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  1. #1
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    Super Heavy Artillery

    One of my pet subjects is Super Heavy artillery guns and ammunition. This all came about when I was posted to Folkestone and began to read up on the local military history. It wasn't long before I came across the big cross channel guns and the other coastal defence guns and this got me thinking. In the end I did a far bit of research and produced a service paper on the subject, but I can't have covered everything.

    The furthest inland shell strikes were reported was Maidstone and near Chatham - some 55 miles from the firing points near Calais. These were 21 cm shells from the K12 railway guns. Dover town alone was subjected to 2226 reported shell strikes but, to my knowledge, there has never been a report of an unexploded shell being found. But all ammunition, regardless of size, has a failure rate and if only 1% of those shells failed to function (and that would be a very low failure rate) then there must be at least 22 unexploded shells under Dover.

    Of course a shell weighing 500 - 1000 kg arriving at a steep angle and high velocity is likely to bury itself leaving a large splash crater if on open ground or demolishing any building in its path. So its quite possible that some of those reported shell explosions were actually blinds impacting.

    So - do any BOCN members have any super heavy gun or ammunition items in their collections? And have those involved in EOD/EOC ever come across large shells? The British definition of 'Super Heavy' is 9.2 in and above, but I also include German 21 cm shells (at 8.2 in) because of the massive range they achieved. For the record I recovered two inert 18 inch railway gun shells from Shoeburyness in 2000 and these are on display at the EOD Troop at Shorncliffe (Folkestone).

  2. #2
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    9.2 "

    hi brucev8 here my two largest shells the 9.2 HE and a 9.2 solid shot sadley missing its driving band both are very heavy beasts im still looking for bigger shells if anyone can help

    regards lee
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by leeski View Post
    hi brucev8 here my two largest shells the 9.2 HE and a 9.2 solid shot sadley missing its driving band both are very heavy beasts im still looking for bigger shells if anyone can help

    regards lee
    They're big old lumps, aren't they? How did you come by those?

    PS you live in the same town as my sister!

  4. #4
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    Hi BruceV8,
    That is a interesting and more than likely overlooked idea you have there about the chance of there being certinaly a number of unexploded Super Heavy shells in that area. As you said the huge amount of kinetic energy in one of those rounds even if it failed to go off would cause a large amount of damage to any structure it hit. I would love to know if you have any progress on this.
    Best regards Weasel.

  5. #5
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    Lightbulb 9.2

    Hi
    One of 9.2 inpick up everydays by EOD
    this one with P N44

  6. #6
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    Lightbulb 9.2

    Oups
    too fast
    With the picture now
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  7. #7
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    I see that the 18inch naval shells have been found again in a scrap yard in Redruth (Cornwall). They still have their driving bands on. The photo in Britain at War shows 3 but I believe they originated from Truro and in that case there should be several more, some are smaller. They were removed from a Truro scrap yard when that was redeveloped 20 odd years ago. Looks as if they travelled just a few miles to Redruth - there for the asking if you can manage 1 ton shells! Dave

  8. #8
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    Dear BruceV8,

    9.2 seems a bit tame in comparison with your other super-heavy finds but your predecessors at Hounslow had a couple of very nice inert instructional 9.2s in the specimen collection. During a 'down sizing' these went up to the IWM reserve collection at Duxford and joined a magnificent, but largely unseen, collection of super heavy projectiles.

    When the 18-inch Gun (or was it a Howitzer?) moved from Shoeburyness to Woolwich I helped (overstatement - only a JCB could do the real helping) move an 18-inch projectile from the IWM store at Duxford. It joined the Gun at a site close to the Rotunda.

    Herewith attached a photo of me with a 15-inch How HE Shell 'somewhere in Flanders'. Depending on just a No 44 fuze for its 'certainty of action' it would not surprise me if many more are yet to be found.

    Best,

    Norman
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  9. #9
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    Hello Norman!

    You're right - its a Howitzer. Great big thing like that and only a 12 mile range. Its at Larkhill now - unless they'e put it back at Woolwich in the last two months.

    Shame my predecessors sent those 9.2s away, but thats the trouble with military owned collections and archives. There's always someone trying to be a new broom sweeping clean. Must get myself to Duxford though.

    Firepower at Woolwhich have among their collection a WW1 15 in howitzer shell, a German 38 cm shell with detached balistic cap, a 28 cm shell and a 40.6 cm cartridge case.

    Bruce (Eddie)

  10. #10
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    Lightbulb shells

    HI
    15, 9.2 and 6 in from EOD France pick up in one day
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