9inch R.M.L. H.A..

9-inch R.M.L. on the Mark I High-angle Mounting

9-inch R.M.L. H.A. Mark I

9-inch R.M.L. on the Mark II High-angle Mounting

9-inch R.M.L. H.A. Mark II

9-inch R.M.L. on the Mark III High-angle Mounting: This became the service mounting
9-inch R.M.L. on the Mark III High-angle Mounting: This became the service mounting

9-inch R.M.L. H.A. Mark III

9-inch R.M.L. on the Mark IV High-angle Mounting: Modified from the Mark III

9-inch R.M.L. H.A. Mark IV

10- inch R.M.L. H.A.

9-inch R.M.L. relined to 10-inch mounted on the Mark IV High-angle Mounting

10-inch R.M.L. H.A.
Mark III

11-inch B.L. H.A.

9-inch R.M.L. converted to 11-inch B.L. High-angle

11-inch B.L. H.A. conversion

Jubilee Shot: 1888

The Jubilee Shot of 1888 (9.2-inch BL)

9.2-inch B.L. at Shoeburyness

 

The High Angle Mountings

 

By the 1880s heavily clad battleships were thought to be virtually impenetrable using the heavy armament of the channel fleet. If the ships of the Royal Navy could not hope to destroy such leviathans with their 18inches of armour then what hope did the forts have? The decision was taken to try high-angle fire to bring plunging shot down on the lightly armoured decks of the ships rather than to try punching through their protective belt or box armour.

 

The attempts to rifle mortars proved useless and so the Artillerists turned to existing armaments, adapting them for high-angled fire. They could then be mounted in batteries shielded behind earthworks and set back from the coast line of the harbours they were intended to protect. The R.M.L. 9-inch was chosen. It was conveted by being relined, the existing vent hole being plugged and relocated so that it entered the chamber at 2.5 inches from its end. The rifling was now 27 grooves of plain polygroove section. It was now designated 9-inch Mk 6. Some 9 inch R.M.L.s were relined to bring them up to 10-inch calibre and were designated 10-inch MkIII. A trial took place at Shoeburyness in 1884 which gave accurate results at 10,000 yards. The results were considered satisfactory and in 1886 plans were drawn up to install a gun at Warden Point of the Isle of Wight for further trials. This first mounting was the 10-inch R.M.L. 'Long Range' mounting. it proved satisfactory for high-angle fire up to 35 degrees.

 

In 1885 a mounting for high-angle fire from 35 degrees to 75 degrees of elevation was tested at Shoeburyness . 108 rounds were fired from it and it was declared a succcess. It was reported that the projectile weighed 360lb and with a charge of 50lb of pebble powder the initial velocity was 1,194ft.

 

The Navy and Army Illustrated reported in 1897:

The advantage of high-angle fire from guns of the class is obvious. They can be mounted behind earthworks or parapets entirely concealed from view, so that it would be a matter of great difficulty to silence them. Again, their fire has a plunging character and is thus effective against objects themselves invisible. The great effect made possible by the use of guns of this class has caused much attention to be devoted to them, both at home and abroad, during recent years, and the practice of high-angle fire has progressed greatly, and undoubtedly has a considerable future.

 

The idea is to attack the decks of ships so heavily armoured that a direct attack would be of no avail. The approaches to raodsteads and harbours can be plotted out, so that upon the whole area will fall a plunging fire form High-angle firing guns, and over such defended water hostile ships will be unable to pass.

Shoeburyness high-angle firing Shoeburyness high-angle firing Shoeburyness high-angle firing

Shoebuyness Trials

Shoebuyness Trials

Shoebuyness Trials

 

More trials on different mountings were ordered. Designs were submitted by the Royal Carriage Department, Easton and Andersons and Armstrong and Mitchell Company. More trials took place with the 9-inch R.M.L. Mk IV for Long-range at Warden Point in 1890. A range of 8,000 yards was obtained.

 

The High-angle batteries were placed such that the crew could not directly see their target (except the ranging and observation officers who were in a range finding position) but it could not be hit by an enemy laying their guns with a flat trajectory. This proved popular with the gun crews. Unlike the H.P. disappearing guns the battery did not have to wait to come into action while boilers were brought up to steam. Construction of the H.A. Batteries began in 1893. This type of gun was the last of the R.M.L.s to remain in service; they were scrapped in 1922, a service life of thirty years.

 

9-inch H.A.F. MkIII with the Duke of Connaught's Own Sligo Artillery: May 10th. 1900 The Verne HA Battery

A 9-inch R.M.L. Mark III on High-angle Mounting at The Verne

 

The Mark I mounting, the Elswick Ordnance Company design, is built up of steel and was designed to fire at high angles of elevation from 30 degrees to 70 degrees. Only one was made and mounted at Fort Cumberland High Angle Battery, Eastney, Portsmouth.

 

The Mark II, of Royal Carriage Department design, is of steel and is similar in principle to the Mark III but this was the first one manufactured of this type, and was an ordinary dwarf C pivot slide with side brackets built on it to support the cradle and gun. Only one was made and mounted at Fort Cumberland High Angle Battery, Eastney, Portsmouth.

