IVaval Cuns

25.4mm). These fired steel bullets rather than explo- the French Navy alone ordered 10,000 of the sive projectiles, but their weight gave them sufficient Hotchkiss cannon, and at least thirty other coun-

range and penetrative power to damage light craft. tries acquired them. The weapons were effective

The 10-barrel .65" Gatling adopted by the British enough to remain in service well into the automatic

Royal Navy weighed 370kg and could fire at up to weapon era, still being in use at the beginning of the

400 rpm from its 50-round drum. The four-barrel 1" twentieth century. By then, however, they were

Nordenfelt mounting which later replaced it being displaced by automatic weapons of the weighed 200kg and was capable of firing at a maxi- Maxim type.

mum rate of 200 rpm (120 rpm in aimed fire) and of penetrating about 20mm of steel at 100m.

The first 37mm Maxim gun, which used the same ammunition as the Hotchkiss, was introduced in

An alternative approach was adopted by the the 1890s, and with its rate of fire of 200-300 rpm

French firm Hotchkiss, which developed a range of completely outclassed the older gun. It first came to shell-firing rotary cannon. These were still manual- fame as an army weapon, when used against the ly driven but were capable of a much higher rate of British in the Boer War, but was soon fitted to war-

fire than conventional manually loaded artillery ships. During the First World War, many were fitted and became very popular, particularly in European to high-angle mountings for anti-aircraft purposes.

navies. The French Navy tested the gun in 1873 and

More powerful 37mm guns firing longer car-

adopted a 37mm five-barrel version as the Modèle tridges, such as the USN heavy lpdr (37 X 137R),

1877. A maximum of sixty of the 37 X 94R rounds developed from the Maxim 1 'Apdr, saw limited ser-

could be fired each minute (although the accurate vice. Another US design which used the same rate of fire was more like 20 rpm), the crew keeping 37 X 137R cartridge was the McClean cannon, the machine fed by means of ten-round clips. The This was a gas-operated weapon which, despite fail-

weight was similar to that of the rival 1" Nordenfelt ing US tests, was purchased by Russia and Spain, four-barrel mounting; armour penetration was less In Britain the RN l!/2pdr (37 X 123R) was intro-

but destructive effect against unarmoured targets duced in 1915 but saw little service as it was soon much greater. The 47mm eclipsed by a larger version, the Vickers 2pdr of was a scaled-up version, the 40mm calibre, named for the nominal two-pound

47 X 131R round having a more effective 1.1kg (0.9kg) weight of the shell. By then, torpedo boats shell which reached a range of 3,600m, while the were evolving into destroyers and were far too large largest of the rotaries was in 53mm calibre. In all, to be damaged by such a weapon, so it was introduced from the outset as an anti-aircraft gun.

the anti-aircraft problem between the wars

The experience of the First World War made it clear that in any future conflict naval vessels not only had to fear enemy surface ships, submarines and mines but also torpedoes and bombs dropped by aircraft. As with any radically new problem this took some time to become accepted, but the steady improvement in aircraft speed, range and load-carrying performance in the inter-war period eventually prompted navies around the world to devise and fit various forms of specialised antiaircraft guns.

For long-range fire the preferred approach was manually loaded guns, of between 3" and 5.25" cal-

37mm Hotchkiss on naval mounting (BuOrd, usn) ibre, on high-elevation mountings. In addition, the

37mm Hotchkiss Cannon


need to provide a second and even a third layer of action damage. Also of concern was the crew defence against aircraft pressing home their attacks required to man them (as warships were commonly was realised. This invariably took the form of overcrowded in wartime) and the maintainability of rapid-firing machine guns for the short-range role the equipment; wartime experience led to simplicity and automatic guns of calibres up to 40mm for and reliability becoming highly valued.

medium ranges.

The method of aiming was also a factor;

In deciding the appropriate weapons to be fitted, machine guns and light cannon used open sights so there were, and still are, various considerations their accuracy was greatly dependent on the gun-

apart from the obvious ones of cost and availabili- ner's skill. The larger automatic cannon mountings ty. The range, hitting power and rate of fire of the commonly featured director control, which added guns, the weight of the mountings and the problem to the mounting and manning demands, of locating them to provide the maximum field of fire (4sky arcs') without blowing holes in the superstructure were basic concerns.

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