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3 Inch / 23 Cal Gun
3-inch 23-caliber gun aboard USS SC-291.jpg
A 3"/23-caliber gun being fired aboard the United States Navy submarine chaser USS SC-291 sometime beyween 1918 and 1920.
Type Anti-aircraft Naval Gun
Place of origin United States
Service history
Used by US Navy
Wars World War I
Weight 531 pounds (241 kg)
Barrel length 69 inches (1.8 m) bore (23 calibres)

Caliber 3-inch (76 mm)
Elevation 75 degrees
Muzzle velocity 1,650 feet per second (500 m/s)
Maximum range 10,100 yards (9,200 m)

The 3"/23 caliber gun (spoken "three-inch-twenty-three-caliber") was the standard anti-aircraft gun for United States destroyers through World War I and the 1920s. United States naval gun terminology indicates the gun fired a projectile 3 inches (76 mm) in diameter, and the barrel was 23 calibers long (barrel length is 3" x 23 = 69" or 1.75 meters.)[1]


Plan and left elevation diagrams

The built-up gun with vertical sliding breech block weighed about 531 pounds (241 kg) and used fixed ammunition (case and projectile handled as a single assembled unit) with a 13-pound (6 kg) projectile at a velocity of 1650 feet per second (500 m/s).[2] Range was 10100 yards (9235 meters) at 45 degrees elevation.[2] Ceiling was 18000 feet (5500 meters) at the maximum elevation of 75 degrees.[2]


The 3"/23 caliber cannon was the US Navy's first purposefully, designed anti-aircraft cannon to reach operational service in the US military, and was a further development of 1 pounder cannon concept designed by Admiral Twining to meet the possible threat from airships being built by various navies.[3]

When World War II began, the 3"/23 caliber gun was outdated and surviving United States destroyers built during World War One era that were armed with 3"/23 caliber were rearmed with dual-purpose 3"/50 caliber guns during World War II. Where there was no air threat during World War Two, the 3"/23 caliber gun was employed in the surface to surface role for use against submarines, and was mounted on submarine chasers, armed yachts, and various auxiliaries.[2] Some major warships carried 3"/23 caliber guns temporarily while awaiting installation of quad 1.1"/75 caliber guns.[2]

The 3"/23 caliber gun was mounted on:


  1. Fairfield 1921 p.156
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Campbell 1985 p.146
  3. "New American Aerial Weapons" Popular Mechanics, December 1911, p. 776.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Fahey 1939 p.14
  5. Lenton&Colledge 1968 pp.90–92


  • Campbell, John (1985). Naval Weapons of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-459-4. 
  • Fahey, James C. (1939). The Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet, War Edition. Ships and Aircraft. 
  • Fairfield, A.P. (1921). Naval Ordnance. The Lord Baltimore Press. 
  • Lenton, H.T. and Colledge, J.J. (1968). British and Dominion Warships of World War II. Doubleday and Company. 

External links

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