Photo of the Week
January 25, 2015
Show below the map is a photo of a 3-inch antiaircraft mount taken in the 1930s. This is not necessarily one of the 3-inch mounts at Gatun Spillway, but is just like the ones that would have been there. This photo is from the book The American Defenses of the Panama Canal by Terrance McGovern, published in 1999. The following narration is also from the McGovern book:
"The actual anti-aircraft defenses were very weak due to demands for guns in the European conflict. Only eight 3-inch guns were mounted by 1918. Seven of these guns were in fixed mounts around the seacoast defenses and one gun was mounted on a railway car. Four more guns were received in late 1918 and were emplaced around the Gatun Dam. In April 1920, thirty-six 3 inch guns were allocated to the Canal Zone, By 1931, the U.S. Army had emplaced the 3-inch antiaircraft in fifteen 3-gun batteries on fixed mounts (throughout the Canal Zone) and one 3-inch battery on railway cars. Supporting these antiaircraft guns were twenty-nine mobile 60-inch searchlights and sixteen .50-calibre machine guns."
With this information found, this is what the zig zag berms were used for. Can you imagine going back in time and seeing these batteries in full operation defending the Gatun Spillway from aerial attack. 3-inch guns, searchlights and .50 caliber machine guns locked and ready for action. I only wish I had ventured up in this area in the early 1970s when I lived in Gatun. I could have seen the berms first hand and taken photos. But, I think the reason I didn't is that that area was surely off limits on non-lock/spillway workers.
Thank you for your help Andrew.
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