Libmonster ID: RU-17191

by Acad. Vadim SCHASTLIVTSEV, top scientific officer of the Institute of Physics of Metals, RAS UB, Dmitry RODIONOV, Dr. Sc. (Phys. & Math.), top scientific officer, Yuliya KHLEBNIKOVA, Cand. Sc. (Tech.), senior research associate of the above institute (Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk Region)

Zlatoust arms factory was founded in 1815 under the iron foundry--one of the largest enterprises in Ural in early 19th century. Its development is credited to the perfection of metallurgical processes and the improved quality of carbonaceous steel. For 100 years (from 1817, the first year of production, to 1917, the year the factory became one of the shops of the local mechanical plant) it produced all types of officially regulated soldiers' and officers' cold steel. More than three quarters of such Russian products were created there. In early 20th century, in peace time, Zlatoust produced up to 150,000 weapon items per year, and during World War I, these figures tripled.

ARMORY SCHOOL: WAYS TO SUCCESS

In the first half of the 19th century the factory used bloom* steel, which was difficult and labor-consuming to obtain: the blanks had to be forged over and over again. Due to the skill of an outstanding Russian metallurgist Pavel Anosov (1799-1851), whose life was linked with the Zlatoust arms factory for almost 13 years, the production of high quality steel for arms continued until

* Bloom-porous sponge iron mass, saturated with slag, from which finery iron or steel is produced by means of different types of processing.--Ed.

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1854. He also introduced the so-called crucible steel--it was used to make tools and cold steel.

Anosov implemented his dream of producing "Russian sword" by crucible fusion* in 1833, as he personally recorded in the appropriate log. To reveal its secret, he worked a lot to select the charge composition for smelting and its heat treatment regime. The master paid particular attention to the composition of the metal: he was the first in the world who, in 1831, used a microscope for structural studies. Therefore, Anosov is rightly regarded as the founder of metallography. In Zlatoust, 110 km from Chelyabinsk, on the border of Europe and Asia, in the central town square, right opposite from the arsenal, where Anosov worked, a monument to this talented engineer, specialist in mining and metallurgy and a scientist, was opened on December 19, 1954: he holds a blade in his hands, and next to him, on the table, there is a microscope--a symbol of his scientific approach to work.

Experimental fusions to create the sword steel were continued there until 1838. As a result, the factory produced dozens of blades, although their exact number is unknown: due to the complexity of the manufacturing process, such weapons could not acquire mass character.

These sword blades were gilded in Zlatoust, and the decorations, like the weapons themselves, won world fame. Here, we should mention Ivan Bushuyev (1800-1835), an artist who had a short but eventful life. In 1823, he began to decorate blades not only with single figures but with battle scenes. The masterpiece of his art is an image of a winged horse, which later became an emblem of Zlatoust. It was no accident that in 1988 a monument to Bushuyev was erected by townspeople in the Station Square. By the way, Anosov also participated in the improvement of decoration methods of weapons: he suggested and implemented a galvanic gilding technique instead of a harmful mercury one.

Let us note that besides the bladed weapons, in the 1820s a variety of household items, such as trays, boxes, and caskets were decorated with engravings at the factory. Using the natural beauty of polished metal, the artists obtained a rich palette of shades, which gave the products unique elegance. Zlatoust engravings were exhibited at world and international exhibitions in London (UK), Vienna (Austria), Brussels (Belgium), Chicago (USA), and Montreal (Canada). In the second half of the 19th century, their range was expanded to decorated cutlery, hunting knives, ornamental hatchets, and tools for cutting paper, writing sets, decorative dishes, pictures, souvenirs and prizes.

* Crucible fusion--a process of getting metals and their alloys in a liquid form in pots made of fire-proof materials-crucibles.--Ed.

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Established due to Bushuyev's talent, the factory's production of artistic metal products led to the creation of dozens of polishing workshops. "Cottage industry of knives and forks originated in late 1860s--Zlatoust Encyclopedia informs (Zlatoust, 1994).--Production of steel items was marked by great originality and was divided into several operations. Blanks were forged by the workers who owned their forges and bought steel from the factory. Filing was made by handicraftsmen at home, and the final finishing of products was performed directly at polishing institutions. Grinding and polishing machines were water powered; therefore the workshops were located along the rivers Tesma, Kamenka, and Aya.

