Our Iron-clad fleet: The Bellephoron

Captain Scott’s 25-ton Gun-carriage in the Hotspur turret. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

The Hotspur, a double screw propeller, iron armour-plated steam-ram, of 2637 tons burden, carrying three heavy guns, is now at Devonport, under the command of Captain Lord John Hay, G.B. She is not built like the Glatton, of which we lately gave an Illustration, for the purpose of an impenetrable floating battery, to be used in harbour or coast defence. The Hotspur is intended to take a more active part in naval battle, and moves at high speed to run down her antagonists. The guns of the Glatton, and the carriages on which they are mounted, were shown by the Illustrations we gave a few weeks ago, with an Engraving of that vessel. The Hotspur carries one gun weighing 25 tons, in a fixed turret forward, and two guns throwing 64 lb. shot, aft of the ship. The turret, not revolving, is pierced with four portholes, to either of which her 25-ton gun is brought by means of a revolving turn-table. We refer to the engraved diagrams, fig. 1 and fig. 2, showing the mechanism invented by Captain Scott for this purpose. The tumtable is locked, and the gun is trained and kept pointed with the greatest nicety upon object until after discharge. The operation of training is shown in our diagram, figs. 2 and 3.

Plan: Gun runout/ Fig. 1. Click on image to enlarge it.

Should the vessel or other object aimed at be moving past the angle to which the gun can be trained, the turntable itself is turned round by means of its winch-gear, so as to bring the gun to the next porthole, an operation which only occupies about a third of a minute, and which can be done while the gun is being loaded. The training is effected by means of winch-handles on pinions working into a crown wheel at the rear of the slide. This wheel communicates motion to a pinion working into the rack, or toothed racer, which is partially let into the top of the turn-table. The gun can be trained by this means in a few seconds through the angle (of 64 deg.) that the position at each port will allow. The gun is run in or out by the winch-gear and “pitch” chains attached to the sides of the slide, and worked by the handle shown in fig. 1, the chain being “nipped,” or held to the carriage, by lifting it with peculiarly-constructed gear into a series of notches fixed under the bottom plate of the carriage. This gear is under the control of one man, and when he lets go his hold of the curved lever (shown at the side of the carriage in fig. 2) the chain falls out of gear, so that, when the gun is fired, it runs back without affecting the chain or gear. The recoil is checked by means of frictional compressors, the power being applied by a hand wheel (see figs. 1 and 2) working a powerful screw attached to the side of the compressor “bow.” These wheels are worked by a man on each side of the gun, and the arrangement is so effective that the gun can be “brought up" on discharge with a recoil of less than four feet.

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“A Naval Gun Carriage.” Illustrated London News 60 (3 February 1872): 116. Hathi Trust Digital Library version of a copy in the University of Michigan Library. Web. 16 January 2016.]

Last modified 15 January 2016