Most formidable Civil War Naval cannon?

major bill

Colonel
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Messages
15,186
#1
A few huge Naval cannons were made during the Civil War. Not all these saw use in action. So what was the most formidable Civil War Naval cannon?

Perhaps one would need to judge performance against ships and against forts. Was much use made of the 15 inch guns against forts?
 

(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)

major bill

Colonel
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Messages
15,186
#2
Not sure how these would compare to the World War One British 18 inch naval gun or Japanese 18 inch naval gun of World War Two. These were true monsters.
 

Carronade

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Messages
4,362
Location
Pennsylvania
#3
A few huge Naval cannons were made during the Civil War. Not all these saw use in action. So what was the most formidable Civil War Naval cannon?

Perhaps one would need to judge performance against ships and against forts. Was much use made of the 15 inch guns against forts?
The higher velocity rifles proved more effective against fortifications, such as the relatively small number of James and Parrott rifles which defeated Fort Pulaski. On the naval side, the captured CSS/USS Tennessee with her rifled armament was used to bombard Fort Morgan at Mobile Bay.
 

Carronade

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Messages
4,362
Location
Pennsylvania
#4
Not sure how these would compare to the World War One British 18 inch naval gun or Japanese 18 inch naval gun of World War Two. These were true monsters.
The 20th century guns were much larger, mainly due to their greater length, 40 and 45 calibers, caliber meaning length of barrel as a multiple of bore diameter. For comparison Dahlgren smoothbores were about 15 caliber and rifles about 20.
Edited.
 

Mark F. Jenkins

Colonel
Member of the Year
Joined
Mar 31, 2012
Messages
12,832
Location
Central Ohio
#5
The lessons-learned (or perhaps, should-have-been-learned) of the war indicated that "good against a ship" was one thing, and "good against a land target" was another. Since a ship can be potentially crippled or sunk by a single well-placed shot, the big guns had a relative advantage... a fort or land target does not generally have that characteristic, and therefore a higher volume of smaller projectiles was more effective.

I don't know about "most formidable," but, overall, the most effective naval guns appear to have been the IX- and XI- inch Dahlgrens and the mid-range Parrott rifles on the Union side, and the IX-inch Dahlgren and the Brooke rifles on the Confederate side. The impressive-appearing XV-inch Dahlgrens had a woefully slow rate of fire (Dahlgren himself preferred a XIII-inch as an upper limit, but he was directed to make the XVs).
 
Joined
Feb 18, 2013
Messages
6,359
Location
Hoover, Alabama
#6
The lessons-learned (or perhaps, should-have-been-learned) of the war indicated that "good against a ship" was one thing, and "good against a land target" was another. Since a ship can be potentially crippled or sunk by a single well-placed shot, the big guns had a relative advantage... a fort or land target does not generally have that characteristic, and therefore a higher volume of smaller projectiles was more effective.

I don't know about "most formidable," but, overall, the most effective naval guns appear to have been the IX- and XI- inch Dahlgrens and the mid-range Parrott rifles on the Union side, and the IX-inch Dahlgren and the Brooke rifles on the Confederate side. The impressive-appearing XV-inch Dahlgrens had a woefully slow rate of fire (Dahlgren himself preferred a XIII-inch as an upper limit, but he was directed to make the XVs).
I have trouble imaging how difficult it was to load a 15" shot into a Dahlgren within a monitor's turret, I have trouble just moving one around to dust it off occasionally. And having seen a 20" Dahlgren, I have trouble visualizing a craft of that era that could have carried it.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Messages
7,909
Location
Denver, CO
#7
The naval mortars were effective psychological weapons. Because they could outrange any counter weapons, they could force a garrison into cover, and the garrison had no counter fire ability. That was an effective way to demoralize a garrison.
 

USS ALASKA

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Mar 16, 2016
Messages
3,990
#8
Inspiring fear or respect through being impressively large, powerful, intense, or capable.
‘a formidable opponent’

intimidating, forbidding, redoubtable, daunting, alarming, frightening, terrifying, petrifying, horrifying, chilling, disturbing, disquieting, dreadful, brooding, awesome, fearsome, ominous, foreboding, sinister, menacing, mean-looking, threatening, dangerous


https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/formidable

Given the above definition, I imagine it would be any one that was pointed at you! :wink:

'Most Useful...' - that might narrow it down some...

Cheers,
USS ALASKA
 

jk225

Private
Joined
Mar 7, 2016
Messages
31
#9
CW wise, don't forget the Blakely guns. They were extremely good guns used by the CSN and the RN.
 

USS ALASKA

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Mar 16, 2016
Messages
3,990
#10
Sir, any USAF Weapons School Grad can give you the definitive answer on this...

"It depends."

I believe the answer is going to be mission and target set dependent, so relative to objectives proscribed by operational orders, the answer could vary from one to another.

I know, this doesn't help,
USS ALASKA
 
Last edited:



(Membership has it privileges! To remove this ad: Register NOW!)
Top