Workers-polishers bought filed blank pieces and polished them, paying the owners of polishing establishments for the workplace. The finished products were sold to buyers, who often were owners of the polishing establishments. Among their stocks were table and bread knives, forks, snack sets, servers for cake and fish, hunting daggers, paper knives, and walking sticks. Knives were divided into 6 quality categories. Some products were decorated with engravings and coated with nickel. Zlatoust cutlery was sold throughout Russia and competed successfully with the well-known Pavlov cutlery. Total production volume of polishing establishments was estimated at 200,000 to 300,000 rubles a year... After the revolution, polishing establishments ceased their activities. In the 1920s-1930s the artel Metalist worked there instead."

But let us return to the arms factory. The development of the abovementioned crucible process was continued from 1854 to 1861 by an outstanding engineer-metallurgist Pavel Obukhov (1820-1869). He organized production of crucible cast steel on the basis of the scrap-ore (a kind of an open-hearth) process, which he believed, and with a good reason, to be superior in quality to Krupps', invented in the early 1850s in Germany at the factory of the famous German industrialist, Alfred Krupp (1812-1887). Quality metal was vital to Russia as the unsuccessful Crimean War of 1853-1855 demonstrated the weakness of weapons that rely on bronze smoothbore guns. Obukhov realized his dream: he got castings for guns, gun barrels, cold steel, cuirass (plate armor), tools and other products. In 1854 to 1861, there was formed a large-scale production of cast carbonaceous steel at the factory, from which the first of Russian guns were made. But soon it was transferred to St. Petersburg (Obukhov Plant) and Perm (Steel and Cannon Plant Motovilikha). However, the master's cast steel remained the basis for creating cold steel in Zlatoust until the beginning of the 20th century. Note that the production of similar weapons was mastered in France only in 1873, and in England-in 1881.

стр. 99

After the departure of Obukhov to the city on the Neva in 1863 and the consequent establishment of a plant there, the continuous improvement of steel production methods and the quality of ingots was undertaken by Alexander Lavrov, metallurgist (1838-1904) and Nikolai Kalakutsky, Major-General, engineer and metal scientist (1832-1889). They discovered the phenomenon of liquation (from Lat. liquatio--liquefaction, melting) of steel and established its dependence on the size of the ingot.

STEEL "HOLDS DEFENCES"

At the Institute of Physics of Metals, RAS UB, we have studied the structure and chemical composition of cold steel made at Zlatoust in the 19th-20th centuries, when Anosov and Obukhov were there, as well as articles made in later historical periods from bloom, cast crucible and open-hearth steel.

We have analyzed 4 different samples belonging to private collectors and to the Zlatoust State Regional Museum: two from the blade and the heel, and two--from the liner. Structural assessment often depends on the location of the cut. The blade itself, as a rule, is martensite-orsorbitol-troostite-hardened structure and then is released*, therefore it is almost impossible to estimate the carbon content in steel by the metallo-graphic method. The sample cut from the liner provides a complete picture of the composition of the billet, and based on it the presence of carbon can be easily established. Metal of the heel is not heat-treated during tempering, or at least it is only partially treated, so the carbon content is more often determined without additional annealing.

At the heart of the production of bloom steel for blades lies a two-stage process: first, refined cast iron is made, and then from it and iron cuts (small scrap pieces) steel bloom is extracted, which then is overturned, blown through and sent to forging of bars or bands.

In the Southern Ural, cast iron from Satka Plant (Satka, Chelyabinsk Region) was considered the best. After melting it in special furnaces, primary metal was poured on plates and then cooled with water. Cast iron

* Hardened steel has a nonequilibrium structure of martensite, bainite, troostite or sorbitol-components of iron carbide alloys. In the process of tempering it is more often martensite-cooled, smoothing the effect by the tempering process-heating up to the temperature below the critical point. In addition, the steel structure from tempering martensite passes to tempering martensite, troostite or sorbitol.--Ed.

стр. 100

was thus cleared of impurities and bleached simultaneously. At the same time, the metal billet was transformed into crude heterogeneous steel with slag and other inclusions; therefore it was further refined by forging into bands and tempered in water. This material was sorted by types of fracture, hardness and purity. Suitable bands (up to 20 pieces) were welded into a bar, then cut into two parts (across), and single-welded again, repeating the operation several times, then forged again and rolled into a band, getting wrought iron. However, it was not suitable for production of blades: the material was again subjected to welding into a bar, cutting through, new welding and forging into merchant iron bands. Quality billets were made from this final material. From 1817 to 1850, over 700,000 blades were produced at the Zlatoust factory for soldiers and officers.

