Encyclopedia of History
Home > Encyclopedia of History

artillery



Projectile-firing weapons with a carriage or mount. An artillery piece is generally one of four types: gun, howitzer, mortar, or missile launcher. Modern artillery is classified according to caliber; ranging from under 105 mm for light artillery to more than 155 mm for heavy.

The exact origin of artillery using gunpowder is unknown, although such weapons appeared in Europe and the Near East in the 14th century. Used by the Turks to take Constantinople in 1453, artillery changed the whole strategy and tactics of siege warfare. Advances in the 19th century included smokeless powder, elongated shells, rifling, and rapid-fire breach loading, and made artillery indispensable in battle.