16"/50 caliber M1919 gun

The 16 inch Gun M1919 was a large coastal artillery piece installed to defend the United States' major seaports between 1920 and 1946. It was operated by the United States Army Coast Artillery Corps.

16"/50 caliber M1919 gun
Class Vehicle
Type Towed Artillery
Manufacturer Watervliet Arsenal
Origin United States of America
Country Name Origin Year
United States of America 1920
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
United States of America 1920 1946 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Watervliet Arsenal View

The first US 16-inch (406 mm) gun started construction in 1895 at Watervliet Arsenal. It was known as the M1895 and completed in 1902; only one was built. It was mounted on a disappearing carriage in Fort Grant on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal Zone in 1914, where it served until scrapped in 1943. The weapon's muzzle section was displayed at the Watervliet Arsenal museum, which closed in 2013.

The second 16-inch (406 mm) gun was the United States Army 50 caliber Model 1919 (M1919). The first of these was deployed to Fort Michie, Great Gull Island, New York on a unique all-around-fire M1917 disappearing carriage. An additional six of the Army-designed M1919 guns were built and deployed by 1927 in two-gun batteries on barbette carriages in the harbor defenses of Boston, New York City, and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The 16-inch gun M1919 was built using the wire-wound method, common in Europe but rare in the United States.

In 1922, the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty caused the US Navy to cancel the South Dakota-class battleships and the Lexington-class battlecruisers, surplusing 16-inch/50 caliber Mark II and Mark III barrels. Initially, 20 guns were transferred to the Army, which built a new version of the M1919 mount for the naval guns. With funding lacking until 1940, five batteries of two guns each were built 1924-40 in the harbor defenses of Pearl Harbor, Panama (Pacific side), and San Francisco. In 1940 a near-fiasco was experienced in designing the Iowa-class battleships, and a new gun, the 16"/50 caliber Mark 7 gun, had to be designed for them, as they could not accommodate the Mark 2 and Mark 3 guns. With war on the horizon, the Navy released the approximately 50 remaining guns, and on 27 July 1940 the Army's Harbor Defense Board recommended the construction of 27 16-inch two-gun batteries to protect strategic points along the US coastline, all to be casemated against air attack, as were almost all of the older 16-inch batteries by this time.

Typical of this plan were the guns placed to protect Narragansett Bay; two 16-inch guns were placed in Battery Gray, Fort Church, Little Compton, Rhode Island and two more were placed in Battery Hamilton, Fort Greene, Point Judith. A second battery of 16-inch guns at Fort Greene, Battery 109, had construction suspended in 1943 and never received guns. These batteries were placed such that they not only protected Narraganset Bay, but interdicted the main channels into Buzzards Bay and the east end of Long Island Sound.

By late 1943, the threat of a naval attack on the United States had diminished, and with two or four 16-inch guns in most harbor defenses, construction and arming of further batteries was suspended. As 16-inch guns and a companion improved 6-inch gun were emplaced, older weapons were scrapped. About 21 16-inch gun batteries were completed 1941-44, but not all of these were armed. With the war over in 1945, most of the remaining coast defense guns, including the recently emplaced 16-inch weapons, were scrapped by 1948.

Type Coastal Artillery
Place of origin United States
Service history
In service 1920—1946
Used by United States Army Coast Artillery Corps
Wars World War II
Production history
Manufacturer Watervliet Arsenal
Weight 484 tons
Barrel length 50 calibers, 66 ft 8 in (20.32 m)
Shell AP: 2,340 lb (1,060 kg) or 2,100 lb (950 kg)
Caliber 16 in (406 mm)
Carriage M1919 Barbette or M1917 disappearing, both fixed
Elevation -7° to +65°
Traverse 360° (open), 145° (casemated)
Muzzle velocity 2,700 ft/s (820 m/s)
Maximum firing range 49,100 yd (44,900 m) 27.9 miles

End notes