Infantry guns are artillery weapons for the use of infantry units. The designs usually have short barrels which fire a low speed shell. They are lightly built so they are easy to moved around on the battlefield. Very few infantry guns are still used by infantry units. They have been replaced by grenade launchers, light anti-tank weapons and heavier wire-guided missiles. Pack guns are similar to an infantry gun, but mean those guns that are meant to be taken apart for movement. Mountain guns are infantry guns designed for use during mountain combat. Airborne guns are those designed for use by paratroopers. They are easy to move and lighter weight when compared to field guns.
Infantry guns were the first type of artillery used by armed forces, first in China, and later brought to Europe by the Mongol invasion. At first they were simple cast barrels called pots de fer in French, or vasi in Italian.:11 These weapons were small, immobile, and fired large bolts or quarrels. As the barrels became longer, a way had to be found to move the guns. This led to two different solutions. One was the very light hand-gun, which became the arquebus. The other was to place the gun on wheeled carriages, such as the 2-pounder Culvern moyane, the 1-pounder Falcon, and the 3/4-pounder Falconet.:36 These lighter Renaissance pieces led to the development of the 3-pounder and 4-pounder regimental guns of the 17th century, notably in the army of Gustavus Adolphus.:39 The light field guns of the 17th century, known as a drake in England, came in almost 100 different calibres. Each had its own name, some of which were::43
- 5 pound, 3½ inch saker, weighing 1 ton
- 4 pound, 3 inch minion, weighing 3/4 ton
- 2 pound, 2¾ inch falcon, weighing 1/4 ton
- 1 pound, 2 inch falconet, weighing 200lbs
- ¾ pound, ¼ inch robinet, weighing 100lbs
The saker and falcon had ranges of 360 and 320 yards if fired straight at the target, and 2,170 and 1,920 yards if fired in an upward arc.:43
Although oxen were used to pull the heavier field and siege guns, some on wagons rather than limbers, they were too slow to keep up with the infantr. Horses were used to pull the lighter pieces, leading to the development of the artillery carriage and horse team that survived until the late 19th century.
- Rogers, H.C.B., Col (1971). Artillery through the ages. London: Seeley, Service & Co., Ltd.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- The Corps of Royal Engineers, (1860). Aide-mémoire to the Military Sciences: Framed from Contributions of Officers of the Different Services. Volume II. London: Lockwood & Co. pp. 551–552.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)