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Tag: Portsmouth

Final Day in UK. 2 more museums.

First, I was avoiding posting photos because I was at 99.9% of my allowed storage at WordPress.  So I have deleted a lot of old videos, and now have some headspace.  If you search my old posts you will find some blanks.  If they are crucial, message me and I will get them to you some other way.

Today was my final day of sightseeing.  Beautiful sunny weather in Portsmouth.  I am mentally gearing up for home and family, who I have missed.  But frankly, this tour of museums and engines and mines and ships could not have been done with wife/family in tow.  I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have been able to do just what I felt like, for the past 3 weeks.  And I have enjoyed making these posts in the evenings.

So today, I visited 2 more museums in Portsmouth, on the Gosport side of the harbour.  Smaller, specialist  museums.  Not for everyone, but I thought that both were terrific.  They were 1. The Explosion Museum and 2. The Royal Navy Museum of Submarines.

The explosion museum was quite close to my BNB.  A walk along the waterfront, past many, many leisure yachts, and the odd hulk.


Fighting off the crowds on the waterfront, Gosport, Portsmouth


The “Explosions Museum” is located in an old set of buildings, built as you can see, in1771.  The walls are 8′ thick.  


And as I entered, I noticed this lump of steel, weighing 1.5 tonnes.  That is my tape measure.  I don’t trust OP’s measurements.  It is armour plating from the German battleship “Tirpitz”, sunk by British airplanes in a Norwegian fiord in WW2.   I measured it at 450mm 18″ but the notice says 15″.  Whatever.  


Cutaway of a WW2 magnetic mine.


The breech of a 15″ naval gun.  Massive.


One of the buildings.  Those walls are 8′ thick!

There were many more exhibits, mainly of WW1 and WW2 vintage.  But a few more frightening, modern ones too.


Where the gunpowder was stored.  Now used as a wedding reception venue!  Hence the balloons.

I noticed this as I walked back.


Rotting away to nothingness.


I have to protect my knees these days, so I drove the  2 miles to the Royal Navy Submarine Museum.


This is a cold war, diesel powered sub.  I was surprised how big it was.  1600 tons.



The bow (pointy end)


And it is probably pretty obvious, but it is still just another boat.  With lots of pumps, valves, 2 engines, nav gear, torpedoes, and crew facilities.


and dedicated volunteers, in this case an ex-submariner.


Forward torpedo room.  The 1.5 tonne torpedoes were basically manhandled into the launching tubes shown, using a gantry (not seen).


Torpedo stored against the wall, and the gantry above.


There is not much room.  Crew bunks.


Plenty of interest in the loo


One of the twin diesels


and the machine shop.  No brand.  About the size of a Myford.


The guide’s final comment was that this 1980-90’s technology is obsolete.  It is all about nuclear submarines these days.

Then into the actual museum, where there was a mini sub, and the first submarine in the Royal Navy.  And a lot of simulation games to amuse the kids.


The mini sub.  British.  Used in WW2.  A six man crew from memory.


1900.  9 man crew.  Canaries were actually rats.  Enlarge to read the details.


Riveted hull.  Circa 1900. 


Petrol engine when on surface.


Single forward torpedo tube.


Looking aft past the petrol engine


The outer skin was about 3mm thick.


No welding.  Entirely riveted.



In the car park was an unlabelled, 7 blade bronze (?) prop.  ? off a nuclear sub.



Submariner officers were in “the trade”.  I bet that you did not know that one.


So, tomorrow a drive to London to drop off the rental car, and fly out the day after.  I am planning another quick visit to Fort Nelson, where I am hoping to use a tape measure on one or two aspects of the Ottoman Bombard.  Maybe a model bronze version of the bombard in my future, hey?

So, I hope that you have found some of these posts of interest.  My usual workshop posts will reappear soon.  And maybe an occasional one about UFO’s and Antarctica.  See ya.

Portsmouth UK. 2 more great museums.

Not strictly museums.  Ships actually, but displayed as museum pieces.  Both incredibly interesting.  And I am not including Nelson’s “Victory”.  I had seen it 40 years ago, and after 5 hours of walking, my knees told me that enough was enough.


“Victory” as seen today.  Still the biggest crowd pleaser.  Now sitting on props in a dry-dock.

My main targets today were “Warrior” and the “Mary Rose”.

Warrior was built in 1860.  The age of steam was well underway.  But to date, warships were still sailing ships.  However the French were rebuilding their navy after their humiliating defeat at Trafalgar, and they had built the first propeller driven, steam powered, iron clad (wooden ship with steel plate cladding).  The Brits were not going to stand for that, so they built “Warrior”.  The most powerful, fastest battleship afloat, and more than a match for anything else in the world.  By the time it was built, the French and the Brits were allies, for a while.  Warrior was destined to never fire a shot in anger.

Today it sits moored at Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard, and is a fascinating mixture of steam and sail, muzzle loaders and breech loading guns, Steel and wood.  It is a big ship, 127.5m (418′) long, and 9210 tons.  It looks a little odd to our eyes because it has no superstructure, except 2 funnels, and the foremast and mainmast are widely separated.


Steel framed, 18″ of oak lined, plus 4.5″ of steel plate.   The masts are steel, with wooden upper sections.  The figure head is a Greco-Roman warrior.   706 crew.

This ship could make 14.4 knots (27.7kph) under steam, 13 knots (24kph) under sail, and 17.2 knots (31.9 kph) with sail plus steam.  Not as fast as a clipper, but much faster than any other warship.


