Page 11 - Moncrieff's Disappearing Guns
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Moncrieff’s Disappearing Guns                                                                            David Moore




            Proposed adaptation of Moncrieff’s system to a    War Office Report 1871
            7-ton gun May 1867                                The War Office had prepared a report on the
                                                              Moncrieff System in May 1871 entitled ‘Captain
                                                              Moncrieff’s Protected Barbette Traversing Carriage’.
                                                              It outlined the history of Moncrieff’s invention and
                                                              the progress made with it so far. Moncrieff appeared
                                                              to have some very influential friends in high places.
                                                              His Royal Highness the Field Marshal Commanding
           In all 172 were to be mounted. The overall saving was Preview
                                                              in Chief himself had expressed an opinion in 1867
                                                              that the system might receive further trial. The
                                                              Ordnance Select Committee considering it important
                                                              to ‘set the matter at rest’ concurred in this
                                                              recommendation and suggested that the carriage for a
                                                              7-inch gun be made at the Royal Carriage Department
                                                              under the personal superintendence of Captain
                                                              Moncrieff himself.
                                                              The carriage was completed, except certain minor
                                                              fittings, in May 1868. On the 4th. May it was
                                                              subjected to preliminary trials. The Ordnance Select
                                                              Committee then recommended that a suitable battery
                                                              be prepared at Shoeburyness. This was approved by
                                                              the Secretary of State. Captain Moncrieff asked to be
                                                              put in communication with the Fortification
                                                              Committee with a view to manufacturing a carriage or
                                                              carriages for them embodying their suggestions. His
           was proposed to adopt the Moncrieff Gun Carriage   request was refused as the Committee wished to test
           system. In the Portsmouth Defences the following   the first carriage before any more were constructed.
           places were to receive Moncrieff carriages:        Moncrieff asked for a draughtsman to placed at his
             Puckpool        4                                disposal so that he could prepare drawings for a
             Southsea       23                                twelve ton gun and carriage. The Deputy Director of
             Hurst Castle    4                                Works supported him in this but nothing was to be
             Cliffe End     12                                decided until the trial of his 7-inch carriage was
             Sandown Fort  10                                 completed. The Superintendent of the Royal Carriage
           Elsewhere, the following were to receive Moncrieff  Department was however directed to afford Moncrieff
           carriages :                                        the assistance of a draughtsman.
             Drakes Island   5
             Hubberstone     8                                The trials were delayed because of certain
             Popton          6                                modifications proposed by Captain Moncrieff and
             East Weir      10                                they finally took place from the 14th to 19th August
             Coal House Fort  8                               1868. Thirteen rounds were fired, nine of them with
             Cliffe          6                                battering charges of 22 pounds. The results were
             Shornmeade      5                                reported to be ‘generally successful’, although some
             Grain Fort      5                                small fittings gave way.
             Grain Battery  10
             Queenborough   3                                 By November 1868 a further 139 rounds had been
             Cheney          3                                fired and the Ordnance Select Committee reported
             Spike Island   16                                that Captain Moncrieff’s method of mounting heavy
             Carlisle       16                                guns had in their opinion been sufficiently tried to be
             Camden         8                                 pronounced susceptible of service application up to
                                                              guns of 7 tons weight. They called attention to the
                                                              ‘originality, ingenuity and mechanical ability’
           calculated to be £254,159 excluding the extra cost of  displayed by Captain Moncrieff by which he had by
           the Moncrieff carriages. Jervois was obviously in  the aid of the Royal Carriage Department produced a
           favour of the Moncrieff system so why was it not   7-ton gun carriage which seemed to require little or
           introduced?                                        no further alteration but they recommended a careful



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