6"/47 caliber Mark 16 gun
|6"/47 caliber Mark 16|
Three forward turrets and empty cartridge cases on USS Brooklyn (CL-40) after she had bombarded Licata, Sicily, during the early hours of the Allied invasion, 10 July 1943
|Place of origin||United States|
|Weight||13,000 lb (5,900 kg)|
|Length||300 in (7.6 m)|
|Barrel length||282.3 in (7.17 m) bore (47 calibers)|
|Caliber||6 inches (152 mm)|
|Recoil||21 in (53 cm)|
|Elevation||-5° to +40°, later modified to +60°|
|Traverse||−150° to +150°|
|Rate of fire||8 - 10 rounds per minute|
|Effective firing range||20,000-yard (18,288 m) at 22.3° elevation|
|Maximum firing range||26,118-yard (23,882 m) at 47.5° elevation|
Two versions of this gun were built, Mod 0 and Mod 1. These guns were primarily mounted in triple turrets to engage surface targets. Late in the war limited number of two-gun dual-purpose gun ("DP") turrets mounting the same gun were produced capable of engaging air and surface targets.
Today one of the few 6-inch triple gun turrets left in the world is on the museum ship USS Little Rock (CG-4), which is located in the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park in Buffalo, New York.
Design of the Mark 16
The 6"/47 caliber gun was one of several weapons developed by the United States Navy in the 1930s to fire "super-heavy" armor-piercing (AP) projectiles, thus increasing warships' destructive power while complying with the limits on bore diameter set by the London Naval Treaty. Compared with the previous 6"/53 caliber gun, the 6"/47 Mark 16 fired a 130 pounds (59 kg) AP projectile instead of a 105 pounds (48 kg) AP projectile. The arrangement in triple turrets allowed the use of all guns in a broadside; the Omaha-class light cruisers of the 1920s mounted twelve 6"/53 guns but could only use eight in a broadside, due to most of the guns being in single casemated mounts.
Each gun could fire a 130-pound (59 kg) projectile 11.36 miles (18.28 km) at an elevation of 22.3 degrees with a flight time of 44.7 seconds. Maximum range at 44.5 degrees elevation was 14.77 miles (23.77 km) with a flight time of 77.3 seconds. Projectiles varied in weight; an armor-piercing projectile weighed 130 pounds, while a high-capacity (HC) projectile weighed 105 pounds. Ammunition was semi-fixed (the projectile and the powder casing were separate). The full charge powder case for these guns was the Mark 4 housed in a brass canister and weighed 65 lb (29 kg). The HC projectile could be equipped with mechanical time (MT) or, by late 1942, with variable time (VT) radio proximity fuzes for use against aircraft.
Eight to ten rounds per minute could be fired from each of the 6-inch guns. Each gun weighed 6.5 short tons (5.8 long tons) and could originally only be evevated up to 40 degrees but were later modified to be elevated up to 60 degrees. Originally gun ports in the turret faces were cut to allow only 41 degrees elevation, though during World War Two all triple 6 inch/47 gun ports were ordered to be modified to permit the full 60 degrees. The guns could only be loaded at between -5 degrees and 20 degrees elevation; this reduced the rate of fire when engaging distant surface targets or aircraft. All three guns in each turret were mounted in the same sleeve and thus elevated together, but delay coils permitted "split salvos" to be fired; this cured a shell pattern dispersion problem common to many US cruisers of the 1920s and 1930s. The 105-pound Mark 34 HC shell fired at 2,665 ft/s (812 m/s) out to 23,483 yd (21,473 m) at 46.6 degrees; the 130-pound Mark 35 shell introduced just before World War Two fired at 2,500 ft/s (760 m/s) at full charge and could penetrate out to 26,000 yd (24,000 m) at 44.5 degrees.
Gun barrel lives were 750 to 1050 full-charge rounds.
A 6-inch triple turret weighed in between 154–167 short tons (138–149 long tons) in the Brooklyn-class and St. Louis-class cruisers and 165–173 short tons (147–154 long tons) in the Cleveland-class and Fargo-class cruisers, and each rifle barrel was 25 feet (7.6 m) long. The turret rested on a barbette or circular shaft that extended several decks into the ship. Projectiles were stored in a projectile-handling room in the lower part of the barbette. Two-hundred projectiles, per gun, could be stored in the projectile-handling room. The guns were supplied with projectiles via hoists.
Powder stores were below the projectile-handling room and powder hoists fed the guns. Empty powder canisters were ejected from the turret via an ejector port at the back of the turret. When the guns were firing, it was not unusual to see empty brass canisters piling up on the deck behind the turret. The turret itself had 6.5 inches (170 mm) of armor plate on its face and could train (turn) to follow its target at ten degrees a second.
Each turret required a crew of 3 officers and 52 enlisted men.
|Ship class||Gun installation||Ships commissioned||In commission|
|Brooklyn-class cruiser||15 (five triple turrets)||7||1937 - 1982|
|St. Louis-class cruiser||15 (five triple turrets)||2||1939 - 1976|
|Cleveland-class cruiser||12 (four triple turrets)||27||1942 - 1979|
|Fargo-class cruiser||12 (four triple turrets)||2||1945 - 1950|
|Worcester-class cruiser||12 (six twin turrets)||2||1948 - 1958|
Two versions of this breech loading rifled naval gun were produced, the 6"/47 Mark 16 Mod 0 and the 6"/47 Mark 16 Mod 1. The guns were mounted in two types of turret, primarily a triple turret for use against surface targets, but also a two-gun semi-automatic "Dual Purpose" turret for use against both air and surface targets was produced in limited numbers late in the war (the DP turrets could fire more quickly and elevate and train faster compared to the "single purpose" triple turret).
"6-inch /47" refers to a bore diameter (caliber) of 6 inches and a bore length of 47 calibers (a caliber is one bore diameter), or 23 feet 6 inches. "Mark 16" indicates it is the 16th design in the series of 6-inch guns. "Mod 0" or "Mod 1" indicates minor modifications to the design, with 0 being the original and 1 being the first modification (which featured a tapered liner). Three 6-inch /47 caliber Mark 16 guns were mounted in a triple turret. The Cleveland-class of that period had 12 such guns mounted in four triple turrets. The Worcester-class cruisers carried the same type of gun, but in twin dual-purpose (DP) mountings. These were not entirely satisfactory, and a triple DP mounting was proposed to replace them, but was cancelled after World War II.
The "Mark 16" designation refers to the gun being 16th in the 6" series of designs, not the turret the gun is mounted in. Smaller guns at that time had a Mark number for the type of mounting. In modern times the USN refers primarily to the Mark number of the gun mount (turret), but in WW II the model of the gun was the primary reference point. The gun turrets for 6" and larger guns of the 1920s through WW II were known according to the class of ship the turret was to be mounted on.
The Mark 34 high-explosive shell this gun fired is usually referred to as "HC", but, when fitted with a proximity (VT) fuse or a mechanical time (MT) fuse, it could be used against aircraft and thus was technically an "AA" projectile in that configuration. Thus the Mark 34 HC is also in theory the Mark 34 AA, depending on the fuse fitted.
Weapons of comparable role, performance and era
- BL 6 inch Mk XXIII naval gun : British equivalent light cruiser gun
- 15 cm SK C/25 : German equivalent light cruiser gun but firing a lighter shell at higher velocity
- 15.5 cm/60 3rd Year Type naval gun : Japanese equivalent
- Campbell, John (1985). Naval Weapons of World War Two. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. pp. 134–135. ISBN 0-87021-459-4.