4.5″ (114mm) armour plating, plus 18″ (460mm) teak planking.


Traditional spoked steering wheels were duplicated on 3 decks.


Hundreds of Lee-Enfield percussion cap rifles were available.


And cutlasses, to repel boarders.  Muzzle loading cannon tools to left.


And Colt 45’s for the officers.

But the main armament was of course the big guns.


The gun deck was similar to that of the 120 year older Victory.   except that these are huge 68 pounders.  19 man gun crew for each.  A mixture of 10 x 110lb breech and 26 x 68lb muzzle loaders.


And the crew still slept in hammocks on the gun deck.  And ate there.


But they had washing machines  and lavatories (first ever warship with these)


and baths!


The steam engine, surprisingly was a relatively primitive, but powerful twin cylinder, single expansion, horizontal trunk engine of 5469hp, driving a single propeller.  The 10 boilers were box shaped, double firebox, no fire tubes.   22 psi only.


Coal was delivered in small coal trucks on rails, and shovelled into the firebox’s.  No gauges,  except in engine room.   853 ton coal stowage.

I have many more photos of Warrior, but I am down to my last few megs of storage, and I want to show some pics of the Mary Rose, which is probably the most stunning museum display I have ever seen.  I know that I keep saying that, but this really is…..

Mary Rose was a 35 year old warship which sank in 1545 during the battle of the Solent, against a huge French invasion fleet, while Henry 8 was watching.  No-one really knows why it sank, but the most popular theory is that bigger cannons had been installed, requiring low gun-ports to be cut into the the hull, and that after firing a broadside the ship had turned and the open gun-ports shipped a lot of water, which sank the ship.   Whatever, the ship was unable to be raised. Most of the hull gradually rotted and broke away.  But the parts which were under silt did not rot, and were still there when discovered over 3 centuries later.  In 1985 the remains were raised, and painstakingly preserved.  A museum to house the remains was specially built.  And it is stunning!  No other word for it.  Here are a few pics from today.


Mary Rose.  Pride of the English fleet.


and you know who.


About 1/3 of the hull remains, including most of the keel.


The bronze cannons are in fairly good shape.  Only real remains are displayed.


This is a breech loading iron cannon, made of strips and hoops of iron.  The ancient wood and iron has been treated for years with PEG (polyethylene glycol) before going on display.


Hundreds of ewe long bows were found, many still in their storage boxes.


And many skeletons.  This one was a bowman.  That humerus (upper arm bone) is massive.  There were 35 survivors out of the many hundreds of men on board. 


And a reconstruction of the bowman.


And sadly, a dog.

A most remarkable museum.  Add it to your bucket list.  Allow at least 2 hours.






Fort Nelson. The Ottoman Bombard revisited.

Just to refresh your memory, if you are a long term reader of, this is the model of the Ottoman Bombard which I made several years ago …

bombard - 19bombard - 20bombard - 21

…but it is not finished.  I could not find a picture or drawing of the touch hole anywhere.  Requests to the museum drew no response.

Plus, I had some questions about how the square holes were made.  These were designed for levers to be inserted so the cannon segments could be screwed together.  But were the round pegs cast with the barrel and breech, or were they somehow added later?

Also, I wanted to take a close look at the huge V threads to see if I could work out how they made them.

And frankly, I just wanted to touch it.

It is currently on display at The Fort Nelson Royal Armories Museum near Portsmouth UK.  And I visited it today.  I allowed an hour to inspect the bombard and have a quick look around the rest.  4 hours later I staggered out.  This museum is another fantastic place to visit.  I will do a more complete report in another post. For the moment I will deal with the bombard.

Firstly the touch hole.  Save these photos.  They do not appear anywhere else!



Not much design finesse there!  The wide opening becomes narrower about 25mm in (just visible).


Next, the bombard as it was today..and I touched it!


It is 17′ (5.2m) long, weighs 16.8 tons (17000kg).  It was made in 1465 by Munir Ali, as a copy of the bombards made by Orban, a Christian (Hungarian? German?) for Mehmet 2, the conqueror, who took Constantinople in 1453 on 29 May, (today in Oz).  Orban’s biggest bombard, named Basilica reportedly was 27′ (8.2m) long!


That’s my hand underneath the “pins”.  Actually levering braces, cast integrally with the breech and barrel.  You can see dents, probably made by the levers.  In doing this I realised that the “pins” are not cylindrical, they are half a cylinder (split lengthwise).  The half cylinders allowed clay or something similar to be placed around the mold, under the half cylinders, and for the gaps between the half cylinders to be filled with clay pieces, to be broken out after the cannon casting.

And the huge threads…


Well, I am no closer to understanding how these were made.  They are rough and irregular.  I would guess that they were carved in wood, then a clay mold made from the wooden model and baked, then the clay shape used in the final casting, and broken out afterwards.  Any other ideas?

I really enjoyed this visit.  If I have any WordPress storage remaining I will post some photos of some of theother artillery pieces later.

When I finally run out of space, I am afraid that will be the end of my posts.  Thankyou all for following.  It has been great fun posting, and answering comments.

Just in case this is the last post, I have to post these pics of the WW1 British rail gun.  It is truly awesome.



Cannon caliber 18″.  The Yamato (Japanese WW2 battleship) had 9 guns of this caliber.


The breech OD  is at least 5′- 6′