18th Century Cannon technology being used in Syria

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The Rahman Corps is a Syrian Rebel group operating in the Damascus region. It is independent of the Free Syrian Army, but is on friendly terms with the opposition group. Via the group’s Youtube channel, some videos have been released showing what appears to either a century old cannon or an improvised construction of one, fired by a lanyard, mounted on truck with a complex hydraulic assisted system. It is hard to tell at this time if it is muzzle loaded or breech loaded.

In the first propaganda video, the cannon is being fired at a building with active traffic behind it, leading me to believe it was just that, propaganda. Instead of an actual engagement with an enemy opposition group. If you look very closely, at the radio tower in the picture, you can see the actual projectile a second before it lands on the building. I’m assuming that this is straight cannonball technology, without any High Explosive charge within the projectile, due to the minimal destruction on target.

This is what Nathan F. had to say about the contraption-

Yes, it resembles an old pre-breechloader cannon, but I don’t think it actually is. For example, those were typically mounted to trunnions about their center of gravity, while this cannon has trunnions at the very rear. Also, even though they have adopted reinforcements and a “nipple” that appear similar to an old gun (but which actually appears to be some kind of firing or breech mechanism) , the rest of the cannon looks totally improvised. Third, the mount is obviously derived from a hydraulic system from a dump truck or other kind of vehicle, so it’s not historical, either.

That means that if anything from an original muzzleloading cannon were incorporated, we basically couldn’t see it. So I say improvised.

In all the footage there isn’t anybody remotely near the actual cannon, leading me to assume that the gunners themselves realize how dangerously it could go wrong with bad construction or a bad charge.

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These are three videos that filmed the cannon in action, by the Syrian Rebel group.



Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


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  • JustAHologram

    I have zero doubt that it can disable most vehicles and put holes in buildings

    • Anonymoose

      If it works, it works!

    • Major Tom

      Although I can imagine the “WTF just hit us?” bewilderment a modern tank or IFV crew would have from such a thing bouncing clean off their everything.

      • JustAHologram

        Would they be using explosive or solid rounds in that thing

        • Major Tom

          Does it matter? Modern armor is not really defeated by cannonballs or cannonball explosives.

          • JustAHologram

            Well one is confusing the other might be mistaken for a modern mortar system at first

          • Dan

            In the last video it looked like the projectile was long and after it landed it blew up after a few seconds. I would not doubt for a second that they would shove whatever they could fit in there.

          • Jonathan Ferguson

            Yes, definitely an explosive shell, probably pipe-bomb style, although I have no idea how they are fusing it. No-one visibly running away having dropped the projectile down the barrel.

          • Tassiebush

            I suspect that this war probably has a lot of targets that wouldn’t fit the description of modern armour. It looks to me like it was all focussed on knocking down buildings.

          • Jonathan Ferguson

            It’s not an anti-armour weapon though is it?

      • marathag

        That happened in WWI when British pre-dreadnoughts were shelling old Ottoman Forts in the Dardanelles.

        They returned fire with modern German cannons, and older pieces.

        I believe it was HMS Agamemnon, during post battle repairs, discovered a large, stone cannon ball.

        Seems some of those guns were very old, indeed.

        • Joshua

          If memory serves me there was a German battleship encountered something similar in Norway during WWII, as I recall the order of the day was to “keep the guns aligned fore and aft in disdain for the defending gunners” The defending gunners proceeded to hit them twice with their antiquated cannons, starting a fire that detonated one of the powder magazines and sunk the ship.

  • Ambassador Vader

    That’s what you get when you release angry birds to the middle east.

  • codfilet

    Royal Nonesuch artillery brigade……

    • Major Tom

      More like Royally Nonsense artillery brigade amirite?

  • Martin M

    Now that is kicking it old school.

    So retro, those pictures need to be sepia.

    • Major Tom

      Nah, they need to be painted portraitures.

  • Vhyrus

    They’re getting medieval on them out there.

    • xebat

      Fits with the ideology they believe in xD

    • Major Tom

      Needs more longbow and cavalry charges.

    • Klaus Von Schmitto

      Next thing you know they’ll be using Colt 1911’s.

  • Phillip Cooper

    I’m torn on this. Hearing someone yell “Allah akhbar” before setting off a charge is just about never a good thing.

  • BetelgeuseOrion

    i usually have random old ass units floating around in Civilization 5/6, and then when i find them late in the game i laugh and send them up against modern armor or mech infrantry. didn’t think it would happen in real life.

  • DanGoodShot

    Arr me matey, go get me gold!

  • Dr. James Russell, PhD

    That’s no cannon ball, the projectile is explosive.

    • JustAHologram

      They had explosive cannon balls

  • lbeacham

    These people are defiantly trying to turn back the clock. Back to sun-dials.

    • Major Tom

      Sundials are heresy to these people.

