran naval battle even prior to the advent of ironclads. The *only* time a fleet action of steam vs. sail didn’t result in an outright steam win was when the Mexican Navy (with *significant* British technical support and ‘advisors’ – the commanders and officers of the Mexican steamers were experienced British Royal Navy) fought the Texas Navy with elements of the Yucatan Navy in 1843. At the Battle of Campeche, Commodore Edwin Ward Moore fought a detachment of one of the world’s then-better navies, serving as a proxy and ‘reflag’ for the world’s reputedly best navy, to a draw. He had an all-sail fleet consisting of 1 Texas sloop-of-war and 1 Texas brig, plus 2 schooners and 5 gunboats from the Yucatan Navy; arrayed against him were 3 of the most advanced warships of the day – British-built and -commanded steamers – with 2 brigs and 2 schooners backing them.

      Somehow Moore managed to not only fight the most advanced warships in the world to a draw with warships that were at least 13 years older, he also managed to inflict far more casualties despite the fact that his enemies could fire exploding shells and he couldn’t. This was pretty much a fluke in terms of history; it is the singular, only, never-repeated incident that could possibly be even vaguely considered a victory of steam over sail. Every other meeting, steam won.

      Thirsk may be good; I don’t think he’s that good. And at this point, I don’t think the CoGA would accept a ‘draw’, either.

      • DKCWong says:

        Thirsk is in a bad situation. His fleet is or shortly will be become technically inferior even if he retains numeric superiority. Much like Stalin did to ensure the loyality of his generals, the Go4 is holding his family in ‘protective custody’ so Thirsk can’t lose or surrender. He certainly can’t win against the ICN. Don’t know if Merlin and Company can pull off another rescue, but I’m sure if it could be done, Thirsk will have the backbone to reject any order that has him tossing his ships and men into a meat grinder even if it means his own life. Of course his replacement might still likely carry out such an order.

    • Allan G says:

      A triple expansion engine large enough to run a serious forced draft fan (at say 1000hp or 750kW) on a blast furnace may not be large enough to drive a battleship, but a destroyer / frigate of WW1 size would still be larger than any of the sail driven warships around and much faster under any conditions than a oar powered galley. (You need to remenber that they would also have access to high quality marine hull designs as well which should help the speed too).
      Add rapid fire breach loading guns and you could certainly scare the hell out of the opposition (and run rings round them (and possibly right through them in the case of the more lightly built galleys)).
      Building an equivalent to a WW2 Liberty ship (with three engines, should give a cruising speed of round 11 knots, about twice the speed that a good sail powered battleship can reliably make) would also be a viable option and would have a serious transoceanic range.
      This is getting interesting….

      • jmbm says:

        Their triple expansion engines are 1900 technology. But they do not have breech loading quick firing artillery, fire control systems or steel hulls; there, they are still in the 1860s.

        A 1905 destroyer with triple expansion coal fired engines:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_class_destroyer and an
        Or a 1908 light cruiser:

      • Sq_rigger says:

        From the maps, Safehold is significantly larger than Earth. WWI destroyers only carried enough coal for 56-60 hours of steaming before they’d need to be refuelled. This was a major consideration for both sides at the Battle of Jutland. Destroyers just aren’t going to have a long-enough operational radius to be useful until underway replenishment techniques (probably using fuel oil) are developed.

        On the other hand, late-19th- and early-20th-century cruisers were designed to have significant operational radius. They typically mounted about double the firepower of a destroyer on a hull with about three times the destroyer’s displacement, and used a major portion of the extra displacement for fuel bunkerage. That gave them operational radii upwards of 5,000 miles without refuelling at a speed only a few knots less than a destroyer.

        • BobG says:

          You are certainly right about range problems – which is why Great Britain established coaling stations all over the world. I can certainly see EoC having coaling stations all over the Empire, but unless they find deserted islands and establish caches there, that may be a limiting factor.

          Any hypothetical canal ironclads will have to be resupplied with coal and shells and food, and how that will be done is DW’s problem.

