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–circa 1947
Used by
Wars
Production history
Designer Bureau of Ordnance
Designed 1910
Manufacturer Various
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 (5,126 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 (6,477 mm) bore (51 calibers)

Shell 50–55.18 pounds (22.7–25.0 kg)[1]
Caliber 5 in (127 mm)
Breech side swing Welin-type
Elevation to +20°
Traverse up to 360° depending on location
Rate of fire 8-9 rounds per minute
Muzzle velocity 3,150 feet per second (960 m/s) average
Effective firing range 17,000 yards (16,000 m) at 20° elevation
Maximum firing range 20,142 yards (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 inches (127 mm) in diameter, and the barrel was 51 calibers long (barrel length is 5" × 51 = 255" or 6.4 meters).[2]

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-pound (11 kg) charge of smokeless powder gave a 50-pound (23 kg) projectile a velocity of 3,150 feet per second (960 m/s). Range was 15,850 yards (9.0 statute miles or 14.5 kilometres) at the maximum elevation of 20 degrees.[1] Useful life expectancy was 900 effective full charges (EFC) per liner.[3]

US service[edit]

On a US Navy transport ship circa. mid 1942

The 5"/51 caliber gun was used to engage destroyers, torpedo boats, and other surface targets, entering service in 1911 as secondary armament on the Florida-class battleships, with most guns being replaced during World War II. 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 most of the World War 1-era battleships were rearmed with 5"/38 caliber guns during World War 2. Surplus guns from scrapped or re-armed 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"/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"/51 guns during World War II, taken from Barracuda-class submarines or spares for that class.

The 5"/51 caliber gun was mounted on:

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.[1] 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.[1]

Surviving examples[edit]

Surviving 5"/51 caliber guns include:[24]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d 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
  2. ^ Fairfield 1921 p. 156
  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 Breyer 1973 p. 210
  11. ^ a b Breyer 1973 p. 214
  12. ^ a b c Breyer 1973 p. 219
  13. ^ a b Breyer 1973 p. 226
  14. ^ a b c Breyer 1973 p. 230
  15. ^ Bauer and Roberts, pp. 178-179
  16. ^ a b Fahey 1939 p. 18
  17. ^ Bauer and Roberts, p. 265
  18. ^ Fahey 1939 p. 7
  19. ^ Friedman 1983 p. 162
  20. ^ a b c d Friedman 1983 p. 407
  21. ^ Friedman 1983 p. 164
  22. ^ Friedman 1983 p. 170
  23. ^ a b c Fahey 1941 p. 42
  24. ^ Berhow, pp. 238-239

References[edit]

  • Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775-1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-26202-0. 
  • Berhow, Mark A., Ed. (2015). American Seacoast Defenses, A Reference Guide, Third Edition. McLean, Virginia: CDSG Press. ISBN 978-0-9748167-3-9. 
  • Breyer, Siegfried (1973). Battleships and Battlecruisers 1905–1970. Doubleday and Company. ISBN 0-385-07247-3. 
  • Campbell, John (1985). Naval Weapons of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-459-4. 
  • Fahey, James C. (1939). The Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet. Ships and Aircraft. 
  • Fahey, James C. (1941). The Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet, Two-Ocean Fleet Edition. Ships and Aircraft. 
  • Fairfield, A.P. (1921). Naval Ordnance. The Lord Baltimore Press. 
  • Friedman, Norman (1983). U.S. Aircraft Carriers. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-739-9. 
  • Preston, Anthony (1980). Cruisers. Prentice Hall. p. 60. ISBN 0-13-194902-0. 

External links[edit]