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Armament Depot Jargon

Below is a list of specialised terms relating to armament depots - principally referring to structures and biased to the period 1900 -1950. There are a number of links on the Links Page which contain lists of terms relating to ammunition itself.

Ammunition - originally, projectiles to be fired from a gun, but later acquired a broader meaning of any explosive item used for military purposes. More recently, the term "Explosive Ordnance" has replaced it due to the proliferation of "non-gun" ammunition, e.g. guided weapons.

Ammunition Lot Number - a serial number that designates an individual lot of ammunition.

Anti-static Shoes - Shoes designed to dissipate static electricity from the body, but able to insulate in the event of electric shock. See also Conductive Shoes.

Armament - Weaponry used by a military or naval force.

Armco Magazine - prefabricated steel explosives storehouse of the Igloo type used by US Navy at Newington; named after the manufacturer.

Arisings - what is left over after the conduct of some operation, e.g. "the arisings from the cartridge breakdown comprised the cartridge case, cordite and primer."

Boffin - a twin power-worked Oerlikon Mk V or VC mounting adapted to take a single Gun, QF, 40/60 Bofors.

Bombproof Magazine - powder magazine with a strong, vaulted roof, originally to protect against mortar bombs lobbed at a high angle ("plunging fire").

Brivac - a hand-operated vacuum cleaner, for removing explosive dust, etc. from the fuze cavities of shell. (From British Vacuum Cleaner Company)

Burning Ground - an area where explosives such as cordite can be safely destroyed by open burning.

Cartridge Filling Room - a laboratory room dedicated to making up gunpowder into bag charges; later, a room where Quick Firing cartridges were made up by assembling a cartridge case, propellant, cordite, primer, etc.

Case Transporting Explosives (CTE) - a strong steel container, with lid secured by bolts and painted red. Used for the transport of small quantities of more sensitive explosives such as detonators. Also known as a "Detonator Tank".

Changing Room - originally known as Shoe Room - a building, room or lobby where staff could change into and out of special clothing and footwear.

Compatibility Group - letter designation assigned to indicate what may be shipped and transported together without significantly increasing either the probability of an accident or, for a given quantity, the magnitude of the effects of such an accident.

Conductive Shoes - footwear designed to dissipate static electricity from the body. See also Anti-static Shoes.

Cooperage - a workshop for making and repairing gunpowder barrels.

Cordite Magazine - lightly constructed (frangible) building for the storage of propellant (cordite), designed for maintaining stable temperature, and usually protected by traverses.

Danger Signal - most commonly a red flag (International Code "B") meaning "I am taking in, carrying or discharging explosives".

Defuzing Machine - a machine for removing a fuze from a gun projectile "under precautions".

Destructor Furnace - a gas or diesel fuelled furnace, remotely operated, for safely destroying by incineration small explosive items such as small arms ammunition, aircraft power cartridges, etc. One type was known as a Rankin Furnace (sometime spelt Ranken and Rankine). The origin of the name isn't known - it may have been the manufacturer's name.

Detonator Store - storehouse for small quantities of the most sensitive explosives.

Earth-covered Storage - earth-covered building/magazine consisting of a box-type or arch-type structure built on the original surface level.

Electromobile - battery electric locomotive for hauling ammunition trucks on a light railway.

Explosives Area - an area used for the handling, processing and storing of ammunition and explosives.

Empty Case Store - storehouse for ammunition and component packages.

Examining Room (House) - a building for unheading barrels of gunpowder and examining the contents.(Prior to about 1875, known as a "Shifting House".)

Expense magazine - a magazine for holding a small quantity of ammunition or explosives, sufficient for a day's work; a small magazine attached to a fortification or gun emplacement.

Explosives Ordnance - ordnance that is explosive in nature. See also "Ammunition".

Explosives Workshop - any structure used for the inspection, maintenance and renovation of ammunition and explosives. See also "Laboratory".

Exposed Site - a magazine, cell, stack, truck or trailer loaded with ammunition, explosives workshop, inhabited building, assembly place or public traffic route, which is exposed to the effects of an explosion (or fire) at the potential explosion site under consideration.

Field Storage - storage of ammunition in the open, usually stacked on dunnage and covered with tarpaulins.

