Massive Cannon's


In case anyone is interested, their is a great documentary on the the History Channel on the history of cannons. The show is called MODERN MARVELS - Cannons. At the time of this post, the show is still airing on the History Channel. It started at 11 PM Eastern Time. Anyhow, their is some incredible footage and information on the large cannons, BIG BERTHA, DORA, LEPOULD, PARIS and others. Their was a large thread of information on this subject matter here on the forum previously with allot of interest so I wanted to bring this documentary to the attention of the IAA members. Ok, commercials are over, I am going back to watching the show.

PS: Anyone ever here of “Disappearing Cannons”. Pretty cool!


Boy, am I out of my element here. However, I must say that the artillery sites that ringed San Francisco Bay, the area I live in (unfortunately), had some of what I believe were called “disappearing cannons” during WWII, when some thought that there would actually be an invasion of the West Coast by the Japanese. These big guns could only be seen above the parapet (right word?) when they were about to be fired, or were being fired. They recoiled back and down with the muzzle below the parapet, I think, for loading. I believe that this type of gun goes back to the Civil War (or before???).

If I’m all wrong, let me know. I was born in 1939, and have no real memory before VJ Day, which I do remember. However, some of the guns were still there for a little time after the war, as I recall. Wow - a lot of years since then.

There is a nice paper-back book, “Artillery at the Golden Gate, The Harbor Defenses of San Francisco in World War II,” by Brian B. Chin, that mentions these guns, I find, but doesn’t seem to picture one. They do picture some of the various artillery pieces used, and even a guy sitting behind a Model 1917 Water-Cooled Browning Machine Gun. The book was published in 1994 by Pictorial Histories Publishing Co,., Inc., 713 South 3rd Street of Missoula Montana 59801. When I bought it, it was only 12.95. I think I got mine at the Fort Point Museum, Fort Point, San Francisco. The fort sits right under the south end of the GG Bridge, and was designed by the same military architects that designed Fort Sumter.


That is exactly what they are according to the documentary. According to the show, the recoil after firing, lowered the gun out of site. They claimed at the time of its invention, that if the gun was out of the line of site, it was hard to target. It was pretty impressive as the one they showed on TV was pretty big. I highly recommend the show to any one interested in cannons of all types threw history. They even showed how modern cannons are made. I love factory tours that detail the construction techniques utilized.


Speaking of massive cannon, At the foot of the brooklyn side of the Verrazano Bridge is Ft. Hamilton. In the park outside the gate on display is one of the two 20 inch Rodman Columbiads. Just the tube sitting on its carriage. Kids climb on it.
Regarding disappaering cannon, the USMA at West Point used to have a two gun battery of disappearing cannons until the mid 60’s or so. They were originally installed to train cadets.


nice! I was amazed by the disapearing cannon concept. The way they designed the recoil to lower and hide the cannon was impresive.




Talk about the ultimate playground jungle gym!!! Those guns are increadible. The footage of them fireing was awesome! Definite extream engineering. The recoil slowly lowlered them vs slaming them down fast. To bad I do not think the History Channel is airing that show again this month? I highly recoomend it.