Building ships in bottles from scratch

May 22, 2016

Ship in Bottle 3 (part 4)

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Let's make some guns! The armament is extensive on this destroyer but for now I'm just focusing on the largest guns. I did some research to find out that the USS Lyman K Swenson (all Sumner class destroyers...and apparently most of the US Navy at that time) had 5/38 caliber guns in Mk 38 DP mounts in a 3x2 configuration. Wtf does that mean?

5/38: This gun shoots a 5 inch diameter shell (holy crap) and the barrel is 38 shell-diameters long (5x38=190 inches, or 15.8 feet).

Mk 38: Mark 38 - I think this means the 38th revision of the gun. I wouldn't be surprised if someone can correct me here though.

DP: Dual Purpose - it can be loaded with one type of shell and powder charge for surface engagements (shooting at other boats and I think this also includes bombarding targets on land) and can be loaded with a different type of shell for air targets. I didn't realize dual purpose guns existed. Pretty badass.

3x2 configuration: There are three gun mounts, each with two barrels.

Bucket list addition: I want to hear these go off in person, but I'd settle for the 16 inch monstrosities that the Iowa class uses. By the way, look what that looks like firing a broadside:

USS Iowa firing a broadside like a badass
USS Iowa firing a broadside of nine 16 inch and six 5 inch guns. This is like 20,000 pounds of lead.

I need to quit researching these guns before I run out and join the navy. Anyway, as I said before, let's make some guns. I put my scroll saw to the test and cut out the basic shapes. I also used my smallest drillbit which is 1/32" to make the holes where the barrels would go. At this point I'm still not sure what I'll make the barrels out of.

unpainted handcrafted 5in 38 caliber guns
Since there are three, I can show you three sides at once (side view, front view, top view).

They're small, but I was able to paint them by hand. I used the same gray that I used for the hull and then painted the black lines delicately. The black lines are slots the barrels elevate within and since these are dual purpose they need to be able to elevate to a high angle. That means I need to make sure the lines continue on the roof of the mount. I lucked out and found that the steel wire I have (I decided to use steel wire to make an anchor here) is exactly 1/32" so it worked perfectly as barrels. A little glue on the ends and I was able to shove them in the mounts. I totally eyeballed the length. Even though I know these barrels are 15.8 feet, I don't know how much length protrudes outside the mount. They look about right to me.

scratch built model 5 inch 38 caliber guns
That looks pretty decent I think. I might paint the barrels to remove the shine.

So there we go, 3x2 Mk 38 DP 5"/38 caliber death machines. I'm dragging my feet because the next thing to do is the superstructure but I'm nervous because it's a busy jungle gym of platforms and towers. I'm sure I'll figure something out.

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