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November 15 2016 at 6:02 PM
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Nelson  (no login)

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Your two major assumptions are correct: (i) The largest guns in the NEI of European origin were 150mm pieces (mostly older Krupp guns, but one modern Bofors twin mount). (ii) Such guns were emplaced mainly on Java. There were also a goodly number of older Krupp 120mm (4.7-inch) quick-firing guns used in coast defense batteries. As regards

> There was a mention about 180mm (not a 178mm!) guns but without comments where do they come from. >

I daresay that 180mm versus 178mm is a case of splitting hairs. Both 178mm and 180mm are commonly seen as legit metric translations for 7-inch guns. Likely some writers find 178 an awkward number, when the rounded-off 180 is easier to use, and both are equally acceptable among the naval ordnance fraternity.

I commend Japanese Monograph No. 68, “Report on Installations and Captured Weapons, Java and Singapore”, prepared by two Japanese field grade officers—one ordnance, one heavy artillery—in 1942, and translated by the U.S. Army postwar, which included actual interviews with these IJA officers, both of whom had survived the war. In that report, the useful information is provided not only within the main body of text, but also in tabular form and on a diagrammatic map of Java. Interestingly, in the textual portion and on the map, the metric equivalence of the American 7-inch gun is 180 mm, but in the table, it is given as 177.8 mm. The important things for you in this report are (a) There is no gun size available in the Java coast defenses between the U.S. ex-battleship 7-inch tertiary gun and the European 150mm guns. (b) There is no seacoast gun on Java in excess of the U.S. 7-inch gun. So, there is no other 180mm gun that has slipped through the cracks. The ex-USN 7-inch gun is precisely what we’re discussing here, and is the gun referred to in Tom Womack’s recent book.

If this postwar monograph is not readily available to you, here are the pertinent excerpts:

page 71: “The [Java] fortresses are small, and practically all of them are equipped with old types of guns of less than 180-mm caliber.”

page 72 (map): Ceribon is shown as Cheribon, having two 7-inch (180mm) and three 75mm guns; Modoeng Fortress is on Madoera Island, having three 7-inch (180mm), one 150mm gun [twin mount], three 75mm guns, etc. There are no other 180mm guns specified on this map of Java.

page 73: “Cheribon Fortress: Construction was not completed. In addition to two 7-inch guns that were in the process of being installed, various fortification materials, all in good condition, are stockpiled near this site. Three 75-mm guns had already been installed, but they were totally destroyed.”

page 75: “7-inch American Bethlehem Gun: This gun was manufactured by the Bethlehem Steel Company in 1906 or 1907. It is an old type of gun, and cannot be regarded as an efficient weapon. It is believed these guns were recently purchased from America. In the Modeong Fortress on Madoera Island three of these guns have been completely installed and one partially installed. In Cheribon there are two guns of this type partially installed. Accessories to this type of gun were distributed to various fortresses. The breechblock is of the Rheinmetall-Borsing type, with a sealing gasket. The bore has been defaced considerably. There are no shields or telescopes. Although these guns are of an old type, the caliber is large and the tube is long. They can, therefore, be regard as having considerable power.”

page 76 (table): Type, 7-inch American Bethlehem gun; Quantity, eleven; Caliber, 177.8mm; Tube length, 46 calibers [officially USN, 45 calibers]; Maximum range 15,500 meters; Remarks: “Three completed. At least eight others partially assembled. Accessories are scattered.”

pages 79 and 80: It appears from the conclusions made by these two Japanese officers that there was some question of how much 7-inch ammunition had yet arrived from the United States. IF the quantity was small, the officers recommended one gun be sent to the ordnance technical branch in Japan for additional study as to its suitability as a fortress artillery piece. IF the ammunition quantity was adequate, the recommendation was for immediate emplacement as fortress guns in the Southern Theater.

There remains NO doubt that these 7-inch/178mm/180mm guns were one and the same, had an American origin, and had previously been mounted in predreadnought battleships of the U.S. Navy.


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  • Thanks again! - Sergei on Nov 17, 2016, 9:52 PM
  • two questions - Alice on Nov 20, 2016, 10:27 PM
  • Japanese Monograph 68 - Jim Broshot on Nov 25, 2016, 6:08 AM
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