Tag Archives: mark 7 gun

Wisconsin let’s em rip, 27 years ago today

6 February 1991:

PH2 Robert Clare, USN. (OPA-NARA II-2016/01/10)

PH2 Robert Clare, USN. (OPA-NARA II-2016/01/10)

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.

Guess how many 16-inch shells are left in storage?

Crewmen load a 16-inch shell aboard the battleship USS WISCONSIN (BB 64) as the vessel is readied for sea trials (Photo: National Archives)

Crewmen load a 16-inch shell aboard the battleship USS WISCONSIN (BB 64) as the vessel is readied for sea trials (Photo: National Archives)

The answer to that would be 15,595 live ones in 10 different variants including HC, armor piercing and practice.

The last battleship salvo was from USS Wisconsin 16 May 1991, with the last battleship transferred to museum life in 2012.

The Army’s last 16″/50cal Gun M1919 coastal artillery battery was disbanded in 1946.

Currently at AAAC, Crane:

Designation/Type                                     Filler                                  Number
D862        High Capacity                         Explosive D                       3,624
D872        Armor Piercing                        Explosive D                       2,430
D874        High Capacity                         Explosive D                           591
D875        Armor Piercing                        666 M46 GP Grenades          22
D875        Armor Piercing                        400 M43A1 GP Grenades   234
D877        Armor Piercing                        Explosive D                        1,743
D878        High Capacity                          Explosive D                               2
D879        High Capacity                          Explosive D                           411
D881        Practice                                  Tracer only                              272
D882        High Capacity                          Explosive D                        6,266
Total                                                                                                  15,595

And the Army is looking to get rid of them, as I detailed in this piece at Guns.com

I thought it was cool that PM picked up the piece, I read PM as a kid.

Anyway, I think they make great conversation pieces. Central City Surplus just redid a 1,900-pound D875 AP shell (and yes, that is a QH-50 DASH in the background).


Another Mark 7 finds a home.

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).

New Jersey firing 16 inch guns

New Jersey firing 16 inch guns

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.

One of the NJs tubes being delivered to a park in...New Jersey this week

One of the NJs tubes being delivered to a park in…New Jersey this week

“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.”