Chemical analysis of the studied originals--a toy sabre (1828), cavalry sabres (1836 and 1839), Cossack sabres of 1852 and other items--indicated high purity of metal regarding admixtures of Si, Mn, Cr, Ni, Cu, which is typical of bloom steel of all Ural metallurgical plants working in the 18th-19th centuries. But it had one special feature--an admixture of copper (Cu) in the amount of several tenths of a percent as a result of its significant content in iron ores. We found 0.25 percent Cu in the Cossack sabre forged in 1852. The same sample pointed to an increased content of nickel (~0.13 percent), which is atypical of bloom steel, and phosphorus--from 0.035 to 0.075 percent.

The structure of the studied sabre blades made in 1835 and 1839 from merchant iron, like most of the industrial samples of bloom metal, were heterogeneous, due to the chemical composition and peculiarities of technology of procurement. It manifested itself in a distinct stratification in some areas of billets, when a perlitic structure with a pronounced ferrite grid alternates with ferrite layers.

Bloom steel is also distinguished by the presence of slag in the form of line-and-dot inclusions, clearly visible, for example, in a ferrite layer of the sabre blade of 1835. The layered image can be also observed on the blade of 1852: here, the areas of low carbon steel (no more than 0.15 percent C, ferrite structure) coexisted side by side with fine-grained high-carbon (ferrite-pearlite structure) with a large number of slag inclusions. Their different shapes in the form of lines, extending in the direction of structural banding, and dots can be explained by the direction of the blade sample cuts: in the first sample-- along the billets and in the second one--across them. The structure of the weapons of 1839 is more homogeneous, although the fluctuations in carbon content in different areas of the original (from 0.20-0.25 percent to 0.40-0.45 percent) are noticeable there as well.

Anosov's crucible melting technology consisted in combining the process of cementation of the gas phase with the smelting of steel. Usually, bloom iron was saturated with carbon due to hot charcoal that filled the furnace and was located outside of an open crucible. The process of carbon enrichment of iron and steel pieces was adjusted by closing a refractory pot with a lid and an increase, wherever possible, of the temperature in the furnace. Anosov studied and documented dozens of possible variations of melting in his journal. As a result, in 1830 it became possible to make cast-steel blades of low, medium and high hardness. The first was mainly used in the manufacture of weapons (by the way, they were not branded, in any case, the data regarding the existence of these blades and their quantity do not exist), others--"for metal-work and joiner's tools, and for welding of mining tools and axes".

Inventive work of smelting cast iron led Anosov to the creation of "Russian sword". This technology is based on the same principles as that of the production of a classical ingot: fusion in the crucible of iron and carbon-containing materials. The best bars of sword metal weighed 12-14 pounds and were laminated from pure

стр. 101

iron (often from Tagil), graphite, and a certain amount of slag-forming additives.

In the article "The Structure of Three Zlatoust Swords" (The Physics of Metals and Metall Science, No. 2, 2008), we published data that shed light on the composition of this alloy. We have made a chemical analysis of a blade of 1841, branded by Anosov. It is made of pure hypereutectoid steel (metal containing from 0.8 percent to 2.14 percent C) with minor amounts of impurities of Si, Mn, Cr, Ni, and Cu. The amount of carbon in it is from 1.4 to 1.5 percent (the assessment was based on the structure of an annealed sample). The analysis of the material, cut from the tip of the blade's edge, showed that it is a hardened on troostite steel with many needle-type carbide inclusions that form a characteristic pattern on the surface of the blade.

In 1854, after being appointed director of the Zlatoust arms factory, Pavel Obukhov set up mass production of the new cast crucible steel. The charge included steel and iron pieces, loadstone (Kachkanar ore was considered the best) and bleached refined cast iron. All in all, Obukhov calculated the charge for fifteen grades of steel with different contents of C. According to The Mining Journal (1858), some of them were high-carbonaceous (1.36 percent C), while others were for blades (0.54 percent C). The amount of admixtures, including silicon, was insignificant. The journal emphasized that these types of steel were "extremely homogeneous, with finegrained composition". Some blades, produced in 1854-1861, had a brand: CSO or CSPO (LPO or LSPO)--cast steel of Pavel Obukhov. From October 1857 (the date of issue of privileges to the master for this smelting) to June 1860 the factory produced 89,500 weapon units made of this steel.

