KwaZulu-Natal Heritage Preservation Initiative

Menu

Restoring the two 1859 Armstrong Guns

Title Restoring the two 1859 Armstrong Guns
Headline Rob Scott is seem here working on the wheels of the two 1859 – 2.5-inch Rifled Breech Loader Armstrong Guns that is being restored by the KwaZulu-Natal Museum Services Directorate.
Local Name unavailable
Creator Reinhardt Hartzenberg
Content Owner KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts & Culture, Museum Services
Content URL http://www.kzndac.gov.za
Source KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts & Culture, Museum Services
Subject Heading Culture – 000086
Location Pietermaritzburg – Msunduzi – uMgungundlovu – South Africa
Content Information Rob Scott is seem here working on the wheels of the two 1859 – 2.5-inch Rifled Breech Loader Armstrong Guns that is being restored by the KwaZulu-Natal Museum Services Directorate. The 2.5 in Rifled Breech Loader was the first departure from the muzzle loading concept for about 550 years. The Armstrong system of construction of rifled breech loading guns was introduced in 1859. Apparently they were intended in 1858 for mountain service, but when found rather too heavy, their use was restricted to colonial batteries. According to Major General John Headlam’s History of the Royal Artillery, they were used in the field against the Maoris in New Zealand and carried on elephants in Bhootan. They were also used by the Royal Navy as a boat and field marine gun. Armstrong’s system resulted in the breech being closed by means of a vent-piece, which was dropped in and lifted out of a slot or opening in the top of the breech end of the gun. It was pressed home against the chamber by means of a breech screw, which fitted into threads cut in the breech end of the gun. It was worked backwards or forwards by a lever and was bored hollow to allow the charge to be passed through it from the rear into the chamber of the gun, after the vent-piece had been lifted out. The joint was rendered gas-tight by copper rings, one affixed to the face of the vent-piece and the other screwed into the bore of the gun. The rifling of the gun was polygroove. The projectile was coated with lead, which made it slightly larger than the bore of the barrel. To allow for this, the bore at the breech end was made slightly larger in diameter than elsewhere. On shock of discharge, the force of the explosion drove the projectile along the bore, compressing its soft coating into the grooves of rifling, thus forcing it to rotate. When mounted on its carriage, the 6-pr resembled the 9-pr but there was only one exterior coil which was placed in front of the trunnions. The early breech-loaders were not very successful because their breech loading arrangements were unsatisfactory and muzzle loaders were considered to be quicker and safer. For this reason, the Royal Artillery’s breech loaders were converted to muzzle loaders by replacing the breech mechanism with solid blocks and re-rifling the bore in the shunt system. Despite these setbacks, the breech loading system was improved upon and eventually muzzle loaders were replaced by breech loaders. Armstrong was definitely a man way ahead of his time! These historic guns had deteriorated in the humidity of Durban’s tropical climate for many years. In 2004, the Durban Branch of the Gunners’ Association and the KwaZulu-Natal Branch of the South African Military History Society embarked upon a fundraising drive to restore them, and on Saturday 4th September 2004, members of the Natal Field Artillery, who were practising for the Annual Gunners’ Memorial Service in the grounds of the Old Fort, lifted them from their repository and carried them to the entrance, where they were loaded onto a private contractor’s truck and transported to Pietermaritzburg, where they are being restored by Mr Rob Scott of the Provincial Museum Service. He is a former member of the NFA. The restoration project has the support of the Provincial Heritage body (Amafa aKwaZulu-Natali), The KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Museum Service and British historian Ian Knight. The organisers are extremely grateful to Magnum Magazine, the Winston Churchill Shellhole (MOTH), the KwaZulu-Natal Branch of the South African Military History Society and Major General Roy Andersen CSSA, SD, SM, MMM, JCD (Chief of Defence Reserves in the SANDF and General of the South African Gunners), for their generous financial contribution towards the fundraising drive as well as to numerous individuals and organisations for their fund-raising efforts. Special Appreciation goes to the Durban Light Infantry Headquarter Board for making this room available for the display of the two guns.
Event Date 2016/09/29
Language English
Resource Type Digital Photograph
Content Specification Digital Photograph – Nikon D810
Article ID ID17821
Universal Identifier unavailable
KZNHPI_ID 20160929_KZNHPI_00002975
GPS Coordinates No data
Copyright Notice All content on the kznheritage.org portal remains the copyright of its original owner and can under no circumstances be reproduced, published or distributed without prior written permission from the copyright holder.
Restrictions/Access Public access / with limited usage rights
Rights usage terms All content on the kznheritage.org portal remains the copyright of its original owner and can under no circumstances be reproduced, published or distributed without prior written permission from the copyright holder.
Disclaimer Content can only be used for research purposes with prior arranged written permission from the copyright holder
Notes Hi-resolution copies of certain content on the kznheritage.org are only available via purchase agreement or on research request. See “Content URL” field in order to access paid content from its original copyright holder or representative.
Keywords Rob Scott, canon, restoration, field guns, 1859, Rifled Breech Loader Armstrong Guns, field artillery, weels
Historical period 1800s
Topic Taxonomy Military & Conflicts and Battles
Sentinel Initiator Digital Object

Categories:   People & Culture, Uncategorized

Comments

Sorry, comments are closed for this item.