RogerBW's Blog

Firepower, 2 May 2015 03 May 2015

To Firepower, the Royal Artillery Museum. I hadn't been for eight years, and things had changed a bit. Many photos follow; cc-by-sa on everything.

A Soviet 2S3 "Акация" self-propelled howitzer.

WWII QF 25-pounder, in prime condition.

L118 Light Gun.

RPG-7, collected in Iraq.

"Herb Spread" rations. A Marmite substitute? Simple carbohydrate with a bit of taste to it?

It's "Exotic" flavour. Don't you know what Exotic tastes like?

Your feedback is important to us.

A variety of WWI guns, including the French 75.

WWII anti-aircraft guns including the 40mm Bofors.

Coastal defence gun.

2-pounder anti-tank gun.

A bottle made especially for Molotov cocktails. (The glass is moulded to fragment easily.) This was intended for the Home Guard in WWII.

QF 18-pounder.

75mm Pack Howitzer M1, air-droppable.

A heavy mortar. (And the practice mule, behind it.)

Another QF 25-pounder.

I am particularly fond of the built-in gun-laying calculator.

Another WWII cannon. (I know, I should have taken more notes.) (Edited: 6-pounder anti-tank gun.)

17-pounder anti-tank gun (late WWII). At this point they're getting a bit big to be towed, and really start to need their own vehicles.

A recoilless experiment.

Inside a Saracen command post van.

Another unidentified gun, quite possibly FH70.

A regimental banner.

Rocket launcher (related to the Z battery and Unrotated Projectile).

I particularly liked the boxy front appearance.

Tracked Rapier.

Thunderbird. I always have trouble telling them from Bloodhound without reference photos.

40mm Bofors on its own truck.

Sexton, Canadian 25-pounder. Built at the Montréal Locomotive Works, and the tracks have that air about them, but my word, that welding!

Abbot SP gun.

Congreve's inclined-plane clock.

Various rockets by Congreve and his successors.

Bomb-ship model.

Indian mortar, probably intended for use as a fort's gun.

Screw-gun, or Ordnance RML 2.5" Mountain Gun.

"You may hide in the caves, they'll be only your graves, but you can't get away from the guns!"

Gatling gun, used for evaluation but not adopted by the Army.

Model of the fairly obscure "Dragon" artillery tractor. Suspension and tracks from a Vickers medium tank; it could carry ten men plus the driver, and tow an 18-pounder gun at 12mph.

Scratch-built gun constructed in the Railway Workshops during the Siege of Mafeking (1899-1900).

Spin vane from a Hale rocket.

Some lovely detailing.

The "Priest" artillery vehicle.

It's the sticker I particularly like: "Contains Shoe Shine Kit". (Presumably you aren't meant to set fire to it.)

The Cold War hall has been shuffled about and largely crammed together. There's a fairly dispirited feeling about the place, as the museum is due to close in its present form by the end of next year. Nobody really knows what's going to happen after that, or where the bulk of the collection will go, though Larkhill was mentioned. Many of the volunteers who seem to make up most of the staff are under-informed. Lots of tyres have gone flat, vehicles are shoved together to make space for other things, and so on.

But Green Mace is still there. I love Green Mace. Lots of gorgeous impractical details.

AS-90.

Chieftain. Edited: Centurion, fitted out as an artillery observation post.

I think this is the failed AS-90 replacement, built on a Leopard chassis.

Phoenix, early artillery-spotting UAV - obsolete by the time it was fielded in the late 1990s.

The ammunition room. Still there for now.

Built for the Crimean War. Only arrived a year late.

Towed Rapier.

Failed to catch this one. Edited: Alvis Stormer HVM.

Lance missile.

FV432, last vehicle designed at Greenwich. (EDIT: Woolwich!)

Russian gun-shield from the Crimean war.

Yes, everything's a bit crammed at the moment.

The Pig's still there.

Strange design. Feels very hasty.

