One of the most practical inventors at the present time in England is Captain Norton, who has for many years turned Hs attention chiefly to the improvement of implements of war, and who has in the course of an active life produced so many inventions that we can only enumerate a few of them, viz.: an elongated rifle shot and percussion shell ; a percussion hand grenade, for the protection of private dwellings in case of riots ; a railway guard and passenger signal ; rifle fire shot ; a safe way of fixing percussion appliances in the mouth of rifle shells for rifle cannon ; concussion fuze ; liquid-fire rifle shell ; percussion blasting cr.rtridge ; artificial stone rifle shot ; improved cordage ; fog alarm signal; and the subject of our illustration, the gossamer cartridge, which we copy from the London Engineer . The object of this cartridge, B/ is to prevent the necessity of the soldier biting off the end of the cartridge, a very injurious operation. The cartridge is made by putting the powder of the charge in. a small bag or cap of thin paper without any previous preparation of the paper, and then adding strength to this thin covering by enclosing it in a small piece of commou cotton net as shown in the illustration, the cavity of the shot, A, being roughened out, for the purpose of readily attaching the cartridge to it. An cxperiment was lately tried with cartridges constructed upon this principle, with the ordinary Enfield rifle, and it was found that without puncturing or piercing the car-tride previous to loading, the flash of the percussion cap was amply sufficient to penetrate the thin paper through the opening of the network, and fire the charge. The soldiers of the fort who witnessed and tried the experiments were much pleased with the cartridges, as being a great improvement on those at present in ule. On firing the rifle the net is carried out, leaving no residue whatever in the barrel. Thc net secures the thin paper that encloses the gun cotton or gunpowder, aud prevents it from bursting when pressing the gun cotton or gunpowder into it. Major Straith, professor of fortification, referring to some experiments he had made upon cartridges both in paper and linen, and of which the present invention is an improvement, states that " the motion of biting the cartridge being saved, time is saved in loading, and the entire charge, without the usual waste, is atways delivered into the piece." In making the present cartridge the thin tough paper is first placed with its center on the point of thc mandril or former, and the net in the same manner over the paper, both together are then pushed into the tube mold, the ends are drawn down, and the mandril drawn out, the powder or gun cotton is then put in and the ends of the paper and net are tied up. In preparing it for Sharp's breech-loader, Captain Norton places a little gnn cotton first in the lower end of the cartridge, and gunpowder over the cotton, the fire from the cap being certain to fire the cotton, although it may not always fire the gunpowder through the thin paper. In a paper which C;ptain Norton read recently in the United Service Institution, London, he gave a full account of his numerous inventions, and the assembled elite of Great ! Britain's army and navy listened with great C attention to the man who had done so much to improve the so-called art of war.
This article was originally published with the title "Norton's Gossamer Cartridge" in Scientific American 13, 48, 382 (August 1858)