The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Conference Center > General Discussion Forum

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old August 1, 2001, 10:29 PM   #1
Jeff Thomas
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 9, 1998
Location: Texas
Posts: 4,753
5-Inch, 38-Caliber Naval Rifle

OK, trivia question.

I ran across this term today, and was stumped at first. An old Navy hand filled me in, but I'm curious how many of you understand the phrase above. I was a bit fascinated with the answer.

And, the first TFL member to get this one right wins ... absolutely nothing but bragging rights.

Regards from AZ
__________________
I refuse to live in a state which fails to recognize my family's fundamental right of self defense. I refuse to give that state my labor, my taxes, or any other support for such an uncivilized and barbaric policy. In other words ... Texas, Yes ... California, No.

Last edited by Jeff Thomas; August 2, 2001 at 01:31 AM.
Jeff Thomas is offline  
Old August 1, 2001, 10:33 PM   #2
Meiji_man
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 26, 2000
Location: Phoenix Arizona
Posts: 455
5 inches is bore size
The other number is the length of the barrel, 38 caliber is 38 times the bore size so 190 inches or a 15.83 ft. long barrel
__________________
"Lay me down and bleed a while. Though I am wounded, I am not slain. I shall rise and fight again."
Thomas Clement Douglas
Meiji_man is offline  
Old August 1, 2001, 10:37 PM   #3
C.R.Sam
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 29, 1999
Location: Dewey, AZ
Posts: 12,859
5 inch 38 is a gun. 5 inch 54 is a rifle.

Meiji is correct re bore to barrel length.

Sam
C.R.Sam is offline  
Old August 1, 2001, 10:40 PM   #4
Jeff Thomas
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 9, 1998
Location: Texas
Posts: 4,753
Boy, you guys are fast ... and, thanks for the clarification on gun / rifle.

I got a kick out of this, because ... you'll laugh ... I thought it was a typo at first!

Regards from AZ
__________________
I refuse to live in a state which fails to recognize my family's fundamental right of self defense. I refuse to give that state my labor, my taxes, or any other support for such an uncivilized and barbaric policy. In other words ... Texas, Yes ... California, No.
Jeff Thomas is offline  
Old August 1, 2001, 10:43 PM   #5
Meiji_man
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 26, 2000
Location: Phoenix Arizona
Posts: 455
So the '38 was a smoothbore?
__________________
"Lay me down and bleed a while. Though I am wounded, I am not slain. I shall rise and fight again."
Thomas Clement Douglas
Meiji_man is offline  
Old August 1, 2001, 10:55 PM   #6
Mike Irwin
Staff
 
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 36,298
Jeff,

You'll also see this in reference to battleship and cruiser main guns...

USS Pennsylvania, armed with 12 14"/50 cal. rifles.

USS South Carolina, armed with 9 16"/45 cal. rifles.

USS Iowa, armed with 9 16"/50 cal. rifles.
__________________
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
Mike Irwin is offline  
Old August 1, 2001, 11:14 PM   #7
glockten
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 21, 2000
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 524
Mike,

You mean USS South Dakota, with 9 16"/45s, don't you?
glockten is offline  
Old August 1, 2001, 11:22 PM   #8
Long Path
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 31, 1999
Location: N. Texas
Posts: 5,888
Meiji_man--

you raise a good point re: nomenclature.

A Winchester M-94 is a rifle.

A Remington 1100 is a shotgun, or can also be simply, "a gun."

A Kimber Classic .45 is not a gun, it's a pistol.

A piece of artillery, field or naval, is a "gun."
Strangely, this is so regardless of whether it is smothbore, as is the 120 mm German-made cannon on the M1A1 Abrams main battle tank, or rifled, as is the 5"/38 caliber gun on the Rudderow Class Destroyer Escort ships.

In short, the only time a firearm is properly a "gun" is when it is a cannon or possibly a shotgun. Easy way to think of it: "guns" fire "shells." That of course opens up a completely different can of worms for me: WHY is a 20mm round called a "shell," even when it is a non-exploding solid? It's got all the characteristics of what we otherwise know as a "cartridge." Curiouser and curiouser....