          • Allan G says:

            The other option is fleet colliers, but this limits the speed of the fleet to the slowest collier tagging along. Given Glacierheart has the coal, offshore basing may well be an option.
            Ship to ship coal transfer is certianly possible and I can think of a number of solutions to that technical challenge, but yes oil is easier (you need the oil first though and I don’t believe the infrastructure exists (no oil wells to start with….)).
            Liberty ship types could serve as the basis of both colliers, landing craft motherships or troopers or even armed merchant cruisers / commerce raiders (Kormoran?).

        • JimHacker says:

          why do you think safehold is larger? I’m pretty sure it states in the first book that safehold is slightly smaller but also a bit more dense than earth. I may be mistaken though.

          • Robert H. Woodman says:

            I don’t know if it is the first book or not, but I have read the same thing somewhere. Safehold is smaller and more dense, thus, having about the same gravity as Earth. It also has slightly greater variations by season, IIRC.

    • JeffM says:

      Oh, puh-leeze, Nimitz! As if you hadn’t known about these “canal boats” ages ago! :D

      Just to answer your question, Thirsk isn’t the person to wonder about. Because whenever one of his ships DOES run into an ironclad, it will be the entire fleet–and he’ll be with it.

      Or sitting in Charis with his family. One of the two.

  3. MATL says:

    We steam boats, ironclads, revolvers (even if only Merlin has them so far), and locomotives – I have to wonder if we will be seeing a chain gun soon. Thats one way to level to person imbalance between the EoC and the armies the Go4 can field – especially since earlier snippets make it seem that the G04 will soon have an army equipped with exploding artillery, and rifles as well.

    Not to mention the introspection and horror that chain guns will inevitably bring

    • Doubting Thomas says:

      I’d take the exploding artillery with a grain of salt. Yes they have a working copy (or at least know how to make one), but can they produce enough of them to make a difference? Remember, they are using small foundaries, that each have their own idea of what an inch really is, shells to fit the guns, maybe, then again maybe not. The same arguments apply to the rifles, standard parts is a HUGE concept that CoGA hasn’t grasped yet.

      • Bob G says:

        Actually, if they make the exploding shells in a lot of small foundries, then I wonder how many will misfire, either blowing up in the tube, shattering on impact, or just not exploding. Without quality control, the shells and fuses will be “less reliable” than those from Howsmyn’s facilities. And as an artillerist, having unreliable shells added to unreliable cannon is just one more reason to slow rate of fire so that there are less opportunities to kill oneself.

        • Matthew says:

          Both of these things is certainly true, but I think the books said something about number of foundries making up for some of that, so that their total production is actually nearly what the EOC can manage.

  4. Zak says:

    Well one thing is for sure. The meat grinder is about to be unleashed. The highest body counts in this war up to now will seem like a small thing. I’m thinking this is going to turn into nasty trench warfare and Mr. God complex is going to learn the hard way about fighting a war on two fronts. In fact I’m thinking that as a result of his move. The Empire will not be threatened by another huge Church backed fleet. Because the meat grinding is going to eat man and gear at a rate he never dreamed of in his worst nightmare.

    • Doubting Thomas says:

      How many men did the British loose in the battle of the Somme? You are right if it devolves into trench warfare.

      • Zak says:

        They lost close to 60,000 on the opening day and per the Wiki page the Somme Offenesive as it’s also called started July 1, 1916 to November 1916 and by late autum of 1916 the forces had suffered more than 1 million casualties. Yup think they will learn standing in nice little line shooting at each other is not the way to fight a war

        • JeffM says:

          Hello? Trench warfare only evolves when the two sides are roughly equivalent. Not. Gonna. Happen.

          • Drak Bibliophile says:

            Or you sure of that?

            Think of David Weber’s Haven-Manticore wars.

            Charis is more advanced than the rest of Safehold but the rest of Safehold isn’t stupid.

            IMO it isn’t likely that Charis will remain “so highly advanced” that trench warfare won’t be possible.

