The carriage adds another complication in identification. Carriages are simply the mountings upon which the gun is carried. Guns used for the defence of fixed locations, such as those placed in the coastal forts were static. That is the gun was permanently fixed in location. On the other hand guns used for field used needed to be easily moved and the carriage could be field or siege design with axle and wheels.
Depending on where a static gun was mounted the type of carriage may vary to allow for the restrictions of wall height and need to depress or elevate a barrel. Field carriages changed as improvements became available and in many cases the change would be identified by a new Mark eg. Carriage 25 pounder Mark 1 or Mark 2. The difference may be minor or major.
Most guns of foreign origin in Australia came into the country as war trophies. A few were provided in recognition of the financial support the Colonies provided during the Crimean War and for the support during the Boer War. The majority represents trophies from World War I. Some are representative of World War II.
The markings are similar but will be in the language of the country of origin. The German manufacturer Krupp produced weapons for foreign governments as well as for home consumption. The cypher is normally that of the reigning monarch of the country for which it was produced. Krupp guns made for Turkey may show the Krupp symbol but also marking in old Turkish script. Some guns captured originally by the Germans and then captured by the Allied forces may also be found.
Designation of a Gun
Artillery weapons, and mortars are included for simplicity, may be referred to a variety of ways:
- Weight. By reference to the weight of the projectile the gun fired, eg 2, 6, 18, 25 pounders.
- Calibre. Calibre is the diameter of the bore of the gun, eg 6 and 9.2 inch.
- Model. Model is a description given at time of introduction eg FK 16, M2A2.
Another complication in the equation is the use of different measuring systems by different countries. The French measured theirs in millimetres, the Germans in centimetres and the British in inches. It has become common practice to now refer to the German guns in millimetres.
Guns, Howitzers, Mortars and Carronade
It is not always clear as to what type of weapon is on display especially when referring to guns and howitzers.
Gun. Guns are designed to fire longer distances on a flat trajectory (below 45 degrees). Apart from the standard artillery piece they may have been specially designed as coastal, anti-tank or anti-aircraft use or as a mountain gun that could be transported on horseback.
Howitzer. Howitzers were designed to fire at a higher elevation and so lob a projectile onto a target. They normally have a shorter barrel than a gun.
Mortars. Like howitzers the mortar fires on a high trajectory, their range normally being shorter. The German mortar of World War I may be a large calibre ‘gun’ referred to as a Morser or a smaller weapon called a Minenwerfer (Mine Thrower).
Carronade. The carronade is short and light in comparison to a similar calibre gun. They normally have a distinctive shaped muzzle and were mainly used on ships.