Floating Magazine - a vessel condemned as unfit for sea service,and used in harbour as a store for gunpowder. Also known as a Powder Hulk.

Fuze and Tube Store - storehouse for fuzes (used to initiate projectiles) and tubes (used to fire cordite propelling charges in breech loading guns).

Guncotton Magazine - magazine for storage of guncotton - typically a small version of a Cordite Magazine. Could be for either wet or dry guncotton.

Gunwharf - originally, a wharf where ordnance (large guns) was transferred or stored, later applied to a depot, storehouse or yard used for gun storage. As guns became larger and more complex, the barrel and breech mechanism would be stored separately from the gun mounting, hence "Gunmounting Depot" or "Gunnery Equipment Depot". With the introduction of other types of weapons, the collective term "Weapon Equipment Depot" came into use.

In RAN usage around 1950, gunwharf stores comprised guns and all stores associated with them, with the exception of:

Hazard Classification - the assignment of a type of ammunition to the correct hazard division, according to tests or other assessment, and the appropriate compatibility group.

Hazard Division (HD) - indication of the type of hazard to be expected in the event of an accident.

Igloo - a magazine, normally built at ground level, with earth-covered roof, sides and rear, and constructed in corrugated steel or reinforced concrete, provided with a strong headwall and door(s).

Imperial Stocks - ammunition held on the account of the British Government (or in the 20th century, the Royal Navy. Distinguished from Colonial Stocks (to 1901) or Commonwealth Stocks (post 1901).

Isolation Magazine or Storehouse - a small magazine or explosives storehouse for small quantities of explosives or ammunition suspected of being unsafe.

Laboratory - a room, building or group of rooms where ammunition was examined, repaired, filled or assembled. (From Medieval Latin laboratorium - a workshop)

Lamp Passage - an internal passage in a magazine, separate from the storage chambers, and providing access to Lamp Recesses where Magazine Lamps were positioned to throw light into the chambers.

Lamp Recess - an alcove or small tunnel in a wall for placing a lamp in.

Lamp Room - room for filling and maintaining oil lamps used to light magazines.

Lot - A quantity of munitions, munition components or explosives, each of which is manufactured by one manufacturer under uniform conditions, and which is expected to function in a uniform manner.

Lulu - a lockable 40 ton steel ammunition lighter (from lock up lighter)

Luting - A substance for packing a joint to make it dust-tight or waterproof. Used to seal explosives packages. Originally substances such as beeswax or tallow were used as luting.

Magazine, Powder or Gunpowder - storehouse for bulk gunpowder and other dusty explosives.

Magazine Barrow - a hand barrow for transporting gunpowder barrels.

Magazine Depot - a depot for storing ammunition (explosives ordnance)

Magazine Galoshes - overshoes for use in gunpowder magazines. Also known as Magazine Shoes.

Magazine Precautions (Conditions) - measures taken to reduce the risk of inadvertent initiation of dusty explosives. Typically, the interior of the magazine is constructed so that there is no exposed iron or steel. At the entrance, there is a lobby or barrier, inside which persons about to enter the magazine change into special clothing (so that they do not collect explosive dust on their usual clothing) and shoes or magazine galoshes made without nails.

Merchant's Powder - gunpowder imported by merchants, and required by law to be lodged in a Public Magazine.

Naval Armament Depot - a depot that stores naval weaponry, including, in RAN usage c. 1950, explosives, ordnance and gunmountings. Replaced the term "Naval Ordnance Depot" in 1921.

Net Explosives Quantity/Content (NEQ/NEC) - the total explosives contents of an item of ammunition.

Ordnance - 1. military supplies, materiel. 2. the portion of a cannon or naval gun comprising the barrel, breech and the breech closing mechanism (e.g. Ordnance 6-Inch Breech Loading Mk. VII). The remainder of the gun is the "mounting" (naval service) or "carriage" (land service). See also "Explosive Ordnance").

Potential Explosion Site (PES) - the location of a quantity of explosives that will create a blast, fragment, thermal or debris hazard in the event of an accidental explosion of its content.

Powder Ground - a designated anchorage or mooring for ships to load or discharge explosives.

Powder Hulk - a vessel condemned as unfit for sea service,and used in harbour as a store for gunpowder. Also known as a Floating Magazine.

