HMS Sutherland and the team responsible for the 4.5in main gun checked the efficacy and accuracy of the weapon at ranges recently.

“You can’t beat being on the ‘gunline’,” said Weapon Engineer Officer Lieutenant Commander George Blakeman in a news release from the Royal Navy.

“It’s always pleasing to have the smell of cordite through the ship and see brass on deck.”

According to the release, the 4.5in is a battle-proven weapon from the Falklands to Iraq, used to provide naval gunfire support to troops on the ground by softening up enemy targets.

“Whereas some of the mechanics behind the gun haven’t changed much down the years, the targeting system has improved markedly. These days, the gun relies on a computer system for pinpoint accuracy.

It can only be that accurate, however, if the data fed into it is bang on. Hence the shoot at Lulworth for muzzle velocity calibration (measuring the speed of the shell as it leaves the barrel – it should be travelling somewhere around 2,274 feet or 693 metres every second… That’s 1,550 miles per hour… or more than twice the speed of sound).”

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captain P Wash.

It’s a Quiet, Beauty Spot Most of the Time.

Durdle Dor has been a target for Decades now but Erosion and Climate change have been blamed for the Gurt Hole .

Steve Taylor
Daniele Mandelli

RGR the RAC use Lulworth as a gunnery school.
And Bovingdon is near by.


It’s a sight of special scientific interest, area of outstanding natural beauty and world heritage coast that the british armed force regularly try to blow up.

Trevor G

Better than knocking lumps off Cape Wrath…

Daniele Mandelli

Also have to mention Tyneham, the ghost village.

Steve Taylor

Actually MoD training areas are havens for wildlife.


There’s still some sighting bunkers down there fron the 2nd WW when the coast was used as one long bombing/rocket (in the case of Typhoons) range, very useful comfort stops for walkers these days.

I’m presuming they are using as a target the area that was commandeered during the war for D Day preparations and never given back where that ghost village still exists.


Being a shooter myself I’d quite like that 4.5″ gun in my rifle cabinet.

Nick Bowman

So now we know why Durdle Dor has a big hole in it…


There is a target bouy off the coast to shoot at. You can also do fires onto the ranges at Lulworth. For MV Cals you attach a doppler radar to the gun and measure the muzzle velocity of the round leaving the barrel. You need to factor in warmer rounds to get the barrel to working temperature and then do a series of shoots to measure the MV. MV, Shell lot and batch numbers for propellant, storage temp of the shell, humidity, wind speed, air temp at various altitudes, barrametric data, are all used to calculate the ballistic settings. If… Read more »


Just think of the fish


Oh and muzzle wear.. Which is calculated as increasing as the number of rounds fired increases. This can also be calculated from the MV cal.

Nick C

Gunbuster has it bang on, pun intended. The ship runs a line East of Portland Bill, going North South, and fires East towards Lulworth. The Buoys are about a mile or so off the coast, and the spotters sit in comfort on the coast and feed back the corrections. Always satisfying when you get the call “Four rounds, fire for effect”. Back in the day all corrections were fed into the system from a hand held circular slide rule, sounds agricultural but we still reckoned on three sighting rounds and the fourth onto the target. I don’t think you can… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Fire at Tyneham!

That would be appalling!

Bloke down the pub

My father was a DEMS rating during WW2 and his first big toy was a Japanese 1916 vintage 6″ gun. No range finder or anything, just walk the splashes up the ladder until you got it right, third time lucky if you were any good.

Nick C

The other reason for using the gun as often as possible is to fill the ship with lovely cordite fumes which reminds the whole ship that Gunnery rules, and everyone else is merely there to assist!

BV Buster

Lulworth used to be called the AFV gunnery school before they changed the name to the AFV technical training school when it merged with the Driving and maintenance lizards at Bovington. I have spent most of my adult life in that fine establishment which us odd for a 15 year old Chinese kid.

Nick C

RGR. There is nothing quite like making a lot of banging and smoke when the Queen is paying. Took a gunnery course to sea in a frigate off Gib, and got through 600 rounds in 5 days. Bliss. And kept some of the cartridges, because brass was quite valuable, got the ships side painted in Hong Kong.


The joys of PWO training off GIb. Reammo every couple of days as the mag is emptied…
On it that night then out for anotherr shoot with a headache

Shells cases do make lovely ashtray…

john martin

Did Range Control at Lulworth in the 1980s. Heritage always wanted the range walk opened to include the range which had six peterifed tree trunks,millions of years old, Heritage said the public had a right to see them. It took them years but in the end MOD gave in. The trees are gone,joe and jenny public wanted their bit to take home.When I mentioned this to Heritage on one meeting all I got was a blank stare,and banned from further meetings.

Daniele Mandelli

So sad.

Mod land has areas of SSI for just that reason. Public not allowed. And should stay that way!

john martin

All gunnery types need really tight control. that is why Tyneham still stands and is a delight to visit on a non firing day.

BV Buster

Tyneham is great to visit at night when its foggy, it’s incredibly eerie. You will be glad to hear range control is still going strong, still dealing with walkers getting lost and stopping the template going to red.


john martin

Yes and taking what they find home.


I remember the Cape Wrath range in the late 1970s. I had a Nav station ….well, it was a caravan with some kit in it. Jumped out of my bunk one morning as a result of some loud explosions. Got outside to see a bunch of F111 aircraft loosing off their Vulcan cannons at Garvie Island. Quite spectacular…not that the seagulls thought so!

Cam Hunter

I wonder if the 5” gun will replace these in future on the destroyers. Bigger warhead but not much more distance so I read.


The T26’s are to have the 5”.
I think the T45’s were meant to have their 4.5’s replaced with 5” guns.

BV Buster

We have all done it, dug up an old swingfire and took it home for the kids to play with.


BV Buster

That was for John

john martin

How about a live 120mm hesh round sitting beside the fire place,all black with a nice yellow band,lovely the Poole Police told us.

BV Buster

They should have blown it in situe and took the silly gits house out. They do make good door stops tho, clearly not live ones. It would be interesting to see what weird and wonderful ordnance is still down there, 100 years of firing everything imaginable.


john martin

Took it down range,made him and his wife watch,she knocked him flat when she saw the explosion. What she called him could never be printed here.

BV Buster

Harry HESH does make a good pop, old ones can be quite volatile, after a few decades you get little crystals of nastiness forming on the explosive that will detonate from a fly fart.


David Flandry

velocity = distance/time.

Philip Usherwood

Velocity vs speed

Partly right. Velocity = distance / time plus direction. Distance / time without direction is just speed.