Rinella Battery and the hundred Ton Gun, Rinella Fort, Kalkara, Malta
This Fort Rinella Map shows the location of the 100 ton gun & the Rinella Battery. Click the name in the left column below to highlight the location on the map.
Zoom the Interactive Google Map out to see the Fort's location
Also known as Fort Rinella
The entrance to Fort Rinella, Malta
As fortifications on Malta go, Fort Rinella is a baby, being built between 1878 and 1886 by the British during the reign of Queen Victoria. Besides the name Fort Rinella it is also called the Rinella battery, because it was built around and to protect a monstrous 100 ton gun, the largest gun made at that time.
The fort was home to 30 gunners.
British manufactured by William George Armstrong of Newcastle upon Tyne. Besides manufacturing the worlds finest armaments Armstrong also built the famous Newcastle Swing Bridge.
Although there are informative signs around the fort giving information about the area you are in, I highly recommend that you join one of the 45 minute conducted tours of the fort.
The gun actually weighed 156 tons, and had a rifled barrel just over 17 inches (45 cm) internal diameter. Because it was rifled the gun fired a shell, not a cannon ball weighing 1 ton. The range of the gun was 8 miles and the shell could penetrate 21 inches of armour.
These tours are conducted by a group of volunteers from Malta Heritage Trust dressed in period soldiers uniforms . Not only do they give very informative talks about the workings and life of the fort but they perform various drills and demonstrations, some of which I have tried to capture in the photographs and descriptions below. Well worth the extra charge.
After paying for entrance around Lm3 for adults and paying an extra LM2 for the tour you are take to a field near the entrance to the site to see a large cannon being fired
Click on any thumbnail photograph for an enlargement
Your tour guide dressed in period army uniform explains what the gun crew are doing to prepare and fire the cannon.
The gun crew check the cannon to make sure that the cannon has not already been loaded. This is done by running the pole held by the gunner on the right,
down the barrel. The screw end can be used for removing wadding or the black powder charge. Left photograph above
The entrance to the fort is protected by several methods:
The design of the road and it's bend to the entrance is such that the Fort entrance gate is hidden from view by the recessing of the road & the grass ban, thus protecting the entrance gate at the fort rear from long distance canon fire.
Because the road sweeps round the rear of the fort it can be raked by canon fire from the ramparts, and also by musket fire from the loopholes through the rampart parapet..
The entrance was guarded by a sentry and a drawbridge. The original draw bridge was not raised but pulled inside of the fort, through the gate on rollers.
The thick wood of the gate was reinforced with iron plate making it bullet proof. The gate also had closable loopholes through which the guards could fire at attackers
The barracks are located just inside the gate on the left, and this room had a windows with a metal shutter that had 2 musket loopholesso that fire could be directed
Opposite the guardroom are the barracks with a row of windows similar to the one in the guardroom with similar fire power. The 2 windows nearest the gate are located at a slightly higher level than the rest.
Barrack Room Windows & Loopholes
Further down the entrance passage on the left is the cookhouse.
At theother end of the , entrance passage way at right angles is a wide passageway reccessed into the ground but without a roof. This is where the Bayonet Drill Demonstration took place.
Off this passage way are:
The dry ditch completely surrounds the fort and was defended by:
|A demonstration of bayonet drill was provided showing different methods of holding the weapon for both low and high attacks.|
100 Ton Gun
One of the rare occassions when the gun is fired
Shell weight 1 Ton
Underground casement with 2 shells on display and the rail tracks for shell & fireing charge trasportation from Magazine to lift under the loading turret
The shell are stored within a trench inside the magazine.
showing Gun, Wash out apparatus, Loading Chamber / Turret, loading truck, lift & rammer
The massive size of the 100 ton gun at Rinella Fort can be gauged by the over 6 foot tall man stood next to it
Beneath the gun and on both sides were the magazines for the shells and a separate one for the gunpowder firing charge.
Each set of magazines had rail tracks for shell transportation, lifts, muzzle loading turrets and rammer. The two sets were used alternatively to increase the firing rate to 1, one ton shell ever 6 minutes. In the diagram abve the loading turret is called the loading chamber
The Gun, lifts and rammer were operated by hydraulic power provided by a steam engine. A manual backup system was provided for the hydraulic power.
The 100 ton gun was fired twice a year for practice, and never fired in anger.
The gun was almost obsolete by the battery completion in 1886, and officially declared obsolete in 1906
This was due to rapid development in armaments:
The signaling methods were all visual and used, mirrors i.e heliographs to reflect the sun, semaphore flags and a larger visual object method.