Seaman Leroy Kellam weighed down with belts of 20-millimeter cannon ammunition, hustles up the flight deck of USS Essex (CVA-9) to load a waiting Banshee fighter (examples seen behind him) as the WWII-era fleet carrier cruises somewhere off the Korean coast.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 97271
From the Navy:
“These same shells were spitting death at the Communists in North Korea a short time after this picture was taken. Photograph and caption were released by Commander, Naval Forces, Far East under date of 12 October 1951.”
The McDonnell F2H-2 Banshee was a single-seat carrier-based fighter developed from the older FH Phantom I– the first jet fighter flown from flattops– and was introduced to the fleet in 1948. Though nearly 900 were made for the U.S. and Royal Canadian Navy (they had carriers back then!), these straight wing jets were 100 kts slower than MiG-15s, which made them a bad investment after 1950 and they were all subsequently retired by the early 1960s.
They did carry four sweet 20 mm Colt Mk 16 cannons, though, for which they carried a total of 940 shells of the kind Seaman Kellem is swathed in Frito Bandito-style.
As for the mighty Essex, she was decommissioned for the last time in 1969 after extensive service and sold for scrap in 1975.
They basically need everything you see above in gray…
I recently talked to Clark Perks, development director at the Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial and he has an 888-foot battlewagon full of armament that includes nine massive 16-inch and 12 5-inch guns, but what they are missing is a complete 20mm Oerlikon cannon.
They have the gun itself, they just need the mount and shield and can work to fab one from an original if they could work out the loan…
More in my column at Guns.com
P.S. They just got their 40mm quad mount restored– and it even fires.
Defense contractor Raytheon is testing a modified version of their Phalanx Close-In Weapon System that will let soldiers and sailors fire at varying rates, using less ammunition.
Designed in the 1970s and with some 890 mounts currently in circulation the CIWS (“sea whiz”) couples an M61A1 20 mm Gatling gun capable of firing 4,500 rounds per minute with onboard target acquisition and fire control in one unit. While the system has been continually updated, it remains hamstrung by the fact that it only holds about 20 seconds worth of ammunition on the mount and reloading, as any Gunners Mate will tell you, is not done in a snap.
Raytheon, however, announced last week that an upgrade now underway can allow users to select different rates of fire while also increasing reliability and lowering maintenance. Also, due to the fact the upgrade replaces a pneumatic motor, compressor and storage tanks, it trims the mount’s weight by 180 pounds.
If you have a problem with low-flying German Messerschmitts or Japanese Zeroes, Rock Island Auction Company may have just what you are looking for in a pair of naval AAA mounts.
As part of their May Premier Auction, RIA has both an original early WWII fixed-dual mounted AN-M2 anti-aircraft gun for those who like their “triple-A” in .30-06 as well as a hulking WWII Navy Oerlikon 20 mm cannon.
The Navy AN-M2 .30 Cal Navy MK II Mod 3 Aircraft Mount includes a rare MK 9 Mod 1 Illuminated Electronic Gun Sight
The working C&R Oerlikon 20 mm MK4 Naval Cannon has an original deck mount and gun cradle, though good luck finding 20×110mm RB ammo
More in my column at Guns.com