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Helbeluk 02-25-2009 08:54 AM

Whaling gun?
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can anyone help pin down this object we found in our museum stores?
Apologies if this is posted in the wrong forum - could've gone under 'hunting' (if is for whaling) or 'curios' as well I guess.

Breech-loading, rifled percussion long gun, 68 inches long with a hinged spike on the underside of the brass barrel. Turkish marks. Sorry unsure of calibre - object not to hand at moment.

The info says it was collected after the battle at El Fasher, Darfur Province, Sudan in 1916, but may have originally been obtained on the Red Sea coast and then transported 1000 miles by camel to the Sudan!

Original 1950s label also says it is a whaling gun (spike to fix it to bulwarks of a ship) but didn't think whaling guns were made of brass as it would rust. Plus I thought whaling guns mostly used harpoons (wouldn't fit in a rifled barrel?) Perhaps it is a rampart gun instead? What kind of ammunition would it have used?

Any suggestions or comments welcome. Sorry for the not-so-great photograph.



biff44 02-25-2009 10:36 AM

Arrrr Matey! Shiver me timbers if that not be a scallywag's gun, for sure!

I don't think that would put much of a dent in an actual whale! It is more likely just a swivel gun used to shoot at people during boarding raids. The skike indded is to mount it to a railing, and helped control recoil as it was shot.

Helbeluk 02-25-2009 12:19 PM

aye, thanks biff! So would this have been just any old percussion gun that they've then attached a swivel to? Or, because it seems far too long for a general service/infantry weapon at 1.7 metres, perhaps it would have been made specially?

Dillinger 02-25-2009 01:46 PM

I would have to agree with Biff, the spike could be shoved into the railing around the ship to help steady the shots during boarding/repelling raids. It also could have been a rampart gun, as you indicated, as it would have served the same purpose.

If it's rifled, it most certainly isn't for use with harpoons, or other projectiles like spear guns would use.

Breech loading definitely leads me to believe it would have to be a cartridge weapon, probably something along the lines of a big bore "Cape Buffalo" style weapon.

Large, powerful bullet, but limited range, hence the much longer than normal barrel ( more time for pressure to build up behind the ammo to increase speed, and hopefully, accuracy ).

There is a guy here who posts some times named Bob Wright and he is a Master of old world weapons. I will try to get in touch with him and see if he can help you out...


Gene L 02-25-2009 02:20 PM

I found one on gunsamerica that sounds a bit like yours, same length, 1" bore, (if that's what your is) made from a Charleville musket. No pictures, it calls it a "fortress gun." rather than a ship gun. I think it could be either, but I tend to lean toward fortress gun over ship gun because of the rifling...hard to load a rifle on a pitching ship in combat.

Helbeluk 02-26-2009 02:28 PM

yes, i agree with what you both mention about the practical uses of such a weapon on a ship. Beginning to think that maybe it had been originally used on the walls of the Nile forts the English took over when they occupied Egypt in the late C19th or, more likely, simply imported from Turkey in order to defend El Fasher town from the Anglo-Egyptian forces in 1916 (I think the Sudanese allied with the Ottomans (Turks) that year). Interesting to learn about the reasons for the v.long barrel as an effort to improve velocity and accuracy.

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