Archive for the 'Weapons' Category

Nov 22

Old but Still Going Strong: The Oldest Navy Assets Still in Use

Wednesday, November 22, 2017 4:53 PM

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USS Constitution underway in 2012

The U.S. Navy has always been an innovator. It pioneered the Global Positioning System, developed nuclear propulsion, and deployed the first operational laser weapon. The recently commissioned USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) is brimming with bleeding-edge technology. Its stealth design, Integrated Power System, and long-range gun firing capabilities make it the most sophisticated ship in the world. Likewise, the lead ship in the new carrier class USS Gerald R Ford (CVN-78) features many technological advances including an electromagnetic aircraft launch system. However, the Department of the Navy is not always in a rush to phase out and replace assets that continue to… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Nov 15

The “Wide Wide World” of War

Wednesday, November 15, 2017 8:47 AM

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USS Mississippi (EAG-128)  Fires a Terrier surface-to-air missile during at-sea tests.

Viewers tuning in to NBC’s acclaimed 90-minute documentary series “Wide Wide World” on their luxurious 21-inch television screens on Sunday, 13 May 1956, were bound to be fascinated by that week’s program. The synopsis in the TV Guide promised audiences a first in the history of television — a live demonstrations of American firepower: The story of America’s “Power for Peace” will be told explosively by “Wide Wide World” with such items as the detonation of two simulated atomic bombs, the shooting down of a B-17 bomber and the firing of guided missiles. The atomic bomb simulations will be stage by the Army at Fort… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jul 8

Classifying Warships by Generation

Friday, July 8, 2016 2:49 PM

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HMS DREADNOUGHT--a revolutionary ship whose launch marked the beginning of modern naval warfare. (U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive)

Warships are complex and sophisticated tools; understanding and communicating what makes a difference to their quality, capability and value for money are difficult tasks. An example of how it might be done is the way air forces have used the shorthand of 3rd, 4th, and 5th generation fighter aircraft. This post proposes a system of classifying warships by generation. The purpose is twofold: first, to enable navies to more easily and clearly communicate with policy makers and the general public about current and future capability. The case for a future surface combatant is not proved simply by a label, but… 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 »

 
Nov 16

The Ubiquitous 5-inch/38

Monday, November 16, 2015 12:01 AM

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A 5-inch/38-caliber gun in a twin mount on board the USS New Jersey (BB-62) fires on a North Korean target in 1951. (U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive)

Designed to fulfill the needs of battleships as well as destroyers, the 5-inch/38-caliber dual-purpose gun became one of World War II’s best regarded and most versatile naval weapons. It was the conflict’s iconic U.S. destroyer gun as well as the Navy’s workhorse on board capital ships, cruisers, and auxiliaries. Many more 5-inch/38s were made than any other World War II medium-caliber naval gun. In the 1920s, the Navy used different guns to deal with aircraft and with surface targets. U.S. battleships and some destroyers were armed with high-velocity 5-inch/51s (the second number refers the length of the barrel in multiples… Read the rest of this entry »