Did some searching with no desired results. This was the closest topic to what I am about to ask.
What I am looking for is any info on the history of artillery orientation. I am well versed in any orientation device that has been used in the last 20 years and the likely future technologies, but I am having difficulty finding documents that describe past orientation methods.
I am aware of most magnetic compasses i.e T-16, C2 aiming circle, prismatic compass etc. Also, I am familiar with the gyro used by surveyors in the late 90s, that was re-engineered into the GLPS.
The questions I have and the history I am looking for are:
When did true indirect fire start and who invented it? i.e. the use of orientation and fixation to hit non line of sight (NLOS) or indirect targets.
What methods have been used for gun aiming for NLOS targets throughout history? I am aware of using aiming points in between the gun and the target in order to line them up; I am looking for more modern battery survey type methods i.e compasses.
Assuming the first type of battery survey was done with magnetic compass or sextant type devices, what were the types and accuracies of them?
General McNaughton (General Leslie's grandfather) invented sound ranging in WWI. What did he use for orientation of the microphones?
When did gyrocompasses first get used?
I know that's a lot but any help would be appreciated. No need to paraphrase or explain any documents or external links, just the link will be sufficient.
I think indirect fire predates the First World War, but a lot of the evidence is spare. I have a 1910 Book which discusses it (it also talks about air defence) but not in a lot of detail. Perhaps you should do some digging into coastal artillery systems as it evolved into something approaching indirect by the early years of the 20th century. If you get up to the Ottawa area, I will let you dig in my library, which is fairly extensive.
I have a 1914 copy of "Handbook of Artillery Instruments". This book is a description of the various peices of observation, orientation and fixation devices in service at that time in the British Empire. The book doesn't tell you how to use the devices tactically, but reading between the lines, it is clear (to me anyway) that the point of all these devices was so that a distant observer could direct the fire of a particular Battery of guns (note- no mention is made of any unit of Guns above Battery. I would infer that that development came sometime in the next 12-24 months) at a target not observable from the gun position.
I suspect you are correct. In the Great War the British gunners did well, but the command and control was rudimentary, at least in the early years. An example with an interesting twist. At Second Ypres in April 1917 a battery commander realized that the 8th Battalion CEF was going to be attacked by overwhelming German forces and no Canadian guns were within range. So this officer on his own moved his battery forward and supported the Little Black Devils during their epic defence of Gravenstafel Ridge. The battery commander was Major Henry Crerar.
My readings indicate that a Russian fellow wrote a manual on indirect fire in 1882, and the Germans produced a similar manual afterwards. The Russian manual used terms such as "aiming points", "crest clearance" and corrections to be used by observers. Indirect fire was used on a fairly large scale by both sides in the Russo-Japanese War (1904/05). One of the major technological breakthroughts that permitted indirect fire was so-called "quick firing" artillery. These were guns with recoil systems that we all take for granted but were quite revolutionary at the time. Recoil systems meant that the gun stayed in the same position after firing, which meant that you could actually predict with some reasonable hope of hitting the same place again with your next shot. This made accuracy and adjustments possible over distances.
Despite observing this during the Russo-Japanese War the major armies entered the First World War planning to fire their artillery direct. They quickly had to adapt to the fire-swept modern battlefield and employ indirect fire.
You are spot in with most of your post. The only place where I would dispute you was in the term "quick firing." This did not refer to the presence of a recoil system. Instead it referred to the use of a one piece round with the means of obturation (the prevention of gas escaping backwards out of the breech) by the use of a cartridge case that also held the projectile. The other main method was termed breech loading which had the projectile and charge loaded separately.
From what I am reading, at the time of their introduction guns equipped with recoil systems were given the name "quick firing" with the axial recoil being the major breakthrough that led to that term being given (Ian Hogg's "The Guns 1914-18" is the closest book to hand right now). My readings indicate that they were called "quick firing" because the crew didn't have to get clear of the gun before firing and the gun would not need to be pushed back into place.
I note, however, that these guns (the French 75mm being the first and most famous) also had one piece ammunition with the features you describe. Perhaps the term "QF" has slightly different meanings depending on the period and nationality?
Thanks everyone for the replies so far. The pieces are starting to come together and all the posts are matching with what I have found. All the info I am getting is mostly from Wiki.
The earliest mention of indirect fire is, and was invented by an Italian mathematician/surveyor named Niccolò Fontana Tartaglia (1550-1557) that aligned cannons and targets with intermediate pickets. This seemed to be the method that stayed in use until the early 1900s.
As Tango has said, I found Russian Lt Col KG Guk, that in 1882 introduced the use of geometry and measurement of angles compared to the target, but he still didn't have the device (goniometer) to measure the angles. This device was invented by the Germans in 1890, a device they called a lining-plate (never heard it called that before).
SeaKing's book for the beginning of WWI maybe the first mention of magnetic compasses used for orientation. SeaKing, is there a section titled "orientation of director" or something along those lines and does it mention magnetic compass?
This would be in line with General McNaughton's use of sound ranging, which I am assuming that he used magnetic compasses. He could have used map coordinates and with a little math and intervisibility between microphones, could have oriented them that way. Still not sure.
Michael's gunnery manuals from 1928 talk about directors on the last two pages and it seems that the compass was still separate from the director, unlike modern survey instruments that it is built in.
After some advice from Old Sweat to look for coast artillery stuff I found this. It's a US coast artillery book from 1918 that maybe the first publication that goes into detail about modern survey and orientation methods. It has all the stuff that we have used up until the 90s and could still potentially use in the future, as long as we keep a few dinosaurs in. These skills have certainly fell of the table in recent years. Only a small handful of guys can still do this kind of stuff.
It's a pretty awesome site for American pubs. You can search pretty much anything. Found some stuff on the Positional Azimuth Determing System (PADS), which is a system I was aware of. The US Army introduced it in 1985. This maybe the first use of gyros for Arty orientation.