The 88mm Garrington, an experimental gun developed to replace the 25-pounder. The full hood was meant to provide protection from fragmentation and nuclear flash, but it turned out to build up fumes during firing.

Inside the shield.

More guns outside.

This seems a reasonable point to mention the photos from my last trip, in 2007.


  1. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 10:50am on 03 May 2015

    Bloodhound signature tell is the two ramjets pods. Minor cone shape difference on boosters too, but it's the ramjets that give them away.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 11:15am on 03 May 2015

    I can make the distinction when I have reference photos to compare, but I don't keep it in my head.

  3. Posted by John Dallman at 12:30pm on 03 May 2015

    "Another WWII cannon" is the 6-pounder anti-tank gun.

    The "Chieftain" tank is a Centurion fitted out as an artillery observation post.

    "Failed to catch this one." seems to be an Alvis Stormer HVM (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvis_Stormer)

  4. Posted by RogerBW at 01:34pm on 03 May 2015

    Ta; amended all. Yes, those three-holed Starstreak pods are distinctive when one remembers them.

  5. Posted by Owen Smith at 01:48pm on 03 May 2015

    Is the entire museum closing/moving or just the Cold War hall? Part of the reason for the Woolwich Arsenal DLR station is to serve this museum, so closing the entire museum doesn't make much sense.

  6. Posted by RogerBW at 01:57pm on 03 May 2015

    It's all a bit unclear. The official statement is here; what seems most likely is that they're going to keep something fairly tiny on site as part of the "Heritage Centre" (which is probably going to be where the Cold War hall is now), and move nearly everything to a new site outside London.

    It's very clear from all the construction work going on that the luxury-flat-builders (Berkeley) want all the land they can get, and the local council's on their side.

  7. Posted by Chris Suslowicz at 08:49pm on 03 May 2015

    Ah, the 17pr antitank gun. That was the one that Molins built an autoloader for so the it could be fitted into a Mosquito for anti-shipping purposes.

    It was also stated "The 17 pounder is the master of any German tank", and with APDS (or worse still, APSE) it almost certainly was.

  8. Posted by Owen Smith at 09:04pm on 03 May 2015

    So that does make a mockery of building the Woolwich Arsenal DLR station then and extending the line to it.

    New site outside London? If it's in the middle of nowhere the visitor numbers will plummet, this isn't an out of town shopping centre. And another city isn't always better, I understand the Royal Armouries at Leeds are struggling with poor visitor numbers.

  9. Posted by RogerBW at 09:24pm on 03 May 2015

    Chris: I think a Mozzie counts as "its own vehicle". :-)

    Owen: the yuppie masses moving into the new flats will doubtless find the station useful. And there's going to be a Crossrail station within the Arsenal site too. Indeed, judging by the plans for supermarket and fitness centre and so on, the residents should barely need to go into Real Woolwich at all.

    Larkhill, or wherever the bulk of the collection ends up, may well have lower visitor numbers, but the visitor numbers now can't support the collection on its present site, and a new one should also be a lot cheaper to rent. See also the Fleet Air Arm Museum: Yeovilton is pretty remote but it manages to keep going because it's on the grounds of a military base rather than paying a commercial rent.

  10. Posted by Rory at 02:41pm on 05 May 2015

    Another unidentified gun: looks like it could be the UK-Ger-Itl FH70 from the mid-cold-war.

  11. Posted by RogerBW at 04:44pm on 05 May 2015

    Thanks, that seems very likely.

  12. Posted by John Dallman at 03:18pm on 06 May 2015

    The Molins autoloader in the Mosquito was for the 6-pounder. The 17-pounder is a little large and heavy for a Mosquito-sized aircraft. A Lancaster might manage it.

  13. Posted by John Dallman at 04:57pm on 11 May 2015

    Should "last vehicle designed at Greenwich" be "last vehicle designed at Woolwich"?

  14. Posted by RogerBW at 05:05pm on 11 May 2015

    Yes! Fixed.

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