HC Deb 14 March 1889 vol 333 cc1643-4
CAPTAIN SELWYN (Cambridge, Wisbech)

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that. General Maitland, Director of Ordnance Factories, stated on the 6th of October, 1888, at the annual dinner of the Royal Arsenal Foremen's Association— That a wire gun had been made by them on Mr. Longridge's plan which had beaten everything before it, having attained the extra, ordinary range of twelve and a-half miles. Whether wire guns are made by Russia, France, and Germany on Mr. Longridge's plan, with great economy of time and money; whether he is aware that such wire guns are much stronger and more durable than the type of hooped gun now in use; whether such guns can be made in much shorter time (say one-third), and at much less cost (say one-eighth), than those in use at present; whether he is aware that Krupp, of Essen, have made several wire guns which have given brilliant results; but that they are not brought forward so long as orders are forthcoming for guns on the old system, in order that the enormous plant, which would be of no use for wire guns, may continue to be utilized; whether the same consideration influences the War Office; and, whether any, and, if so, what further trials or investigations of the Longridge system of making wire guns are in progress or contemplation?


I am informed that the report of General Maitland's statement is not quite accurate. He said that a gun made in the Arsenal on a design of his own, but embodying Mr. Longridge's principle of using wire as an auxiliary to give strength, had produced the results described. I believe a gun has been made in Russia on some modification of Mr. Longridge's plans; and a few years ago some were made in France, but failed. I know of no others. Weight for weight the wire guns are stronger; but they are not more durable than hooped guns, as the bores wear out equally in either case. At present it is uncertain whether there is any gain either in time or cost from the use of wire; but it is hoped that some little saving may result. It will not, however, as regards either time or money, be in anything like the proportion suggested in the question. I am not aware that Mr. Krupp has made any wire guns, and certainly no consideration for existing plant would prevent the War Office from adopting them if otherwise found desirable. Several wire guns are being made for trial.


May I ask whether any gun on Mr. Longridge's own plan has been tried?


Yes, Sir; one was tested and burst on the first round.


Was not that due to a flaw in the material, and not to any defect in the design.


The information I have does not bear out the suggestion of the hon. and gallant Member, but if he had seen the gun after it had burst, I do not think he would have wished any further experiments made in that direction.