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situated high on the Rock and      Beneath the battery, a system of   A story, probably apocryphal, started
        connected to the gun batteries by   passageways led to magazines that   circulation soon after this event.
        cable. On the gun platform, dials   could hold 87 shells and 107      After waiting thirty minutes, just in
        displayed the elevation and bearing   charges. A mini railway transported   case the main charge did fire, the
        information as calculated by the DRF   the shells to the twin pneumatic   call went out for volunteers to be
        and PF. This information was called   hoists which were used to load the   lowered down the barrel to fasten
        out to the gun layers who then     guns as well as elevate and rotate   the shell extractor to the nose of the
        aimed the gun. The information was   the guns on their mountings.     shell some 25 feet inside. A small,
        updated regularly so that the gun   In Operation                      thin gunner was volunteered and
        ‘tracked’ the target. The firing was   The 100-ton guns never fired a shot   duly lowered into the barrel. He
        initiated electronically by the Battery   in anger. Installed in 1883, by 1888   successfully attached the extractor,
        Commander high up in his           they were effectively obsolete as   and both he and the shell were
        Command Post who would then        breech loaders replaced the muzzle-  removed safely. The gunner was
        observe where the shot fell and    loading guns. In that year Generals   immediately promoted to the rank of
        make adjustments accordingly.      William Howley Goodenough and      Bombardier.
        Shells could be one of three types.   the governor, Sir Lothian Nicholson   Since withdrawing a shell from the
        The armour piercing shell was 44ins   recommended reducing and        barrel was not an uncommon
        long and contained a 32-pound      standardising the guns on Gibraltar   requirement, a mechanical shell
        explosive charge. It could penetrate   to make them easier to maintain and   extractor had been invented years
        21ins of steel at 2,000 yards. The   supply. They also initiated a move to   earlier. It was kept in the Battery
        high explosive shell was 48.5ins long   locate heavy guns higher up the rock   Stores.
        with an internal 78-pound charge   where they had better visibility and
        while the shrapnel shell was 45ins   greater range.                   Last Firing
        long and contained a 5-pound       Inspection                         The last symbolic firing of the
        charge and 920 bullets each of     In 1902 the Inspector General of   ‘Rockbuster’ took place in 2002 to
        which weighed 4 ounces.            Artillery visited the battery to see the   mark the Calpe 2002 Conference
        Firing charges were polygonal in   gun fired. Unfortunately, only the   between Gibraltar and Malta. Today
        shape, 15.71ins wide and 14.5ins long   tube, the small charge used to fire   visitors to the interpretation centre
        and each contained 1cwt of ‘Large   the main charge, exploded. The    and the gun marvel at this
        Black Prism’ propellant. Four or five   misfire drill was carried out to no   monument to Victorian steel and
        charges were used to achieve       avail. The only option left was to   steam engineering from an era when
        maximum range.                     draw the shot.                     Britain really did Rule the Waves.


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