4″/50 caliber gun
|4″/50 caliber gun Marks 7, 8, 9, and 10|
|Place of origin||United States|
|Designer||Bureau of Ordnance|
|Variants||Mark 7, 8, 9 and 10|
|Barrel length||All: 200 in (5,080 mm) bore (50 calibres)|
|Calibre||4 in (102 mm)|
|Elevation||-15° to +20°|
|Traverse||-150° to 150°|
|Rate of fire||8-9 rounds per minute|
|Effective firing range||Mark 7: 9,000 yd (8,200 m) at 13° elevation|
|Maximum firing range||Mark 9: 15,920 yd (14,560 m) at 20° elevation|
The 4″/50 caliber gun (spoken "four-inch-fifty-caliber") was the standard low-angle, quick-firing gun for United States, first appearing on the monitor Arkansas and then used on "Flush Deck" destroyers through World War I and the 1920s. It was also the standard deck gun on S-class submarines, and was used to rearm numerous submarines built with 3-inch (76 mm) guns early in World War II. United States naval gun terminology indicates the gun fired a projectile 4 inches (100 mm) in diameter, and the barrel was 50 calibers long.
The original 4-inch/50 caliber Mark 7 gun, M1898, serial nos. 213–254, 257–281, 316–338, was an entirely new high-power design built-up gun with a tube, jacket, hoop, locking ring and screw breech. Gun No. 213 had a liner. The gun was described as a 5-inch (127 mm) gun but with a 4-inch bore in the 1902 handbook, this indicated its higher power and also the fact the barrel was actually more the size of a 5-inch/40 caliber gun than a 4-inch gun. The ammunition was about 7 lb (3.2 kg) heavier than a 4-inch/40 caliber round. The Mod 1 was a Mod 0 that used a conical steel liner and the Mod 2 was either a Mod 0 or Mod 1 that was relined using a conical nickel-steel liner and a shoulder on the breech end.
Gun No. 353 was the prototype of the Mark 8 and was test fired on 22 September 1910. This gun had been ordered 16 June 1907 and delivered in November 1907. The simplified design of the Mark 8 had just a gun tube and jacket. The jacket extended all the way to the muzzle and ended in a muzzle bell. The production run was small with only 12 guns built, Nos. 353–364.
The Mark 9 was a design directly resulting from tests with gun No. 353. It was designed to be light in weight, and would go on to be the standard 4-inch gun used on destroyers and submarines during WW I. The gun would use an A tube, full-length jacket, a muzzle swell with a side swing Smith-Asbury breech mechanism and Welin breech block. The gun weighed about 2.725 short tons (2.472 t). Gun No. 365, the first Mark 9, was ordered from Midvale Steel on 18 October 1911. There were 390 Mark 9s built by four different manufacturers from 1911 until the US entered World War I in 1917. During the war another 1,885 guns were produced, with Root & VanDervoort, American Radiator Company and Poole Engineering joining the pre-war manufacturers. After the Armistice another 713 guns were produced, with orders for 3538 guns cancelled. It was decided after World War I that all destroyers would carry the 4-inch/50 caliber Mark 9 Mod 5 gun; the refits were completed in autumn 1921.
The Mark 10, gun No. 365-A, was order in 1915 but does not appear to have been completed until after WW I. The initial drawings were for a 4-inch/50 caliber anti-aircraft gun dated January and February 1915. It was designed with a vertically sliding breech block on a built-up gun with a tube, jacket, chase hoop and locking ring, all constructed of nickel steel, but it does not appear that the Mark 10 was put into service.
The gun was rapid firing (US term) or quick firing (British term). Fixed ammunition (case and projectile handled as a single assembled unit) with a 14.5-pound (6.6 kg) charge of smokeless powder gave a 33-pound (15 kg) projectile a velocity of 2,900 ft/s (880 m/s). Range was 9 mi (14 km) at the maximum elevation of 20 degrees. Useful life expectancy was 400–500 effective full charges (EFC) for a non-chrome plated barrel, while a chrome plated barrel was listed at 600 rounds.
Increasing awareness of the need for improved anti-aircraft protection resulted in the mounting of dual purpose guns on destroyers beginning in the 1930s. The dual-purpose 5-inch/38 caliber gun became standard for United States destroyers constructed from the 1930s through World War II. United States destroyers built with 4-inch/50 caliber low-angle guns were mostly rearmed with dual-purpose 3-inch/50 caliber guns during the war. The 4-inch/50 caliber guns removed from destroyers were mounted on Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships of the British Merchant Navy and United States Merchant Marine like SS Stephen Hopkins. As S-boats were transferred from combat patrols to training duties from mid-1942 through 1943, their 4-inch guns were removed and used to re-equip front-line submarines built with 3-inch/50 caliber guns.
