5"/51 caliber gun

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5"/51 caliber gun
5 inch gun closeup USS Texas 1914 LOC 16025.jpg
5"/51 caliber Mark 8 gun on starboard forecastle of USS Texas, March 1914
Type
Place of origin  United States
Service history
In service 1911–c. 1947
Used by
Wars
Production history
Designer Bureau of Ordnance
Designed 1910
Manufacturer
No. built
  • Mark 7: 93 (Nos. 357–449)
  • Mark 8: 1004 (NGF 539 Nos. 450-unknown)(see builders)
    (No Nos. 1357–1456, 1519–1604 or 1633–1704)
  • Mark 9: 3 (Unknown Nos.)
  • Mark 14: relined Mark 8s
  • Mark 15: enlarged chamber Mark 14s
Variants Marks 7, 8, 9, 14, 15
Specifications
Weight
  • Mark 7: 11,274 lb (5,114 kg) (with breech)
  • Mark 8: 10,834 lb (4,914 kg) (without breech)
  • Mark 8: 11,300 lb (5,100 kg) (with breech)
  • Mark 9: 10,824 lb (4,910 kg) (without breech)
  • Mark 9: 11,375 lb (5,160 kg) (with breech)
Length 261.25 in (6,636 mm)
Barrel length 255 in (6,500 mm) bore (51 calibers)

Shell 50–55.18 lb (22.68–25.03 kg)
Caliber 5 in (127 mm)
Breech side swing Welin-type
Elevation
  • P13: -10° to +20° (late version)
  • P15: -15° to +20°
  • Mark 18: -8.5° to +25°
Traverse up to 360° depending on location
Rate of fire 8-9 rounds per minute
Muzzle velocity
  • 3,150 ft/s (960 m/s) (full charge)
  • 2,300 ft/s (700 m/s) (reduced charge)
Effective firing range 17,000 yd (16,000 m) at 20° elevation
Maximum firing range 20,142 yd (18,418 m) at 45° elevation (World War II ammunition)

5"/51 caliber guns (spoken "five-inch-fifty-one-caliber") initially served as the secondary battery of United States Navy battleships built from 1907 through the 1920s, also serving on other vessels. United States naval gun terminology indicates the gun fired a projectile 5-inch (127 mm) in diameter, and the barrel was 51 calibers long.[1]

Description[edit]

The different marks of the gun were Marks 7, 8, 9, 14, and 15. The built-up gun consisted of a tube, full-length jacket, and single hoop with side swing Welin breech block and Smith-Asbury mechanism for a total weight of about 5 metric tons. Some Marks included a tapered liner. A 24.5 lb (11.1 kg) charge of smokeless powder gave a 50-pound (23 kg) projectile a velocity of 3,150 ft/s (960 m/s). Range was 15,850 yards (9.0 statute miles or 14.5 kilometres) at the maximum elevation of 20 degrees.[2] Useful life expectancy was 900 effective full charges (EFC) per liner.[3]

US service[edit]

On a US Navy transport ship c. mid 1942

The 5-inch/51 caliber gun was designed to engage destroyers, torpedo boats, and other surface targets. It entered service in 1911 as secondary armament on the Florida-class battleships, with many of the guns being removed soon after commission because they were too wet. Most of the remaining guns were moved to redesigned casemates during the 1927–1930 refits. Increased awareness of the need for anti-aircraft protection (especially following the attack on Pearl Harbor) encouraged mounting of dual-purpose 5"/38 caliber guns in later battleships, and some of the World War I-era battleships were rearmed with 5"/38 caliber guns during World War II. Surplus guns from scrapped or disarmed battleships were mounted in United States Coast Guard cutters, auxiliaries, small aircraft carriers, coast defense batteries, and Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships.[3] A 1939 Table of Organization and Equipment shows Marine defense battalions were equipped with six of these guns each.[4] 5-inch/51 shore batteries were used with great effectiveness by the 1st Marine Defense Battalion during the Battle of Wake Island in December 1941. These were eventually replaced in the defense battalions by the 155 mm Long Tom gun. Six Tambor-class submarines were rearmed with "wet mount" 5-inch/51 guns during World War II, taken from Barracuda-class submarines or spares for that class.

The 5"/51 caliber gun was mounted on:

Army coast defense use[edit]

5"/51 caliber ex-Navy guns were emplaced during World War II at several locations, some operated by the United States Army Coast Artillery Corps and some by Marine defense battalions. This list may not be exhaustive. They were grouped into two-gun batteries unless otherwise noted.[25]

  • Two guns near Cape Lookout, NC
  • Three guns in Battery Gillespie, Point Loma, San Diego, CA
  • Three guns in Battery Ahua, Fort Kamehameha, Oahu, HI
  • Two guns in Battery Nanakuli, Oahu, HI
  • Two guns in Battery Oneula (Ewa), Oahu, HI
  • Two guns at Kahana Bay, North Shore, Oahu, HI

British service[edit]

In British service these guns were known as 5"/51 BL Mark VI and Mark VII. During World War I three of these guns formed part of the coastal defences of Scapa Flow.[2] In World War II a small number of these guns entered British service on board ships transferred under the Lend-Lease arrangement. Some of these guns were then transferred to New Zealand and deployed ashore for coastal defence.[2]

Surviving examples[edit]

Surviving 5"/51 caliber guns include:[26]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Fairfield 1921 p. 156
  2. ^ a b c DiGiulian, Tony, "United States of America 5"/51 (12.7 cm) Marks 7, 8, 9, 14 and 15. British 5"/51 (12.7 cm) BL Marks VI and VII
  3. ^ a b Campbell 1985 p.136
  4. ^ Bogart, Charles H., "Fifth Marine Defense Battalion in Iceland", Coast Defense Journal, Vol. 29, Issue 3, August 2015, Coast Defense Study Group, Inc.
  5. ^ Bauer and Roberts, p. 144
  6. ^ a b c Preston 1980 p. 60
  7. ^ a b Breyer 1973 p. 201
  8. ^ a b Breyer 1973 p. 202
  9. ^ a b Breyer 1973 p. 205
  10. ^ a b Friedman 2011 p. 185
  11. ^ a b Breyer 1973 p. 210
  12. ^ a b Breyer 1973 p. 214
  13. ^ a b c Breyer 1973 p. 219
  14. ^ a b Breyer 1973 p. 226
  15. ^ a b c Breyer 1973 p. 230
  16. ^ Bauer and Roberts, pp. 178-179
  17. ^ a b Fahey 1939 p. 18
  18. ^ Bauer and Roberts, p. 265
  19. ^ Fahey 1939 p. 7
  20. ^ Friedman 1983 p. 162
  21. ^ a b c d Friedman 1983 p. 407
  22. ^ Friedman 1983 p. 164
  23. ^ Friedman 1983 p. 170
  24. ^ a b c Fahey 1941 p. 42
  25. ^ Berhow 2015, pp. 216-226.
  26. ^ Berhow, pp. 238-239

References[edit]

External links[edit]