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Falconet (cannon)

The falconet or falcon was a light cannon developed in the late 15th century. During middle ages guns were decorated with engravings of reptiles, birds or beasts depending on their size: a snake for the culverin, as the handles on the early cannons were often decorated to resemble serpents. The falconet fired small yet lethal shot of similar weight and size to a bird of prey, and so was decorated with a falcon; similarly the musket was associated with the sparrowhawk due to its deadly accuracy.

 

Its barrel was approximately 4 feet (1.2 m) long, had a caliber of 2 inches (5 cm) and weighed approximately 500 pounds (227 kg). The falconet used 0.5 pounds (0.23 kg) of black powder to fire a 1 pound (0.5 kg) round shot approximately 5,000 feet (1,524 m). They could also be used to fire grapeshot.

The falconet resembled an oversized matchlock musket with two wheels attached to improve mobility. In 1620s Germany a breechloading version was invented, seeing action in the Thirty Years War. Many falconets were in use during the English Civil War as they were lighter and cheaper than the culverins, sakers and minions. During times of unrest they were used by the nobility to defend their grand houses.

Though developed for use on land, the falconet gained naval prominence during the 17th century for the defence of light vessels; for example, on small boats for boarding manoeuvres. They were heavily used in the American Revolutionary War by both the British and the Colonists.

Part of the series on

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History

Cannon in the Middle Ages

Naval artillery in the Age of Sail

Field artillery in the US Civil War

Operation

Breech-loading

Muzzleloading

List of cannon projectiles

By Country

English cannon

Korean cannon

By Type

Hand cannon

Autocannon

Falconet

Saker

Demi-culverin

Culverin

Demi-cannon

Field gun

Howitzer

Mortar

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