one of the great problems with this thread is that many people are speaking of a singular design for cannister. This is simply not true. Designs varied by calibre, across time and by nation. Each design would have behaved with some peculiarities.
Therefore it is an absurdity to try and define exactly what cannister did without also specifying the specific munition. Imagine a conversation about cars in which one person insists that they can go 300 kph. Another person says that's not possible because he's never seen them go that fast. A third person says that he doubts it since his particular car's speedometer doesn't go that high. A fourth person points out that cars routinely go faster than that at races. Who's right? EVERYONE.
So people, can we PLEASE either focus on one particular munition, or be specific in which munitions you are discussing. Let me start by asking:
Kevin - what particular munitions are you speaking of? For example, I recall you using Elting as substantiation. On what was he basing his statement and for what (or all) cannister type rounds?
Stephen - what particular munitions are you speaking of? For example, I recall you mentioning accounts that described unburst cannister. Please identify these accounts and indicate the nature of the munition.
Next, we see a development over time in anti-personnel munition from the expedient of pouring musket balls down the barrel to packaged munitions, then eventually to bursting charges such as shrapnel.
What were the purposes of packaging the balls? Obviously convenience, ease of handling, speed of loading et cetera. What specific features were different designs attempting to achieve?
Now we hit the contentious question of when the cannister burst. Some people have contended that it seems to have disintegrated at the instant of discharge, others have suggested that a simple observation of the materials suggest that is simply unrealistic. Errr, gents, WHICH design are you basing your statements on? CONTEXT PLEASE!
Some people have suggested that the rattling of loose balls in the barrel caused excessive wear. REFERENCES TO SPECIFIC OBSERVATIONS ON BARREL WEAR PLEASE!
If rattling of balls was a problem and if the solution was to have a more enduring container, then this would be a deliberate design. Please provide references to sources discussing the merits of different cannister designs. Please include references that conclude it is desirable to have the cannister burst later rather than sooner. Where a source is in favour of late rupture, what is the mechanism by which it is intended to burst, and where is it intended to burst - further down the barrel, at the muzzle, on exiting the barrel, during flight?
As a simple man, it would seem to me that the optimum would be to have a cannister that travelled down the barrel without touching the sides, then disappeared at the muzzle. Such a design would spare the barrel and impart similar ballistic trajectories to all balls in the cannister. Were any cannister type munitions designed to perform this way, and if so, please provide references? Also as a simple man I see huge design challenges to creating a munition that would execute this scenario given available materials and manufacturing facilities.
As for cannister bursting at the target, I don't think that any cannister was designed to do that. Shrapnel was intended to burst slightly in advance of the target, but it had a secondary charge incorporated for that purpose, and the fuse had to be correctly cutt by the gunner. All the test data collated by writers such as Scharnhorst make it clear that the balls in cannister-type munitions are spreading on a cone well before the target is reached. The logical assumption is that the cone originates from the muzzle, or the cannister itself if it ruptures after leaving the barrel.
In short people, CONTEXT is everything. This particular thread has a lot of shouting, but no one is clear about what they are talking.
For those that have made statements of fact, please go back through your posts and provide clarity about the particular design of which you speak (calibre, system, nation et cetera) and provide references substantiating your statement. Without these two points of data, your statements are not very useful. If you provide one and not the other your claim may be viewed as either a useless generalization or a baseless claim. At present this thread is producing a lot of noise, but very little communication.
It is clear that there were HUGE variations in the design of anti-personnel rounds. These variations are critical to the discussion and one simply cannot speak of the varying designs as a singular group except in the coursest sense.
I'll end this rant here, by requesting participants to employ at least some self-discipline about generalized statements. Be clear what munition you are describing and be clear how your statement is substantiated. Thanks in advance,