Object Title

Gun - The Great Turkish Bombard

Gun - The Great Turkish Bombard



Object Number



Acquired from the Turkish Government in 1868 as result of negotiations initiated by Major General J.H.Lefroy, R.A., F.R.S., later General Sir John Lefroy, K.C.M.G., C.B. Transferred in 1929 from the Rotunda Museum, Woolwich, where it was No.II, 189.

Physical Description

This very large gun is made in two pieces, chase and breech, the two parts screwing together. The breech is shorter and of slightly smaller diameter than the chase. Both parts are cast with prominent double mouldings at either end which are joined longitudinally by sixteen crosspieces to form an equal number of sockets for the insertion of the levers used in screwing or unscrewing the two parts. The rest of the length is divided by rounded mouldings, five on the chase and three on the breech. The surface between the outermost of these mouldings and the prominent mouldings at the ends is filled with two interlocking bands of formalised flower or leaf ornament, one raised, the other sunken. The muzzle is inscribed in Turkish in relief: 'Help O God. The Sultan Muhammad Khan, son of Murad. The work of Munir Ali in the month of Rejeb. In the year 868' (Muhammad Khan= Mahomet II, Sultan of Turkey, 1430-81; 868=A.D. 1464). Near the vent are engraved directions for loading which may be translated as follows:

Diameter, chamber, 7 parmak, 80 nokta (9.4in) (23.9cm): muzzle, 20 parmak (26.7in) (67.8cm): shot, 19 parmak, 25 nokta (23.8in) (60.4cm). Weight of shot, 240 okes (676lb) (306.6kg) Charge, 17.5 okes (49.35lb) (22.4kg).

The bore shows score marks made by the stone shot.


Dimensions: Length complete: 17 ft (204 in) (518.2 cm), Length breech: 5 ft 6 in (66 in) Weight: Breech: 8 tons 16 cwt (8941 kg), Barrel: 8 tons (8128 kg)


Serial Number None visible


Barrel: 2 ft 1 in (63.5 cm); Chamber: 9 in (22.9 cm)


Places Turkey

Bibliographic References

H.L.Blackmore, The Armouries of the Tower of London, Ordnance Catalogue, H.M.S.O. London 1976, p.172.


The negotiations were commenced in 1857 when the 18th century gun No.245 (qv) was sent to England by mistake.
It may have been made in two pieces to facilitate casting or to make transport rather easier. Five stone shot for this gun are in the Armouries (No.306). The Turkish units of measurement 'parmak' (lit. 'fingers') and 'notka' (lit. 'points') are the approximate equivalent of 1.25in and .03in respectively, an 'oke' being equivalent to 2.82lb. In an article on this gun, General Lefroy stated that the engraved inscription was a modern addition, basing this assertion on the fact that the powder chamber would in fact hold a charge of 150lb of powder, the much lesser amount given in the inscription being due to the improved and stronger powder of the early 19th century ('The Great Cannon of Muhammad II, 'Arch. Journ.' XXV (1868, 261-80). However, Turkish measurements varied so greatly in different periods and even from place to place that they must be regarded as unreliable evidence. For firing, No.242 and its companions were mounted on wooden beds with large wooden recoil beds behind them and they were capable of firing across the Straits, i.e. over one mile. They damaged six of the ships of Sir John Duckworth's squadron when he attempted to force the Straits in 1807.