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A salvo is the simultaneous discharge of artillery or firearms including the firing of guns either to hit a target or to perform a salute. As a tactic in warfare, the intent is to cripple an enemy in one blow and prevent them from fighting back.
Troops armed with muzzleloaders required time to refill their arms with gunpowder and shot. Gun drills were designed to enable an almost continuous rain of fire on the enemy by lining troops into ranks, allowing one rank to fire a salvo, or volley, while the other ranks prepared their guns for firing.
The term is commonly used to describe the firing of broadsides by warships, especially battleships. During fleet engagements in the days of sail, from 17th century until the 19th century, ships of the line were maneuvered with the objective of bringing the greatest possible number of cannon to bear on the enemy and to discharge them in a salvo, causing enough damage and confusion as to allow time for the cannon to be swabbed out and reloaded. Crossing the T entailed cutting across the enemy's line of battle to enable broadsides to be fired through the enemy's bow or stern along the whole length of the ship, with every shot likely to cause the maximum carnage. The opportunity was a passing one and the most had to be made of it.
With the coming of HMS Dreadnought, with her turreted main armament, the heavy guns were directed by firing a salvo of half-broadside in order to observe the fall of shot, allowing enough time to adjust for range and direction before firing the other half-broadside. This way, shells were kept in flight while each half-battery was reloaded. Reloading a battleship guns, arriving at a firing solution and lining the guns up to fire took as long as 30 seconds, especially when the fall of shot needed to be observed and corrections made before firing again. A target ship moving at 18 knots (33 km/h) traveled 0.15 nautical miles (0.28 km) in 30 seconds, and would often maneuver to "spoil" the range measurement. The "spread" of the salvo would have one shot fire "over" the estimated range, one shot "under", and two on the estimated range. When a four-shot "salvo" "straddled" the target with one splashing over, one splashing under and two landing on or near the target, fire control officers knew they had the correct range. All turret-mounted guns on battleships and cruisers were directed by the gunnery officer, positioned high in the ship and equipped with a visual rangefinder and other mechanisms for directing fire. Instructions to the gunlayers in the turrets were passed by voice pipe, messenger and, later, by telephone. Guns could also be laid by remote control by the gunnery director, with the appropriate technology. Late in World War II, guns were directed by radar.
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A carronade is a short, smoothbore, cast-iron cannon which was used by the Royal Navy. It was first produced by the Carron Company, an ironworks in Falkirk, Scotland, and was used from the mid-18th century to the mid-19th century. Its main function was to serve as a powerful, short-range, anti-ship and anti-crew weapon. The technology behind the carronade was greater dimensional precision, with the shot fitting more closely in the barrel thus transmitting more of the propellant charge's energy to the projectile, allowing a lighter gun using less gunpowder to be effective. Carronades were initially found to be very successful, but they eventually disappeared as naval artillery advanced, with the introduction of rifling and consequent change in the shape of the projectile, exploding shells replacing solid shot, and naval engagements being fought at longer ranges.
A broadside is the side of a ship, or more specifically the battery of cannon on one side of a warship or their coordinated fire in naval warfare, or a measurement of a warship's maximum simultaneous firepower which can be delivered upon a single target. From the 16th century until the early decades of the steamship, vessels had rows of guns set in each side of the hull. Firing all guns on one side of the ship became known as a "broadside". The cannon of 18th-century men of war were accurate only at short range, and their penetrating power mediocre, which meant that the thick hulls of wooden ships could only be pierced at short ranges. These wooden ships sailed closer and closer towards each other until cannon fire would be effective. Each tried to be the first to fire a broadside, often giving one party a decisive headstart in the battle when it crippled the other ship.
The 16"/50 caliber Mark 7 – United States Naval Gun is the main armament of the Iowa-class battleships and was the planned main armament of the cancelled Montana-class battleship.
HMS Neptune was a dreadnought battleship built for the Royal Navy in the first decade of the 20th century, the sole ship of her class. She was the first British battleship to be built with superfiring guns. Shortly after her completion in 1911, she carried out trials of an experimental fire-control director and then became the flagship of the Home Fleet. Neptune became a private ship in early 1914 and was assigned to the 1st Battle Squadron.
The Battle off Samar was the centermost action of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, one of the largest naval battles in history, which took place in the Philippine Sea off Samar Island, in the Philippines on October 25, 1944. It was the only major action in the larger battle in which the Americans were largely unprepared. The Battle off Samar has been cited by historians as one of the greatest last stands in naval history; ultimately the Americans prevailed over a massive armada—the Japanese Imperial Navy's Center Force under command of Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita—despite their very heavy casualties and overwhelming odds.
In naval warfare, the line of battle is a tactic in which a naval fleet of ships forms a line end to end. Its first use is disputed, variously claimed for dates ranging from 1502 to 1652, with line-of-battle tactics in widespread use by 1675.
