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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Royal Enfield: Made Like a Gun

"Royal Enfield, Made Like a Gun," is the slogan. In honor of Veterans Day, I decided to try to photograph my 1999 Royal Enfield Bullet with two of the "guns" at local war memorials here in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

I've always had an interest in antique artillery, so I knew where to find at least two that I might approach with the motorcycle without necessarily offending anyone. These are positioned near streets and, by riding the Enfield up onto the sidewalks and a couple feet onto the lawns, I got into position.

Hopefully my actions would not be seen as disrespectful.

The first gun was at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post. I got in a couple of fast shots before a grizzled fellow on a scooter motored across the grass toward me from the post hall.

Gun at the VFW

"Busted," I figured. But, no, he only wanted to talk about motorcycles. Turns out, he'd owned a Matchless, Ariel Square Four and others.

Next stop was the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum. This was a bit tricky since near the gun are bricks set in the lawn honoring individuals. Clearly, I had to keep my motorcycle off those. Again, a fellow stopped and came over but, again, I wasn't in trouble. He wanted to ask where to buy a Royal Enfield!

Naval Air Station Museum

Both these guns, and a third I know of in Miami Beach, are, I believe, 3-inch naval anti-aircraft guns of World War II vintage. All are on shipboard pedestal mounts. No doubt, these are easier to fasten down than field guns on wheels. No one wants their war memorial rolling away in the middle of the night to turn up on the lawn of the nearest high school.

Did they ever hit anything?

The gun at the Naval Air Station Museum is very short, a whimsical weapon no doubt designed in the day when attacking planes would have been flimsy and slow. The VFW gun looks seriously deadly, and the Miami Beach weapon looks long enough to threaten a modern attacker.

Defending Miami Beach

As usual, the guns on display have no labels to explain their type or significance. Markings on the guns themselves have been painted over so often that they can not be read.

The gun sight of the smallest cannon has a plaque you can read, but most of the other plaques on these guns have weathered beyond readability.

That is a shame. But I am sure that there are veterans out there who will recognize these. I thank them for their service and hope that these pictures awaken only proud memories.

4 comments:

  1. interesting. I just noticed this, you still have the rear foot pegs but no side stand? what gives? I will tell you that on mine, the side stand gave, right at the weld, which is why I now notice your's is missing.

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  2. I still have the side stand that came with the motorcycle when new; it's mounted well forward and is visible in the Naval Air Station photo. It is not properly placed, in my opinion, to hold the motorcycle securely, so I never use it. Thus, I guess, it never broke! I do still have the passenger pegs, an artifact of the original dual seat. I have always thought I would fit a pillion pad but never got around to it. All best.

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  3. Both are Naval guns, of course. The little guy looks like a 3"/23 Cal AA gun from WWI. (3" bore diameter, tube length 23 Calibers, or 3"x23=69" tube.) Effective ceiling around 10,000 feet, pretty ineffective by the end of the war.
    The longer gun looks like the standard 3"/50Cal of WWII. It was mounted on just about anything larger than a harbor tug. Thousands were made.
    Best,
    Dave Murray

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  4. Thanks, Dave. I figured somebody would know.

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