HL Deb 07 June 1886 vol 306 cc1117-9

, in rising to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether, in the forthcoming trials of the effect of shots against the armour-clad Resistance, he would test the effect of concussion caused by a shot striking a pilot or conning tower? said, that several years ago he made a similar request, and he was afterwards told—"We have tried your experiment; we put a dog, a cat, and a goat into a turret while we were firing, and we found that the concussion did not have the slightest effect upon them." Now, it so happened that no animals could have been selected that were less susceptible to the effects of concussion, and he, therefore, did not consider the test applied to these animals was any experiment at all. He could have told the Admiralty beforehand that the effect of concussion upon these animals in a turret open to the air would be simply nil Again, he made the request that one of these towers might be fired at. To show the importance of applying such a test he described these turrets. In some cases access was gained by a staircase from below, and in others from the upper deck. Inside there were a large number of speaking tubes communicating with every department of the ship, and these were secured by bolts and nuts. The inside of the turret was practically the eyes and brains of the ship, and in time of emergency the heads of the departments would be in the turret. In one he had counted 80 screw bolts, and the effect of a shot striking a tower would be that 40 of these would be started. He believed the effect of concussion upon the officers inside would be to kill them at once. Thus a ship would be paralyzed at once. A year or two ago certain tests were applied on board the Inflexible. A shot was fired so that the explosion passed along the upper deck and by the conning tower. Inside there had been placed lighted candles, glasses of water, and paper diaphragms. The lights were blown out, the water was upset, and the diaphragms were cracked. The experiment which he suggested had never been tried in this or in any other country; but the general opinion in the Navy was that if a shot struck the conning tower of a vessel the whole thing would be knocked overboard.


, in reply, said, he did not think it would be possible to make the experiment suggested by the noble Lord on board the Resistance. There was no conning tower on board that vessel, and a very considerable time would necessarily elapse before one could be erected. The only experiment that would be effective would be to fire a shot at a real conning tower constructed like other towers. The experiments on board the Resistance, which would be of very great importance, were now arranged, and under these circumstances he did not think it would be desirable to delay them for several months in order to erect a conning tower. He would, however, take the matter into consideration, and would consult with his Colleagues and the professional advisers at the Admiralty with a view to see whether such experiments as the noble Lord had suggested could be made.