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6"/47 (15.2 cm) Mark 16
Guns and shell casings on board USS Brooklyn (CL-40) during Sicily invasion, July 1943.jpg
Three forward turrets and empty cartridge cases on USS Brooklyn (CL-40) after she had bombarded Licata, Sicily, during the early hours of the Allied invasion, 10 July 1943
Type Naval gun
Place of origin United States
Service history
In service 1937 - 1979 (US service)
1951 - 1982 (Argentine service)
1951 - 1973 (Brazilian service)
1951 - 1992 (Chilean service)
Used by  United States Navy
 Argentine Navy
 Brazilian Navy
 Chilean Navy
Wars World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War
Falklands War
Weight Brooklyn and St. Louis classes: 154 to 167 tons (156 to 170 mt)
Cleveland and Fargo classes: 165 to 173 tons (168 to 176 mt)
Length 282.3 in (7.169 m)
Crew 3 officers and 52 enlisted men

Shell AP Mark 35 Mods 1 to 11 (super heavy) - 130 lbs. (59.0 kg)
HC Mark 34 Mods 1 to 7 - 105 lbs. (47.6 kg)
Caliber 6 inches (15.2 cm)
Recoil 21 in (53 cm)
Elevation -5 / +40 degrees as designed, later modified to +60 degrees
Rate of fire 8 - 10 rounds per minute
Muzzle velocity 2,665 fps (812 mps)
Maximum range 26,118 yards (23,881 m) at 47.5 degrees elevation

The '6"/47 caliber Mark 16 gun was a feature of many U.S. light cruisers during World War II.

Two versions of this gun were built, Mod 0 and Mod 1. These guns were primarily mounted in triple turrets to engage surface targets. Late in the war limited number of two-gun dual-purpose ("DP") turrets mounting the same gun were produced capable of engaging air and surface targets.

Today one of the few 6 inch triple gun turrets left in the world is on the museum ship USS Little Rock (CG-4), which is located in the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park in Buffalo, New York.

6 inch /47 guns[edit | edit source]

The 6"/47 caliber gun was one of several weapons developed by the United States Navy in the 1930s to fire "super-heavy" armor-piercing projectiles, thus increasing warships' destructive power while complying with the limits on bore diameter set by the London Naval Treaty. Compared with the previous 6"/53 caliber gun, the 6"/47 Mark 16 fired a 130 pounds (59 kg) armor-piercing (AP) projectile instead of a 105 pounds (48 kg) AP projectile.[1][2] The arrangement in triple turrets allowed the use of all guns in a broadside; the Omaha-class light cruisers of the 1920s mounted twelve 6"/53 guns but could only use eight in a broadside, due to most of the guns being in single casemated mounts.

Each gun could fire a 130-pound (59 kg) projectile 13 miles (21 km). Maximum range at 41 degrees elevation was 14.5 miles (23.3 km). Projectiles varied in weight; an armor-piercing projectile weighed 130 pounds while a high capacity (HC) projectile weighed 105 pounds. Ammunition was semi-fixed (the projectile and the powder casing were separate). The powder case for these guns was housed in a brass canister and weighed 65 lb (29 kg). The HC projectile could be equipped with mechanical time (MT) or, by late 1942, with variable time (VT) radio proximity fuzes for use against aircraft.[1]

Eight to ten rounds per minute could be fired from each of the 6-inch guns. Each gun weighed 4.31 tons and could be elevated up to 60 degrees.[1] Originally gun ports in the turret faces were cut to allow only 41 degrees elevation, though during World War Two all triple 6 inch/47 gun ports were ordered to be modified to permit the full 60 degrees. The guns could not be loaded at greater than 20 degrees elevation; this reduced the rate of fire when engaging distant surface targets or aircraft. All three guns in each turret were mounted in the same sleeve and thus elevated together, but delay coils permitted "split salvos" to be fired; this cured a shell pattern dispersion problem common to many US cruisers of the 1920s and 1930s. The 105 pound armor piercing shell fired at 2810 feet per second could pierce up to 5 in (127 mm) of hardened armor plate out to 9,200 yards; the 130 pound AP shell introduced just before World War Two fired at 2500 feet per second could penetrate out to 15,700 yards.

Gun barrel lives were 750 to 1050 full charge rounds.

Design[edit | edit source]

A 6-inch triple turret weighed in at about 70 tons, and each rifle barrel was 23 feet 6 inches (7.16 m) long. The turret rested on a barbette or circular shaft that extended several decks into the ship. Projectiles were stored in a projectile handling room in the lower part of the barbette. Over 900 projectiles could be stored in the projectile handling room. The guns were supplied with projectiles via hoists.

Powder stores were below the projectile handling room and powder hoists fed the guns. Empty powder canisters were ejected from the turret via an ejector port at the back of the turret. When the guns were firing, it was not unusual to see empty brass canisters piling up on the deck behind the turret. The turret itself had 6.5 inches (170 mm) of armor plate on its face and could train (turn) to follow its target at ten degrees a second.

Each turret required a crew of 3 officers and 52 enlisted men.[1]

Deployment[edit | edit source]

As well as ships of the Cleveland class, these turrets were also fitted to the Brooklyn, St. Louis, and Fargo class cruisers. The Worcester-class cruisers carried the same type of gun, but in twin dual-purpose (DP) mountings.[1][3] These were not entirely satisfactory, and a triple DP mounting was proposed to replace them, but was cancelled after World War II.[4]

Notes[edit | edit source]

Two versions of this breech loading rifled naval gun were produced, the 6"/47 Mark 16 Mod 0 and the 6"/47 Mark 16 Mod 1. The guns were mounted in two types of turret, primarily a triple turret for use against surface targets, but also a two-gun semi-automatic "Dual Purpose" turret for use against both air and surface targets was produced in limited numbers late in the war (the DP turrets could fire more quickly and elevate and train faster compared to the "single purpose" triple turret).

"6-inch /47" refers to a bore diameter (caliber) of 6 inches and a bore length of 47 calibers (a caliber is one bore diameter), or 23 feet 6 inches. "Mark 16" indicates it is the 16th design in the series of 6 inch guns. "Mod 0" or "Mod 1" indicates minor modifications to the design, with 0 being the original and 1 being the first modification (which featured a tapered liner). Three 6 inch (152 mm)/47 caliber Mark 16 guns were mounted in a triple turret. The Cleveland-class cruiser of that period had 12 such guns mounted in four triple turrets. The Worcester-class cruisers carried the same type of gun, but in six two-gun dual-purpose mountings.[3]

The "Mark 16" designation refers to the gun being 16th in the 6" series of designs, not the turret the gun is mounted in. Smaller guns at that time had a Mark number for the type of mounting. In modern times the USN refers primarily to the Mark number of the gun mount (turret), but in WW II the model of the gun was the primary reference point. The gun turrets for 6" and larger guns of the 1920s through WW II were known according to the class of ship the turret was to be mounted on.[5][6]

The Mark 34 high explosive shell this gun fired is usually referred to as "HC" but when fitted with a proximity (VT) fuse or a mechanical time (MT) fuse it could be used against aircraft and thus was technically an "AA" projectile in that configuration. Thus the Mark 34 HC is also in theory the Mark 34 AA depending on the fuse fitted.

Weapons of comparable role, performance and era[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

This article includes text from public information on display on the Museum ship USS Little Rock (CG-4), which is located in the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park in Buffalo, New York.

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