Page 9 - Moncrieff's Disappearing Guns
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Moncrieff’s Disappearing Guns                                                                            David Moore

           After such a favourable letter from an eminent     ‘some officers who are aware of the working
           authority Moncrieff was sure to succeed in getting his  properties of my carriage maintain that the object to
           gun tried, or was he?                              be gained, is not of sufficient importance to justify
           Moncrieff outlined the latest adaptations of the   any change.’
           invention. He had endeavoured to apply his principle  He finally concluded:-
           to a 40 pounder Armstrong siege gun. He turned its  ‘I have for eight years endeavoured to bring my
           carriage into a temporary elevator by the addition of a  system forward without success, but my failures in
           light traversing platform, two plummer blocks and  doing so, cannot convince me that I am wrong, nor
           two wheel blocks. He also applied it to an ordinary  will they make me desist; from my feelings being
           95cwt gun in several ways.                         old-fashioned in such matters, I have all along
                                                              declined to ask for that satisfaction, which I knew I
           The version for a 7 ton gun used two / 16th. plates as  could get abroad, before first receiving it in my own
           elevators, collapsing at the axle on forged blocks of  country - and I console myself with the reflection that
           iron and strengthened and held together by ‘ ] ‘ iron  the time will come, when it will only be a matter of
           securely riveted to both plates. The carriage was  surprise that so simple an application, and one so
           supported at the rear on two curved rails which    consistent with common sense was not sooner
           guided it in its descent from the firing to the loading  adopted.’
           position. The frame traversed on the racer 12 feet 4
           inches in diameter and central pivot. He also planned  He thanked the following officers who had aided him
           a smaller carriage where the trunnions themselves  for their encouragement and  support.
           played in the elevators without the intervention of the  Lieutenant General Sir R.J. Dacres K.C.B., R.A.
           gun carriage proper.                                 Major-General Collingwood Dickinson V.C. C.B.
           Moncrieff did not want to anticipate the results of the  Colonel Alaric Robertson, Indian Staff Corps.
           next experiments which he expected the Government    Captain Schaw R.E. Professor of Artillery and
           to try. He believed that his own experiments, the    Fortifications Royal Staff College.
           results of which he had presented to the Institution,  Colonel Shafto Adair F.R.S. A.D.C. to the Queen.
           were sufficient to decide the soundness of the       Colonel Jervois C.B. R.E. Deputy Director of
           principle and to justify some confidence in the      Works for Fortification.
           success of what remained to be done in the           Colonel Simmons C.B. R.E. Director royal
           manufacture of the carriages. He classified the      Engineer Establishment Chatham.
           characteristics of his system under the following
           headings :-                                        How could he fail with such distinguished officers
                                                              supporting him ?
           1st.  Economy of labour in working the gun.
           2nd. The power of masking the battery.             The Chairman, Major-General J.T. Boileau R.E.
           3rd.  Power of meeting recoil, and removing        F.R.S. offered his thanks on behalf of the assembled
                horizontal strain.                            officers for the ‘admirable’ paper which Moncrieff
           4th.  Power of traversing.                         had read to them. He added :-
           5th.  Economy obtained in the construction of works
                independent of the carriage itself.           ‘I do hope that by perseverance and by pursuing his
           6th.  Comparative protection from vertical fire.   arguments in that modest, yet complete, manner
           7th.  Comparative protection from direct fire.     which has distinguished his papers in this Institution,
                                                              in setting before the authorities the importance of his
           He went into great detail when explaining these    invention, Captain Moncrieff will succeed in inducing
           characteristics. His remarks were aimed to contradict  the government to accept the principle as one worthy
           the arguments previously levelled at his principle and  of being practically tested.
           to show that his system was far superior to any other
           system so far developed or proposed. He described in  I am fully satisfied that whenever it may be fully
           detail the weaknesses found in mounting guns in    adopted it will be found pregnant with important
           embrasures, cupolas, behind shields and in casemates,  results, and captain Moncrieff will be awarded the
           many of which were already recognised as defects.  credit which is justly his due for having brought the
           He dwelt upon the comparative advantages to be     subject forward, and presses it to a practical use.’
           gained by his system as he knew.
                                                              Moncrieff’s hopes were not to come to fruition.

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