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 Zulu's And The M.H Rifle sights.

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John

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PostSubject: Zulu's And The M.H Rifle sights.   Tue Jun 21, 2011 12:11 am

I have been looking at various books and websites, to see if there are any actual accounts from either Zulus or British Soldiers that confirms that the Zulu,s didn't know how to work the sights on the M.H The reason I'm asking I was reading through surgical experiences during the Anglo Zulu War, and there some MH wounds on British soldiers. So either the British were very poor shots or the Zulus did have some understanding of the working of the sights. I recall John Dunn making comments about the shots falling short, but this was aimed at the British Soldiers. So if anyone as any account from someone who was there, it would be appreciated. Just one of those things I would like to put to bed.

Thanks in advance.
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Saul David 1879



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PostSubject: Re: Zulu's And The M.H Rifle sights.   Tue Jun 21, 2011 8:36 am

John. There was a reference made to this by Lieutenant Knight, who was present at the Battle of Nyezane.
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Neil Aspinshaw

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PostSubject: Re: Zulu's And The M.H Rifle sights.   Tue Jun 21, 2011 9:05 am

There is no doubt during the adrenalin rush of battle that a soldier simply overlooks the fact that he has not got his sights set properly, it was mentioned at Ginginlovu. However, under musketry order the commanding NCO would call out ranges for volley firing, for example
"ready....at four hundred yards, (soldier sets his sights) one volley,...preeesent!, (a three second pause, one, two, three, ...no order to fire..bang!)

During independent fire, the soldier then makes his mind up, and thats where it goes a bit wrong, the tendency is to blast away, not the kind of thing the victorian soldier did, normally the officer or NCO would state "three rounds, independent fire, commence!", and thats what you did. At that point the soldier would have to asses what he was shooting at, and adjust his sights accordingly, in the intense excitement/terror at that point he simply forgets. After Ghetysburg in the American civil war, muskets were found with up to seven loads in them as the soldier simply kept loading, even though he had had a missfire and the original was in the breech still, the sound and percussions around him he simply did not know his gun had not gone off.

Range evaluation played a big part in the School of Musketry at Hythe, and most NCO's would pass through this in his service, often more than once to attain a first class certificate in musketry, whence he could use that experience when on the range with his men.

So where does all this fit in with the Martini? (and the Snider before it). its all to do with Mr Whitworth and ballistics. the bullet trajectory on a Martini is a downward curve, from 100 yards, so to make the bullet go further, the barrel is raised, Mr Whitworths sights are in sectionalised increments, at 100 level, 200 yards a 5 degree lift, 300 10 degree an upwards, until 45 degrees (approx 1200) yards is acheived. So at 500 yards the bullet fired from prone, will go up 8 feet (2.4m). to come back to ground again. Below is the martini sight ladder, left is the 1-400 yard bed,with sectional lift points. Next is the ladder, you will see the increments 500-1400 yards. You will note the three platinum lines of the ladder leaf, this allows for windage, and bullet deflection caused by side winds at range.
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You will not the differing shapes of the slight slider and the ladder tip, this illustrates the change made from the Mk1 martini sight of 1874-77 (right), then the Mk2 sight with deeper sight notches for more precise aiming (left). Most Mk1's in service were upgraded between 1877-1881 to the new sight ladder.

So with all this to think about, did the average Zulu know how this work?, apart from a few who had shot prior to the war with more powerful cartridge loaded firearms, unlikely. Those who shot musket, shotgun and dodgy Portugese percussion smootbores, which were point and aim would simply not grasp the range = elevation principals, or indeed understand what say 500 yards was in relation to the ladder increments. So, a Zulu aims at a man at 500 yards. level sight, he hits the floor 200 yards before the man. Now, this is where it gets interesting, if he's on a horse....he hits the horse, not the man he's shooting at. Likewise, if he hasn't lowered the sight, at 200 yards, when the ladder is up at 500, it flies over his head.

Ideally the best setting for a teenie against a human is 200 yards, at that range, a lethal shot will be achieved between 100 and 400.

Sorry if I lost you all but its gravity, velocity, distance and adreanlin..
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Saul David 1879



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PostSubject: Re: Zulu's And The M.H Rifle sights.   Tue Jun 21, 2011 9:09 am

John. Forgot to mention. Knight was in the Buffs. Might help to find it easier.
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Saul David 1879



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PostSubject: Re: Zulu's And The M.H Rifle sights.   Tue Jun 21, 2011 9:18 am

Neill. You really must turn you knowledge into a publication.
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Neil Aspinshaw

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PostSubject: Re: Zulu's And The M.H Rifle sights.   Tue Jun 21, 2011 9:34 am

Time, Saul, time, I spent three hours casting lead bullets at the weekend, you know when you've had enough when your gums turn blue!.

Actually, it was interesting when I did the BBC filming at Brecon with the Modern soldiers and the Martini in April, they soon grasped the Whitworth sights and they all were asking about zeroing, they were a bit surprised at my answer, Zeroing?... on a... martini?, well,if you know it shoots high and left you aim low and right. doh!.
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littlehand

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PostSubject: Re: Zulu's And The M.H Rifle sights.   Tue Jun 21, 2011 1:36 pm

John. Mentioned by S.D

Lieutenant Knight of the Buffs believed this was due to the close range at which
much ofthe firing was carried out He wrote:

"... Their want of skill (in firing) may be attributed to a great measure to a
misapprehension as to the use of the sights of their rifles. Knowing that when a
white man wants to hit an object a long way off he puts up his back sight. They
concluded that the effect of so doing is to cause the rifle to shoot harder, and
wishing to develop the full power of their arms at all times, they invariably used
their rifles with the back sight up, a misconception to which many a British
soldier owes his life."

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PostSubject: Re: Zulu's And The M.H Rifle sights.   Mon Jul 04, 2011 9:13 pm

This from Colonel Evelyn Wood " Camp Kambula March 30th 1879.
Directed to The Deputy Adjutant- General.

"The enemy, well supplied with Martini-Henry rifles and ammunition, occupied a hill not seen from the laager, and opened so accurate and enfilade fire,though at long range, that i was obliged to withdraw a company of the 13th posted at the rear of the laager"
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PostSubject: Re: Zulu's And The M.H Rifle sights.   Mon Jul 04, 2011 9:29 pm

And another from the same letter.

"Our loss would have been much less severe than it was but for the fact of many of the Zulus being armed with the Martini- Henry rifles which were captured at Isandlwana and the Intombi River. Parties of the enemy armed with these splendid weapons finding cover under the rocks to the east and in a fold in the ground to the west kept up an enfilading fire from 600 to 1'000 yards, which inflicted all the serious damage of the day"
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Neil Aspinshaw

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PostSubject: Re: Zulu's And The M.H Rifle sights.   Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:02 pm

Littlehand

Casualties at the REAR FACE (my emphasis) points to plunging fire, i.e rounds clearing the intended target (the front face) and overshooting into the position behind. by 800 yards the bullet fall trajectory is decreasing, at 1000 its near on 45 degrees, at 1400 less than 30.
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24th

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PostSubject: Re: Zulu's And The M.H Rifle sights.   Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:26 pm

See what you mean. So it was unlucky for those in the rear for being in the exact spot where the bullets were landing. although they was the intended target
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