__________________
"Welcome to The Firing Line, a virtual community dedicated to the discussion and advancement of responsible firearms ownership."T.F.L. Policy Page
Will you, too, be one who stands in the gap? ____________ Better and Better, the blog. _____
Long Path is offline  
Old August 2, 2001, 12:53 AM   #9
C.R.Sam
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 29, 1999
Location: Dewey, AZ
Posts: 12,859
5 inch 38 is rifled. The barrel is too short to fall into the rifle catagory. Were it shoulder fired it would be called a carbine.

The 5 inch 54 is an autoloader. It can sustain a rate of fire of around 30 rpm and burst fire at up to 60rpm. All precisely aimed. Awesome would be an understatement.

Sam
C.R.Sam is offline  
Old August 2, 2001, 12:53 AM   #10
Mike Irwin
Staff
 
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 36,298
Glock,

I certainly do!

Wah. It's late, I'm tired, and all those states with "South" in them just keep confusing me.
__________________
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
Mike Irwin is offline  
Old August 2, 2001, 02:12 AM   #11
radom
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 21, 2000
Posts: 1,298
My thought is as the 5/38 was designed as a "dual purpose" gun for AA and surface target fire with the life of the tube in mind it would be a gun. Ever hear of a AA rifle? Gun and rifle is to the navy as the gun and howitzer bit is to the army in some cases today. Rifle tends to be used for the hi-vel guns now. In the old days it was more of a gun takes a case and a rifle takes a bag charge or so my dad and his brother says, they used to shoot them on the old fletcher tin cans and swayback crusers as guners mates and firecontrolmen. If it took a case it was a gun that was used for AA, the biger guns with no AA firecontrol took bags.
radom is offline  
Old August 2, 2001, 02:40 AM   #12
C.R.Sam
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 29, 1999
Location: Dewey, AZ
Posts: 12,859
radom......some pretty logical sounding points there. I do seem to remember there being a distinction tween rifle and gun being at some bore•barrel ratio but we're goin way back in the cobwebs. Be nice to have an old Bluejacket's Manual handy.

Amongst other nice things bout the 5•54 is that it can fire much heavier projectiles at higher velocities.

Brought back an adrenalin booster. I was standin next to a 5" 38 that had an AA projectile go off in the tube just out of the chamber. Talk bout an overpressure ! No serious injuries. Tube looked like a boa with a pig inside.

Sam.........¿ eh ?
C.R.Sam is offline  
Old August 2, 2001, 10:11 AM   #13
Mike Irwin
Staff
 
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 36,298
If anyone is interested in learning more about these weapons, here's a GREAT page on the development and useage of the 5"/38 and 5"/54, as well as just about every other breechloading weapon in service with just about every Navy.

Naval Weapons of the World
__________________
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
Mike Irwin is offline  
Old August 2, 2001, 01:15 PM   #14
Oatka
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 28, 1999
Location: Nevada
Posts: 3,076
Hmmm. A 5" 38 cal would have one Helluva bottlenecked case.

A bit of the usual topic drift.

I served on the WWII fleet boats back in the '50s. One of the ones I was on had a 5" x 25 and used fixed ammo with a lesser charge. Even so, the muzzle blast can only be described as "vicious". Humping these "lighter" cases up through the after battery hatch was a treat also. No hydraulic ammo hoist here.

What blew my 17-year-old mind was when they had us go through an ammo-handling drill for the 5"x38. They used semi-fixed ammo (seperate shell and case). The projectile weighed 52 pounds and you had to pick these up and guide it into the shell hoist, one hand near the nose, the other gripping it near the base only by its circumferance. The BIG No-No was to lap your fingers over the base as sometimes the shell was immediately sent to the gun mount and the hoist would snip your fingers off neat as a whistle.

The mind-boggler was that the nose fit into a fuze-setter which was controlled from the gun director. That meant that the range as detected by the radar was immediately sent to the fuse. Super cool for WWII.

