Battleship powder ram question?

Joined: September 30th, 2015, 2:15 pm

September 30th, 2015, 2:15 pm #1

 The rammer operator rams the projectile until it is seated, the rotating band must be forced into the rifling so that the projectile will not move to the rear when the gun is elevated. The rammerman rams 6 powder bags, the rearmost bag not more than 4" from the mushroom when the breech is closed (a +4" gap between the last bag and the primer might prevent the powder from igniting, causing a misfire) When using reduced numbers of bags or 55 lb reduced service bags this step is a little tricky, the reduced service bags are smaller in diameter as well as shorter, If they are pushed too far into the breech, elevating the gun barrel will cause the bags to flop back against the mushroom head, this will result in the red patch of black powder igniter to slump out of position where the primer charge cannot get to it. On April 16, 1989 there was an explosion in a gun turret on the U.S.S. Iowa, the experiment being done on the center gun required the loading of only 5 bags of powder.
        There were two basic kinds of shells, a 2,700 pound armor piercing shell and a 1,900 lbs. high explosive shell. The lower weight shell required more powerful powder, called D-846.  The D-846 bags could not be used with the 2,700 pound shells, and were actually stenciled with "WARNING: Do Not Use with 2,700-pound projectile". The experiments involved placing 5 bags of D-846 propellent behind a 2,700 pound shell.  

OK now to my question, and PLEASE PLEASE this is not for a discussion on what caused the IOWA turret explosion....

1- When the guns are raised how do the 6x standard powder bags not drop back on the primer 4" under it?
2- How could the Rammerman push 5x D-846 powder bags in....the right distance into the breech while leaving the required 4"?
3- Does the increased space between the 5x D-846 powder bags and the base of the 16" projectile change any ballistics?
                                                                                      (see photo)
4- And finally.....If a hypothetical ultra-modern layered propellant, with split stick powder was developed for a hypothetical
             BB 16" gun with only 3 powder bags necessary for a full charge, how would one ram it.......hypothetically speaking?



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Joined: September 9th, 2013, 7:16 pm

October 4th, 2015, 2:45 pm #2

In answer to #4: If memory serves the Navy sold the last remaining gun tubes for the Iowa about 5 years ago, and at least some of the guns on the Iowas were spiked when they became museum ships (Iowa and Missouri I believe). Any new guns will be built from scratch, thus it should be possible for the breech be built for only 3 powder bags.
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Joined: October 1st, 2017, 5:39 pm

August 8th, 2018, 5:27 am #3

If modern powder permits a shorter stacking of powder it should increase the effective caliber length. I wonder how many inches the chamber could be shortened.
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Joined: March 24th, 2011, 11:36 pm

August 8th, 2018, 10:30 am #4

USSHelm wrote: In answer to #4: If memory serves the Navy sold the last remaining gun tubes for the Iowa about 5 years ago, and at least some of the guns on the Iowas were spiked when they became museum ships (Iowa and Missouri I believe). Any new guns will be built from scratch, thus it should be possible for the breech be built for only 3 powder bags.
Sorry to drag it off topic but is there any hardware or infrastructure remaining to build these type (size) of barrels?
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Joined: May 5th, 2006, 5:38 am

August 12th, 2018, 4:28 pm #5

I believe they stopped using reduced charges because of increased number of misfires.
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Joined: December 11th, 2004, 1:10 pm

August 16th, 2018, 9:34 am #6

Rmor wrote:


Sorry to drag it off topic but is there any hardware or infrastructure remaining to build these type (size) of barrels?
I can remember watching the rifling machines being flogged off very shortly after I first joined this forum a good number of years ago now. The big forge at Waterlievit can do the blanks, but failing that there are presses that could do the same job just less efficiently. Lathes big enough to turn the barrels should be around somewhere in the US, failing that there'll be something in Europe or Japan. Pits to heat treat and assembling them nope, rifling machines nope. But the again the infrastructure to make the turrets isn't there either.  
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