This gun caliber was selected by the Greeks over the contemporary British 6" (15.2 cm) weapons because it fired a lighter shell than did the British 6" (15.2 cm) guns and as a result its ammunition could be more easily handled. It is interesting to note that similar considerations led the Japanese to adopt the 14 cm (5.5") caliber for their light cruisers built after World War I.
During World War II, guns removed from the above ships were used to arm two AMC's while others were used for coastal defense batteries. Two ex-HMS Hood guns were sent to Ascension Island, as shown in the photographs below.
These guns were built by Coventry Ordnance Works (COW) and were of wire-wound construction with a tapered inner A tube, A tube, full-length wire, B tube, overlapping jacket, breech ring and breech bush. The Welin breech-block was manually operated with a Holmstrom mechanism. A total of 81 guns were finished out of 246 originally ordered, of which 79 still existed in 1939.
As of 2006, at least five of these guns still exist: One at the Imperial War Museum in London (formerly on HMS Chester), two on Ascension Island at Fort Benson (formerly on HMS Hood) and two on Stremoy Island (Faroe Islands) at Fort Skansin (formerly on HMS Furious).
Nomenclature note: The 5.5"/42 (14 cm) BL Mark II was intended for DAMS of World War I, but this did not progress beyond the design stage, even though 1,100 guns were planned. Construction would have been A tube, taper wire and full length jacket. Weight without BM would have been 5.625 tons (5.72 mt). Later 5.5" (14 cm) BL guns were Army howitzers of the World War II period.
Amidships layout of HMS Hood
Two former HMS Hood 5.5" (14 cm) guns reused
as Coastal Artillery at Fort Bedford, Ascension Island
Breech of one of the above weapons
Photograph copyrighted by and use here courtesy of Administrator's Office of Ascension Island
For an interesting story about these guns, see this Ascension Island Link (Wayback Archives)
5.5"/50 (14 cm) BL Mark I formerly on HMS
Chester and now at the Imperial War Museum, London, UK
Identity and Maintenance Plates on above
Regarding the description for Gun #42, "Holmstrom" is actually the type of breech mechanism
|Designation||5.5"/50 (14 cm) BL Mark I|
|Ship Class Used On
|Birkenhead, Chester, Hood, Furious, Hermes
and submarine K17
AMCs Laurentic and Montclare
|Date Of Design||About 1913|
|Date In Service||1915|
|Gun Weight||15,600 lbs (7,076 kg)|
|Gun Length oa||284.7 in (7.232 m)|
|Bore Length||275 in (6.985 m)|
|Rifling Length||235.9 in (5.992 m)|
|Twist||Uniform RH 1 in 30|
|Chamber Volume||1,500 in3 (24.58 dm3)|
|Rate Of Fire||12 rounds per minute|
|Note: It had been planned to use this gun on other K class submarines, but this was not carried out and instead they carried 4"/40 (10.2 cm) Mark XI guns.|
|Projectile Types and Weights
(see Note 2)
|CPC - 82 lbs. (37.2 kg)
Common - 82 lbs. (37.2 kg)
Shrapnel - 82 lbs. (37.2 kg)
HE - 82 lbs. (37.2 kg)
Shellite - 82 lbs. (37.2 kg)
HENT - 82 lbs. (37.2 kg)
HE Mark ID - 82 lbs. (37.2 kg)
|Bursting Charge||5.25 lbs. (2.4 kg)|
|Propellant Charge||1921: 22.25 lbs. (10.1 kg) MD19
1930: 22.54 lbs. (10.22 kg) SC115
|Muzzle Velocity||CPC - 2,790 fps (850 mps)
Others - N/A
|Working Pressure||18 tons/in2 (2,531 kg/cm2)|
|Approximate Barrel Life||N/A|
|Ammunition stowage per gun||Hood: See Note 2
1) The propellant charge was in a single bag.
2) Outfit for Hood as built was 1,728 Lyddite, 582 common, 96 shrapnel, 464 practice. After 1929-1931 refit, the outfit was 1,368 HE, 624 Shellite, 360 HENT, 50 starshell (forward shell room only) and 449 practice.
3) Shells were generally 4crh. The HE Mark ID 8/16crh "streamlined" shell was developed during World War II.
4) Outfit included CPC and HE on all ships during World War II.
5) A reduced charge of 14.8 lbs. (6.7 kg) MD was used for practice rounds.
|Elevation||With 82 lbs. (37.2 kg) CPC Shell|
|Range @ 30 degrees||18,500 yards (16,920 m)|
|Range @ 25 degrees||16,000 yards (14,630 m)|
|Range @ 30 degrees||17,770 yards (16,250 m)|
|Note: The first 30 degree value is from "Anatomy of the Ship: The Battlecruiser Hood" and I believe that it is for Cordite MD. The other values are from "Naval Weapons of World War Two" and I believe that they are for Cordite SC.|
Birkenhead and Chester (10):
|Weight||PI and PI*: N/A
CPII: 18.68 tons (18.89 mt) including shield
(see Note 3)
|PI: -7 / +15 degrees
PI* -7 / +25 degrees
PI**: -7 / +25 degrees
CPII: -5 / +30 degrees
|Elevation Rate||Manually operated, only|
|Train||about -150 / +150 degrees|
|Train Rate||Manually operated, only|
1) PI, PI*, PI** and CPII mounts were also used in coastal batteries.
2) Hood had two mounts removed 1938-1939 and the remainder in 1940. Furious had all of her mounts removed during her 1931-1932 refit.
3) The PI** mounting used on K17 may actually have been limited to about +20 degrees as the gun barrel height was lower than on the PI* mounts.
20 February 2008 - Benchmark
30 January 2009 - Added information about use on K17, added information about other marks of 5.5" (14 cm) guns
29 February 2012 - Converted link to Wayback Archives