Archive for the 'Naval Guns' Category

Sep 16

An Immersive Battleship Experience

Friday, September 16, 2016 4:33 PM

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In 1916 the U.S. Navy had visions of commanding the world’s greatest fleet—and a big naval appropriations bill that promised the construction of ten battleships armed with 16-inch guns. But the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty ended those dreams for the foreseeable future; only three of the battlewagons were completed. After a building hiatus of more than a dozen years, the keels were laid for a pair of modern 16-inch battleships, the North Carolina (BB-55), namesake of the two-ship class, and the Washington (BB-56). The ships were commissioned within five weeks of each other in the spring of 1941 and went… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jun 20

A Gun to Counter the Dive Bomber

Monday, June 20, 2016 12:01 AM

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A gun crew practices on a quadruple 1.1-inch mount at Dam Neck Training Center Virginia. Note the large, cumbersome magazines. (National Archives)

The quadruple 1.1-inch machine cannon, affectionately known as the “Chicago Piano,” was the first medium-range antiaircraft gun adopted by the U.S. Navy.1 Engineered and built by the Naval Gun Factory during the Great Depression, it was designed specifically to combat dive bombers. The four-barreled weapon fired a one-pound explosive shell that was fused to explode on contact with the thin doped fabric that covered the wings of the era’s biplanes. The resulting shrapnel would tear through the wing, causing loss of control. The need to provide the Fleet with a new antiaircraft gun became evident in the late 1920s in… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 14

The Navy’s ‘Smashers’

Monday, March 14, 2016 10:57 AM

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One of the 1826-pattern replica carronades on board the USS CONSTITUTION. When fired, the gun and its slide recoiled back along the stationary skid and against the breeching, the heavy rope through the carronade's loop. Side tackles were used to traverse or run out the gun. (USS CONSTITUION, Naval History and Heritage Command)

Introduced in the U.S. Navy at the beginning of the 19th century, the carronade saw extensive service in American warships during the War of 1812. The Carron Company in Scotland had produced a prototype of the weapon, designed for the protection of merchantmen, in 1776. The success of early carronades resulted in the Royal Navy placing large orders for the guns, and other naval powers soon copied the basic design. Henry Foxall, superintendent of the Eagle Foundry on the Schuylkill River at Philadelphia, cast the first American versions, but probably not until 1799. Certainly he cast the majority of the… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 11

The Soda-Bottle Shaped Shell Guns

Monday, January 11, 2016 12:01 AM

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While IX-inch Dahlgren shell guns mainly were used in broadside, XI-inchers, such as this one on board the Union sloop KEARSARGE, were generally pivot mounted. (U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive)

At 0400 on 17 June 1863, the powerful Confederate ironclad ATLANTA steamed from the Wilmington River into Georgia’s Wassaw Sound to attack ships of the Union South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Barring her way were two U.S. Navy PASSAIC-class monitors, the WEEHAWKEN and NAHANT, each armed with one XV-inch and one XI-inch Dahlgren shell gun and under the overall command of Captain John Rodgers Jr. The casemated ATLANTA, captained by Commander John Webb, mounted four Brooke rifled guns: two 6.4-inchers in broadsides and two 7-inchers in pivot mounts capable of firing to either side. She also had a bow-mounted percussion spar torpedo.

 
Oct 15

Navy on the Western Front: The 14″ Railway Guns in WWI

Thursday, October 15, 2015 4:00 AM

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battery firing

With a clanking rumble and puffs of steam and smoke, the U.S. Navy rolled into Paris in September, 1918. Word of the Navy’s coming had been telegraphed beforehand, and jubilant and curious crowds gathered not on the Seine, but at the railways stations, to witness the spectacle: the Navy had arrived in its own specially-built train, trailing at its end a new gun to rival the Germans’ terrible Paris-Geschütz that had been lobbing death on the city since March. The effectiveness of the German long-range guns on the Western Front (those guns manned by their own German naval crews) convinced… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Sep 11

The VT Fuze: The Other Secret Weapon of World War II

Friday, September 11, 2015 9:16 AM

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USNI VT fuze.

As a young officer, then-Lieutenant Commander (later Admiral) W.H. P. Blandy, USN, had a keen interest in gunnery. Writing for Proceedings in 1920 (“Director Fire a Century Ago”) and 1925 (“Possible Improvements in our Gunnery Training”), LCDR Blandy understood well the history of fire control and what could be done to improve its effectiveness. Ever forward-thinking, Blandy noted elsewhere in 1925 of what a remarkable device a fuze that would detonate based on its proximity to the target would be. The key would be to find a way to trigger the shell to that its fragmentation pattern would be effective,… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Aug 24

The Union Navy’s Stubby Gun

Monday, August 24, 2015 9:00 AM

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Early in the Civil War, specially built boats mounting 13-inch mortars were active on the upper Mississippi. But numerous problems with the raft-like craft led their commander to report that their "services have not been near equal to their cost." (Battles and Leaders of the Civil War)

By Spencer C. Tucker Adapted from “Armaments and Innovations,” Naval History, April 2014   The 13-inch Civil War sea mortar was a formidable weapon. But the use of this type of gun was not new; since the 17th century, high-trajectory mortar fire from special vessels known as bombs or bomb ketches had been used for shore bombardment. Heavy ordnance was more easily moved about on ships than on land, and the large sea mortars were mounted on strong beds turned on vertical pivots. Their explosive shells, fired at high angle, easily cleared the walls of forts to strike the targets… Read the rest of this entry »