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Delivery                           energy of the recoil, the gun platform  of steam. Not surprisingly the gun at
        Construction of the Gibraltar guns   is sloped at an angle of 4 degrees.   Gibraltar was nicknamed ‘The
        started in 1878. The first was     This design feature was to lessen   Rockbuster’. They were the largest
        delivered in December 1882 and     further the recoil length which was   muzzle loading guns ever built but
        was ready in July 1883 and the     5.75 feet.                        were soon obsolete due to the
        second was delivered in March 1883   Statistics                      introduction of breech-loading
        and mounted by September the       Each gun weighed 100.2 tons and   systems. The main benefits of a
        same year.                         had a barrel 32.65 feet long and a   breech-loading system are that the
        One gun was placed at Victoria     bore of 17.72ins. Of that length, 30.25   gunners are protected behind the
        Battery, now the site of the Fire   feet was rifled which greatly    gun shield and fortifications while
        Station, the second at Napier      increased the accuracy of the gun.   they are reloading, and they achieve
        Magdala battery covering Rosia Bay,   Guns of this design were called   a faster load time.
        strategically a better location.   RMLs, Rifled Muzzle Loaders. The   The gun was fitted with an optical
        First firings took place in 1884 but,   shot fired weighed 2000lbs, and the   system for aiming. Firing could be
        due to problems with the hydraulic   charge was 450lbs of black prism   either mechanical or in later years
        systems, the guns were not fully   gunpowder. The combination gave a   electrical. In the early days of
        operational until 1889.            muzzle velocity of 1,540 feet per   service, Depression Range Finders
        The gun now at Napier is the gun   second, which is just over 1,000   were mounted on each flank of the
        from Victoria; the original having split   miles per hour, much faster than the   gun. Instructions to the gun layers
        its barrel during a test firing. The   speed of sound, and a range of 8   were transmitted by megaphone.
        overenthusiastic gunners had       miles. When it reached its target the   This system had the disadvantage of
        managed to achieve a firing every   shell could penetrate 24.9ins of iron.   requiring visual sight of the target,
        2.5 minutes, far more than its     The gun could fire one round every   not always possible on Gibraltar due
        designed one shot every 4 minutes.   four minutes and required 35 men to   to sea mists and the locally named
        One can only imagine the angst of   serve it, 18 of whom were required to   Levante cloud that often obscured
        the civilian engineers from Elswicks’   handle the ammunition.       the Rock. After firing, the smoke from
        as they saw their beloved gun so   Each gun, to cope with the massive   the discharge also had a habit of
        mistreated.                        weights involved in loading and   obscuring the view. The Position
        Visitors to the 100 ton gun exhibition   traversing, had a steam engine that   Finder, developed after the DRF,
        at Napier of Magdala Battery will   fed high-pressure steam to a     could calculate both range and
        notice that in addition to two     hydraulic accumulator. It took 3   bearing. With the advent of
        hydraulic pistons at the back of the   hours to generate the required head   electricity, the systems were adapted
        platform designed to absorb the                                      so that the DRF and PF could be

   24                               January 2019
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