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20 Millimeter Gun

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This gun is a defensive anti-aircraft weapon used at close range, that is, when the Ship was under direct attack by planes.

The Ship was designed with few anti-aircraft weapons. As the use of military aircraft increased in the war in Europe during the first couple of years of World War II, the need to add anti-aircraft to ships became obvious. Therefore, NORTH CAROLINA had 40 of these guns installed by December 1941 and had increased this number to 48 by December 1944.

  • Effective range: 2,000 yards

  • Rate of fire: 450 rounds per minute

  • Weight of projectile: .3 pounds

  • Gun crew: 4 men

"I was sent to a 20mm school on the other side of Oahu, Hawaii, for ten days with 78 other men. When that was over I was the best in my class, so I got my own gun which was mount 5 on the bow. There were only two sailors who were gunners on the bow, one on the starboard side and one on port side. The rest were Marines.

It was a very good gun; I never had any problems with mine. If everything went well and everyone did their job we could get about 450 rounds a minute out of it.

One time a Japanese dive-bomber was coming down on the carrier ESSEX and dropped two bombs. One went starboard into the water and the other went port into the water. The plane leveled off and headed for our bow in what we figured was a suicide attempt. It was either him or us so we opened up at about 1900 yards but he kept coming. I could see my tracers going into him and I couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t coming apart. Finally he was about 400 yards away and all of our guns got on him and he blew apart like a firecracker. We were all jumping up and down, as this was the first plane our ship had shot down.

During other times when we were in ‘Indian Country’ (war zone), to keep in practice, some of our planes would take off and (tow sleeves) and the different ships would shoot at those. Then they came up with drones, radio-controlled planes. This was sort of fun, to me; it was like a game. They would have the planes dive and do all sorts of things as it came towards the ship and it was our job to knock the thing down. We knocked them down! If they flew around the NORTH CAROLINA they didn’t last long! This was always a great thing for all of us to be doing as it kept us in practice and sharp and we had to be. When it came down to the Nitty Gritty, we had to be right there with it and we couldn’t make any mistakes. "

-Robert L. Palomaris

1999 The Battleship USS North Carolina Commission
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Last updated: July 29, 1999.