Massive 16 inch guns of battleship HMS Rodney

HMS Nelson and HMS Rodney were the only two battleships in the British Royal Navy with 16 inch guns.

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 2127) View looking forward from the bridge of HMS RODNEY in rough seas, showing two of the three 16 inch turrets trained on either beam, the barrels of the third turret can be seen in the foreground. Water can be seen coming up over the bow. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185179

All three main batteries were in the forefront of the ship before the bridge giving them an unusual appearance and the only battleships designed this was. During testing the Royal Navy discovered that if the turret closest to the bridge was traversed abeam to the maximum extent, then firing it broke all the windows on the bridge.

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 2115) After spending the night in the gun turrets and engine rooms of the battleship HMS RODNEY, crewmen (sailors and marines) take some fresh air on the starboard deck. Two of the triple 16 inch gun turrets can be seen in the background. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185174

Built to the limitations of the Washington Naval Treaty, the ships had heavy guns and heavy armour but had to reduce engine capacity to stay within the treaty limits. Unfortunately, their maximum speed was only 23 knots and that was on commissioning in the 1920s. They had a difficult time making that speed in World War Two although on occasion they made that speed and even higher such as when Rodney was trying to close with the Bismarck.

HMS Rodney had severe problems with water leaking into the ship due to defective riveting. In spite of extensive repairs made in the US Navy shipyard in Philadelphia the ship continued to have significant problems with water leaks–not a problem one wants in a man o’ war.

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 2147) A very clear shot of B turret on board HMS RODNEY taken from the bridge as the ship prepares to enter harbour. Beyond, on the focsle, some of the men are preparing to haul in the paravanes and get the cable cleared for anchoring. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185184

 

In her clash with the Bisarck, HMS Rodney fired 340 16-inch shell. While most firing was done in salvos, that is one barrel per turret would fire, the Rodney did fire a few broadsides. This meant all nine 16 inch guns fired at the same time. While designed for this, a full broadside was tough on the ship.

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 15453) Inside the gunhouse of one of the three 16 inch triple Mark I mounting, housing three 16-inch Mark I guns on board HMS RODNEY. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205186345
THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 1135) On board HMS RODNEY a group of officers and men standing on a 16 inch turret watching a ‘Fashion Parade’. Aircraft of all types (not in the picture) fly past at a considerable height to give the Navy practice in identifying the machines. Note the 16 inch guns are at maximum elevation. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185088
THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 2123) Inside the gunhouse of one of the three Mark I triple mountings of HMS RODNEY showing the three 16 inch Mark I guns. In the foreground the gun lock is being shifted. In the centre the gun is being loaded and the gun on the left is ready to fire. Three members of crew can be seen. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185176
THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 1417) Royal Marines remove old paint from the X gun turret on board HMS RODNEY before repainting. Another of the triple 16 inch gun turrets can be seen beyond the men. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185114

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 4608) Members of the South African Division of the Royal Naval Volunteers Reserve on board HMS NELSON posing for the camera between two of the enormous 16 inch guns of A turret. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205119388

While the photo above is of HMS Rodney’s sister ship, HMS Nelson, you can see just how big were these 16 inch guns. HMS Nelson was the first of the ships constructed so they were known as “Nelson class” battleships. These were the only two battleships which carried main battery guns actually larger than than the Bismarck’s 15 inch guns.

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 2113) A memorial service for the Armed Merchant Cruiser JERVIS BAY, being held on the upper deck of HMS RODNEY whilst she is at sea. Comparatively few were able to attend the service, the rest being at their action stations, some being in the turrets of the 16 inch guns seen in the picture. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185173

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 200) Some of the barrels of goods passing under a 16 inch gun of HMS RODNEY as they are being rolled to the store rooms. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185017

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 7694) Changing the 16 inch guns on HMS RODNEY at Cammel Laird shipyard, Birkenhead. Lowering a gun into position in A turret. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185604

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 16216) The battleship HMS RODNEY underway in the Mediterranean (photographed from the aircraft carrier HMS FORMIDABLE). Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205119664