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Gruson 53mm "Balloon Gun"


Well-Known Member
Premium Member
Now on ebay with URFAUST this great card showing one of these Gruson
fortress guns in field service. The resolution is not high enough to
bring out the details of the projectile rotating band but the size looks right.
If somebody wins it they can perhaps scan it and bring out the details.
This is not a common gun to find images of. The rounds show up often enough.
I hope somebody snaps it up.


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You could be right.

I don't have either and the Hotchkss 53mm case is rather scarse, though the U.S.Navy had some. Maybe a couple of members will send in measurements if any one has the Hotchkiss case, there are lots of the German cases around. Hotchkiss tended to produse a single shot QF gun in any size to correspond with the R.C. round. I don't know if the Gruson gun is a Hotchkiss copy but it wouldn't surprize me if the round is the same size.

There is it seems two sizes of this, L24 which is the size we are concerned with and L30 which uses a longer case. There is also a 37mm version. The field carriage shows an upper and lower part which allows the upper part to slid back with recoil and be brought back into position with springs, this is a feature of Hotchkiss guns at the time 1888 for these images and 1889 for Hotchkiss. These are likely Hotchkiss licensed guns. The breach on the gun in the photo looks different ?


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cool pix

Really impressive gun Gspragge, and I really like the way they have it incorporated in the covered bunker. I hate it when they plaster the namer of the image smack dab over the center of the image, but an impressive image to say the least. Wish I had some measurements, but I don't. It is a gun I would definately like to learn more about. Keep 'em coming. Respectfully, Dano
Gruson 53mm

I believe you are all mistaken about this being a Gruson 53mm gun (in the photo postcard). It looks to me to be the Nordenfelt 57mm fortress defense gun (57 x 224mm). Belgium bought many of these guns from Nordenfelt and manufactured their own ammunition in addition to what they purchased from N. The gun was used to sweep the open ground in front of the forts with canister in the event of an infantry charge. The Germans captured many of these guns and great stores of ammunition in the early stages of WWI. It was used in the same manner by the Germans until being rebuilt in 1916 as an anti-tank gun with a recoil system, shield and optical sights. The Germans then manufactured their own ammunition, a High Explosive point fuzed round and an Armor piercing internally fuzed HE with delay. This is the gun that was then mounted in the A7V Tank. Later in the war, more guns were captured from the Russians (who also bought them from Nordenfelt). These also were rebuilt and then mounted in captured British tanks. I have examples of all of these rounds in my collection but have as yet not figured out how to post photos. Will try in the future to show these.
You could well be right---

I have an image of a gun from an A7V someplace and will check my Maxim/Nordenfelt catalogue and post what I find. There was something odd about the breech.
Here we are and you have it exactly

These are British made too. There is one from an A7V in a British museum, I will try to find my image, I think I kept it.

There is still the question of wether the Gruson 53mm case is the same as the 53mm Hotchkiss, now both totally unrelated to this gun !

Time to eat another Crow ~


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Don't worry about the occaisional mistake. It is a thesis to be proven or disproven. Better to offer a thesis to get the rest of us to think about it than for everyone to sit around with nothing to do. What we learn from making the occaisional mistake improves our tenaciousness in researching the next time. You are a wealth of knowledge and information.

Gruson and Hotchkiss 53mm

The Gruson case is 53 x 176mm with a base diameter of 63mm. The Hotchkiss case is 53 x 188mm with a base diameter of 64mm. Clearly two different guns. The Hotchkiss case is also a wrapped design just like the 47mm, 1.65", 37mm Heavy and 37mm Light. I certainly meant no criticism of the guess from the gun in the postcard. This is exactly the purpose of this wonderful forum, to discuss and discover the mysteries of this old stuff. I myself have been studying postcard photos almost as long as I have been collecting. Can't begin to tell you all of the neat things I have found. What tipped me off in this one was the round being loaded into the gun. It is a canister round, of drawn brass construction. Nordenfelt, the Belgians and Russians all mfg. this type of canister. The Gruson 53mm canister is made of a wrapped tin cylinder, soldered along the seam and with a rounded sheet copper nose soldered onto that. Mine is painted green on the tin portion, the copper unpainted.
Well they are an acquired taste -

That I've acquired ! :tinysmile_cry_t2:

sounds like you have some nice examples~


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The Gruson case is 53 x 176mm with a base diameter of 63mm. The Hotchkiss case is 53 x 188mm with a base diameter of 64mm. Clearly two different guns. The Hotchkiss case is also a wrapped design just like the 47mm, 1.65", 37mm Heavy and 37mm Light.
Thanks for the clarification!
I shot some photos of my 53mm items. I don't have any examples of the longer case. All of these cases are German related, two of them are headstamped with only the month and year in German. The wooded drill round has a brass rim.



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