5" NAVY BREECH BLOCK from the USS TURNER JOY


#1

Here is something I have never seen befor and know very little about. I thought it was facinating when I bought it a few years ago. The thing weighs about 30 pounds. Anyhow, this is the breech block from one of the USS TURNER JOY’s 5 inch deck guns. Maybe others may find it interesting or perhaps know something about it. I’ll post pics of all angles.


#2

Here’s a shot of the headstamp of a shell I fired from a 5" x 54 in 1975 from the USS Luce(DLG7/DDG38).
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#3

Rick

Interesting post and photos. I was a 5"/54 Gunners mate from a different era. 1953-1957 on one of the last straight deck carriers, the USS Coral Sea, CVA 43.

Ray


#4

Hey Ray

I was a GMM '72-'76. Liked the guns better, so I buddied up with the GMGs so I could bang away with their toys. We only rarely fired missiles. They shot fairly regularly. I absconded with a couple of 5" hulls after one shoot. Lost one of them, but still have this one. I was on the Springfield(CLG7) 72-74 and the Luce 74-76. The Springfield had a 6" turret and a 5" twin mount, (forgot the MK #). And some old 40MM Bofors. All for show, but they did fire a salvo from the 6 inchers once. That was awesome.

Rick


#5

APFSDS

I forgot to thank you for your photos. So, thanks!

I believe the 5" mount shown at the top of your post is the MARK 42. Designed to fire 40 rounds per minute, that rate couldn’t be sustained because it only took a few minutes to deplete the ammo in the ready room at which point it was reduced to firing only as fast as the sailors could re-supply. But still a far cry from the MARK 16, 5"/54 of my days which was designed for 18 r.p.m. but seldom exceeded 10 r.p.m. Throwing those 70 pound projectiles around exhausted even the biggest guy after a few minutes.

Rick

Good to hear from another GM. Not many around anymore.

Memories.

Ray


#6

Hey Ray

Yea, not many around that’ll fess up to having been a GM. Ha.
Have only met one other GMM since my departure from the worlds finest Navy. I understand it’s all one rate now. Simplifies the training, I suppose.
And yea, that’s a MK 42. I’m guessing a Mod 9 considering the two bubbles on top. The Luce’s was a Mod 10. And when I got to shoot, we were restricted to a 5 round burst, lest the hydraulics and stuff got carried away. It sure was a hoot to shoot.

Rick


#7

For you non Gunners Mates out there, Rick wasn’t kidding when he said 5 round “burst”. That’s a rapid fire mount and if you ever saw a 5" gun shooting one round per second you’d never forget it.

Ray


#8

[quote=“slick rick”]It sure was a hoot to shoot.

[/quote]

Now that has to be the understatement of the month :-)

Simon


#9

That is amazing. I had no clue that gun could fire that fast. Must be increadible to actualy shoot. All you guys that served our country totally KICK AS-! I am gratefull to all of you and appreciate you sharing your insight with us.

Jason


#10

As Rick said, you didn’t fire them continuously at that rate. Wear and tear and all that. I believe those still in service have been tamed down to a slow 35 rounds per minute.

The two “frog eyes” on top the mount were for local fire control. One for anti-aircraft and one for surface fire. I believe the anti-aircraft eyes were removed from most mounts in the 1970s because it was found that local control against the newest high speed aircraft was virtually impossible. Actually, trying to track fast flying aircraft was very difficult even in the 1950s when the first jets started appearing. Only a coordinated fire control system could come close to doing it and, even then, a good pilot could avoid most of the fire. But it only took one.

Ray


#11

Even on slow speed, it is faster then I would have thought.


#12

Re: the “surface fire” bubble had a very high-tech sight. It consisted of a ring and post arrangement, about 12" apart. Two pistol grips, with a trigger on one, controlled elevation and traverse. From the vantage point in the bubble, you could watch the round go downrange. And they weren’t tracer rounds. Couldn’t hit crap. We shot at some old vehicles on Vasquez Island and I got within a few hundred yards. At about 2 miles range. Could barely see what we were shooting at. Can’t imagine trying to hit a moving target.


#13

“Plinking” takes on a whole new meaning!


#14

Fer sure. Odd, to me, was the lack of a big bang when the gun went off. More of a “whank” sound. Not loud at all. Outside, well, it would have busted your eardrums. REAL loud. Hard to hear over all the motors a pumps throwing projectiles and powder around. It fed from both sides, so there was always something in motion. Especially during the burst fire. And it smelled very strongly of ammonia. The doors were always left open during firing, for ventilation. The bubble trapped the smell, so one didn’t stay up there long. Can’t imagine what it would have been like during General Quarters. Plus, there was always a “line” waiting to shoot. Akin to Disneyland at times. And some of them weren’t even Gunners Mates.
The officers were worse than kids, cuttin’ line and such. Arses.


#15

Rick

You’re making me want to re-enlist. Almost.

One of the disadvantages to being a GM was that I seldom got to see the guns shoot from outside. A few times I turned control over to one of the Mount Captains (usually a Bosuns Mate) and would sneak out to watch them shoot. Of course, if anything had gone wrong my arse would have been court-martialed.

Re leaving the hatches open - it seems there was always at least one gun crew member who would run away the minute we started shooting. The GM had to keep a close eye on the runners and at times batten the hatches TIGHT so they couldn’t get out. Usually best just to let them go because all they did was get in the way.

Yeah, I never could understand why they had sights for anti-aircraft fire.

Ray


#16

Ray,

If they promised me a weapons rate and all the leftover brass and trash, I’d re-up in an instant. But everything is so different now. Automated systems eliminate the need for gun crews. VLS has taken away ALL the fun of being a missiles guy. No more hands on of anything. We even had M14s and 1919A4s to play with. And a few old Thompsons. And the line-throwing guns were as much fun as anything. Yea, I’d do it again.


#17

Just curious, what is a “Line Throwing Gun”?

Jason


#18

[quote=“APFSDS”]Just curious, what is a “Line Throwing Gun”?

Jason[/quote]

Line throwing guns were used to get a line (thin light cord) across from one ship to another. A weight with the line attached to it was fired by the gun, aimed high above the other ship, so that the line came down across the ship. Some line throwing guns fired a long rod like that used on rodded rifle grenades. The cartridge was a blank. Later, plastic “grenades” were used for line throwing to reduce the injuries caused by flying rods. This thin line was then used to pull a thicker one across etc. The final line could be for transferring stores, or people between the ships.

gravelbelly


#19

Thanks, now I understand. Very cool concept, really appreciate the description.


#20

The one I got to use was a single shot break-open, akin to an inexpensive H&R/NEF we know today. Smooth bore, with a fairly heavy 12"-14" barrel. It used a .45-70 blank round. A very hard shootin’ gun, but I was younger then and didn’t mind so much. The projectile consisted of a steel rod that slid down the barrel with a hard rubber bumper end, atop a clear plastic tube about 3" ID. You could unscrew the “bumper” and insert messages. We never did that, but the option was available. There was a yoke, of sorts, at the base of the tube where you tied the string. We had spools, that fit on a holder attached to the gun, of orange nylon string. Shot across to the other ship, oiler or supply ship, and then fed progrssively larger lines/ropes across. You sorta had to lob it in. Ranges were around 100-150 feet. Everybody was warned just prior to the shot. That thing would have definitely left a mark.