Manufacturer list Mark 9 gun
|Manufactuer||Date ordered||Gun Nos.||Total built||Notes|
|Midvale Steel||18 October 1911||365–389||25|
|Bethlehem Steel||7 November 1911||390–414||25|
|British and American Mfg. Co.||4 February 1913||415–444||30||Mod 4 No. 432 on|
|Watervliet Arsenal||19 April 1913||445–478||34||Mod 4|
|British and American Mfg. Co.||28 November 1914||479–508||30||Mod 2, Mod 5 No. 502 on|
|Watervliet Arsenal||8 June 1915||509–538||30||Mod 2, Mod 5 No. 516 on|
|Bethlehem Steel||31 October 1916||539–605||67||Mod 5|
|British and American Mfg. Co.||18 November 1916||606–705||100||Mod 5|
|Watervliet Arsenal||17 October 1916||706–755||50||Mod 5|
|Bethlehem Steel||4 April 1917||756–855||100||Mod 5|
|Root & VanDervoort||25 May 1917||876–1875||1000||Nos. 856-875 were not assigned|
|American Radiator Corp.||7 June 1917||1876–2380||505||Nos. 2381-2875 were not assigned|
|Poole Engineering||29 August 1917||2876–2994||119||Nos. 2995-3375 were not assigned|
|American and British Co.||24 September 1917||3376–3506||131||Nos. 3507-3575 were not assigned|
|Watervliet Arsenal||11 July 1918||3576–3605||30|
The unassigned numbers mostly corresponded to gun orders that were cancelled with the signing of the Armistice.
The 4″/50 caliber gun was mounted on:
- Arkansas-class monitors (Mark 7)
- Cassin-class destroyers
- Aylwin-class destroyers
- O'Brien-class destroyers
- Tucker-class destroyers
- Sampson-class destroyers
- Caldwell-class destroyers
- Wickes-class destroyers
- Clemson-class destroyers
- United States S-class submarines
- The first seven Balao-class submarines
- USS Dolphin
- Numerous rearmed submarines including USS Salmon, USS Seadragon, USS Gato, USS Silversides and USS Robalo
- Eagle-class patrol craft
- Some minesweepers - Q-ships like USS Eagle
- Some minelayers like USS Miantonomah
- Some patrol gunboats like USS Sacramento, Asheville-class gunboat, USS Plymouth
- armed yachts,
United States Merchant Marine
- Most Liberty ships
- World War I underway replenishment oilers like USS Maumee
- Some World War II oilers like USS Big Horn, USS Victoria and USS Pasig
Coast defense use
Four two-gun batteries of 4″/50 caliber ex-Navy guns were emplaced on the North Shore of Oahu in 1942. They seem to have been withdrawn in 1943 as other defenses were constructed. It is not clear who operated these guns; likely possibilities include the United States Army Coast Artillery Corps, Marine defense battalions, or naval personnel. The batteries were at Kaena, Kalihi (Mokuoeo Island), Battery Dillingham at Mokuleia, and Kaneohe Bay.
Many Mark 9 guns were supplied to the United Kingdom during World War II as part of Lend-lease, both individually and on naval and merchant ships. Caldwell, Wickes, and Clemson-class destroyers transferred under the Destroyers for Bases Agreement became British and Canadian Town-class destroyers.
Weapons of comparable role, performance and era
- Berhow, Mark A., Ed. (2015). American Seacoast Defenses, A Reference Guide, Third Edition. McLean, Virginia: CDSG Press. ISBN 978-0-9748167-3-9.
- Campbell, John (1985). Naval Weapons of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-459-4.
- DiGiulian, Tony, United States of America 4″/50 (10.2 cm) Marks 7, 8, 9 and 10 at Navweaps.com
- Fahey, James C. (1939). The Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet, War Edition. Ships and Aircraft.
- Fairfield, A.P. (1921). Naval Ordnance. The Lord Baltimore Press.
- Gardiner, Robert and Gray, Randal, Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921 Conway Maritime Press, 1985. ISBN 0-85177-245-5.
- Lenton, H.T.; Colledge, J.J. (1968). British and Dominion Warships of World War II. Doubleday and Company.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to 4"/50 caliber gun.|
- List of all US coastal forts and batteries at the Coast Defense Study Group, Inc. website
- FortWiki, lists most CONUS and Canadian forts