The proof of the pudding … or rather, the proof of armour and guns

I have lived in the Woolwich area for nearly forty years, and during that time I have had access to the Royal Artillery’s Museum, both in its old location at the Rotunda and its present site within the old Royal Arsenal. Some of the more unusual exhibits on show are large pieces of armour plate that have acted targets for heavy guns. This was done to see how proof the armour was against guns of different types and calibres.

The following are examples of such armoured targets.

5-inch iron armour

11-inch iron armour

13-inch iron armour

As a result of such experiments, it was possible to draw up a table that compared the resistance to penetration of different types of armour.

Guns were also proofed at Woolwich and the largest ever tested there was the 16-25-inch Breech Loading Mk.I that was manufactured by at Elswick by Armstrongs.

Its specifications were:

  • Total Weight: 111 tons
  • Calibre: 16.25 inches
  • Barrel length: 487.5 inches
  • Shells: 1,800 pound Armoured-piercing, Common, and Shrapnel shells
  • Elevation: -5° to + 13°
  • Muzzle velocity: 2,087 feet/second
  • Maximum range: 12,000 yards

The gun was introduced into service in 1885, and was used aboard HMS Benbow, HMS Victoria, and HMS Sans Pareil.

The proof mounting used still exists, and was on display in Woolwich until recently. The barrel is NOT a 16.25-inch but an 18-inch howitzer that was developed towards the end of the First World War.


8 Comments on “The proof of the pudding … or rather, the proof of armour and guns”

  1. A most interesting post,thanks for sharing it with wishesAlan

  2. Sean says:

    Fascinating. And that gun is a beast.

  3. Pat G says:

    Hogg's The Naval Gun had a fascinating overview of the mid 19th century gun vs armour race.

  4. Red_Cardinal says:

    "One of these guns was used during the filming of CARRY ON, UP THE KHYBER…"Ahh the good old 3rd Foot and Mouth. Sadly no longer with us. No doubt another victim of defense cutbacks…

  5. Tradgardmastare (Alan),I am very pleased to read that you enjoyed it.All the best,Bob

  6. Sean,The mounting is huge … and it gives you some idea how big the original gun must have been!All the best,Bob

  7. Pat G,It is an excellent book, and should be recommended reading for anyone with an interest in nineteenth century naval warfare.All the best,Bob

  8. Red_Cardinal,With its illustrious history, one would have thought that the regiment might still have been part of the British Army, but alas it was disbanded many, many years ago.All the best,Bob

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