BL 16 inch Mk I naval gun
|Ordnance BL 16 inch Mark I|
Guns of HMS Rodney at maximum elevation, 1940
|Place of origin||UK|
|Weight||108 tons (109.7 tonnes)|
|Length||61 ft 10 in (18.85 m)|
|Barrel length||60 ft (18.3 m)|
|Shell||separate charge, AP shell 2,048 lb (929 kg)|
|Calibre||16 inch (406 mm)|
|Elevation||40° in mounting Mark I|
|Rate of fire||1.5 rounds per minute as fitted|
|Muzzle velocity||2,586 feet/second (788 m/s)|
|Effective firing range||35,000 yards (32,000 m) at 32° elevation|
|Maximum firing range||39,780 yards (36,375 m)|
The BL 16 inch Mark I was a British naval gun introduced in the 1920s and used on the two Nelson-class battleships. The barrel was 45 calibres long ("/45" in shorthand) meaning 45 times the bore (16 in) - 60 ft (18 m) long.
Sir W. G. Armstrong Whitworth & Company at Elswick, Vickers at Barrow-in-Furness, William Beardmore & Company at Dalmuir and the Royal Gun Factory at Woolwich made a total of 29 guns of which 18 would be required for both ships at any time.
These guns broke with the example offered by the earlier 15 inch Mk I gun, which fired a heavy shell at a rather low muzzle velocity, and instead fired a rather light shell at a high muzzle velocity; this was not a success, as at the initial muzzle velocity the gun wore down rapidly and the accuracy was insatisfactory, so much that it was lowered. Furthermore, a heavier shell was proposed but not adopted because of stringent budget policies of the 1930s; therefore, this naval gun wasn't seen as particularly successful.
An improved weapon, the BL 16 inch Mark II was designed for the Lion-class battleship which was a successor to the King George V class taking advantage of the larger weapon allowed under the London Naval Treaty from March 1938. This "new design" of 16-inch gun fired a shell that weighed 2,375 lb (1,077 kg). Construction of first two Lion battleships - each of which was to have nine 16-inch guns - was halted at the start of the Second World War; only a few months after they were laid down. Work on the armament continued for a while but that was also stopped after only four guns and no turrets were produced.
Weapons of comparable role, performance and era
- 41 cm/45 3rd Year Type naval gun : Japanese equivalent
- 16"/45 caliber Mark 6 gun : slightly later and more powerful US counterpart
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