PROBAN® - First developed in the 1950s, the PROBAN® chemical is used to inpart a durable flame retardant treatment to cotton and other cellulosic fibres and blends. Used to flameproof explosives workers coveralls.

Produce - material that has been approved for disposal and which has a residual value, for example as scrap metal.

Proof House - a building where ammunition or propellant samples could be tested by a variety of means, including functioning.

Public Magazine - a magazine in which merchant's powder was required to be lodged.

Quantity Distance - the minimum permissible distance between a potential explosion site, containing a given quantity of explosives, and an exposed site. The quantity distance is based on an acceptable risk to life and property from the effects of a mass fire or an explosion.

Radio and Radar Radiation Hazards (RADHAZ) - the risk of inadvertent ignition of electroexplosive devices and inflammables, injury to personnel or malfunction of safety critical electronic systems resulting from exposure to electromagnetic radiation environment in the frequency range emitted by radio and radar installations.

Restriction List - a list of specific lots of ammunition suspended from issue and use as unsafe or unreliable, whether known or suspected.

Revetment - A retaining wall that supports an embankment such as a traverse (see below). Also applied to a masonry wall used to protect a building (exposed site) from an explosion at another explosives facility (potential explosion site). In RAAF usage, an open site for bomb storage, contained within an earth traverse. Sometimes known as a barricade. Originally, the masonry of the outward slope of a rampart or the inner slope of a ditch comprising part of a fortification.

Shalloon - A type of special coarse wool twilled on both sides used in making propellant bags. Flannel and serge were alternatives.

Shell Filling Room - a laboratory room dedicated to filling shell with powder charges; in some depots (not Australia), a room for melting explosives such as TNT and filling empty shells with the melted explosive.

Shell Painting Room - a room for repainting and stencilling filled shell.

Shell Scraping Room - a room for scraping filled shell to remove old paint before repainting.

Shell Store - a lightly constructed storehouse for filled shell.

Shifting House (Room) - a staff facility for changing clothing, washing, bathing etc., particularly in the context of handling nitro explosives. (Prior to about 1875, this term referred to what was later known as an "Examining Room", i.e. a building for unheading barrels of powder and examining the contents.)

Sidney Williams Building - prefabricated steel building, used extensively during World War 2. Named after the manufacturer. Used by US Army at Kingswood.

Silk Cloth - material for making propellant bags - superseded Shalloon and Serge.

Smoking Box - lockable box used to transport smoking materials, matches and lighters between the entrance of an armament depot and places where smoking was permitted.

Station Monogram - station monograms are found marked on ammunition, components and packaging. They serve to identify the "station" that produced or last handled the item to which they are applied.

Ton - in relation to storage of ammunition, a measure of volume, also known as a shipping ton. 1 shipping ton equals 40 cubic feet (US) or 42 cubic feet (UK)).

Traverse - an embankment or cover (usually constructed of earth) designed primarily to protect a building (exposed site) from an explosion at another explosives facility (explosion site), thus preventing propagation of the explosion, and minimising injuries to people and property damage. Traverses work by intercepting outgoing debris, particularly that projected at a low angle to the ground, and receiving incoming debris, and may be partially or fully destroyed (by design) in the process. Traverses also serve as a barrier to radiant heat and flame. Some traverses were natural, as where a building was cut into a hillside, or made of concrete. Originally used in the sense of an earth bank positioned so as to protect troops from enfilade fire or to minimise the effect of a bursting shell. (See also Revetment, above.)

"Under Precautions" - refers to operations on explosives using equipment or methods that protect the operators from injury in the event of an explosion.

Unit Load - a load of ammunition designed to be carried, stored and handled as a separate unit.

Vauban, Marshal Sebastien le Prestre de (1633 - 1707)- a distinguished French fortification architect who established general design principles for gunpowder magazines.

Wadmiltilt - a strong woollen cloth covering used to shield gunpowder barrels during transport, or the floor of a laboratory whilst handling loose gunpowder. Designed to prevent ignition from sand, grit or spark. Leather hides or hair cloths were used as an alternative. (From Old English "wadmal" - a kind of woollen cloth - and "tilt" - a cover of coarse cloth, canvas etc. for a wagon, boat etc.)

Warder - a keeper (one having charge of buildings or grounds), or watchman at a magazine.

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Robert Curran
borclaud @ tpg.com.au