Royal Navy 12lb Exploding Spherical Shell
By the 1830’s, Naval tactics were significantly evolving for the first time in centuries of conflict. As manufacturing technology improved, it became possible to produce accurate hollow castings, which could be gunpowder charged, and fused. Early shells had smoothly cast vents, for use with a tapered wooden timed fuse, these later gave way to machined brass ‘Boxer’ type fuses, which could be objectively pierced for time delay prior to detonation.
The purpose of these new exploding projectiles was to maximise damage to the ship’s gun deck crews. As the shell punched through the hull’s wooden planking, the time delay would result in shell explosion within the confines of the ship, causing greater casualty than could be achieved by the hull splinters alone. This type of projectile lasted into the 1860’s, in the last generation of Naval smooth bore artillery – before finally succumbing to the introduction of the Armstrong rifled shell gun.
The shell shown here is of a later type, possessing an integrally cast brass collar, for threaded fitment of a boxer type fuse. The round shot was recovered from a Gerogian Royal Navy raining range, and was fired between the years of circa 1830 and 1860. The projectile has undergone three years of marine conservation, in order to remove the chlorides from the iron, and subsequently stabilise it for survival out of the water.
As the shell is hollow, it does not weight the 12lbs of a solid shot. Instead this denotes the size of gun that the projectile was designed for.