Rinella Battery was in effect a fort and is now referred to as Fort Rinella.
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 these new 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.
Work started on Rinella Battery in 1879, a year after Cambridge Battery, but it was completed first in February 1886 . The gun arrived in Malta in 1882 and was landed in Rinella Creek and taken overland along a purpose built road some 600 yards long and 20 feet wide, to the battery site.
The layout of both Cambridge and Rinella Batteries was similar apart from minor changes, for example Cambridge Battery had no loopholed 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 lone, a Palliser AP round, and weighed 2000-pds. The 100 ton could fire four projectiles:
- Mark 1 Palliser
- Mark 1 Common
- Mark 1 Shrapnel
- Mark 1 Case Shot
The barbette traversing carriage for the gun weighed some 20 tons, resting on some 18 steel rollers. Hydraulic pistons, set in the floor of the emplacement, were used to traverse the gun.
While an engineering feat of their time, these guns were quickly made redundant with the introduction of heavy breech loading guns.
Fort Rinella is open to the public and operated by the Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna – the Malta Heritage Trust is a voluntary non-governmental organization (VO/0117).
The British had only four 17.72-inch 100 ton guns and these were mounted at:
UK National Archives references:
- WO 78/4278
- WO 78/5323
- Wo 78/4278