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Loading the BIG GUNS!!!

spanning_tray.jpg (18575 bytes) The Spanning Tray:
A gun captain (USS Missouri) in turret #1 signals to ram the 16 inch projectile.  The tongue of the spanning tray fits neatly into the breech.  Right above the gun captain's head is the gas ejector valve from which a blast of compressed air automatically scours the bore clean of powder gasses and burning fragments of powder bag after every round. 


Projectile Loading:

A 1900lb. HC projectile is brought up the hoist to the spanning tray of USS IOWA Center Gun Turret#2 (December 1986).  Note the folding action of the tray to bring the tray in alignment with the bore. 

shell_on_tray.jpg (26742 bytes)


Projectile Ramming:

When the spanning tray reaches the fixed loading angle of 5 degrees the projectile is rammed and seated in the bore. 2,700lb. AP round on USS IOWA, right gun Turret#3 in November 1987. 

shell_ramming.jpg (20561 bytes)


rammer.jpg (20877 bytes) The Rammer:

A complex piece of equipment, the rammer requires 25 pages of coverage in the turret manual.  The head link (at bottom center of picture) is made of caste bronze and drives the shell and powder charges home by means of a 297-inch chain, four links of which are visible in the picture.   The rammer operator is seated with his left hand on the lever that controls the ram.  He also opens and closes the powder door.


Loading & Ramming Powder:

The gun captain (nearest the breech in lower left picture) and his cradle operator await the powder bags, three of which will roll down the open door serving as a shelf between the powder host trunk and the spanning tray(as seen in lower right picture).  The men will spread the bags apart (2 forward and 1 aft) to make space for the next batch of three.   The powder bags are dumped on the order of the gun captain by the hoist operator stationed six decks below.  In the picture at the very bottom, the powder bags are dressed in wear reducing polyurethane foam jackets.   Note the quilted ignition pad on the back of the last bag.

powder_spanningtray.jpg (27859 bytes) dumping_powder.jpg (39175 bytes)
ram_powder.jpg (19618 bytes)

to go to the next page in our series on how to load the big guns

CLICK HERE to return to the 16" gun loading menu.

All of the information in these pages is from the two sources below:
Reference #1
*Muir, Malcolm, THE IOWA CLASS BATTLESHIPS, 1987, Sterling Publishing, New York.  ISBN 0-7137-17327
*Sumrall, Robert, F., IOWA CLASS BATTLESHIPS, 1988, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis.   ISBN 0-87021-298-2



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