A BIG gun was fired in honour of the Queen’s 86th birthday and to launch Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
About 100 people turned up for the event at the North East Aircraft Museum.
A misfire and downpour prevented the 21 gun salute planned.
But former service personnel were able to successfully fire about a dozen rounds from a 25 pounder gun, which had been used during World War II.
The crowd, led by members of the Royal British Legion, observed a poignant moment of silence in honour of those who have given their lives serving their country.
The ceremony, which in the end lasted almost two hours, began with military songs performed by Air and Navy cadets, before the gun was fired.
Ex-Gunner Martin Hutchley said: “I’ve never witnessed a live round go off and it certainly brought home to me, at least a little, what it must be like to be in a war situation, and just how brave those out in Afghanistan are.”
Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson said: “The hailstorm could not dampen the enthusiasm and it was an amazing spectacle, something I’m sure those present will never forget.”