cannonsgunsartillery piecesgunartilleryThe Cannonartillery pieceCannons near12-pounder19th century cannon
A cannon is a type of gun classified as artillery that launches a projectile using propellant.wikipedia
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heavy artilleryordnanceartillery piece
A cannon is a type of gun classified as artillery that launches a projectile using propellant.
As technology improved, lighter, more mobile field artillery cannons developed for battlefield use.

Science and technology of the Song dynasty

Technology of the Song dynastyTechnology of Song DynastyQiao Weiyo
The earliest known depiction of cannon appeared in Song dynasty China as early as the 12th century, however solid archaeological and documentary evidence of cannon do not appear until the 13th century.
The application of new weapons employing the use of gunpowder enabled the Song to ward off its militant enemies—the Liao, Western Xia, and Jin with weapons such as cannons—until its collapse to the Mongol forces of Kublai Khan in the late 13th century.


howitzersHTowed howitzer
In the modern era, the term cannon has fallen into decline, replaced by guns or artillery if not a more specific term such as howitzer or mortar, except for high calibre automatic weapons firing bigger rounds than machine guns, called autocannons.
In the taxonomies of artillery pieces used by European (and European-style) armies in the 17th to 20th centuries, the howitzer stood between the "cannon" (characterized by a longer barrel, larger propelling charges, smaller shells, higher velocities, and flatter trajectories) and the "mortar" (which was meant to fire at even higher angles of ascent and descent).

Dardanelles Gun

Great Turkish Bombard
In 1464 a 16,000 kg (35,000 lbs) cannon known as the Great Turkish Bombard was created in the Ottoman Empire.
The Dardanelles Gun or Great Turkish Bombard (Şahi topu or simply Şahi) is a 15th-century siege cannon, specifically a super-sized bombard, which saw action in the 1807 Dardanelles Operation.


The usage of cannons in the Mongol invasion of Java, led to deployment of cannons (in the form of cetbang breech-loading swivel guns) by Majapahit fleet in 1300s and subsequent near universal use of the swivel-gun and cannons in the Nusantaran archipelago.
The Cetbang was a type of cannon produced and used by the Majapahit Empire (1293–1527) and other kingdoms in the Nusantaran archipelago.


gunsgunnery officerfirearms
A cannon is a type of gun classified as artillery that launches a projectile using propellant.
Around the late 14th century in Europe, smaller and portable hand-held cannons were developed, creating in effect the first smooth-bore personal firearm.


Early cannon in Europe often shot arrows and were known by an assortment of names such as pot-de-fer, tonnoire, ribaldis, and büszenpyle.
The pot-de-fer was a primitive cannon made of iron.

Volley gun

Duck's foot pistolducksfoot pistolfiring two rounds per trigger pull
Fathullah Shirazi, a Persian inhabitant of India who worked for Akbar in the Mughal Empire, developed a volley gun in the 16th century.
In practice the large ones were not particularly more useful than a cannon firing canister shot or grapeshot.


Akbar the GreatEmperor AkbarJalaluddin Muhammed Akbar
Fathullah Shirazi, a Persian inhabitant of India who worked for Akbar in the Mughal Empire, developed a volley gun in the 16th century.
Organisational reforms were accompanied by innovations in cannons, fortifications, and the use of elephants.

Fire lance

fire lancesfire-lanceprototype firearms
The cannon may have appeared as early as the 12th century in China, and was probably a parallel development or evolution of the fire-lance, a short ranged anti-personnel weapon combining a gunpowder-filled tube and a polearm of some sort.
These were placed upon the ground in a supporting framework, and can be considered proto-cannons.

Bastion fort

star forttrace italiennebastion fortress
These new defences became known as bastion forts, after their characteristic shape which attempted to force any advance towards it directly into the firing line of the guns.
A bastion fort or trace italienne (a phrase improperly derived from French, literally meaning Italian outline), is a fortification in a style that evolved during the early modern period of gunpowder when the cannon came to dominate the battlefield.

English cannon

English naval cannongunsmuzzle loading 12-pounder
Despite the increased maneuverability, however, cannon were still the slowest component of the army: a heavy English cannon required 23 horses to transport, while a culverin needed nine.
The first usage of cannon in Great Britain was possibly in 1327, when they were used in battle by the English against the Scots.

