Vasa fires imagination with new cannon

Christmas has come early for fans of iconic Swedish warship Vasa after experts built a replica of one of the cannons which featured on the vessel which sunk on its maiden voyage in 1628.

Vasa fires imagination with new cannon

The new cannon, which weighs in at a hefty 1300 kilos, has been painstakingly recreated in order to find out more about the type of naval warfare tactics employed during the 17th century. 

"We want to know why they chose this type of canon and what type of properties, performance and the effect these type of cannons had," Fred Hocker, director of research of the Vasa museum in Stockholm told Sveriges Television (SVT).

Sweden's Vasa warship is one of the country's most beloved vessels. It famously sank just 1300 metres into its maiden voyage when it left the docks just outside the Stockholm harbour and remained under water until 1961 when it was brought to the surface.

The restored ship now resides in the Vasa museum in the capital and is among the most visited tourist attractions in the country.

Experts have been working on the project since the start of the year to emulate the cannon producing skills of yesteryear. Sweden was the world's largest exporters of cannons during the 17th century and reproducing the mammoth weapon was a considerable challenge for those involved.

"It's a challenge to do something that they did back in 1628. We had never cast bronze at all here. It was a much bigger form than we usually use," Tomas Karlsson of the Tierps ironworks where the cannon was cast told SVT. 

The cannon making process was documented on a detailed blog on the Vasa musuem website. In addition to the bronze cannon centrepiece the experts also made the intricate ornamentation of different creatures which adorned weapons of that era.

"We had set up the mold the day before so we could concentrate on getting the metal mixture right…we ramped the furnace up to 1300C so while we transfered the metal into the room with the mold, it would not drop below our optimal pouring temperature of 1150C. The ladle was skimmed and poured. It went off without a hitch!" said sculpter Tom Ward on the Vasa website blog who described the task as an "incredible project."

The new cannon will also be tested using 250 kilos of specially made gunpowder in order to find out what type of impact the original weapon had back in 1628. It will then be handed over to the Vasa museum where it will form part of their collections.

The Local/pr

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