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O.K., I've changed my position on the mystery weapon used in the film. I reckon it's now a 20mm Oerlikon AA gun but somewhat modified.

What does it for me is the type of sight that is used with the Oerlikon which is exactly as I remember the sight on the weapon used in the film. Link attached.

Oerlikon Naval Gun


Jim R.

[ January 14, 2006, 05:23 AM: Message edited by: Kanonier Reichmann ]

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Ummm, and I think the radioactive material painted onto the gunsights and the watch faces was radium; tritium is an isotope of hydrogen and rather unlikely to be able to be painted onto anything, lads. All the other comments etc are correct, just got the name of the material wrong. Anyone who tried to "google" or "ask" using "tritium" would have been surprised and found out nothing about night sights. Wrist watch hands and numerals were formerly painted with such a paint as well.

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fk seems to be right.

According to Wikipedia,

The emitted electrons from small amounts of Tritium cause phosphors to glow so as to make self-illuminating devices called trasers which are now used in watches and exit signs. It is also used in certain countries to make glowing keychains. In recent years, the same process has been used to make self-illuminating gun sights for firearms. These take the place of Radium, which is chemically poisonous and so has been banned for decades.
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Radium paint is what was used back then for watches, instrument markings and the like. The major problem in terms of health is that the ladies who did this work tended to repoint their brushes using their moistened lips, leading eventually to cancer from cumulative radiation exposure.

Just last year, we had a related flap in Van Nuys, California. Seems someone abandoned a warehouse full of WW 2 vintage flight instruments. When it was discovered that the roof had semicollapsed, allowing rain to enter, and that the contents were a bit radioactive and could leach "hot" stuff into the ground water, HazMat was called in.

As for the vexed T&B gun, I wish I had a better image to work from (can't view avi format at present), especially of the ammo feed mechanism. If it's a drum, then the Oerlikon argument becomes likely. If it's a vertically mounted box magazine, then I'll stick to the Lahti. The presence of a ring sight is not dispositive, for something very like it is seen on the L-39/44 AA gun pictures. Whatever it is, the ground mount is custom built.


John Kettler

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