Saker (cannon)

sakersakersbrass sakers
Nathaniel Nye is recorded as testing a Birmingham cannon in 1643 and experimenting with a saker in 1645.
The saker was a medium cannon, slightly smaller than a culverin, developed during the early 16th century and often used by the English.

Fall of Constantinople

conquest of Constantinoplesiege of ConstantinopleConstantinople
Sixty-eight super-sized bombards were used by Mehmed the Conqueror to capture Constantinople in 1453.
Recent studies and Ottoman archival data state that there were about 50,000–80,000 Ottoman soldiers including between 5,000 and 10,000 Janissaries, 70 cannons, an elite infantry corps, and thousands of Christian troops, notably 1,500 Serbian cavalry that the Serbian lord Đurađ Branković was forced to supply as part of his obligation to the Ottoman sultan—just a few months before, he had supplied the money for the reconstruction of the walls of Constantinople.

Smokeless powder

smokeless gunpowdersmokelesspowder
In the past, gunpowder was the primary propellant before the invention of smokeless powder during the 19th century.
Cannon powder has the largest pieces.


Instead of majestic towers and merlons, the walls of new fortresses were thick, angled, and sloped, while towers became low and stout; increasing use was also made of earth and brick in breastworks and redoubts.
Crenels designed in later eras for use by cannons were also called embrasures.


The carronade was adopted by the Royal Navy in 1779; the lower muzzle velocity of the round shot when fired from this cannon was intended to create more wooden splinters when hitting the structure of an enemy vessel, as they were believed to be more deadly than the ball by itself.
A carronade is a short, smoothbore, cast-iron cannon which was used by the Royal Navy and first produced by the Carron Company, an ironworks in Falkirk, Scotland.

Long gun

long gunslongarmslong-gun
The carronade was much shorter, and weighed between a third to a quarter of the equivalent long gun; for example, a 32-pounder carronade weighed less than a ton, compared with a 32-pounder long gun, which weighed over 3 tons.
In the context of cannons and mounted firearms an artillery long gun would be contrasted with a howitzer or carronade.

Slow match

fuseincendiary waterproof ropematch
Believing that war was as much a science as an art, his explanations focused on triangulation, arithmetic, theoretical mathematics, and cartography as well as practical considerations such as the ideal specification for gunpowder or slow matches.
Slow match, also called match cord, is the slow-burning cord or twine fuse used by early gunpowder musketeers, artillerymen, and soldiers to ignite matchlock muskets, cannons, shells, and petards.

Ship of the line

ships of the lineship-of-the-lineships-of-the-line
The lower tier of 17th-century English ships of the line were usually equipped with demi-cannon, guns that fired a 32 lb solid shot, and could weigh up to 3400 lb.
She was heavily armed with 78 guns and 91 after an upgrade in the 1530s.

Muslim world

Islamic worldMuslim countriesIslamic countries
There is no clear consensus of when the cannon first appeared in the Islamic world, with dates ranging from 1260 to the mid-14th century.
Each of these three empires had considerable military exploits using the newly developed firearms, especially cannon and small arms, to create their empires.


recoil systemfelt recoilrebound
As the battlefield was muddy, recoil caused cannon to bury themselves into the ground after firing, resulting in slow rates of fire, as more effort was required to move them back into an adequate firing position; also, roundshot did not ricochet with as much force from the wet earth.
In hand-held small arms, the recoil momentum is transferred to the ground through the body of the shooter, while in heavier guns, such as mounted machine guns or cannons, recoil momentum is transferred to the ground through the mount.


Russian sapsapsaps
Careful sapping forward, supported by enfilading ricochets, was a key feature of this system, and it even allowed Vauban to calculate the length of time a siege would take.
Once the saps were close enough, siege engines or cannon could be moved through the trenches to get closer to—and enable firing at—the fortification.

Nuclear artillery

nuclear cannonartillerySpecial Weapons
Nuclear artillery was experimented with, but was abandoned as impractical.
Nuclear artillery is commonly associated with shells delivered by a cannon, but in a technical sense short-range artillery rockets or tactical ballistic missiles are also included.

Late Middle Ages

late medievallate medieval periodlate mediaeval
Gunpowder made the formerly devastating Greek fire obsolete, and with the final fall of Constantinople—which was protected by what were once the strongest walls in Europe—on 29 May 1453, "it was the end of an era in more ways than one."
It was through the use of cannons as siege weapons that major change was brought about; the new methods would eventually change the architectural structure of fortifications.