    • Phillip Cooper

      Well, some do say it’s a 6th-century death cult, after all…

  • Wolfgar

    In the last video, the projectile looked like a large pipe bomb with a very long delay before it exploded. Whats next pumpkin chuckers?

    • roguetechie

      Considering that I’ve already seen trebuchets and slingshots more than once…

      Now if only we can get them to build a Roman legion style Scorpion repeating ballista my life will be complete!

      Hell with something like a Simon breaching munition that could actually work fairly well.

      • Phillip Cooper

        You had me at ballista.

        Now my employer would like to chat with you. Something about me getting lost in the mire that is Wikipedia, looking for “Simon breaching munition”.

  • Cannoneer No. 4

    Has anybody identified this piece yet? Looks British to me.

    • Bjørn Vermo

      Looks to me like it is homemade. An heavy pipe with a reinforcing ring around the muzzle end, and a thicker tube fitting around the breach end. Probably not rifled, so it can be loaded like a mortar.

    • Jonathan Ferguson

      In what way?

      • Cannoneer No. 4

        In a Flashman Zulu War/1st Boer War/2nd Afghan War way.

  • SP mclaughlin

    Technicals of the line?

  • Martin Grønsdal

    Why change something that works. Oh, wait

  • David David FTW

    More like “Ramen” corps with that broke-ass setup.

  • Nergyl

    They should play the 1812 Overture during salvos.

  • Tom Currie

    OBVIOUSLY NOT an 18th Century cannon in the first photo, since the video that still was taken from clearly shows a recoil mechanism and what is almost certainly a percussion firing mechanism — and, of course, it is firing what is probably a modern artillery shell, which strongly suggests a rifled barrel (which makes sense since rifled barrels were standard before the first recoil mechanism like that was fielded).

    • Jonathan Ferguson

      Agreed. It only vaguely resembles a traditional cannon, although it may well be muzzle-loaded.

      • Andy

        Another board I’m on seemed to think it’s a late 19th C French 155mm, of a type known to have been deployed to Syria while under French rule.

        • Secundius

          A cannon expert on 18th and 19th Century Gun-Powder Artillery. Identified them to be Model 1857 12-Pounder Napoleons capable of firing a ~9-pound Projectile (~117.348mm diameter) ~1,480-meters…

    • Armstong Krupp

      It is a Schneider C17s based barrel with modified recoil and breech. This was a WWI era gun widely used and copied which probably still has shells in armories left over from the Ottomans or the French or even the Russians. The Breech mechanism is unique and might be adapted from a 19th Century interrupted screw type of gun.

  • Jeff Smith

    I know a lot of people are weary of Syrian refugees, but look on the bright side – they’re FANTASTIC gunsmiths!

    • Major Tom

      The gunsmiths are the ones staying behind.

      • Phillip Cooper

        They’re the ones with the cajones to fight.

  • Uniform223

    necessity is the mother of invention or at least in this case… improvise

    Also if the shoe fits…

  • Tassiebush

    That use would have to void the warranty on a truck

  • Tacflo
    • Phillip Cooper

      I’ll bite.

      What in the hell is going on here?

      • A.WChuck

        Ersatz grenade launcher?

        • 22winmag

          Captured from the Jewish resistance in Warsaw?

    • Blake

      Spring-powered grenade catapult?

  • Stephen Paraski

    Part of the old Palace stash?

  • Jake

    why is there an argument over whether the hajis strapped an actual relic to a truck? who cares? is there some kind of group for the responsible use of historical cannonades?

  • Phillip Cooper

    How does one make a cannonball, anyway? I can’t imagine they have facilities to smelt and forge..

  • Gary Kirk

    Looks like something out of an Expendables movie..

  • Realist

    What’s next…a Brown Bess firefight?

  • 7.62x54r

    These are hell cannons used to launch canisters at the civilian population and infrastructure. US-Saudi-Qatari mercenaries destroy non-military targets with them. Americans posting here think this is fun and games, but it is this the war crime that Bush, Obama and Hillary put in motion

  • A Fascist Corgi

    Freaking epic.

  • USMC03Vet

    Someone has been playing Battlefield 4 DLC…..

  • Aaron E

    Brings a whole other meaning to “I’m going to go medieval on your ass!”

  • Wonder if they applied for their country”s $200 tax stamp for destructive devices. 😅😅😅

  • Silence Dogood

    Hillary’s ISIS fighters……

  • Secundius

    Whatever Works! Makes a Great Percussion Battering Ram against Cement and Brick Building and Fortifications…

  • FLAG WAVER

    Big rubble to small rubble.

  • Joshua

    well, my memory is far from perfect, it’s still a funny story of “obsolete” not equating to ineffectual.

  • Rocketman

    There’s an old saying “No weapon system is totally obsolete.” “Just ask anyone who’s ever been hit in the head with a rock.”

  • Phillip Cooper

    Excellent points, I’ll read the article later.