Scientific American—December 20, 1913


MOBILE batteries running on rails are well qualified to defend along line of coast. Their use renders it possible to do away with batteries which it would be otherwise necessary to provide for the defense of areas included between the principal defensive fortifications. By reason of their great mobility, these batteries can be rapidly moved to points where it is necessary to reinforce the defense, to enter immediately into action, or to withdraw, either because they may be required elsewhere or to escape a well-directed fire.

The temporary consolidation of a certain number of guns will constitute a kind of movable fort, powerful and very economical. The mobility of the batteries will be a protecting element far more efficacious than the ramparts of permanent forts, upon which, because of the advanced position of the outworks, the fire of an enemy can be concentrated.

In addition to these various advantages, mobile batteries present other merits, the principal ones of which are:

(a). Since the mobile batteries can take the place of fixed coast batteries of the same offensive power, but of much more costly construction, there is great economy in the preparation of the defense. It is necessary merely to provide a railway.

(b). Complete secrecy of the plan of defense, since the placing of a battery in position is not betrayed by preliminary work.

(c). A better utilization and economy of material, since the guns will not be uselessly stationed in fixed positions in permanent work.

(d). The material can be more easily kept in condition; for in time of peace the batteries can be stored under cover and sheltered from intemperate weather.

(e). It will be unnecessary to establish strategic roads for conveying siege or field artillery material on wheels.

(f). The railway can be employed for other purposes than those of the artillery. Thus in time of war it can be used for the rapid transportation of infantry and the conveying of the necessary ammunition to the defending batteries; and in time of peace for the economical development of the coast by the transportation of merchandise and passengers. The system herewith illustrated has been developed by Schneider & Co., the well known makers of armor and guns.

The Battery—The mobile battery consists of two massive steel cars, each carrying an 8-inch rapid-fire gun, an ammunition car, and an observation car, the whole constituting a train of four cars drawn by a locomotive on an ordinary railway. The gun car is provided with two bogie trucks and a sheet-steel platform, lower in the middle than at the ends, in which lower part the 8-inch piece is carried on a central swivel-mount. The gun and its carriage are similar to other modern coast-defense weapons designed by Schneider. The body of the car, the frame, and the brakes are all similar to the corresponding parts on the ammunition car.

The observatory consists of two movable tubes, telescoping one within the other, and of a short, fixed section of tube carried on the car itself, and extending down to the frame. The fixed tube section serves to guide the movable sections. The movable tubes are telescoped into the fixed tubes when the train is traveling to its destination. The smaller movable tube has an observation platform at its upper end. The tower is operated by means of a hand-operated hoisting apparatus within the car.

The gun has a caliber of 8 inches. Weight of projectile is 220 pounds; initial velocity, 1,400 foot-seconds; total length of the gun barrel, 11 feet; maximum elevation, 60 degrees; maximum depression minus five degrees; arc of fire, 360 degrees; weight of the gun without breech blocks, 3,560 kilogrammes; weight of the breech block is 140 kilogrammes; weight of the entire gun mounting and car, 1,145 kilogrammes. The hydraulic recoil brake is so constructed that the recoil can be readily taken up by the truck and the rails of the track. The mechanism for returning the gun to battery is sufficiently powerful to bring the piece into position, even when the gun is trained at the maximum angle of fire. The side members of the platform carry two articulated swinging supports, the outer ends of which carry screw-adjusted base plates, which are employed when the gun is swung around with its longitudinal axis at right angles to the length of the car. Ammunition is served to the gun by means of a small carriage, which runs on a circular rail surrounding the piece.



The Ammunition Car.—The ammunition car is placed between the two gun, cars in the train, so as to supply both pieces with projectiles. The projectiles are stored in racks arranged within the car in a horizontal position. The car is armored with plates one inch in thickness.

The Observation Car.—The observation car is usually coupled directly to the locomotive. From this position the commanding officer can place his guns in the most favorable positions, or to select a more advantageous point of observation.

The observatory at full extension provides an excellent platform for spotting the fall of the shots.

Oddities Page | Contents Page

Do you have any information you'd like to share on this subject? Please email me!
The Catskill Archive website and all contents, unless otherwise specified,
are 1996-2010 Timothy J. Mallery