USS Wisconsin Fires 16 Inch Guns

wow…what a tread. I am on Oahu for the NFL Pro Bowl week and will re-tour the Missouri this week and will look at those big boys with a whole another interest

Hi All,
I have to add my New Jersey story as told to me by a friend.

I worked with a lieutenant who served in Viet Nam. He said that he was part of a unit tasked to take a look at this small village along the coast and report back on any Viet Cong activity. He had the ability to call in fire support from a destroyer on station off the coast if he got into trouble. As they approached the village they began to take heavier and heavier fire and got pinned down. The lieutenant got on the radio to the destroyer and asked for five rounds at their location. The destroyer answered back “you want five rounds?”. The lieutenant said that by this time they were taking casualties and so he quickly answered back "yes!!, I need five rounds at this location NOW!"
The lieutenant said he remembered this freight train roar overhead and the little village disappeared. He said that he was clinging to the ground with all his might while everything around him was turning inside out and this little crazed person was running around inside his head screaming. When he started to recover, four more freight trains roared in one after another.
After the lieutenant recovered his senses he got back on the radio and contacted the ship, “What destroyer is this?” “Destroyer?” was the response, “this is the USS New Jersey, we replaced the destroyer on station an hour ago.”


A 1900 pound HC contains about 148 pounds of explosive. The average crater is 36 feet in diameter and 12 feet deep. This is based on reports from observers during Desert Storm. Our RPVs captured interesting film footage. Toward the end, the Iraqis were coming out with white flags when they heard the RPVs buzzing overhead. My turret took out a communication outpost consisting of some semi trailers and various antennae. We watched the tape and figured the approaching vehicle was the ‘Chuck Wagon’, judging by the way guys were coming out to it. The first two rounds were very close. The next few destroyed the trailers and the ‘Chuck Wagon’ as it was turning around to make its escape.

My experience (Royal Navy) was limited to guns up to 6 inch calibre but some of the principles must be common to the big stuff. The whole turret does indeed kick off to the side when one gun is fired by itself and the servo system, either hydraulic or electric, has to be tuned to keep this kick and recovery time within specified limits. The gun also jumps upwards during recoil as the balance is disturbed by the centre of gravity moving back and forth. This upward lift shouldn’t be a concern on the big guns which have independent elevation for each barrel. If all of the guns fire simultaneously there is also the increased recoil thrust to the ship structure to take into account. It is not uncommon to find light fittings and crockery below decks broken after a shoot, I lost my favourite tot glass this way.

A real problem occurs when firing VT (proximity) fuzed shells, if they fly too close together then one shell “sees” the adjacent one and “pop”, none of them get very far. VT fuzes were primarily designed for anti-aircraft fire but also come in handy for airbursts during shore bombardment or against very light, fast, patrol boats.


Gravelbelly, during my first enlistment, ca 1979, the Oklahoma City was decomissioned. She had the last turrets on active duty. They were 6"/47 guns. The GMG1 who was LPO on the OK City ended up on the Missouri with me about 10 years later. He was a Master Chief by then, and quite a colorful character!

The worst damage I can recall on Missouri was when Turrets One and Two fired salvos just a few degrees off the port side, pert near right over the foc’sle! Our berthing compartment was located right beneath the muzzles and suffered quite a bit of damage. Nothing that could not be repaired easily, though.