Large Model Cannon
Place of Origin: Lahore, India
Date: 19th Century
Barrel length : 310mm (12.25 inches)
This large model cannon has a multi-staged brass barrel with a flared muzzle and is stamped with the letter J(?) and the number 481. Fitted to the carriage by means of moulded trunnions, and pinned down with steel straps, the barrel is held at the cascabel by a ring attached to the elevating screw (an important mechanism used to adjust a shot’s trajectory). Two large steel wheels with ten spokes each add to the impressive presence of this model.
The wooden carriage is reinforced with steel straps along the edges, and with decorative brass fretting and plates on the faces. The style used is similar to that shown by the 6-pounder Sutlej Gun which, said to have been captured in the first Anglo-Sikh War (1845–46)1 is now in the collection of the Royal Armouries.
At its peak, Ranjit Singh’s artillery forces were on par with those of the British East India Company. He had transformed the Sikh army into a modern fighting force using Napoleon’s as his model and, in fact, many French veterans, turned mercenaries, came to work closely with Sikh engineers and help revolutionise the large-scale manufacture of cannons.
Two Sikh light cannons on carriages (which appear to be of a similar size to the one shown here) are photographed in what is believed to be the only serious attempt at studying Indian cannons: The Saga of Indian Cannons by R. Balasubramaniam, 2008. The two cannons are said to be at the Qila Mubarak in Patiala.
It is tempting to say that this catalogue’s model is also a true ‘light cannon’ but more likely it is a manufacture’s model—perhaps made for an important presentation.