Cambridge Battery

Posted on December 28, 2020 / 33
Listing Type : Coastal Battery
Location : Malta

In 1887 the Italian Navy commenced upgrading its’ navy including two ships armed with 100 ton guns of 17.72-inch calibre.  In order to counter these new ironclads the British decided in 1878 that they needed to mount similar guns in Malta and Gibraltar to counter the Italian Warships, the Duillo and Dandalo. The two guns arrived in Malta in 1882 and had been mounted by 1884, one in Cambridge Battery and the other in Rinella Battery.  The Battery lies immediately to the west of Garden Battery.

Work started on Cambridge Battery on 28th August 1878 and concluded on 27th November 1886.  Both of the Batteries in Malta were in effect forts with all round defences including a ditch, drawbridge and caponiers.  At Cambridge Battery the three caponiers, which lie to the front of the battery, have been buried.

The layout of both Cambridge and Rinella Batteries was similar apart from minor changes, for example Cambridge Battery had no loop holed musketry parapet along the gorge of the Battery. The underground works were similar, with a steam driver rammer for loading both the shell and charges.  The shell was 44-inches long, a Palliser AP round, and weighed 2000-pds.

While an engineering feat of their time, these guns were quickly made redundant with the introduction of heavy breech loading guns, such as the 10-inch and 9.2-inch.

The gun at Cambridge Battery was cut up for scrap in the 1960s.

The British had only four 17.72-inch 100 ton guns and these were mounted as follows:

UK National Archives references

 

WO 78/4278

WO 78/5323

Wo 78/4278

The video on the right shows how the 100 ton operated with its’ automatic loader.  The whole apparatus was steam driven and took about two hours to become operational from a cold start.

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