 

The Mark III, is built up of steel and is constructed to allow firing at high angles of elevation form 20 degrees to 70 degrees. it is capable of 5 degrees of depression when not in action but is not fired below 20 degrees of elevation. Each carriage is issued with a loading trolley consisting of a light steel framework on four trucks. The trolley has an angle of 20 degrees to suit the loading position of the gun. The shells were fitted with automatic gas checks, a copper plate on the base which expanded to fit the rifling under he force of the cartridge igniting. The Mark III mounting became the service issue in September 1892.

 

The Mark IV carriage was approved in August 1895. It is the same pattern as the Mark III but the lower carriage is built up from castings instead of the numerous wrought iron plates as in the Mark III.

 

Elevating was achieved using two hand wheels, one each end of a cross shaft. Traversing also had two hand wheels on a vertical shaft. Running around the edge of the emplacement was a circular track on which the loading trolley ran so that the gun could be loaded at any degree of traverse. The loading angle was 20 degrees.

 

The quoted range for the 9inch HA was 10,500 yards for a 360lb shell propelled by 14lb Cordite Mark 1 size 7.5 charge.

 

Spyglass Battery: Gibraltar. High-angle fire battery

Spyglass Battery: Gibraltar. High-angle fire battery

 

 

High-angle batteries were not common. At Portsmouth the Mark I and II test mountings saw service, after trials, at Cumberland High-angle Fire Battery, Eastney. Another high-angle battery was built at Steynewood on the Isle of Wight between 1889 and 1893 from where it could command the eastern approaches to Portsmouth Harbour. On the Thames a battery of four guns was proposed for Cliffe Fort. At Portland a High-angle battery was built adjacent to The Verne Citadel from where the approaches to Weymouth and Portland Harbour could be protected. At Gibraltar a high-angle battery of six 10-inch R.M.L. H.A. Mk Ii guns on Mark IV carriages was built on the summit of the Rock, Spy Glass Battery. Malta had a high-angle battery for six 10-inch R.M.L. H.A.guns at Gharghur. At Plymouth four high-angle guns were placed at Tregantle Down Battery and four at Rame Church Battery. Nearby Hawkins Battery was fitted with four 9-inch H.A. guns in 1892. It was later converted for high-angle 9.2-inch B.L. guns. Milford Haven and Cork received no high-angle guns. At Dover several were proposed but never fitted.

 

In 1887 Shoeburyness had decided to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria by firing a 9.2-inch BL at high angle to see how far it would shoot. It was raised to an elevation of 45 degrees. It was not until July 1888 that the firing actually took place due to problems with mounting the gun suitably in the proof sleigh. This test became known as the Jubilee Shot. At 40 degrees elevation the shot landed 21,203 yards away. and at 45 degrees it travelled 21,800 yards.

 

The 9.2-inch BL Mark 10 Coast defence guns used to arm South Foreland Battery Dover in 1941 were fitted on mountings capable of firing at angles of elevation up to 45 degrees. The quoted maximum range was 31,000 yards for a 308lb shell with a120lb cordite charge.

 

Steynewood high angle battery Isle of Wight

Steynewood High-angle Battery: Isle of Wight

 

Tregantle Down High-angle Battery: Plymouth

 

Tregangtle Down High-angle Battery: Plymouth

 

The Verne High-angle Battery, Portland: The Verne High-angle Battery, Portland: The Verne High-angle Battery, Portland: The Verne High-angle Battery, Portland:

The Verne, Portland:
High-angle Battery

The Verne, Portland:
High-angle Battery

The Verne, Portland:
High-angle Battery

The Verne, Portland:
High-angle Battery

Fort Cumberland, Portsmouth: High-angle fire battery (c) Michael Forrest Fort Cumberland, Portsmouth: High-angle fire battery (c) Michael Forrest Fort Cumberland, Portsmouth: High-angle fire battery (c) Michael Forrest Fort Cumberland, Portsmouth: High-angle fire battery (c) Michael Forrest

Fort Cumberland

High-angle Battery

(Michael Forrest)

Fort Cumberland

High-angle Battery

(Michael Forrest)

Fort Cumberland

High-angle Battery

(Michael Forrest)

Fort Cumberland

High-angle Battery

(Michael Forrest)

Shoeburyness High-angle fire emplacement (C) Alec Beanse Shoeburyness High-angle fire emplacement (C) Alec Beanse Shoeburyness High-angle fire emplacement (C) Alec Beanse Shoeburyness High-angle fire emplacement (C) Alec Beanse

Shoeburyness

High-angle emplacement

(Alec Beanse)

Shoeburyness

High-angle emplacement

(Alec Beanse)

Shoeburyness

High-angle emplacement

(Alec Beanse)

Shoeburyness

High-angle emplacement

(Alec Beanse)

Ghargur High-angle Battery: Malta      

Ghargur High-angle Battery: Malta

 

 

 

 

The Verne High-angle Battery on Google maps

Fort Cumberland High-angle Battery on Google Maps

Shoeburyness High-angle emplacement on Google Maps

 

Download a datasheet on Cumberland High Angle Fire BatteryPDF

 

Download an article on High Angle Fire Batteries (Extract from Redan 36 by David Moore) PDF