Here we see crewmen on watch on a 40mm quad Bofors gun mount while their ship was supporting the invasion of Okinawa, 1 April 1945, some 74 years ago today.
Their vessel: the Colorado-class battleship USS West Virginia (BB-48).
Commissioned in 1923, WV was transferred to the Pacific Fleet on the eve of WWII and was on Battleship Row on December 7, 1941, catching seven Type 91 aerial torpedoes and two Type 99 No. 80 Mk 5 bombs in the Japanese attack. Tragically, she lost 106 men that day, with some still trapped aboard heard still hammering away inside her hull an amazing 16 days after the attack.
Raised, she was repaired and modernized, her crew reformed from fresh recruits and salty veterans. Rejoining the war with a fresh purpose on 14 September 1944, she left Pearl Harbor heading West. Over the course of the following year, she earned five battle stars, proving that reports of her destruction were very much inaccurate.
Five musicians from her band were later temporarily transferred to USS Missouri to play at the surrender ceremonies in Tokyo Bay the following September.
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.
When USS New Jersey (BB-62) was built, the wounds of Pearl Harbor were still fresh in the minds of battleship sailors and the new series of capital ships were stacked deep with 40mm and 20mm cannons, designed to fill the sky around the ship with a hurricane of flak to break up Japanese air attacks. The battlewagon carried no less than 80 40mm/56 cal Bofors cannon, arranged in 20 quad mounts. The ship and her crew earned nine battle stars for her World War II service and four for her service in the Korean War before she was put into mothballs in 1957.
The only battleship called in from “red lead row” for service in Vietnam, in 1968 she was stripped of her Bofors cannon– obsolete against jets– and all were destroyed except for one mount that was left as a display at (the now closed) Philadelphia Navy Yard, where she was built.
Now, as part of a crowd-sourced fundraiser to restore the gun and send it to Camden, New Jersey where the battleship has been as a museum ship since 2001, it has been picked up from Philly and moved to the Mahan Collection museum where it will be restored before reunited with the retired naval warship.
Found this on one of the gun classifieds sites this week:
A twin 40mm Bofors mount from the ex-USS Downes, DD-375. In case you don’t remember Downes, a Mahan-class tin can commissioned in 1937, she was present at Pearl Harbor on a day that will live in infamy. And she got quite a licking.
Well she was salvaged in the most real way possible. Her equipment that could be saved was removed and installed in a new hull (with the same hull number!). She was recommissioned in late 1943 and finished the war, being broken up in 1947 for scrap.
The only thing is, Downes didnt carry Bofors at Pearl as far as I know. The gun had only just been approved for IOC a few months before. Most of the AAA guns in action on Dec. 7th were water-cooled Browning M2 .50 cals and the downright horrible 1.1-inch quad. However after her rebirth, she did in fact carry a pair of twin 40mm guns aft (in place of one of her 5-inch guns) for her return payback cruise to Japanese-held waters in 1944-45.
The bad thing is the guy wants $25K for them…and they are dewatted. Still, kinda cool piece of history, and it doesn’t show up in the lost cannon wall of shame.