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Five-Inch, 38 Caliber Twin Mount Guns

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These semi-automatic weapons were the Ship’s main anti-aircraft guns, but could also be used for shore bombardment and for attacking ships. The Ship had ten twin mounts, five on each side, for a total of 20 barrels. While the mounts consisted of three levels, the lowest level, which was the ammunition magazine, could be located several decks below the top two levels.


  • Effective range: 8 miles

  • Rate of fire: 15 rounds per minute

  • Weight of projectile: 55 pounds

  • Weight of Powder charge: 15 pounds, plus 12 pound brass casing

  • Gun crew per mount: 13 men


"I was in the upper handling room of mount six. Usually when we went to general quarters, they would cut off all air below decks because of possible poisonous gassing. The enemy might gas us. They might blow it through our system and kill us all. They cut off all of the fresh air system, so it was extremely hot in these handling rooms. I think there were about 12 of us working in there. This was about a 12 by 12-foot square room with all the storage in the upper hoist in it. This left very little space to operate in.

During this air attack which lasted 14 minutes, enough sweat came from those of us in this upper handling room that my shoes were just sloshing in sweat. I noticed this after it was all over. I didn’t think of it until after the battle was over. I looked on the deck and as the ship rolled you could see the sweat rolling from one side of the room to the other. Now this is the honest truth if I’ve ever told it, I reckon half of it was my sweat. I was probably scared and hot, it was really hot in there. At that time we were expected to get and keep the ammunition supplied to the guns and we did our best to do it. We worked real hard, and by the hard work in the hot room and being scared too, I said I’m sure we can vouch for all that sweat."

- Willie N. Jones

"We could get out some fast loads, but we didn’t have a gun crew to match the Marines. The reason for this is that they were in top physical shape because the Marines were all pre-war Marines. They had to be around six-foot tall for sea duty. They drilled every day on the loading machine. You’d see them up there every day. So naturally, they got it down to a fine art. We tried to beat them a lot of times, but no way. Every time they tallied up the gun mounts, the Marines had five more rounds. It used to make us hot because we couldn’t catch them, you know, but it was just one of those things."

- Michael L. Horton 


1999 The Battleship USS North Carolina Commission
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Last updated: July 14, 1999.