Signal Cannon
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Signal Cannon

The inset photo, top left is a small Signal Cannon. It would be used to fire salutes or warning signal shots. Some are used to this day to start yacht races.

Carronade

A CarronadeA British Carronade. This gun was presented to the Singapore Gun Museum Sentosa on 22nd October 1971 by Lt General Sir Peter Hunt, KCB, DSO, OBE, Commander Far East Land Forces.

The Carronade was originally a naval weapon designed to fire a heavy shot at short ranges. It was a short gun originally developed by a Scottish ironworks called the Carron Company in 1778. Half the weight of an equivalent long gun, it could throw a heavy ball of up to 42 Lbs (19Kg) up to 1200 yards (1100 metres). This lack of range was disadvantageous as it often allowed an enemy armed with conventional cannon to stand off at a safe distance and and fire without fear of being hit itself.

The Istana Guns

So called as these guns used to be at the Istana, the residence of the President of Singapore. They were sunk on the edge of the lawn, muzzle down so that only the breech end showed, and used as barriers to keep visitors off the grass.

The Istana Gunsone of the Istana Guns

The guns were moved to the Fort Siloso in 1978. They are naval muzzle loaders and were mounted in rows facing outwards through ports (openings) in the side of warships.

Detail on a gunDetail on a gunLEFT & RIGHT: Detail on two of the guns. The photograph on the left tells that the gun is a 9-Pounder.

The guns were served by highly trained and physically strong gun crews. They were normally fired in broadsides (simultaneously) to inflict maximum destruction upon the enemy at short range. They fired various forms of projectile; Solid shot, clusters of small shot known as Grape, Chain-shot and Bar-shot. Chain-shot consisted of two projectiles linked by a chain which could kill many members of an enemy crew with one sweeping blow, or disable and enemy ship by cutting rigging which supported the mast and sails. Bar-shot was two canon balls with an iron bar between them. Its purpose was similar.

Malay Cannon

Malay cannonMalay cannon

Cannon such as these were being manufactured nearly one hundred years before the arrival of Europeans to this part of the world. It is believed that gun making was introduced to the region by Muslim traders from the Middle East.

The cannon are smooth bore and muzzle loading. They were used as weapons of war and also signalled the start and end to fasts during the period of Ramadan. The firing of cannons was also used by royalty to announce a royal birth or wedding.

The Gun Museum