Dynamite Guns (1890s)

Reader Steve Skubbinna wrote in regarding a most interesting device …

“It’s from a somewhat later period, and is pneumatic, not steam, but the Zelinsky dynamite gun was built and installed on the “Dynamite Cruiser” USS Vesuvius in the late 1880’s. It was understood that an explosive charge of dynamite would be much more powerful than the black and brown powders used at the time, but it would be too sensitive to be projected from a conventional gun.

Hence a US Army officer, Zelinsky, designed and built a 15 inch gun for throwing shells (actually filled with a mix of nitrocellulose and nitroglycerine). The ship was not an outstanding success, being small and lightly built, and with no real prospect of surviving an engagement at sea. She did, however, make at least one night bombardment of the Spanish positions around Santiago Bay during the 1898 war. As an experiment she was a dead end, and was never repeated.”

See for a detailed account of this gun (and for other interesting weapons/role playing game stuff:


A web search also turned up another gun – the Sims-Dudley Dynamite Gun – see this link for more details.


Thanks for pointing out another interesting type of gun Steve!


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