3-pdr guns

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3-pdr guns

Post by BringBackBattleships » Mon Oct 05, 2020 10:46 pm

I am relatively new to the world of naval history and I cannot find much information on the use of 47mm guns on WWI, interwar, and WWII era warships. For example, many battleships and cruisers even through WWII are listed to have between 2 and 4 of these guns, but I cannot often find their location in historical photographs and blueprints. Many are referred to as saluting guns. Did they serve a combat roll or where they ceremonial? Thanks!

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Re: 3-pdr guns

Post by wadinga » Tue Oct 13, 2020 12:41 pm

Hi BringBackBattleships,

Always a pleasure to meet new posters. :D

These small guns were combat weapons if you go back far enough. In the age of Pre-Dreadnoughts at the end of the 19th century, the torpedo threat against battleships was mainly from small, relatively flimsy torpedo boats. These might only have a single torpedo tube and one gun but were a threat to even the largest vessel. Small quick firing mounts of 3pr shell weight would be adequate against these "mosquito craft" and pre Dreadnoughts often had them spread over their sides and at bow and stern to counter the threat, in addition to their much larger main and secondary armament. As an example, the Russian Oslyabaya, (name translations vary), sunk at Tsushima in 1905, had 20 3pdrs as part of a huge array of different calibres, 63 barrels in all, making her look a little like a porcupine.

As torpedo boats continued to increase in size at the beginning of the 20th Century these small guns were no longer adequate in range or hitting power, and they were removed and their locations plated over, often improving seaworthiness through fewer hull piercings.

HMS Dreadnought (1905) embodied the "All Big Gun" concept, but still had many deck-mounted anti-torpedo boat guns but these were of more damaging 12pdr size to cope with the increased size of the torpedo boat. In later designs the 6" secondary armament guns took over the function.

However for firing salutes and other ceremonial purposes (eg starting inter-vessel rowing boat races in fleet regattas) some small blank firing weapons were required and these are the later references you have noted. As they were very small, permanent installation was unnecessary and they were often stowed away except when in use.

Enjoy your new interest!

All the best

"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"

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