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More on The Big Guns


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The 16-Inch Main Battery: The "Big Guns"

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The nine 16-inch guns comprise NORTH CAROLINA’s "Main Battery," her most destructive weapon. The guns are housed in three six-level turrets, which extend from the exterior decks down to just above the Ship’s bottom. The primary targets for these guns were enemy ships and shore bombardments.

  • Effective range at 45 degrees:

           armor piercing projectiles 21 miles

           high capacity projectiles 23 miles

  • Rate of fire: 30 seconds per round

  • Weight of armor piercing projectile 2700 pounds
    (to penetrate another ship’s armor or reinforced fortifications on shore)

  • Weight of high capacity projectile 1900 pounds
    (primarily for bombardment of islands and other land targets)

  • Weight of powder charge: 540 pounds: six 90-pound bags

  • Gun crew per turret: 3 officers, 177 enlisted

"Following on schedule at 2:00PM, General Quarters was sounded, this time it was for a purpose, the bombardment of Ponape (1 May 1944). But before this took place, we had to launch our planes.

Then at 3:00PM we commenced firing upon the island, this went on for about two hours and all was successful. During our time of bombardment of the island, we had a submarine contact and our destroyers started to drop depth charges, but weren’t very successful, and this contact soon faded out of the picture.

At about 4:45PM we secured from firing on the island for there wasn’t much left to waste any more ammunition on. This bombing was to destroy anything the enemy had that was worthwhile in the line of fuel, stores, and supply buildings, as well as ammunition dumps. This all went well, and about 30 minutes later, we recovered our planes safely, and no resistance what so ever.

By the way, the following ships were engaged in this bombardment were INDIANA, ALABAMA, IOWA, NEW JERSEY, and also the NORTH CAROLINA, as you should know, these are all battleships. (The Ship’s Log also lists the battleships MASSACHUSETTS and SOUTH DAKOTA.)

Now that every thing is quiet, this night was a surprise; we had movies aboard ship. During this time we were only about 25 miles off the coast of the island of Ponape."

-Louis M. "Frenchie" Favereaux

"Our battleship and some destroyers were sent in late in the afternoon to start bombardment about dark. The planes had been bombarding for two days. We were sent in to bombard all night, to hold the Japanese down and to keep them from getting any sleep or rest or putting up any fortification. The troops were going to land the next morning, after we put an all-night bombardment on the islands (Roi and Namur, Kwajalein Atoll, 29-30 January 1944). We fired at different intervals every ten or fifteen minutes so that the Japanese would not know when the next salvo (round of fire) was coming."

- Henry C. Greenway

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