As for chemical analysis of the sword blade of Obukhov of 1859, in its metal, classified as hypereutectoid crucible steel, we have found a fairly large percentage of manganese (it was introduced, presumably, along with a special supplement of mirror--manganic cast iron, but it could get there with the ore as well) and an unusually high content of phosphorus--0.14 percent. According to the amount of other elements (Si, Ni, Cr, Cu)--it is pure steel.

We have also studied other four samples of cast steel: a cutlass (1860), a blade (1878) and dragoon's sabres-the 1881-1909 design for officers (1893), and the 1881 design for soldiers (1900). The amount of carbon, an assessment of which was conducted on the structure of

стр. 102

annealed samples, cut off from the heel, made up in the first two types of weapons ~0.6 percent and almost the same amount (0. 6-0.7 percent) in the sabres. In short, the chemical analysis testifies: it is pure carbonaceous cast steel with a low content of silicon, manganese, and moderate content of phosphorus (~0.04 percent).

Most likely, blades had been produced by Obukhov's method till the end of the 19th century. According to some data, in 1886, puddle steel was used as a charge material for crucible melting. It was broken steel made at the Satka Plant. Refined broken cast iron (from the group of Bakal iron ore deposits located on the western slope of the Southern Urals) and broken loadstone ore were used as well.

In late 19th-early 20th centuries, it became possible to use the basic open-hearth steel for crucible melting, where only slag-forming additives were brought into play and loadstone was excluded. Thus, Obukhov's method was replaced by more modern and economical processes.

From 1881, development of new production at the Zlatoust Plant opened a way to making blades from the open-hearth steel-first, acid and later on--the basic one. (Note: the blades of 1893 and 1900 could be made of it.) According to a promotion prospectus of the World Columbus Exhibition of 1893, acid open-hearth steel was already used for making blades. It is known that in 1915, around 1,200 tons of this metal (in addition to crucible steel) was used for the production of blades. About 10-12 thous. blades could be produced from it. It was probably widely used for these purposes, given an excessive demand for blades during the World War I.

We have studied the chemical composition of the blades from open-hearth steel and the structure of two dragoon's sabres of the 1881-1909 design (made in 1915), compared average values of the element content in a series of melting of basic and acid open-hearth steel for blades, produced in 1917, and found out: the amount of silicon, manganese, and phosphorus in the sabres is almost the same as in the archival data of 1917. In addition, all samples contain chromium (0.15 percent), which allows to assume that it is open-hearth steel. Their structure is homogeneous and consists of pearlite of varying degrees of dispersion and of broken ferrite grid, which corresponds to about 0.5 to 0.55 per-

стр. 103

cent of carbon content in the metal. There is no more than 0.02 percent of phosphorus in it, which indicates a significant qualitative superiority of the open-hearth steel over the crucible one.

Thus, the data on the structure and chemical composition of carbonaceous steel for blades, produced at the Zlatoust arms factory in 19th-early 20th centuries, reflect a general trend of development of metallurgy in the world and Ural factories in particular. The skill of metallurgists, blacksmiths, manufacturers of blades, and experts in forging--this is what determined the quality of blades. As for the metal, from which they were manufactured, of great importance are: purity of ores, properties of charcoal, up-to-date metallurgical technologies.

Open-hearth steel production, which was used to obtain high quality goods, had an important advan-tage--low phosphorus content (0.02-0.03 percent), but as for purity, it is less pure than crucible steel. Nevertheless, in the first half of the 20th century, this shortcoming was well compensated by alloying metal for blades with chromium, manganese, and even tungsten. In 1841, Roderick Murchison, British explorer and natural scientist, who visited our country, admitted: It is doubtful that there is... even one factory in the whole world that can compete with the quality of Zlatoust arms.

Historical photos of cold steel from "Zlatoust.

Decorated Blades of 19th-20th centuries" by L. Lazhentseva (Zlatoust Museum of Local History), Ye. Tikhomirova ("Russian Chambers" Gallery, Moscow), M., Interbook-Business, 2008


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