HMS BELFAST museum gallery 1

HMS Belfast is a light cruiser belonging to the Edinburgh subclass within the Town class. She was launched in March 1938 and entered service in August 1939. The ship has a length of 187 meters, a beam of 21 meters and a maximum displacement of 13,885 tons. Her main armament is made up of twelve 152mm guns distributed in four triple turrets.
The crew was made up of 781 people, which increased to 880 when HMS Belfast served as Flagship. Her 4 boilers developed 80,000 shp of maximum power, which allowed her a maximum speed of 32 knots. The ship was protected, being the maximum armor of 114mm in the main belt.
HMS Belfast did not start WWII with good luck, since she struck a German mine in November 1939 and this kept it in dry dock for more than 2 years. However, the war continued and HMS Belfast ended up being the ship that fired the first shot at the German positions on the historic D-Day.
After WWII she participated intensively in the Korean War between 1950-52. She subsequently received an extensive modernization between 1956 and 1959 that allowed her to remain in service until 1963, when she was placed in reserve in Fareham Creek, Portsmouth.
Efforts began in 1967 to have HMS Belfast preserved. Despite some initial reluctance, the ship was classified as suitable for preservation in June 1968 by a committee composed by the National Maritime Museum, the Imperial War Museum, and the Ministry of Defense. Nevertheless, it was not until 1971 when a private Trust arose to obtain the transfer of the ship from the government, which at that time was against preservation. Finally, the government agreed to the transfer of HMS Belfast to the Trust in July 1971 and the ship opened to the public on Trafalgar Day, 21 October 1971. Currently the ship is under the direction of the Imperial War Museum and is Europe’s last big gun armoured warship and since 2006 is part of the National Historic Fleet.
PORT ANCHOR: At the bow end is the 5.5 ton port anchor and the cables for its movement. Currently the anchor has no use and is shown for educational purposes only.
BRIDGE: The ship’s castle is formed by two bridges. One of them houses the “Compass Platform” from where the ship’s operations are controlled. The second bridge houses the Admiral of the fleet and his staff when HMS Belfast was acting as Flagship.
SUPERSTRUCTURE & MAIN MAST: From the spacious boatdeck you can see the rear of the superstructure and the main mast.
BOATDECK: The boatdeck is really spacious and during WWII it was used as a platform for two reconnaissance seaplanes. On the left is the crane, in the center we can see one of the funnels, followed by the aft mast, fire directors for the 102mm and 40mm guns and a double 102mm gun mount.
ELECTRIC CRANE: Behind the bridge is a 7-ton electric boat crane. In this image you can see in detail the capstan machinery space and the system that drives the crane’s boom.
ELECTRIC CRANE: Top view of the crane’s boom and the boatdeck from the roof of the rear of the bridge.
FORWARD DIRECTOR CONTROL TOWER: HMS Belfast had 2 Director Control Towers (DCT), one placed on the roof of the castle and another located in the after superstructure. The forward DCT (on the image) could operate the four 152mm turrets simultaneously and the after DCT could operate the two after turrets independently if necessary.
QUARTERDECK: Access to visit HMS Belfast is via a walkway that links the ship’s quarterdeck to the riverside embarkment. From here you have an excellent view of the River Thames and the Tower Bridge.
SHIP’S BATTLE HONOURS: On the quarterdeck you can see the “Ship’s Battle Honors” that shows the main campaigns in which HMS Belfast participated during her career. Under the crest is the motto “Pro Tanto Quid Retribuamus”, which means “For so much, how shall we repay?”.
SHIP’S SILVER BELL: Next to the “Ship’s Battle Honors” is the “Ship’s Silver Bell”, which is also visible from the quarterdeck. This bell was given as a gift by the citizens of Belfast in October 1948. When HMS Belfast was on duty, the bell rang every 30 minutes.
SHIP’S PIGGY BANK: In 2003 the daily cost of keeping the ship in top condition was 1,000 GBPs, which is a really huge annual cost. HMS Belfast is supported by ticket collections, gift shop sales, and private contributions. Any visitor who wishes can leave its contribution in this impressive mine that serves as a piggy bank. These small contributions to the museum are more than welcome and help it to remain open.
FORWARD “A” & “B” 152mm GUN TURRETS: HMS Belfast‘s main battery consists of twelve Mk.XXIII 6-inch (152mm) guns in four triple turrets, two forward and two aft. Here we can see the forward turrets with the guns raised and pointing, (according to the museum’s own data), to a target located 20 km away located in north-west London, specifically the “Scratchwood Motorway Services Area on the M1”.
AFT “X” & “Y” 152mm GUN TURRETS: Here we can see the two aft turrets located in the aft superstructure. Each turret has a weight of 175 tons and they were operated by 49 men in total. 27 of them served in the turret gun house, and another 22 were stationed in the shell rooms and magazines located beneath each of the turrets.
152mm GUN TURRET INTERIOR: It is possible to access the interior of the turret and see the small space from where HMS Belfast “breathed fire” towards the enemy. You can see the three breeches of the guns, just under each of the three red circles. Each gun could fire a maximum of 8 shells per minute and had a maximum range of 22,000 meters.
MECHANICAL HOITS: Cordite charges and shells were moved to the turrets by mechanical hoists (on the image). The cordite charges were stored in magazines and they had to cross 4 decks to reach the turrets.
SHELL ROOM: The 152mm shells were stored in a “Shell Room”, placed on a kind of carousel that rotated to bring them closer to the mechanical hoists which brought them up. Despite the shells were mechanically raised into the turrets, they were manually rammed into the guns to be fired.
SHELL ROOM: Each turret had its own “Shell Room” and “Magazine” below it, separated by heavy armor to prevent a simultaneous explosion if hit. In addition, the magazines could be independently flooded if necessary to prevent disastrous explosions. The blue colored shells were for training (drill) and lacked an explosive charge.
102mm DUAL GUN MOUNTING: HMS Belfast also had a secondary battery consisting of four, (six during WWII), Twin 4-inch (102mm) HA/LA Mk.XIX mountings. These were dual purpose guns, hence the designation HA/LA (high angle/low angle), and were used primarily in antiaircraft role, although they could also be used to attack surface targets.
40mm TWIN BOFORS AA GUN MOUNTING: Originally the anti-aircraft defense was mainly in charge of four 40mm Twin Bofors Mk.V mountings that are located two on each side of the bridge. During the modernization, two more assemblies were installed on the after superstructure. The mounts were trained and elevated by hand and were controlled by two Close Range Blind Fire Directors (CRBFD).
Mk.IX 21-inch (533mm) TORPEDO: HMS Belfast carried six Mk.IX 21-inch torpedoes in two triple revolving mounts located one on each side between her funnels. These mounts were removed during the modernization carried out in the 50s.

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