Int14200 Col2520
Loading the 12" 45 ton
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– and why did it take so long to reload?

“At target practice in 1887 four rounds fired from one gun in 6 minutes (and scoring 3 hits at 1,500 yards).” This must been under ideal conditions, since later documentation (Gunnery Manual 1900), quotes a firing rate of one round every 3 minutes.

This section, looks at the reloading cycle of the port turret. The first picture shows that both turrets could be fired on a broadside. However the reloading mechanism requires that the guns are trained on the beam (starboard turret to Green 90, port turret to Red 85), run in and elevated to the maximum angle (13 degrees) to line up with the hydraulic loading rams.

Firing at a target on the starboard beam means that the port turret has to be trained over to the port beam for reloading. The starboard turret does not have so far to travel. Training speed would be about 360 degrees in one minute.


The reloading mechanism and gun crew are situated within the armoured citadel.

The main armour belt is made up of a layer of compound armour approximately 18 inches thick on the beams and backed by a two further bands of teak. The oval shaped citadel is 123 ft long and protects the reloading and training equipment, and also the engines and boilers which are sited below. The belt extends from 6 foot 6 inches ft below the water line to the deck height of 9 ft 6 inches above. [2]

Within the citadel gun deck, we see the two turrets, with their loading rams. At the forward and after ends are the lifts and trunks to the magazines. A trainable 14 inch torpedo tube is mounted on either beam. This space was also home to a number of seamen or stokers – their mess tables and benches are shown but not their mess lockers, which would have been secured to the armoured bulkhead.


The loading rams in Colossus are pivoted and raised to line up with the guns when loading. In Edinburgh, the rams were fixed in the loading position.

A turret's crew consists of a Captain of the Turret, a 2nd Captain of the Turret and a team of 11 men for each gun who are numbered 1 to 11. Each numbered role has specific duties in the gun drill.

The Captain of Turret is at the principal sighting position (central platform within the turret).

Nos 1, 2 and 3 of each gun are inside the turret.

The 2nd Captain of Turret is outside at the loading position

The first step is to lock the turret in position. This will be done by No 3 of the right gun at the inside locking bolt, and the 2nd Captain at the outside locking bolt. It is very important that the turret is accurately aligned with the loading rams and crucial that it should not rotate during loading.

The drill for the turret crew will be covered in more detail in the next pages.

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(c) Rob.b1904 2008