Mark VII Naval 9.2" Gun on Robben Island

9 Mar 2014 - 14:45

Last week, a group of students and lecturers from the Radar Remote Sensing Group at the University of Cape Town hiked into the hills above Simon’s Town to visit an old World War 2 radar station (description of hike here).

Restored 9.2" gun on Robben Island (Photo credit: http://members.shaw.ca/mklerck/robbenisland/gunrestoration.html) Restored 9.2″ gun on Robben Island (both photos from http://members.shaw.ca/mklerck/robbenisland/gunrestoration.html)

During World War I and especially in World War II, due to the extensive activity by German and Japanese raiders and submarines off the South African coast, the ports were equipped with heavy artillery. Radar, once developed, was a key sensor for detection and then gun-laying. In addition, optical directors were fitted.

Missiles wiped out the usefulness of these guns, so by the 1950s, almost all of the guns were de-activated. Much of the hardware was stripped out and sold for scrap. However, the major items were too expensive to move.

The GPS coordinates of the various World War I and World War II 9.2″ guns in South Africa (and other countries) can be found here. There were three 9.2″ guns in the De Waal battery on Robben Island, three in the Apostle Battery above Llandudno, three in the Scala Battery above Simon’s Town, and one at Fort Wynyard near central Cape Town.

A group of enthusiasts have renovated one of the mountings on Robben Island, as its inaccessibility left these guns in relatively good condition. Renovation was a major task, as generators, hydraulic pumps, etc. had to be recommissioned.

The movie clips here (YouTube: Gun 3 of the De Waal Battery on Robben Island and Mark VII Naval 9.2″ Gun on Robben Island) show the result.

Sadly, no firing yet!

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