The 16-inch/50-caliber Mark 7 guns, each weighing 237,000-pounds, were first installed on the USS New Jersey when she was built at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in the 1940s. While she used them to good effect in the Pacific and off Korea, the worn barrels were replaced by new tubes, which the battleship still has, and the old wartime vintage barrels placed in storage at Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s St. Juliens Creek Annex for the past 60 years. Now, after a $200,000 fundraiser to move three of the 66-foot long guns from Virginia to Camden, New Jersey, the old battleship has some of her original teeth back.
Tag Archives: 16 inch gun
6 February 1991:
The Iowa-class battleship USS Wisconsin (BB-64) fires a round from one of the Mark 7 16-inch/50-caliber guns in its No. 3 turret during Operation Desert Storm. The ship’s target is an Iraqi 155mm artillery battery in southern Kuwaiti, which her guns greatly outranged. This was the first time Wisconsin‘s guns had fired in anger since 1952 where she pounded Chinese positions in Korea and would mark the start of her participation in the ground war during Operation Desert Storm.
The 16″/45cal guns on the USS Massachusetts were used to plaster enemy ships and troops during World War II but are in need of some attention to last another 75 years.
Decommissioned in 1947, she has been on display at Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts, since 1965 and an all volunteer group from the museum has spend a good deal of time cleaning the accumulated rust and layers of paint off one of her nine 16-inchers, bringing it down to the bare metal for the first time in some 75 years, then priming and painting the tube to protect it from the harsh Massachusetts weather and salt air.
The U.S. Navy in World War II commissioned just under 100 16″/50 (40.6 cm) Mark 7 guns for their Iowa-class battleships. Possibly the finest naval big gun of its era (although yes, the Yamato‘s 18.1-inch Type 94’s were bigger– but the Mark 7s had more diverse ammunition selections and better fire control), these guns were the last super large caliber naval rifles in service.
Luckily the entire quartet of Iowas were preserved as museum ships, making 36 of these big sticks open for viewing across the country. The thing is, those guns, although on WWII era ships, weren’t fired during that war. You see in the 1950s the Navy swapped out the well used combat tested guns for fresh brand new ones that had been acquired as spares and to equip the never-completed USS Illinois (BB-65) and USS Kentucky (BB-66).
Other spares went to Dr. Gerald Bull’s Harp project (where at least one still used to fire a shell 112-miles high still sits rusting away in Barbados) and to the 1950s Gunfighter tests in Nevada using 11-inch saboted shells.
By 2011, with the Iowas all disposed of to museum status, the Navy decided it no longer needed its 22 remaining 16-inch barrels, most of which were WWII guns left over from the 1950s swap out. 14 located in Nevada were cut up for scrap and 8, left at the St Juliens Creek Naval Annex in Chesapeake, Virginia, were given a brief reprieve to see if anyone wanted them or they would suffer the same fate.
Over the past two years three were placed in museums ranging from Delaware to Arizona, and the USAF is taking three on for a fuse testing project, but the last two remaining barrels at St Juliens are only being held on a month to month basis.
Well one 120-ton gun, appropriately used by the USS New Jersey during WWII and Korea before being offloaded in 1953 for a new tube, was delivered to Hartshorne Woods Park, part of the Monmouth County Park System in Middleton, New Jersey this week where it will be on public display moving forward.
“We’ve had quite a crowd out there the last two days,” said Gail Hunton, supervising historic preservation specialist for the Monmouth County Park System. “What’s very gratifying is how many people have gotten so enthusiastic about this who didn’t know about Harshorne Woods Park.”