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November 3rd, 2016

Don’t Try to Trickle These Sticks… Powder for Big Naval Guns

DuPont artillery naval powder cannon gun kernel propellant stick

Story by Boyd Allen
While many top competitive shooters trickle their stick powder charges to a kernel or two, that would be impractical when loading charges for giant naval guns. You may be surprised, but the shells fired by the U.S. Navy’s massive 14″ and 16″ naval guns were also propelled by stick-type extruded powders. You couldn’t trickle these ‘kernels’ though — a single stick or ‘grain’ can be over 2″ long. Take a look…

In connection with a Benchrest Central discussion that drifted to the subject of powders used in large naval guns, I heard from Joe McNeil, whose father was involved in manufacturing those very propellants as a DuPont employee. Joe writes:

“My Dad worked for the DuPont company for over 40 years. Every time the nation went to war he was assigned to the gun powder plants which DuPont ran for the government for $1.00 per year! His last assignment was at the Indiana Ordnance Plant in Jefferson, Indiana from 1952 through 1958. He had a display case made of all of the different powders made at the plant and left it to me. That’s why I have a grain of 16″ gun powder. He took me out to the Jefferson proving grounds once when they tested the powder in a 16″ gun. We watched from a half-mile away but it left a lasting impression when they fired that gun. They actually had a set of rings they fired through to test the performance of the powder and shell. This was a truly fond memory of my Dad and his work.”

Here are some pictures of the gun powder “grains” made during the Korean War at the Indiana Ordnance Works where Joe McNeil’s father worked.

DuPont artillery naval powder cannon gun kernel propellant stick

DuPont artillery naval powder cannon gun kernel propellant stick

Above is the display case with the different powders manufactured at the DuPont plant. They include: 37 MM/AA, 75MM Pack Howitzer, 50 Cal. 5010, 20 MM 4831, 30 Cal. 4895, 76 MM, 3″, 5″, 90 MM, 4.7″, 240MM, 8″, 280 MM, 175 MM, 155 MM Howitzer, 155 MM Gun M.P., 8″ Gun M.P., 12″, 14, 16″. There are different-sized ‘grains’ for specific rounds.

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April 21st, 2016

Navy’s BAE Railgun Shoots Projectile 203 Kilometers at Mach 7

Navy BAE Railgun

How would you like to “reach out and touch” someone 203 kilometers away (about 110 nautical miles)? Well America’s Navy may soon be able to do exactly that with an amazing new, high-tech weapon system. BAE Systems has developed (and successfully test-fired) an electro-magnetic rail gun that fires a 23-lb projectile at Mach 7 — (about 5300 mph or 7800 fps). This futuristic weapon can send its projectile 110 nautical miles (126 mi / 203 km), five times the range of the big 16″ guns on WWII-era battleships. This railgun has serious “knock-down” power — at Mach 7, that projectile carries a whopping 32 megajoules of energy. BreakingDefense.com says: “23 pounds ain’t heavy. But it sure hurts when it hits you going at seven times the speed of sound.”

Watch Video to See Navy Rail-Gun in Action:

The latest prototype of the railgun developed by defense contractor BAE, in conjunction with the Office of Naval Research, can accelerate a projectile up to Mach 7 within 10 milliseconds. The gun uses no gunpowder to generate propelling force. Compared to an item on a smaller scale, the railgun projectiles resemble crossbow darts, except they deliver such massive Kinetic Energy they don’t need to carry explosive ordnance. The railgun can strike targets 110 nautical miles away.

To prepare a charge, the ship stores electricity in the pulsed power system. Next, an electric pulse is sent to the railgun, creating an electromagnetic force accelerating the projectile. Because of its extreme speed, the projectile eliminates the hazards of storing high explosives in the ship. Each shot costs about $25,000 — but that’s cheap compared to the price of a missile.

“It’s like a flux capacitor,” chief of Naval research Rear Admiral Mathias Winter said in a video posted by Reuters Friday. “You’re sitting here thinking about these next generation and futuristic ideas, and we’ve got scientists who have designed these, and it’s coming to life.”

The Electromagnetic Railgun Innovative Naval Prototype (INP) was initiated in 2005. The goal during Phase I was to produce a proof-of-concept demonstration at 32 mega-joule muzzle energy, develop launcher technology with adequate service life, develop reliable pulsed power technology, and assess component risk reduction for the projectile.

Navy BAE Railgun

Phase II, which started in 2012, advanced the technology to demonstrate a repeatable-rate fire capability. Thermal-management techniques required for sustained firing rates will be developed for both the launcher system and the pulsed power system. The railgun will begin testing at sea in 2016.

Story concept from CTD Shooter’s Log.

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