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Maker's plate for gun mounts on HMAS AUSTRALIA (II)

Date: 1927
Dimensions:
Overall: 95 x 170 mm, 200 g
Medium: Brass
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from D McDonnell
Classification:Visual communication
Object Name: Builder's plate
Object No: 00004146

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    Description
    This maker's plate is from the eight-inch twin mounting on Royal Australian Navy cruiser HMAS AUSTRALIA. The plate is inscribed:

    "8 Inch Twin Mountings. / Mark. I. / Made by Armstrong Whitworth & Co Ltd. / Wt Cradle Complete, 11 1/4 Tons. / (Including Balance Weight). / Examined at Elswick. / Admiralty Reg No. 1927 / A.N.I.L."
    SignificanceThis plate was taken from the eight-inch guns of HMAS AUSTRALIA, and is a record of the limitations set on naval guns as a result of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922.
    HistoryHMAS AUSTRALIA (II) was a County Class heavy cruiser built by John Brown & Co Ltd of Clydebank, Scotland and launched in March 1927. AUSTRALIA was commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy on 24 April 1928, and four months later departed Portsmouth arriving in Sydney on 23 October. The vessel spent six years with the Australia Station, and in December 1934 sailed for England. AUSTRALIA served with the British forces until July 1936, and returned to Australia arriving in Sydney on 11 August 1936. The ship remained in Australian waters, with the exception of cruises to New Zealand and New Guinea between April and July 1937. On 24 April 1938, AUSTRALIA was paid off into Reserve, but was recommissioned in August 1939.

    During World War II, the ship's complement increased from 679 to 848, and AUSTRALIA conducted operations in the Indian and South Atlantic Oceans acting as a convoy escort and protecting shipping routes. The ship also served in the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Guadalcanal invasion, the Battle of Leyte Gulf and allied landings at Lingayen Gulf.

    On 21 October 1944 AUSTRALIA was damaged when a Japanese fighter plane collided with the ship, killing the commanding officer Captain E F V Dechaineux and several others. Whether or not it was a kamikaze attack has been the subject of much speculation. After attacks in January 1945, AUSTRALIA underwent a major refit in the UK and stayed there for the remainder of the war. AUSTRALIA returned to Sydney on 16 February 1946. The cruiser was mainly used as a training ship, and was eventually sold for scrap in January 1955 and broken up at Barrow-in-Furness, UK in 1956.

    In 1897 English engineers William Armstrong and Joseph Whitworth merged their businesses, forming Armstrong Whitworth & Co Ltd. Armstrong's previous company had a long history of engineering, beginning with hydraulic machinery, expanding into armament production, and eventually shipbuilding. Armstrong Whitworth & Co manufactured a wide range of military equipment and transport in the early 20th century, from truck manufacture to military aircraft.

    After the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, limitations were set on naval guns. Article 12 in Chapter 1 of the Treaty stated that "No vessel of war of any of the Contracting Powers hereafter laid down, other than a capital ship, shall carry a gun with a calibre in excess of 8 inches (203 millimetres)". Armstrong Whitworth & Co manufactured 8-inch caliber guns which became the main weapon on naval cruisers. The company merged another prominent defence and transport company Vickers Limited in 1927, forming Vickers-Armstrongs.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Maker's plate for gun mounts on HMAS AUSTRALIA (II)

    Assigned title: 8 Inch twin mountings. Mark 1. Made by Armstrong Whitworth & Co. Ltd. Weight with cradle 11 1/4 Tons. . Examined at Elswick Admiralty Reg. No. 1927 A.N.I.L

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