3-inch/23-caliber gun

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The 3"/23 caliber gun (spoken "three-inch-twenty-three-caliber") was the standard anti-aircraft gun for United States destroyers through World War I and the 1920s. United States naval gun terminology indicates the gun fired a projectile 3 inches (76 mm) in diameter, and the barrel was 23 calibers long (barrel length is 3" x 23 = 69" or 1.75 meters.)[1]

3"/23 caliber gun
3-inch 23-caliber gun aboard USS SC-291.jpg
A 3"/23-caliber gun being fired aboard the United States Navy submarine chaser USS SC-291 sometime between 1918 and 1920.
  • Naval gun
  • Anti-aircraft gun
  • Place of originUnited States
    Service history
    In service1913—1946
    Used byUS Navy
    WarsWorld War I
    World War II
    Production history
    VariantsMark 9, 13, and 14
    • Mark 9: 749 pounds (340 kg) (with breech)
    • Mark 13: 531 pounds (241 kg)
    • Mark 14 Mod 0: 593 pounds (269 kg) (with breech)
    • Mark 14 Mod 1: 658 pounds (298 kg) (with breech)
    • Mark 9: 77.05 inches (1.957 m)
    • Mark 14: 79 inches (2.0 m)
    Barrel length
    • Mark 9: 69 inches (1.8 m) bore (23 calibres)
    • Mark 14: 71 inches (1.8 m) bore (23.5 calibres)

    Shell16.5 lb (7.5 kg)
    Caliber3-inch (76 mm)
    Elevation-15° to +65° or +75°
    Rate of fire8 – 9 rounds per minute
    Muzzle velocity1,650 feet per second (500 m/s)
    Effective firing range
    • 8,800 yards (8,000 m) at 45.3° elevation (WW I)
    • 10,100 yards (9,200 m) at 45° elevation (WW II)
    • 18,000 feet (5,500 m) at 75° elevation (AA)


    Plan and left elevation diagrams

    The built-up gun with vertical sliding breech block weighed about 531 pounds (241 kg) and used fixed ammunition (case and projectile handled as a single assembled unit) with a 13-pound (6 kg) projectile at a velocity of 1650 feet per second (500 m/s).[2] Range was 10100 yards (9235 meters) at 45 degrees elevation.[2] Ceiling was 18000 feet (5500 meters) at the maximum elevation of 75 degrees.[2]


    The 3"/23 caliber cannon was the first purposely-designed anti-aircraft cannon to reach operational service in the US military, and was a further development of a 1 pounder cannon concept designed by Admiral Twining to meet the possible threat from airships being built by various navies.[3]

    A partially retractable version was mounted as a deck gun on the US L-class, M-1 (SS-47), AA-1 class, and O-class submarines.

    When World War II began, the 3"/23 caliber gun was outdated, and surviving United States destroyers built during the World War I era that were armed with the 3"/23 caliber were rearmed with dual-purpose 3"/50 caliber guns. Where there was no air threat during World War II, the 3"/23 caliber gun was employed in the surface to surface role for use against submarines, and was mounted on submarine chasers, armed yachts, and various auxiliaries.[2] Some major warships carried 3"/23 caliber guns temporarily while awaiting installation of quad 1.1"/75 caliber guns.[2]

    The 3"/23 caliber gun was mounted on:


    1. ^ Fairfield 1921 p.156
    2. ^ a b c d e Campbell 1985 p.146
    3. ^ "New American Aerial Weapons" Popular Mechanics, December 1911, p. 776.
    4. ^ a b c Fahey 1939 p.14


    • Campbell, John (1985). Naval Weapons of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-459-4.
    • Fahey, James C. (1939). The Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet, War Edition. Ships and Aircraft.
    • Fairfield, A.P. (1921). Naval Ordnance. The Lord Baltimore Press.
    • Lenton, H.T.; Colledge, J.J. (1968). British and Dominion Warships of World War II. Doubleday and Company.
    • DiGiulian, Tony Navweaps.com 3"/23 caliber gun

    External linksEdit