            About the best we can say is that Charis won’t make the mistakes that happened in WWI trench warfare.

            • JeffM says:

              What I actually meant was the immense losses, because a stalemate MIGHT exist–but Charisian commanders will know that there are more tech advances in the chute, and have no need to attack suicidally. And TL forces will quickly learn how futilely suicidal such attacks are on their part.

              All that aside from Charis’ enhanced mobility of the seas. “Oh, you have trenches there? Well, we’ll just sail over HERE then. Oh, you’re pulling all of your troops BACK to cover, you say? Huh!”

          • JimHacker says:

            Trench warfare doesn’t happen when sides are equal – what you get then is a long-lasting war. Trench warfare happens when defensive, emplaced weapons or fortifications are significantly stronger than offensive weapons available to both sides. Relative strength doesn’t matter, unless one side is utterly overwhelming (by, say, an order of magnitude). Neither sides can attack, so they each take ‘offensive’ ever-encroaching defensive positions. The same happened with siege warfare between 1500 and 1700 (aka, the Dutch method). Conversely, you get lots of field battles when offensive weaponry can overwhelm defensive without too much difficulty – as was the case 1700 to 1850 and 1935 to present day.

            • Matthew says:

              Far more important than weapons power is communications and transport speed. There were many wasted breakthroughs and openings in WWI that would have been exploited in WWII, but there were no squad based radios and no really good support transportation in WWI so things that could have been major breakthroughs went nowhere.

          • Zak says:

            Yes Charis is better armed. But they are out numbered and can’e be everywhere at once. This is a cut and paste from a Wikipedia page.

            Trench warfare occurred when a military revolution in firepower was not matched by similar advances in mobility, resulting in a grueling form of warfare in which the defense held the advantage. In World War I, both sides constructed elaborate trench and dugout systems opposing each other along a front, protected from assault by barbed wire. The area between opposing trench lines (known as “no man’s land”) was fully exposed to artillery fire from both sides. Attacks, even if successful, often sustained severe casualties as a matter of course.

            I know the other side is not at the Empire’s level of weapons. But they have numbers and it’s and How is the Charis army getting there? Walking so it’s not going to be a fast war. It’s going to be one trench at a time.

            • Allan G says:

              The answer to trench warfare is tanks packing as much punch as the fixed implacements facing them. (The tanks are mobile pill boxes in the simplest measure).
              Unless the soldiers in the trenches have effective antitank weapons they are mincemeat.
              To make tanks practical you need internal combustion engines (steam power plants are generally too heavy (that said, steam powered light aircraft have been flown, so anythings possible)) – given restrictions on electrical power that means diesels or gas turbines (and gas turbines are a little beyond current manufacturing technology levels (steam turbines need to be first)). Diesels are possible and marginally harder than a basic steam engine (1895’s technology, vegetable oil for fuel?).

              • Spktyr says:

                Tanks weren’t the only solution to trench warfare, just one of the more practical ones. Improved tactics, better communications and shells that work as designed (many of the British ones didn’t, for example) all can contribute to resolving trench warfare on a tactical level. For example, actually pounding the enemy trench line and making the Maxim gunners keep their heads down while your infantry advances under cover of a ‘walking barrage’ is a proven effective method of dealing with the problem, if you can carry it out.

              • JimHacker says:

                Tanks can be a ‘counter’ to trench warfare, but so long as they remain relatively crude they don’t render it useless, especially if you have problems getting sufficient numbers (which you probably will). Tanks are generally more useful against hardened bunkers and emplacemnts rather than trenches.
                What seriously degrades the utility of trenches is the general introduction of hand-held automatic weapons and easily carried and deployed machine guns. When this happens it greatly reduces the defenders’ firepower advantage. It would appear at first glance that the defenders would still retain a major advantage, being dug in. However, the inherent tactical inflexibility of trenches will generally counter-balance this.

                @Spktyr – Better tactics, coms and shells can allow an attacker to overcome a trench system, but they will still take very heavy losses doing so unless they have mobile similar firepower. And the sheer density of barrage required from artillery to be effective is astonishing. So while it can ‘resolve’ it, it is still going to be a major part of warfare.

