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Rare Disappearing Gun extracted

A rare historic artillery barrel has been extracted from NZ Defence Force land on the Miramar Peninsula today.

Image of the rare historic artillery barrel is courtesy of the New Zealand Defence Force.

The gun, believed to be a rare eight-inch Breech Loading Hydro Pneumatic coastal defence gun, also known as the disappearing gun, was discovered partially exposed above ground last year by Department of Conservation staff carrying out work in the Fort Gordon area.

NZ Army Engineers today carried out the extraction, before the gun is restored with the help of Sir Peter Jackson and The Vintage Aviator Limited.

Disappearing guns were designed to recoil downwards into a protected pit after firing, allowing them to be reloaded while out of view of the enemy.  They were installed from the late 1880s to protect New Zealand’s major ports from naval attack by rival Imperial powers.  At the time the most likely threat was thought to come from the Russians.

Director Heritage, Commemorations and Protocol, New Zealand Defence Force, John McLeod said the gun was an extremely interesting find.

“There are very few eight-inch Breech Loading guns left anywhere in the world. Guns of the type found on the Miramar Peninsula were only ever used in New Zealand.

“Only ten of these all-steel guns were ever constructed. With only four other surviving guns of this kind in New Zealand, this is a very rare and fascinating find.

“It is important that the gun is preserved and restored in the appropriate way to ensure this piece of New Zealand’s history remains intact for many years to come,” John McLeod said.

Manned by artillery volunteers backed up by a small unit of military professionals, the installation of these guns marked a very important stage in the development of an independent New Zealand Defence Force.

The Fort Gordon gun has been located on Miramar Peninsular since proof firing took place in 1896. The gun barrel weighed 13 tons, and its hydro-pneumatic carriage 23 tons.

The gun barrel was removed from its original mounting in around 1924.

Updated on 23rd July 2015