The surface ship guys said the 40MMs were aimed with these directors also and that the only people working during a raid was the loaders. That is until the directors got knocked out and you had to go to local control. It was REAL fun when the power got knocked out and you manually had to train, elevate and fire -- accuracy really went to hell.

They also told us that the 5" could be set on automatic fire. Hello? It just mean that when on automatic, the gun fired as soon as the shell was seated. I understand that even the 6" on the light cruisers could be fired this way. I guess it was the naval version of Fire-For-Effect.

Just as I was getting out, they were replacing the quad 40MMs with long-barrelled twin 3" that had a loading rack that looked like a revolver cylinder with the tops off. The guys said that when on full automatic, the loaders could barely keep up.

I think the caliber multiplier came about because as smokeless powder was developed for naval use, it was found that the longer barrel increased the range as the powder had longer to burn. Seems to me that was a reason for the long barrels on blackpowder guns even though BP was more of an explosive than a propellant. ???
Oatka is offline  
Old August 2, 2001, 02:12 PM   #15
Mike Irwin
Staff
 
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 36,298
Oatka,

Large-bore blackpowder guns were frequently very short. In US service in 1880s era ships they were frequently 30 to 35 calibers long, although some navies used barrels that were only 20 calibers long.
__________________
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
Mike Irwin is offline  
Old August 2, 2001, 02:41 PM   #16
bruels
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 4, 1998
Location: Hayden, ID, USA
Posts: 1,102
Quote:
The mind-boggler was that the nose fit into a fuze-setter which was controlled from the gun director. That meant that the range as detected by the radar was immediately sent to the fuse. Super cool for WWII.
Actually, it was a bit more complex than that. Range and bearing were sent from the director to the fire control computer, an analog computer using gears, wheels, and discs to compute range rate and bearing rate. The computer then computed a predicted flight path for the target, computed a path for the projectile to intercept the target, computed a time of flight for the fuze setter in the ammunition hoist to set the projectile's fuze for an air burst in close proximity to the target with the AA Common shell. Because there was a delay from when the projectile was removed from the hoist until it was laid in the loading tray and rammed into the breach, that delay was adjustable and set at the fire control computer.

The loading delay was set by doctrine but could be increased as a gun crew tired. If I remember, a good crew could sustain about 25 rounds per minute for two minutes before their rate of fire slowed. I'm sure the threat of kamikaze attack stimulated greater feats of endurance.

The AA Common shell was supplanted by the proximity fuze, (VT for Variable Time), which had a small range only radar in the fuze that sensed the proximity of the target aircraft and thus triggered the fuze.

AA Common remained in the inventory for air burst shore bombardment and light surface craft because it is cheaper than VT fuzed shells.
__________________
Bruce Stanton
CDR, USN/1310-Ret.
Sgt., Kings Co. Sheriff - Ret.
bruels is offline  
Old August 2, 2001, 03:12 PM   #17
Lord Grey Boots
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 12, 1999
Location: Snohomish, WA
Posts: 511
The History Channel had a show on naval guns last night. They pointed out how for black powder guns, anything beyond a barrell length of 6-8 feet was a waste, as no more velocity gains could be made.

It wasn't until smokeless powder that longer barrells could be used with a benefit.
__________________
http://www.geocities.com/gebooth2001
NRA, CCRKBA, GOA, WAC

Sarin Nerve Gas:FOUND Ricin Toxin:FOUND Mustard Gas:FOUND Long Range Rockets:FOUND Nuclear material:FOUND 20 tons of Chemical weapons:FOUND Al-Queda FOUND
Lord Grey Boots is offline  
Old August 2, 2001, 10:14 PM   #18
RWK
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 20, 1999
Location: Occupied Virginia
Posts: 2,777
Sam, my friend and fellow sailor . . .

Another amazing coincidence, directly related to your 5/38 "adrenalin booster":

SixthFlt during the summer of '75 in USS Josephus Daniels (CG-27) -- around 0200 and black as you know what. I go up the ladder from GSK to the fantail, very close to the ship's sole 5 inch 54. Cannot see the safety markings well, because they are red (naturally) and I have the red lens in my flashlight.