                Its only the introduction of tanks and personal automatic weapons which seriously degrade trench warfare’s utility in a 1900s technology-level war, and these combined with good quality air power render it near suicidal. But that isn’t going to happen on safehold for a long time.

                I’m not even sure we will see true trench wrfare on safehold any time soon. Currently the balance of power is slightly in favor of offense – and the most likely side to be capable of changing that balance is the EoC. Given the strategic situation, it will hurt the EoC much more than it will hurt the army of god. If i were them I would withhold any advances on machine guns etc in the same way they previously withheld rifled artillery.

              • Matthew says:

                Far more important than any weapons technology, radio technology and supply transport that is not animal powered is the most powerful of the factors that kept WWII from devolving into defensive warfare most places. Radios allow the exploitation of openings that were typically missed in WWI and rapid supply transport allowed for the army to move at its best pace and not be hampered by its supply lines.

            • JimHacker says:

              Yes it’s true that mobility plays a part in whether or not you get trench warfare, but its not so much the mobility of troops that’s the matter but the mobility of your force projection. Trench warfare happened not because troops were too slow, but because machine guns and artillery were even slower and had to stop and deploy to be of use – limiting them to a defensive role. The weapons that were mobile and thus could be used offensively simply didn’t compare to the firepower any defending force could mass againt them. Thus both sides deployed defensive weapons in an offensive posture and dared the enemy to come to them, hoping to win by attrition. In short, it is not mobility of troops but the relative mobility of different types of firepower which dictate trench or siege warfare. Which may well happen on safehold, but probably not before there have been more developments in defensive firepower – for example, some kind of crude machine gun and rifled breech-loading artillery.

              • Bryan says:

                It’s not just the mobility of your weapons that you have to consider. In Van Creveld’s book ‘Logistics’ he attributes that stalemate of WWI largely to the fact that supply requirements per soldier increased tenfold in the space of a generation while at the same time, armies exploded in size. Your forces in WWI couldn’t move far from the railheads and still sustain themselves. This a much as any advance in defensive firepower caused the slogging match in WWI.

                To avoid these problems and have a modern army that is still mobile, you need some reliable internal combustion engines. Or maybe a viable water route.

              • JimHacker says:

                @Bryan, won’t let me reply to you.

                Certainly logistics played a bigger role than advances in firepower to the stalemate in WWI. Stalemate does not equate to trench warfare however. I would argue that even if the logistics situation had been different, trench warfare would still have occured but the stalemate would have been broken much more quickly. On the other hand, if it was the available weaponry of the time that were different, you would still get a stalemate – just one that took a very different form.

              • Spktyr says:

                @Bryan Can’t reply to you directly either.

                No, it doesn’t require an internal combustion engine. A practical, relatively lightweight steam powered automobile was developed on Terra, and it worked quite well. In fact, not just one, but multiple practical vehicles were developed. May I remind you of the Stanley Motor Carriage Company and their “Steamers”?


                Also, the Doble Steam Motors company?


              • Matthew says:

                The other huge limiting factor was communications via runners. Radio communications had an enormous effect on warfare, probably far more important than the machine gun actually.

          • Spktyr says:

            Trench warfare generally happens when one side has rapid-fire repeating high capacity firearms and the other side:

            1. Doesn’t.
            2. Has figured out that charging the machine guns unsupported is a good way to lose soldiers and nothing else.
            3. Has also figured out that they have to go on the defensive and that above-surface fortifications are nothing but fodder for direct-fire weapons.
            4. Has enough time to construct trenches to protect their troops and slow the advance of the opposing forces to a crawl at best as trenches must be taken one by one.

            Or some combination of the above. It has zilch to do with “nearly equal forces”.

            So look for the smarter CoGA commanders to start trench fortifications once something like the Gatling gun makes an appearance they figure this out. Fun fact – the US Civil War was *very* close to going to trench warfare towards the end in the South.

