German 15" gun

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Keith Enge
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German 15" gun

Post by Keith Enge » Thu Jun 02, 2011 7:38 am

German guns used the sliding breech blocks usually associated with quick-firing guns. Because the tenon block wasn't gas-tight, the rearmost cordite charge had to be enclosed in a brass cartridge. When the gun fired, the cartridge expanded radially to complete the needed seal. My question involves disposal of those used cartridges. For smaller quick-firing gun, the hot cartridges were usually ejected into a netting so that they didn't dangerously litter the deck around the gun. The empty cartridges of the 15" gun, however, were immense, weighing about 150 pounds. Where did they go?

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Re: German 15" gun

Post by Byron Angel » Thu Jun 02, 2011 12:38 pm

Keith Enge wrote:German guns used the sliding breech blocks usually associated with quick-firing guns. Because the tenon block wasn't gas-tight, the rearmost cordite charge had to be enclosed in a brass cartridge. When the gun fired, the cartridge expanded radially to complete the needed seal. My question involves disposal of those used cartridges. For smaller quick-firing gun, the hot cartridges were usually ejected into a netting so that they didn't dangerously litter the deck around the gun. The empty cartridges of the 15" gun, however, were immense, weighing about 150 pounds. Where did they go?

..... A good question. My only contribution here is that (IIRC) German WW1 era main battery turrets had a hatch in the floor of the turret overhang through which expended cartridge casings could be discarded.

B

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Re: German 15" gun

Post by tommy303 » Thu Jun 02, 2011 3:46 pm

After firing, a metal cage hinged on one side was rotated into line with the breech and would catch the spent case as it was ejected when the breech opened. The cage was swung back to clear the breech and the empty was pushed by hand into the ejection shute on the floor of the gun house. From there it dropped to the deck outside. There were hinged flaps closing the spent case shute.

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Re: German 15" gun

Post by Foggy » Fri Jun 03, 2011 5:23 pm

I've seen various film clips where the cases from the lighter-caliber weapons were simply thrown on the deck. There is film of such happening on the Italian Littorios of what looks like a 5" gun crew (can't find a link right now): one guy just grabs the empty case ejected from the gun (I'm sure he had insulated gloves!) and whips it back behind him onto the deck. I know I've seen clips and pictures of various lighter-caliber cases from various ships and navies just littering the weather deck. If I'm not mistaken, I beleive the 40mm Bofors cases on US ships fell into an open ring area just under the gun mount.

There is also a clip of the Schleswig-Holstein firing on the Westerplatte where one sees crews dumping the spent 11" cases into a lighter tied up alongside (the implication is that this is being done during the shelling, since it is in the middle of the clip, but I tend to doubt that). My understanding is that when ejected from the turret, the cases from the main batteries just cluttered the deck until gathered up. Surely some (many?) would simply roll into the sea in battle conditions.

Good question. I'd like to learn more on it as well.

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Re: German 15" gun

Post by dunmunro » Fri Jun 03, 2011 8:45 pm

On the 28cm triple turrets, the case ejection system was a major source of flooding in heavy seas, especially as the Twins had very low freeboard.

In the RN spent brass was to be collected and returned to the manufacturers when ships re-ammunitioned.

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Re: German 15" gun

Post by tommy303 » Sun Jun 05, 2011 10:57 pm

In the RN spent brass was to be collected and returned to the manufacturers when ships re-ammunitioned.
Same in the Kriegsmarine whenever possible. A-turret on Tirpitz, and if I recall Bismarck as well, had modified case ejection ports to prevent flooding in rough weather. The modification was the result of lessons learned with the Scharnhorst class.

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Re: German 15" gun

Post by RF » Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:45 pm

On a note of precision I believe that this weapon was actually 14.96 inches calibre and not the same as the RN 15 inch?
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Re: German 15" gun

Post by Keith Enge » Tue Jun 07, 2011 3:14 pm

Thanks for the answers, guys. I was aware that the spent cartridges were dumped through a port under the turret overhang. I was also aware that, for small guns, they were just dumped on the deck. I have even seen photos of sailors sweeping a path through them for the ammo passers. However, I can't imagine that they would allow cylinders weighing 150 lbs rolling around free. Perhaps, they were contained within a "corral" of low bulkheads.

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Re: German 15" gun

Post by tommy303 » Tue Jun 07, 2011 4:55 pm

They pretty much rolled around the deck until collected, usually ending up in the waterway along the edges of the deck. In the second picture down, several of spent cases from the Prinz Eugen's C and D turrets have already collected in the waterway.

http://www.kbismarck.com/denmark-strait-battle.html

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Re: German 15" gun

Post by José M. Rico » Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:03 pm

Here is another photo.

Image

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RF
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Re: German 15" gun

Post by RF » Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:18 am

The cases look almost like depth charges don't they - except of course with eight inch calibre they would be too small.
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