Turret ships were a 19th-century type of warship, the earliest to have their guns mounted in a revolving gun turret, instead of a broadside arrangement.
A volley gun is a gun with multiple single-shot barrels that shoot projectiles in volley fire, either simultaneously or in succession. Although capable of unleashing intense firepower, volley guns differ from modern machine guns in that they lack autoloading and automatic fire mechanisms, and therefore their volume of fire is limited by the number of barrels bundled together.
A fire-control system is a number of components working together, usually a gun data computer, a director, and radar, which is designed to assist a ranged weapon system in targeting, tracking and hitting its target. It performs the same task as a human gunner firing a weapon, but attempts to do so faster and more accurately.
Naval artillery is artillery mounted on a warship, originally used only for naval warfare and then subsequently used for shore bombardment and anti-aircraft roles. The term generally refers to tube-launched projectile-firing weapons and excludes self-propelled projectiles such as torpedoes, rockets, and missiles and those simply dropped overboard such as depth charges and naval mines.
A gun turret is a mounting platform from which weapons can be fired that affords protection, visibility and ability to turn and aim. A modern gun turret is generally a rotatable weapon mount that houses the crew or mechanism of a projectile-firing weapon and at the same time lets the weapon be aimed and fired in some degree of azimuth and elevation.
Gun laying is the process of aiming an artillery piece or turret, such as a gun, howitzer, or mortar, on land, in air, or at sea, against surface or aerial targets. It may be laying for direct fire, where the gun is aimed similarly to a rifle, or indirect fire, where firing data is calculated and applied to the sights. The term includes automated aiming using, for example, radar-derived target data and computer-controlled guns.
Naval artillery in the Age of Sail encompasses the period of roughly 1571–1862: when large, sail-powered wooden naval warships dominated the high seas, mounting a bewildering variety of different types and sizes of cannon as their main armament. By modern standards, these cannon were extremely inefficient, difficult to load, and short ranged. These characteristics, along with the handling and seamanship of the ships that mounted them, defined the environment in which the naval tactics in the Age of Sail developed.
HMS Monarch was the first seagoing British warship to carry her guns in turrets, and the first British warship to carry guns of 12-inch (300 mm) calibre.
Rangekeepers were electromechanical fire control computers used primarily during the early part of the 20th century. They were sophisticated analog computers whose development reached its zenith following World War II, specifically the Computer Mk 47 in the Mk 68 Gun Fire Control system. During World War II, rangekeepers directed gunfire on land, sea, and in the air. While rangekeepers were widely deployed, the most sophisticated rangekeepers were mounted on warships to direct the fire of long-range guns.
The Iowa-class battleships are the most heavily armed gunships the United States Navy has ever put to sea, due to the continual development of their onboard weaponry. The first Iowa-class ship was laid down in June 1940; in their World War II configuration, each of the Iowa-class battleships had a main battery of 16-inch (406 mm) guns that could hit targets nearly 20 statute miles (32 km) away with a variety of artillery shells designed for anti-ship or bombardment work. The secondary battery of 5-inch (127 mm) guns could hit targets nearly 9 statute miles (14 km) away with solid projectiles or proximity fuzed shells, and was effective in an anti-aircraft role as well. Each of the four battleships carried a wide array of 20 mm and 40 mm anti-aircraft guns for defense against enemy aircraft.
A fusillade is the simultaneous and continuous firing of a group of firearms on command. It stems from the French word fusil, meaning firearm, and fusiller meaning to shoot.
Adalbert Schneider was the First Gunnery Officer on board the battleship Bismarck, and was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for the sinking of HMS Hood on 24 May 1941 in the Battle of the Denmark Strait. Less than a week later, on 27 May 1941, Schneider and the majority of Bismarck's crew were killed in action during Bismarck's last battle.
Ship gun fire-control systems (GFCS) are analogue fire-control systems that were used aboard naval warships prior to modern electronic computerized systems, to control targeting of guns against surface ships, aircraft, and shore targets, with either optical or radar sighting. Most US ships that are destroyers or larger employed gun fire-control systems for 5-inch (127 mm) and larger guns, up to battleships, such as Iowa class.
The bombardment of Cherbourg took place on June 25, 1944, during World War II, when ships from the United States Navy and the British Royal Navy attacked German fortifications in and near the city, firing in support of U.S. Army units that were engaged in the Battle of Cherbourg. In doing so, the Allied naval forces engaged in a series of duels with coastal batteries and provided close support to infantry as they fought to gain control of the city. The bombardment was initially scheduled to last just two hours but it was later extended by an hour to support army units attempting to break into Cherbourg's city streets. After the bombardment, German resistance lasted until June 29, when the port was eventually captured by the Allies. Afterwards, the task of clearing the port for use lasted several weeks.