            By the way, unlike the later Maxims (which required the crew to set up a bulky and cumbersome water cooling plumbing arrangement), the Gatling could actually advance with the troops on a small cassion (not quickly, and it definitely had troubles doing it, but it could.) See the Battle of San Juan Hill, where three manually cranked US Gatlings poured over 18,000 rounds in less than nine minutes into the Spanish positions making the Spanish very unhappy (not to mention very dead,) then advanced to follow the US infantry. The Spanish then decided to shell the Americans that had taken the hill, and a pair of Gatlings introduced the Spanish battery to the concept of fully automatic counterbattery fire. Chambered in .30-40, they managed to engage and silence the hostile 160mm Spanish artillery piece from 1800 meters away. The Spanish were even more unhappy about that.

            More info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_San_Juan_Hill#Gatling_supporting_fire

            Automatic weapons (and the Gatling is a spectacularly effective one) change everything on the battlefield. They are now just within the EoC’s technological reach to build, field and feed.

            The US was the first to field ‘machine guns’ – unfortunately the lessons learned during the Civil War and subsequent actions up to the outbreak of hostilities in WW1 were completely ignored or disregarded by European generals with the corresponding enormous loss of life when they did stupid things like ordering essentially unsupported troops to charge into the field of fire of the Maxim guns on the Somme.

            • JimHacker says:

              Trench warfare does not absolutely require machine guns, it just needs the imbalance of firepower the machine gun brings about. Something very simi;ar happened back with siege warfare 1500 to 1700 – no-one wanted to assault a wall so the weakest force (unless commanded by an idiot) would always retreat into a town or city behind a wall. The largest force would be unable to breach the walls unless it had at least a 3 to 1 advantage and even then it would take heavy losses (contemporary doctrine went). But instead of just surrounding the besieged, they would build their own fortifications and trench system surrounding the besieged, so that they would also have the defensive advantage if the besieged attempted to sally. This started to dissappear after 1750 or so, as offensive weapons regained the advantage – so Napoleon had lots of open field battles.

              |The gattling may be relatively mobile, but it still needs to deploy. It can do so very quickly compared to contempary weaponry, but in the face of an enemy machine gun its crew probably won’t get around to deploying in the first place. You pretty much have to set up out of range of the enemy unless they don’t have automatic weaponry.

            • TimC says:

              Lessons of Civil War ignored in Europe. Absolutely, perhaps because the other later wars fought by Britain were the Boer war and the Sudan , and Kitchener distinguished himself in both. Facing native warriors in Sudan and skirmishing Boer fighters did not rub in the lessons of Picketts charge, the various sieges around Richmnond or of Shiloh. maybe Churchill was right to support the Gallipoli campaign to turn the corner of the Austro Hungarian empire-but then it became yet another trench battle when they landed in the wrong place!

    • ric says:

      Anyone for a steam powered tank?

      • Bob G says:

        I’m surprised that no one commented on this

        “I know you and Merlin’ve been talking about that — about ‘assembly-lines,’ I mean — for a while,” he said, “but I confess I’m still more than a little hazy on what you’re getting at. It seems to me you’re already doing a lot more efficient job of assembling things than I can imagine anyone else doing!”

        As soon as EoC combines machine (or water) power based factories with assembly lines, they should see another jump in production efficiency. Having multiple stations, each set up to specifically 1 thing, in the context of making things like rifles or revolvers, should have a dramatic effect.

  5. tootall says:

    I, for one, really appreciate all the various things all you guys bring to this site.

  6. JD says:

    Still, fully automatic weapons using cased, primed cartridges need a lot of infrastructure. Brass, priming compounds, powder, smokeless or not, and so forth. It’s labor and resource intensive. On the other hand something like Katyusha rockets and launchers should be well within “current” technology and manufacturing. Granted they aren’t a pin point accuracy weapon but they are very good at large scale targets, breathing or otherwise. With incendiary or fragmentation heads, ground troop encampments and staging areas would be toast. Oh, yeah and they are relatively cheap to make.

