We’re completely fascinated by old manufacturing films. Previously we had dug up some videos showing locomotives being manufactured and serviced but this deal, the manufacture of a 12-inch gun to be used on a battleship, is amazing. Birth of a Big Gun is one heck of a watch. We see the process, step by step from the absolute beginning, starting with the plates that get melted down and ultimately cast into the shape of the gun. We see giant hunks of steel being hammered into shapes, we see workmen with absolutely no protection other than their own sense of self-preservation working around tools and materials that could kill them instantly. This had to have been a tough way to make a buck.
One of the other things that’s impressive about this is the fact that the film crew got some really innovative and amazing shots, like one that appears like it wold have been taken from a drone but since they were about 110 years in front of that technology it means that a camera guy was on the shop crane with all of his junk and riding it through the plant. Try that today!
The payoff is being able to see the gun fired at the end of the video, completing the circle of raw materials to finished product. Seeing the sailors next to it also illustrates how massive the gun is.
Here’s the caption from the video:
A new weapon is launched in the pre-WWI naval arms race. This striking film illustrates the processes in the casting and manufacture of a 12-inch, 50-calibre naval gun – the kind of gun that would be used on battleships between 1914 and 1918. It was filmed in early 1908 at the factory of Armstrong Whitworth & Co., based in Newcastle-on-Tyne. The scale of the operation from 85,000 kilos of molten steel to the massive form of the finished gun is nicely filmed to showcase its impressiveness.