Walking forward on the port side to get to my stateroom . . . AND THE 5/54 RIFLE FIRES A NIGHT ILLUMINATION ROUND, unmanned and in fully automatic mode, in response to a night firing exercise command. Estimate I am 15 feet (slant range) from the muzzle. Concussion literally staggers me and my left ear has never fully recovered from the injury.

Incidentally, no 1MC or other general notifications that night firing exercises were ongoing.

Warmest regards -- Roy
__________________
__________________
Μολών λαβέ!
RWK is offline  
Old August 2, 2001, 10:55 PM   #19
C.R.Sam
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 29, 1999
Location: Dewey, AZ
Posts: 12,859
Roy....at least we had free laundry service..
C.R.Sam is offline  
Old August 3, 2001, 12:44 AM   #20
radom
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 21, 2000
Posts: 1,298
If I remember correctly the old man said that 21 rounds per min. was the shoot till you drop or the magazines run dry rate with a battle trained shoot or get hit crew.
Just to keep folks hopping does anyone know the proper term for the gizmo that you would find a 5/38 residing in?
radom is offline  
Old August 3, 2001, 02:21 AM   #21
glockten
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 21, 2000
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 524
Radom,

Are you referring to the gun house?
glockten is offline  
Old August 3, 2001, 09:52 AM   #22
Hutch
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 12, 2000
Location: Birmingham, AL
Posts: 1,124
Since "turret" is too obvious, I'll guess barbette.
__________________
"First, the freedom to own and carry the weapon of your choice is a natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil, and Constitutional right -- subject neither to the democratic process nor to arguments grounded in social utility" -- L. Neil Smith

' I have an [in]alienable right to bear arms. I will exercise my own judgement in their use and accept responsibilty for the consequences' - Oakleaf
Hutch is offline  
Old August 3, 2001, 10:07 AM   #23
4V50 Gary
Staff
 
Join Date: November 2, 1998
Location: Colorado
Posts: 17,045
You gotta be a naval buff...

To know that the 5" 38 caliber DP (dual purpose) rifle is the standard armament of our destroyers during WW II. It also served as the secondary armament aboard our cruisers (light & heavy) and aboard our later battleships. Even our Iowa class featured 20 of them with 5 dual gun turrets on port & starboard.

The earlier battleships of WW II carried a 5"/25 cal rifle. On some of these ships, they were replaced when rebuilt/refitted.

The Naval Institute Press use to print an excellant book on naval armament of WW II. Unfortunately, it's been out of print for years. It may be in your local library.
__________________
Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt. Molon Labe!
4V50 Gary is offline  
Old August 3, 2001, 10:57 AM   #24
EnochGale
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 18, 2000
Location: southwest
Posts: 823
There is a 5 " 62 cal in the works.

http://www.navsea.navy.mil/wire/wire0014.html
EnochGale is offline  
Old August 3, 2001, 11:38 AM   #25
Mike Irwin
Staff
 
Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 36,298
Gary,

The 5"/38 formed the main armament for 1 light cruiser class during WW II -- the Atlantas.

They were armed with 16 guns mounted in 8 double turrets, 6 on the centerline (3 forward superfiring, 3 aft superfiring), and two wing turrets just ahead of the aft centerline turrets.

Only 4 Atlanta-class cruisers were built:

Atlanta - Lost during sea battles around Guadalcanal.

Juneau - Lost in the same action as Atlanta, taking the 5 Sullivan Brothers with her.

San Diego - Scrapped in 1960.

San Juan - Scrapped in 1961.

During the war the two survivors were reclassified as Ligh Anti-Aircraft Cruisers.

I'm certain that had the VT Proximity fuse been available earlier, when these ships were in design, more would have been constructed simply for anti-air use.
__________________
"The gift which I am sending you is called a dog, and is in fact the most precious and valuable possession of mankind" -Theodorus Gaza

Baby Jesus cries when the fat redneck doesn't have military-grade firepower.
Mike Irwin is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:45 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.13024 seconds with 7 queries