Lighting up the sky on All Saints Day, 75 years ago today

Here we see the Cleveland-class light cruiser USS Columbia (CL-56), her after 6″/47cal gun turrets just absolutely lighting up the sky during a night bombardment of Japanese facilities in the Shortland Islands, covering the landings on nearby Bougainville, 1 November 1943.

Official U.S. Navy photo 80-G-44058 from the U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

Note that the image has been retouched by censors to eliminate radar antennas on gun directors and masthead.

Armed with a dozen 6″/47 Mark 16 guns in four triple turrets, Columbia could lob a 130-pound AP shell 20,000-yards and, as a well-trained crew could get out 10-rounds per minute per tube (for brief periods anyway) the cruiser could plaster a target with 120 such shells in 60 seconds or less. The very night after the above photo was taken, Columbia helped her sisterships USS Montpelier, Cleveland, and Denver sink the Japanese cruiser Sendai and destroyer Hatsukaze, again proving the effectiveness of those beautiful Mark 16s.

Commissioned in 1942, Columbia earned 10 battle stars and was put in mothballs in 1946 after just a four-year stint in the majors. She sat on rust row until 1959 when she was stricken and scrapped.

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