Page 2 - Concussion fuzes and spherical shells
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Rapidly, a conflict as to the intellectual properties developed between Billette and Jure and new trials were made until Billette's shell was officially accepted for on board use. It was so secret that Billettes was the only one to construct the fuze and even the transportation of the shells from one naval port other than Brest required that a brick was put under Billette's personal command. In 1847, Billette died after two years of illness since the fabrication of the fuze was interrupted. Only his widow had a full description of the fuze system but the negotiations with the French navy weren't successful in view of the exorbitant demands of Billette's wife.
Fig. 2 Wooden fuze for spherical shells
A captain Bourguignon was soon appointed to study the fuze and to do some reverse engineering. New trials were successfully conducted in 1848. But like Bilette, this officer considered tis fuze as his private property and kept closely his secret until he died in 1853! As in the earlier case, the French navy had no full knowledge of the fabrication process and it was only with the adoption of the rifled artillery system that this farce ended.
In fact were theses spherical concussion spherical projectiles effective in spite of all their mysteries? Probably not since trials proofed that spherical shells with an ordinary wooden fuze often detonated on impact. This was due to the shock determining some slits in the fuze length which gave passage to the flame. The shells with ordinary fuzes were in fact real concussion primed shells!

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