Quick firing 25-pounder, Mk II

25 pounder Mk II

This week we are beginning to prepare the objects in the Large Exhibits Gallery for their movement and storage this autumn. After weeks of preparation we have put together a work schedule to ensure we can access the objects and have the equipment we need. This is a team effort involving many departments from the museum including, design, communications and marketing, security and visitor services.

Over the next five weeks, we will be conserving 40 objects in the Large Exhibits Gallery. Some will take a few hours to prepare while others will take a few days. Many of these objects such as the 9.2inch Howitzer Mk I, and Naval 5.5inch Mk I (Jack Cornwell’s gun) have made their home at the museum since 1989.

One of the first objects we will be working on is the British 25-pounder QF Mk II. This was a standard British Field Gun of the Second World War, which combined gun and howitzer. The one that’s on display in the gallery is a Mk II on a Mk I carriage. It served with the 11th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery in North Africa, and on 2 July 1942 it was used to halt a major German advance at Ruweisat Ridge, the Regiment suffering nearly 25 per cent casualties during this action.

Leatherwork detail on 25-pounder QF Mk II

The leather accessories are brittle and require conservation as the top surface of the leather is beginning to break away.

Metal detail on 25-pounder QF, Mk II

You can see where the corrosion has started to develop on the handle.

The polished metal has been lacquered but through repeated handling the lacquer has worn through and the metal is beginning to corrode. This lacquer will be removed and replaced with a protective wax to prevent further tarnishing and corrosion in storage.

Simon, our conservation intern, studying for an MSc in Conservation Practice, will be working with Rob, our conservation technician, to prepare the 25-pounder this Thursday 19  July between 10am and 11am, so come say hello and find out more and ask us questions about conservation.

If you can’t make it, leave your questions about how we care and conserve exhibits like the British 25-pounder in the comments below and we’ll do a round-up of answers on the blog next week.

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