A Better Rifle at Halloween

I belive only Austria had a picric acid based explosive that was shock stable enough to reliable penetrate armour. But even they were switching over to tnt as it was safer to manufacture.
Ecrasite? I didn't realize it was that stable. Did it not have a couple of unexplained premature explosions early on?
 
Ecrasite? I didn't realize it was that stable. Did it not have a couple of unexplained premature explosions early on?
from what i understand Ecrasite like all picric acid based explosives had issues with forming unstable metal salts when in contact to copper alloys used in detonators.

Though looking at the source I found on ecrasite it was a report from US observation of Austria's acceptance trials and private demonstrations by the manufacturers in 1902 so no idea how well they performed during the war
 
Not that I know of. I think the French were still using Melinite, which is very similar in composition to Lyddite, though they may have moved on from that by WW1. I am not sure. The US used Dunnite which is also based on picric acid. Japanese shimose powder was a home grown variant of Lyddite AIUI.

AFAIK the only nation using a filler based on Toluene was Germany. It is more expensive to make, and harder to get, and requires more work to set off (hence the fuze). Its main perceived advantage was its safety which most nations did not think was a problem before WW1. Likewise the British did not recognize that the Lyddite filling was causing HE shells to burst on the armour rather than behind it. I imagine if other nations mixes did the same, they were no more aware of it than the British.

The depth of knowledge you possess absolutely blows my mind..... 🍻
 
Fort D’ Emines New
10th September 1914, Namur.
Dawn arrived slowly, the German commanders had surveyed the shattered remnant of the failed attack two days prior and decided on a change of plan. The attack would commence as soon as there was sufficient light for the attacking division to pick its way through the shattered and blasted landscape. The high explosive shells fired by the German guns had dug massive craters all through the attack zone, where they struck the trenches and breastworks used by the French and Belgian defenders, they shattered them or blasted great holes in the defences. But for every shell that hit a trench or a breastwork two or three went long or short, wasting their power blasting great gouts of soil into the air, destroying trees, ploughing through fences, pulverising drains, it was as if a delinquent giant had taken to the area with a hoe, with no thought but destruction in mind.
The whistles sounded again, the infantry had once again infiltrated as far forward as they could, in fact from the steady stream of casualties that trickled back from the attacking regiments showed that they had evaluated the risk of being killed by their own artillery as less than having to cover another 50 or 100 yards under rifle and machine gun fire. The decision was a prudent one, the guns ceased firing and the infantry were up and moving forward quickly, the defenders scrambled through their own shattered defences to man their guns. They won the race, the machine guns fired, stuttering out death in steady bursts, they played the stream of bullets over the attacking Germans, at the same time the riflemen began firing adding more whistling death to the steadily brightening dawn.
The attacking infantry, shook of the deaths of their comrades, scarcely flinching as a heavy tithe was taken of their ranks, they rapidly gained the first line of trenches, bayonets flashed as outnumbered French defenders were rapidly pushed out from the first line. The attackers paused but only briefly, they redressed their lines and continued the attack. The second line of defences around the fortress was weaker than the first, the attack gained the second line with greater ease, there were fewer machine guns in this line and the defenders had clearly expected the first line to have greater effect and with the failure of the first line, the second shattered like cast iron hit with a hammer.
The final objective was the thoroughly ruined defences of the Fort itself; the defenders were Belgian and they had been equally unsettled by the failure of their infantry defenders, but they were fighting for their homes and they were filled both with hatred for the invader and a desire live up to the heroic standard of Liege. The fortress would hold for hours, but eventually the weight of infantry and the destructive power of the guns would prevail, Fort D’ Emines had also fallen, now the way into Namur had opened saving for hasty trenches which ringed the town.
 
A New Advisor New
10th September 1914, London.

Winston Churchill was furious, he had had to listen Sir John French pouring scorn on the French Army again. The French and Belgian Army were on the defensive, General Joffre had accepted the total failure of Plan XVII, Joffre had been desperately trying to reinforce his troops holding back the German tide. Plan XVII had called for swift attack into Alsace and Lorraine but it had been defeated, thousands of French soldiers had died and no real ground had been gained, if anything the Germans had captured ground in the disputed regions from France. Hundreds of thousands were dead, wounded or captured and the German steam roller was swinging into France, it had been delayed by the stout defence of Liege but the Germans were advancing. They were threatening Lille, a vital rail hub through which much of the supplies for the BEF flowed. The defenders drawn from the 82nd Territorial Division, reinforced with men from the garrison of Dunkirk and any other available troops numbered approximately 20,000 men.
Sir John was demanding that the BEF disengage from the fighting it was doing on the Mons-Condee Canal and retire towards Mauberge or St Quesnoy, “The damned French are beaten, Namur will fall and the BEF will be captured” was his plaintive complaint, Sir John was aware that a retreat such as this would expose the French Army which was desperately holding Namur to possible envelopment and certainly require them to retreat themselves to avoid this, the fall of Namur would further unhinge the defences along the Meuse potentially causing the loss of much of northern France.
Churchill was nothing if not decisive, “Sir John, we cannot win this war without risk. We cannot win this war without France, you advise that we betray our gallant ally, I accept your resignation as my principle military advisor, you may leave now”
Sir John spluttered impotently, his mouth opening and closing, Churchill snapped “just get out, I have work to do”, with that Sir John Turned on his heel and retreated. Churchill picked up the phone on his desk and instructed the voice on the other end “Get me General Grierson”
 
10th September 1914, London.

