Loading the BIG GUNS!!!
||The Spanning Tray:
A gun captain (USS Missouri) in turret #1 signals to ram the 16 inch projectile.
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
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.
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
A complex piece of
equipment, the rammer requires 25 pages of coverage in the turret manual.
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.
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.
CLICK HERE 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:
*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