HMS Belfast guns/ammo photos


#1

Some photos i took today of the guns and ammo of the WW2 era cruiser HMS Belfast (C35), which is moored as a floating museum on the River Thames in London, near Tower Bridge. Belfast is an ex Royal Navy Town Class cruiser, Built at the famous Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Ireland. This shipyard is also where the RMS Titanic was built. Belfast was comissioned on 8th August 1939, was decomissioned in 1963, and opened as a museum ship in 1971.

Here is a photo of the Belfast, not taken by me, as I was going to taken one from the river bank once i got off, but my camera battery ran out.

The “F” Turret, (higher bow) taken from the deck. The Belfast has four main turrets, each with three separately loaded QF 6 inch guns. These guns could engage targets 14.5 Miles away, so I would not be safe where I am sitting now.

The breechblock of the QF 6 inch gun:

6 inch Breech open:

6 inch SAP/HE Projectile

Shells on the power operated rotary turntable in the shell room, where they would be hand loaded into hoists up to the turret along with their cordite bag charges. These are hollow fibre glass replicas.

Shell hoisting machinery:

Drill 6" Shells in racks in the shell room

Primer for the QF 6" Gun. This has been made into a handle for the turret door, it is about 8" Long. I would like to know the correct calibre and designation for this.

Headstamp of the primer. I’d like to know the maker.

Another door handle, made from a 20x110RB Oelikon case, I couldn’t see the headstamp on this one, it was in an awkward place.

The fire control table, below decks.

A twin 40mm Bofors 40/70 Mount, installed in 1959.

A cip of well weathered inert 40x364R Bofors rounds in another of the Belfast’s Bofors guns.

A dummy 4" Shell in a shell holder, and what appears to be a fuse setting machine. (Sorry couldn’t get a pic of the 4" Guns or twin mounts, camera battery ran out.

Finally a 3 Pounder Hotchkiss, I don’t know why this is on there. It could have been used as a signal cannon or added at a later date to show some of the ship’s older armament. I had to slip past a “NO ENTRY” sign on a chain and climb a ladder to a deck that wasn’t supposed to be open to the public to get this photo (while no one was looking!!). I saw the gun from another deck and just had to have a look.


#2

[quote=“Falcon”]Some photos i took today of the guns and ammo of the WW2 era cruiser HMS Belfast (C35), which is moored as a floating museum on the River Thames in London, near Tower Bridge. Belfast is an ex Royal Navy Town Class cruiser, Built at the famous Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Ireland. This shipyard is also where the RMS Titanic was built. Belfast was comissioned on 8th August 1939, was decomissioned in 1963, and opened as a museum ship in 1971.

Finally a 3 Pounder Hotchkiss, I don’t know why this is on there. It could have been used as a signal cannon or added at a later date to show some of the ship’s older armament. I had to slip past a “NO ENTRY” sign on a chain and climb a ladder to a deck that wasn’t supposed to be open to the public to get this photo (while no one was looking!!). I saw the gun from another deck and just had to have a look.

[/quote]

Falcon,

The 3Pdr Hotchkiss was a standard Saluting Gun in the Royal Navy and probably still is. The later guns were cut down and made fixed (no elevation or training) and with a shortened chamber so that only the saluting blank cartridge would fit. Most ships carried three guns, two used alternately during the salute to enable a strict 5 second interval between “bangs” and the third on loaded standby in case of a misfire.

gravelbelly


#3

@Gravelbelly: I seem to remember the mount having no elevation, so that would make sense.

@APFSDS: My site where I hosted the photos has exceeded its data transfer limit, they will be up again later.


#4

Sorry everyone if you cannot see the photos, I’ll have to find another hosting site with a mre reasonable data transfer limit. Can anyone recomend one? Geocities that I currently use has a limit of only 4.2mb per hour.


#5

I use Photobucket :-)


#6

Falcon, great images.

I just wonder how they can let rott all that stuff. In particular the breech block of the 3pdr should be cleaned and greased all over like it was in the good old days. The 40mm dummies also need some sort of intelligent preservation once they want them to be outside.
Unfortunately too many museums are doing that (also reputable ones).


#7

Falcon–Photobucket allows a total of 1 Gig of photos in your account (but you can open multiple accounts if wanted). They allow 25 Gig per month of traffic per account. The traffic counter is reset each month on the anniversary of your sign-up date. No daily limit.


#8

@EOD: The problem is, no one is willing to maintain the stuff, and they cannot afford to pay anyone to do it. I also think that 3 Pr Hotchkiss had been welded up to make it inoperable.

@Ron: I will probably go over to using photobucket soon.


#9

Some excellent photos. Note that these are the French DeBang breech guns which do not take a case. They use a bag charge. That mushroon closure is always the giveaway.


#10

[quote=“Falcon”]@EOD: The problem is, no one is willing to maintain the stuff, and they cannot afford to pay anyone to do it. I also think that 3 Pr Hotchkiss had been welded up to make it inoperable.

@Ron: I will probably go over to using photobucket soon.[/quote]

Most museums have this same problem. No money to hire support staff and reluctancy to allow volunteer staff due to possible injury/ insurance considerations. We have gone round and round with this for years at Aberdeen and elsewhere. Plenty of folks would love to get their hands on a Tiger tank or German 88 or Japanese Baka bomb to clean, paint, provide tender loving care BUT “no can do” at MOST public museums.