Winston Churchill was furious, he had had to listen Sir John French pouring scorn on the French Army again. The French and Belgian Army were on the defensive, General Joffre had accepted the total failure of Plan XVII, Joffre had been desperately trying to reinforce his troops holding back the German tide. Plan XVII had called for swift attack into Alsace and Lorraine but it had been defeated, thousands of French soldiers had died and no real ground had been gained, if anything the Germans had captured ground in the disputed regions from France. Hundreds of thousands were dead, wounded or captured and the German steam roller was swinging into France, it had been delayed by the stout defence of Liege but the Germans were advancing. They were threatening Lille, a vital rail hub through which much of the supplies for the BEF flowed. The defenders drawn from the 82nd Territorial Division, reinforced with men from the garrison of Dunkirk and any other available troops numbered approximately 20,000 men.
Sir John was demanding that the BEF disengage from the fighting it was doing on the Mons-Condee Canal and retire towards Mauberge or St Quesnoy, “The damned French are beaten, Namur will fall and the BEF will be captured” was his plaintive complaint, Sir John was aware that a retreat such as this would expose the French Army which was desperately holding Namur to possible envelopment and certainly require them to retreat themselves to avoid this, the fall of Namur would further unhinge the defences along the Meuse potentially causing the loss of much of northern France.
Churchill was nothing if not decisive, “Sir John, we cannot win this war without risk. We cannot win this war without France, you advise that we betray our gallant ally, I accept your resignation as my principle military advisor, you may leave now”
Sir John spluttered impotently, his mouth opening and closing, Churchill snapped “just get out, I have work to do”, with that Sir John Turned on his heel and retreated. Churchill picked up the phone on his desk and instructed the voice on the other end “Get me General Grierson”
Of course they don't know that OTL's situation was much more desperate 😉
 
Back at Rules New
10TH September 1914, London.

Winston Churchill was back at Rules, his usual table in private room, with him was his new advisor General Grierson, they were discussing the progress of the war. Churchill was quizzing Grierson on how he thought the war should be fought. “Guns, its guns that will win it, Liege fell because the Germans blasted their way in, infantry against unsuppressed machine guns is a blood bath, when we go on the attack our guns will have to smash the German defences and pin down their reserves. As it stands, we don’t have the guns to do that, our 4.5” Howitzer and 60 pounder gun, fire a useful high explosive shell, but we have few of them. Our 18 pounder guns are next to useless, we have plenty of shrapnel shells they can smash up an attack but can’t cut barbed wire or damage trenches or breastworks.” He paused took a sip of the water that was by his hand and carried on, “the other thing we don’t have anywhere enough shells, neither shrapnel of which we have more or high explosive of which we have nothing like sufficient.”
A waiter arrived to take their order, Churchill was surprised to notice that Sir James Grierson ordered plainly grilled steak with steamed vegetables, Churchill commented recalling that Sir James was a well-known gourmand, the General merely grunted “Doctors orders”
Churchill knew something of the limitations of the artillery, he had spent a lot of time with Admiral Scott who could only curse the artillery limitations of the Royal Navy and the unwillingness of Sir John French to accept the offer of additional guns from old naval reserves. Grierson was keen to bring into service as many of the artillery pieces as possible and had agreed to send territorial artillerymen and new recruits for training as soon as the improvised gun carriages were ready.
“Lille is likely to fall, the French garrison occupies the old citadel and the later defences but they are old and will not stand much artillery, especially the super heavy guns which the Germans seem to have in abundance. We must secure the ports on the coast, we must send more men to France.” What do we have available, Churchill asked, he was as aware of the status of the territorial forces, but he needed to hear what Grierson would say. “We have another 8 divisions of the territorial force here in Britain. Several of those divisions are to be deployed to the empire to take over for Regular units. They will leave most of their artillery and transport units here but the infantry will go out to replace the regulars. Only in Egypt, India and South Africa do we have formed brigades to replace but there are regular battalions deployed all over the world that can return to Britain for service in France. This will take time, the Indian Army units will be in France in October and they will be most welcome but they also lack the heavy guns we need.
The Welsh, West Riding, Highland and Lowland divisions are all available, the Highland division has been suffering a measles epidemic and have almost 400 men in hospital, ideally the Highlanders will stay here until their men are recovered and they can make up for the training they have missed.”
Churchill was pleased by the succinct way in which Grierson had given his summary of the current position, he was glad the man was available to him. It had been mentioned that he had fallen somewhat afoul of Sir John French, this fact alone not to mention that he had been a keen student of the German Army had suggested him for the role when Churchill had finally decided on the need to replace Sir John.
Churchill mentioned to Grierson the existence of the Royal Naval Division, Sir John snorted “they will be keen no doubt but most are naval ratings, they didn’t volunteer to be foot soldiers, they don’t have enough artillery or machine guns, keep them in Britain, you will need them soon enough if this war goes for as long as I think it will. The Royal Marines on the other hand they might be useful, Ostend and Zeebrugge have a solid garrison but German Cavalry are advancing on Nieuwport, the Royal Marine Brigade could go ashore there and guard it. They can hold off Cavalry easily enough and secure more of the coastline for us. Orders can be issued to two more territorial divisions to go to France, if they land in Calais they can deploy to Hazebrouck and hold that that it will secure the railway junction and protect the coast. But the French must hold Lille, they must hold.” The two men continued their lunch and their discussions, more British Troops would deploy to France.
 
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