Wargames wrote: ↑
18 Nov 2018 04:23
Conflict Archaeology in the Landscape: A Survey of World War II Defences at Selmun, Malta By Bernard Cachia Zammit November 2015
Yes, Zammit's thesis is an important source for understanding the design and construction of Fort Campbell. Too bad your research skills are not matched with understanding of the technology or honesty. You made the claim that the armored gun hoods in the batteries "wasn't added until 1943". Zammit actually says "In 1942, the gun mountings were replaced with newer ones of 45°degree elevations. These mountings allow better gun ranges, meaning guns could fire further. New additions also included metal shields providing cover for the gun crews." (pp. 140-141) The original two guns mounted in the battery were 6" Mark VII on Pedestal Mount (one of four types, all very similar). In 1942, the Mark VII guns and mounts were replaced by the Mark XXIV, which was the modified Mark VII Gun on a Mark V or VI Mount, which allowed elevations to 45°and incorporated and armored gun hood replacing the previous, semi-circular, gun shield.
The barbettes are also made of concrete and not steel. Any near hit would not just penetrate the concrete but turn it to shrapnel, killing the entire gun crew.
Again, why are you choosing to edit Zammit's language? "The barbette was dug into the limestone bedrock and covered with reinforced concrete (Photo 64). The seaward side was covered with a concrete mound to absorb impacts from artillery." (pp. 139-140) Perhaps its lack of understanding? Or the belief that coast defense battery designers were stupid enough to design such a killing mechanism into their plans? The "concrete mound" was not designed to "absorb impacts", but was a glacis, designed so that flat-trajectory naval projectiles would impact it and then graze or ricochet past the emplacement. The grazing impact could possible detonate an direct action or graze fuze, but were unlikely to create "shrapnel", which is a particular type of artillery projectile. It might cause some concrete fragmentation, but that is unlikely to discommode the artillerymen, who would be sheltering behind the gun shield of their pedestal mount (q.v.) if returning fire or below the reinforced concrete parapet.
However, a concrete barbette was better than no barbette at all.
I show it was manned by 72-78 soldiers in 1940.
Again, why choose to change things? Zammitt isn't actually equivocal, he states "After Italy’s declaration of war, the Campbell Battery was manned by 78 troops and two officers, with a captain as commander, assigned to the 1st Coastal Regiment, Royal Malta Artillery (Rollo 1999: 201)." And then, "As the war went on, the number of stationed troops gradually increased, reaching 214 troops by 1945 (Muscat 2007: 95)." (p. 130) So it would have been more accurate and honest to say "it was manned by 78 to 214 soldiers between 10 June 1940 and sometime in 1945". Of course, that ignores the various troops deployed around the fort, including the 8th Manchesters and various other detachments manning the beach and anti-parachute posts in Melleiha.
It had eight pillboxes in the walls, each one equipped with a heavy table machine gun and, I believe, a LMG, which covered all road approaches to the fort.
Why do you "believe"? Zammit states on p. 124 that the pillboxes were "armed with a Vickers water-cooled machine gun, a Bren light machine gun and Enfield bolt-action rifles for small-arms fire (Spiteri 1991: 222)." If you would bother to check with his source you would find that armament confirmed.
The rear doors to the pill boxes could also be locked against paratroopers and there were 40mm Bofors (possibly all eight on the island) that had their own crew shelters.
No, sorry, but the Bofors were a later addition to the defenses. The "all eight on the island" were the Dockyard Defence (later 30th LAA) Battery. Ten more 40mm Bofors arrived c. 22 August and ten more on 2 September, but all were disposed to defend the harbors and airfields. Additional arrivals on 10 November brought the total to 34 and by 11 February 1941, there were 52 light AA guns on Malta, of which three were not permanently manned due to lack of crews and five were manned by Infantry detachments.
Of course, if you could knock out both 6" guns you don't have to take it. It also goes completely ignored here that both guns were designed to face out to sea to challenge the way to Valletta. As a result they faced to the NE, E, and SE with limited 180 degree traverse, which pretty much eliminates all other directions (As one poster here seemed to believe they could be directed simply by an observer with a radio or "telephone" anywhere he desired.). In addition, their fire control gunnery plotting could not target a moving ship. As a result, they never hit anything in the war though they had several chances.
The northern gun position can bear on the approaches to Melleiha Bay from the point of the L-Ahrax peninsula around to the approaches of St Paaul's Bay to a point just west of Wignacourt Tower. The southern gun position bears on the approaches to Melleiha Bay from the NNE and E, down into St Paul's bat, covering the eastern approach to Mistra Bay.
No poster I am aware of has claimed those battery positions could bear inland to the west. What was commented on was your strange claim that "If you examine the 1942 British artillery map of Malta you will find they had an average visibility of only 1,200 yards" and that "To hit a target you first have to see it."
You were asked to supply some evidence for the "1942 British artillery map of Malta" you referenced. You haven't. Please do so. Furthermore, please provide a reference that shows that British coast artillery gunners were so ignorant in 1940 that "their fire control gunnery plotting could not target a moving ship". You appear to be conflating Zammit's sketchy account of the batteries wartime engagements on p. 131 with an absolute inability to do what they were designed to do, which is fatuous beyond belief. Yes, the batteries were upgraded with radar and a new and better plotting room, but that does not mean that before that they could not engage and hit targets.
BTW, in the 17 May engagement, the battery fired two rounds, not four as per Zammit's secondary account. The fire was plotted off a RDF azimuth, since it was 0105 hours, the targets were not illuminated by searchlights, and so they were firing blind. The targets then and in the single earlier case were MTB as well, which was not a vessel the 6-inch gun was designed to engage.
(Snip more speculative, a-historical nonsense that has become tiresomely and tediously repetitive.)