#11

[quote=“gravelbelly”][quote=“Falcon”]Some photos i took today of the guns and ammo of the WW2 era cruiser HMS Belfast (C35), which is moored as a floating museum on the River Thames in London, near Tower Bridge. Belfast is an ex Royal Navy Town Class cruiser, Built at the famous Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Ireland. This shipyard is also where the RMS Titanic was built. Belfast was comissioned on 8th August 1939, was decomissioned in 1963, and opened as a museum ship in 1971.

Finally a 3 Pounder Hotchkiss, I don’t know why this is on there. It could have been used as a signal cannon or added at a later date to show some of the ship’s older armament. I had to slip past a “NO ENTRY” sign on a chain and climb a ladder to a deck that wasn’t supposed to be open to the public to get this photo (while no one was looking!!). I saw the gun from another deck and just had to have a look.

[/quote]

Falcon,

The 3Pdr Hotchkiss was a standard Saluting Gun in the Royal Navy and probably still is. The later guns were cut down and made fixed (no elevation or training) and with a shortened chamber so that only the saluting blank cartridge would fit. Most ships carried three guns, two used alternately during the salute to enable a strict 5 second interval between “bangs” and the third on loaded standby in case of a misfire.

gravelbelly[/quote]

The recoil buffers attached to the trunions indicate that this gun can throw more than just sound. It may be used as a line throwing gun as well. Blank firing guns do not need this recoil device.

It appears to have full horizontal traverse and 45 degree elevation also not needed in a blank gun.


#12

When I say I don’t remember it having any elevation, it may be just because the mount had been bolted/welded in place for some reason to stop people fooling with it, but that is unlikely as this was on a deck of the ship where the public were not supposed to go, so I didn’t have time to stop and play around with the mount, I wanted to get the photos and get off before I was caught.


#13

Looking at the mount design, It would be able to have a 45 degree elevation if it were not welded static - if it is. The Mount if far too complex for a simple blank firing gun. That mount is capable of serious recoil, full traverse and depression and elevation at various angles. None of this is needed for a blank firing mount.


#14

Looking at the mount design, It would be able to have a 45 degree elevation if it were not welded static - if it is. The Mount if far too complex for a simple blank firing gun. That mount is capable of serious recoil, full traverse and depression and elevation at various angles. None of this is needed for a blank firing mount.[/quote]

falcon/CSAEOD,

The 3Pdr was initially used as a standard artillery piece. It was particularly useful for banging at small fast boats such as torpedo boats. Its use as a saluting gun continued after its obsolescence as a serious piece of weaponry. I served on HMS Eagle, an aircraft carrier, between 1964 and 1965. We had three 3Pdr saluting guns which had originally been full working guns, like those photographed on HMS Belfast. The ends of the trunnions of these three guns bore dates of, if I remember correctly, 1897, 1897 and 1899. However, by this time (1964), they had become fixed in both training and elevation and without any recoil mechanism. A flat face had been machined both front and rear of each trunnion and a hole bored through so the trunnions became bolting lugs. The barrel had been cut off through the forward part of the chamber, both parts screw-cut and them assembled with a short chamber which would only accept the blank cartridge. In 1965 I carelessly broke the striker (firing pin) of one of these saluting guns and got a spare out of stores. It was dated 1901 and had been repacked in 1916! The 3Pdr Hotchkiss, with recoil mechanism and full length barrel lingered on for some years and there may still be some out there but it is only used to shoot black powder blanks.

gravelbelly


#15

What I would like to know is was that Hotchkiss still on the ship when she was decommissioned in 1965, or has it been added since ahe became a museum ship in 1971 for historical reasons?


#16

falcon

I am sure that this gun was part of the usual outfit when Belfast was in service. All RN ships, except tiddlers like minesweepers had 3Pdrs for firing salutes. I am also sure that there were at least two on Belfast for saluting.

gravelbelly


#17

There could have been another one of these that I didn’t see, but I didnt stay on that deck too long as it was officially closed to the public. Did you ever encounter the Belfast while you were in the RN?


#18

falcon,

For many years Belfast was the flagship of the reserve fleet and was tied up to the jetty at HMS Excellent, Whale Island, Portsmouth. She was there when I first spent time at Whale Island in 1962/63 and again in the 1966/69 period. As far as I know she remained at whale island until her move to the Thames.

gravelbelly


#19

It says on the website she was decomissioned in 1965, would she not have been waiting to be cut up at a shipbreakers’ yard after that? Is she was still on the reserve fleet until her move to the Thames, wouldn’t the correct date for being decommissioned be 1971? I am just wondering whether the website has errors.


#20

Falcon

I was on the decommissioning crew of the USS Springfield CLG-7(1974). It was not turned in to razor blades until 1987. The USS Luce DDG-38, decommed in '91, was available for a “reunion” in 2004. The scrapper was kind enough to let a few folks peel off some placards and such. So, decommissioning is a ceremony, irrelevant to any actual scrapping date. Not sure the official status in the fleet, but I’m pretty sure reserve was never considered. They pretty much just sit there and rot, with minor controls to keep flooding and humidity at a minimum. I recall mention of a hold on scrapping for a few years due to polluting concerns (lots of BAD things in those old ships). Just wish I could have acquired some mementos.