RE: 5" guns on ships

Discussion in 'General Military Arms & History Forum' started by hkruss, Mar 28, 2009.

  1. hkruss

    hkruss Active Member

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    Someone explain this to me please. I have read where 5" guns are sometimes referred to as being .38 caliber. Here is where my ignorance kicks in! When I think of .38 caliber, I think of the pistol. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't a 5" round somewhat larger than a .38 pistol round?!!
    O.K., all kidding aside, how does the .38 caliber designation relate to a 5" gun?
  2. Dakota Red 1

    Dakota Red 1 New Member

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    The 38 refers to the length of the barrel. It is 38 calibers long or 38 times the 5" bore diameter. The designation of the whole assembly is the Mark 12 5"/38 although I have heard a Gunner's Mate-Guns call it a Mark 38. I have messed with mortars and howitzers but accurate gunnery on a rolling ship is amazing. They can do it.
  3. Actually, Russ, it's pretty simple. A designation such as a 5" 38 means that the bore of the piece is 5 inches, and the length of that barrel is 38 times the bore dimension. So, for a 5" 38, the gun would fire a 5" diameter shell through a barrel of 190 inches, or 15.83 feet. ;)
  4. hkruss

    hkruss Active Member

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    Thanks guys. This is one of those questions I've wondered about for years. Absolutely useless knowledge for most people, but typical of my military trivia obsessed brain!!!
  5. mrkirker

    mrkirker New Member

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    Pistol,
    Let me 'second' hkruss. Dad's explanation of how a 16" gun could be a 45 cal didn't make much sense to me (too technical, I guess). Yours was totally understandable!
    mrk
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