Battleship Guns: «16 Inch Gun & Turret» 1955 US Navy Training Film for Iowa Class Battleships


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US Navy Training Film MN-9321c

Public domain film from the US Navy, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and/or equalization (the resulting sound, though not perfect, is far less noisy than the original).

The 16″/50 caliber Mark 7 — United States Naval Gun is the main armament of the Iowa-class battleships.

These guns were 66 feet (20 m) long—50 times their 16-inch (406 mm) bore, or 50 calibers, from breechface to muzzle. Each gun weighed about 239,000 pounds (108,000 kg) without the breech, or 267,900 pounds (121,517 kg) with the breech.[1] They fired projectiles weighing from 1,900 to 2,700 pounds (850 to 1,200 kg) at a maximum speed of 2,690 feet per second (820 m/s) with a range of up to 24 miles (39 km). At maximum range the projectile spent almost 1½ minutes in flight. Each turret required a crew of 94 men to operate. The turrets themselves cost US$1.4 million each, to which the cost of the guns had to be added.

The turrets were «three-gun», not «triple», because each barrel could be elevated and fired independently. The ships could fire any combination of their guns, including a broadside of all nine. Considering the large mass of the ship, compared to the mass of the projectiles, the ships barely moved sideways at all, even when a full broadside was fired. With the damping effect of the water around the hull it seems that the pressure wave generated by the gunfire was felt much more than the very slight change in lateral velocity.

The guns could be elevated from −5 degrees to +45 degrees, moving at up to 12 degrees per second. The turrets could rotate about 300 degrees at about 4 degrees per second and could even be fired back beyond the beam, which is sometimes called «over the shoulder». Within each turret, a red stripe on the wall of the turret, just inches from the railing, marked the boundary of the gun’s recoil, providing the crew of each gun turret with a visual reference for the minimum safe distance range.

Complementing the 16″/50 caliber Mark 7 gun was a fire control computer, in this case the Ford Instrument Company Mark 8 Range Keeper. This analog computer was used to direct the fire from the battleship’s big guns, taking into account several factors such as the speed of the targeted ship, the time it takes for a projectile to travel, and air resistance to the shells fired at a target. At the time the Montana class was set to begin construction, the rangekeepers had gained the ability to use radar data to help target enemy ships and land-based targets. The results of this advance were telling: the rangekeeper was able to track and fire at targets at a greater range and with increased accuracy. This gave the US Navy a major advantage in World War II, as the Japanese did not develop radar or automated fire control to the level of the US Navy.

The Mark 7 gun was originally intended to fire the relatively light 2,240-pound (1,020 kg) Mark 5 armor-piercing shell. However, the shell-handling system for these guns was redesigned to use the «super-heavy» 2,700-pound (1,200 kg) APC (Armor Piercing, Capped) Mark 8 shell before any of the Iowa-class battleships were laid down. The large caliber guns were designed to fire two different 16 in (406 mm) shells: an armor piercing round for anti-ship and anti-structure work, and a high explosive round designed for use against unarmored targets and shore bombardment…

The propellant consists of small cylindrical grains of smokeless powder with an extremely high burning rate. A maximum charge consists of six silk bags, each filled with 110 pounds of propellant…

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  1. MetallicaLife4

    7:49 if you look closely, you can see the anchor chain wobble after the guns fire. Such awesome firepower o_o

  2. Simon Pender

    great upload thank you

  3. beach side

    Seems like an awful lot of work to shoot that gun.

  4. TheDeadLinger

    This is what produces fear factor, not like those modern punny, little turrets with small pom-pom guns..

  5. Brian Fidler

    Lower Powder Hoist Elevator Operator turret 2, POIC Powder Flats and Angling Space turret 2… among other things: BB63. Although I served in the late 80's, 87-91, all our info was from WWII with the exception of upgrades such as the CWIS (phalanx system) and Missiles. I never saw this film though. Odd to look back, from age 17 to 21 the Missouri was my home.

    FYI: nothing takes a direct hit from a Dreadnought and survives. You cannot shoot down or jam a shell, we were still using basic optics along with new tech… anything failed, we just rolled with it. And, as was proven, a Carrier is quite powerful, however, 4 CWIS for AA, planes and missiles are pretty much useless, once those planes are gone she's a floating dock.

    There were a number of proposals at the time of decommissioning for re-outfitting the MO, obviously none panned out, all were pretty absurd. Modern ships are starting to focus on rail-guns and stealth, as are Carriers with Drones and 3D printers… All trying to incorporate Emergence Technology. Pretty interesting stuff, it's more surgical, although not as impressive of a show. More like a video game with real world consequences.

  6. studinthemaking

    How much high explosives does the HE shell hold?  The AP round hold a 65 pound busting charge.

  7. Wes 76

    You can visit the USS North Carolina in Wilmington, N.C. That tour is so much fun. You can go all over the ship, including inside the Turret gun house.

  8. azimuth361

    Too bad these were decommissioned. I remember seeing a graphic that showed, with tha addition of cruise missiles, battleships could reach out and touch 90% of the world's population… or some such number.

  9. Larry Fries

    General Billy Mitchell proved in 1919 bomb test on battleships they were obsolete aircraft could take them out Pearl Harbor is the classic example they drummed him out of the army

  10. Carl Andrews

    Who is the narrator on this? I swear it sounds like Harry Morgan from MASH and Dragnet fame.

  11. Mars Hilton


  12. Mars Hilton

    link 364+1

  13. Mars Hilton

    no dope in less you are in land radio off I wiil

  14. Mars Hilton

    who ra

  15. Mars Hilton

    to my xousen brine Reynolds go far

  16. Mars Hilton

    and its missing a complelt built in lighter and pipe filter so now how dose it file up get it

  17. Mars Hilton

    and that is where I don't smoke my crystle Meath at

  18. Mars Hilton

    you want to touch

  19. mikebe41

    does any one know how many shells the battleship carried in it'd arsenal. I can't find an answer

  20. Christopher Thompson

    Nice pun at the end lol.

  21. Nexfero

    how did they knock the muzzle covers off at 0:33

  22. Fred Eagle

    one of these babies is ideal for home defence.

  23. wonniewarrior

    1 thing I am curious about. If the electrical motors for turret training, and gun reloading was knocked out, was it still possible to train turret, load guns, and hoist new shells and powder bags for another cycle using hand wheels or muscle power ?

  24. Ting Victoriano

    I love this video. a typical life of a battleship crew.

  25. chromosome24

    the ramming operator is my kind of job

  26. Andre Moreno

    There's actually a piece missing from this video, after the shell and powder bags are rammed, there is no description of the priming operation.

  27. Neal Stapel

    never leave your buddies behind. Semper Fi squids!


  28. Erin boat guy

    One of my late great grandfathers was in charge of all the guns on one side of a ship and a Japanese zero was coming in low and fast for a kamikaze broadside hit so he ordered all the guns on his side to fire at once at the plane. All that was left was a whoosh of air as the plane was disintegrated. He loved that story. I wonder if that meant any of these big guns? if it did….WOW

  29. Kyleray Banawa

    Just imagine, the men whos managing the guns manually, what happen to them when the main gun got hit? I think this is the fragile part of a battleship. Those guys are very brave.

  30. Aden xiong

    Really powder bags -.- well I know it's useful but Really?

  31. MrShobar

    These guns must have made cleaning a real task!

  32. Gofuc Kyoursel

    So three people loading a gun on the Missouri in Under Siege including an old man and a stripper was total B.S.?

  33. Sean Glover

    àwesome vid

  34. Mounted Czarina

    …20 miles???