    • JimHacker says:

      I agree that fully automatic weapons are a way off – that’s why I don’t think we’ll see trench warfare anytime soon, especially as trench warfare needs at least something like a Gatling or Maxim and trench warfare would work infavor of the Go4 so I don’t see the EoC being keen on introducing them.

      I certainly agree that ‘Katyusha’ are well within current technology. However, I strongly disagree with their utility. Not only are they wildly innacurate, they aren’t really all that effective unless you can fully saturate an area. They aren’t good at targeting structures and even if they hit they just have a surface blast. What’s more, they can’t have big warheads unless you hav a much better propellant than black powder. There are a few specific situations where rockets would be better than normal artillery but the logistics of manufacturing, constantly upgrading, delivering to the front, supplying with ammunition, training crews and getting in position two entirely different types of weapon system which largely do the same thing – long range bombardment – would be a major headache. In most situations, artillery is better than or equal to rockets. What’s more, EoC already has the beginnnings of very good artillery and much experience using it aboard ship.

      • Doubting Thomas says:

        We’ve already seen trench warfare at Tarbor Pass in BHD. When standing in the open will just get you killed, dig a hole to crawl into.

        • JimHacker says:

          We did see it then – but only due to a set of highly irregular circumstances. In Tarbor pass the Corisandian army did not have the weaponry to take on the Charisians in a field battle – if they did have they would have. Instead they relied on their emplaced cannons (which had less range but quicker reloading time than Charisan cannon, so had the advantage in constricted space) to keep the Charisians back. The Charisians themselves kept the Corisandians back with their fast loading rifles. I think we’re unlikely to see this specific set of circumstances arise again. Yet we still will see trenches when the situation predisposes it.

          However, when i say I don’t expect to see trench warfare, I meant on a strategic scale (like WWI). Trench warfare has been a part of defense networks since at least Roman times. Its just that the relative utlility of this varies depending on the weaponry of the time. Trenches always have been and probably always will be a part of defensive warfare. I fully expect that Charis and Siddarmark’s forces will either come across (eg, when assaulting a city or pass) or use trenches (eg, when trying to hold a position against superior numbers) from time to time. But it will be on a tactical scale and I don’t think we’re going to see a static war, but a mobile (albeit rather slow due to logistics) one, at least at first. So its going to be more like the American Civil War or WWII than the Eighty Year War or WWI.

      • Matthew says:

        Defensive warfare/trench warfare has nothing to do with the weapons and everything to do with communications and transport. If the army can’t move fast enough to keep the enemy on the run or outflank him effectively and both sides have vaguely equivalent force levels then you can get defensive warfare. I think we definitely could see some of it in this or the next book.

        The problem is that through the secret technologies that the EOC have they are already far beyond 1940’s radio in communications advantage, at least whenever there’s a member of the inner circle around.

    • Allan G says:

      More like Congreve rockets. More flash than bang.
      Katyusha’s (like all unguided long range rockets) are not particularly effective as they are wildly inaccurate and thus are only good for keeping peoples heads down and scaring the pants off the unaware (looks spectacular but otherwise is just another fireworks display).
      You get more bang for the buck from mortar and machinegun fire as less propellant is required and the projectile is lighter and simplier.

  7. Scott says:

    I’m surprised no one has suggested the flamethrower. Greek fire flamethrowers were used historicly. Nothing like a tongue of fire to convince a defender to be elsewhere.

    • KenJ says:

      Fires of Shan Wei? IMHO, I don’t think that EoC needs that kind of publicity. Also, while effective when used properly, it is still a HELLISH way to kill someone.

      • Robert H. Woodman says:

        Yes, it is a horrible way to kill someone, but that’s the point of war isn’t it? One side wants to kill the other side or at least force the other side to surrender.

        • Matthew says:

          I think you’ll see it if the EOC has to fight any major defensive positions as that’s where they are the most effective anyway, in assaulting fortifications.

          You may actually see the other side develop them first though, and wouldn’t that be amusing…

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