Ode to Oerlikon (Manawatu)
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This cache celebrates the Oerlikon 20 mm anti-aircraft cannon that is on display outside the Palmerston North Branch of the Royal New Zealand Naval Association
Best known in its naval applications during World War Two, the Oerlikon 20 mm cannon was a reliable, robust and simple anti-aircraft gun that was also easy to maintain. It was also successful: credited for 1/3 of all Japanese aircraft (including many Kamikazes) shot down by US forces between December 1941 and September 1944.
All of this made it one of the most valued guns in Allied use.
Based on a German design from very early in World War I, the Oerlikon was produced in larger numbers during WW2 than any other anti-aircraft gun. The USA alone produced almost 125,000 of these weapons and over 1 billion rounds of ammunition.
Different nations and services operated a number of mounting types for the same basic gun. The typical single-barrel naval version (like the example that hosts this cache) is free-swinging on a fixed pedestal mounting with a flat armoured shield affording some protection for the crew.
Ammunition was typically fed by a 60-round drum magazine on the top of the gun with used cartridges ejected below the breech. At an approx rate of fire of 300 rounds per minute, a magazine didn't last long on full automatic firing mode!
It was aimed using a ring-and-bead sight and fired from a trigger in the right-hand grip.
The Association meets on Thursday and Friday evenings to reminisce over a cold brown fizzy drink (and they seemed more than happy for me to stay for a beverage!)
While I explained GeoCaching to most of them that were there when I proposed the cache and obtained permission, you may have to re-introduce members that weren't there during my discussions should you attempt the cache during their meeting hours.
Manawatu Standard article: Guardians of naval history (22/04/2010)
A pair of tweezers may be useful to help extract the logbook
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