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Themed Design: Sarner Installs Immersive Gun Turret Experience on Board HMS Belfast


This Summer visitors to HMS Belfast, a branch of the Imperial War Museum docked in London’s River Thames, will be able to experience what it would have been like to fight at sea during World War II with the thrilling new Gun Turret Experience:A Sailor’s Story, 1943.

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This dynamic addition to the historic ship has been created, produced and installed by Sarner, a company renowned for specialist design and build services for the museum, theme park and leisure industry.  With this new immersive attraction Sarner has created a feast for all the senses using lights, imagery, sound, smoke effects, movement and smells to recreate the atmosphere and conditions of a cramped Gun Turret with its crew at action stations.

Commenting on the project, Sarner’s Head of Technical Installations, Shane Winterbourne, says, “As a child I used to stage battles with toy ships and fighter jets so I thoroughly enjoyed this project as it made me feel like a kid again!”.  He adds, “We’ve used advanced technology to bring to life the stories of the sailors who served on board nearly 70 years ago and help people understand, both physically and emotionally, the reality of battle through this new Experience using moving platforms, smell and smoke machines, moving guns, projection, audio and sound effects.”

In small groups of 15-20, visitors step into the Gun Turret Experience and embark on an unforgettable journey, following the story of a young sailor on HMSBelfast on Boxing Day, 1943.  With the sighting of the German battle cruiser Scharnhorst, they’re transported back in time to the Battle of North Cape and become part of the Gun crew under the command of the Captain and Gunnery Officer.  As the central gun is raised for firing, a specially designed moving platform shakes the floor as the gun ‘shoots’, recreating the force of a firing gun of this scale.  The fully immersive space recreates the sensations of war at sea and offers visitors a new way to understand the extraordinary experiences of the sailors who served on HMSBelfast within a live action atmosphere.

The Gun Turret Experience, which is housed within one of the original Triple Gun Turrets overlooking the ship’s Quarterdeck, has been developed with the help of Royal Navy veterans as well as eye witness accounts from the Imperial War Museum’s collections.  These include a letter by a young sailor, M-D Withers, sent to his mother shortly after the Battle of the North Cape where HMSBelfast was instrumental in the destruction of the Scharnhorst.

Phil Reed, Director of HMS Belfast says: “The Gun Turret Experience gives visitors an exhilarating new perspective on life at sea and really enhances the ship’s historic surroundings.  By immersing people in the sights and sounds of a naval battle we hope visitors will leave HMS Belfast with not only a greater knowledge of the Second World War but also a deeper understanding of its impact.”

Equipment Used:

3 x AVStumpfl HD players
3 x Casio JA-255 Projectors
1 x AVStumpfl SC Master 16
1 x AVStumpfl SCN-DMX512 (Lighting Control)
2 x AVStumpfl SCN-SER4IO (Serial control for projectors and Video players)
1 x AVStumpfl SCN-Remote16IO (Button input control)
1 x AVStumpfl SCN-REL8O (Relay control)
1 x Motor and control to raise and lower the centre gun
1 x Viper NT Smoke machine
2 x Paradime Dimension 6 dimmers
6 x Audica MicroPoint Speakers for surround sound
1 x Community VLF-208 Sub Bass Speaker
1 x Vibrating Floor (Specially designed for the space)
4 x Buttkicker Bass drivers to vibrate floor
2 x Buttkicker amplifiers to drive the above
1 x Smell machine (Cordite)
1 x Digital countdown clock
1 x Specialist Perspex Barrier


HMS Belfast, a branch of the Imperial War Museum, is a great day out for all the family just a short walk from both London Bridge and Tower Bridge.  On board visitors can explore all nine decks of the large light cruiser whichsaw action in both the Second World War and the Korean War. Imagine how sailors once hurried up and down ladders, or take a look at the mess desk where her 950-strong crew ate and slept.  A mixture of historic spaces, displays, temporary exhibitions and special events all help bring to life the ship’s history and the exciting stories of those who served on her.

Entry to theGun Turret Experience: A Sailor’s Story, 1943 is included in admission and is designed for children aged seven years and over.

Admission is £13.50 for adults, £10.80 for seniors and students; £8.10 for visitors with disabilities (free carer); children under 16 are free; and there are special admission rates for groups of ten or more. Entry prices include a voluntary donation, making a valuable contribution to the care and conservation of this historic site.

Opening hours are: 1 November-28 February, 10am-5pm (last admission 4pm); 1 March-31 October, 10am-6pm (last admission 5pm).

The HMS Belfast has over 240, 000 visitors to the ship annually.


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