Description

Based upon a 34 cm (13.4") design by the French armament firm of Canet, these guns were produced only for export.

In 1884 Canet sold three of these guns to the Japanese who used them on their Itsukushima class cruisers. In the same year, Admiral Antequera of the Spanish Navy proposed a large naval shipbuilding program that included six ocean-going battleships and the Spanish armament firm of Hontoria purchased a manufacturing license from Canet for their 32 cm gun to arm them. However, Admiral Antequera's program was greatly scaled back and only the battleship Pelayo was completed.

The actual size of the Spanish gun was 32 cm/37.5 (12.6"), but in official Spanish Naval documents it was almost always listed as 32 cm/35 (12.6") or rarely as 32 cm/40 (12.6").

The Japanese guns were constructed by Schneider & Co, Chalon-sur-Saone, and built according to the general principles of the Canet system. The inner tube was imported from Britain and overlaid with five outer tubes, which were manufactured in France. Two-thirds of the barrel was covered with up to ten layers of wire. The breech mechanism was a cylindrical breech screw with a de Bange obturator pad. The gun was fired by percussion.

The original Japanese Naval designation was 12.6"/38 Canet Guns. I believe that in 1908 they would have been designated as 12.6"/38 (32 cm) 41st Year Type and that in 1917 they would have been redesignated as 32 cm/38 (12.6") 41st Year Type.

Gun Characteristics

Designation Spain
   32 cm/35 (12.6") Model 1884 (Hontoria)

Japan
   12.6"/38 (32 cm) Model 1884 (Canet)
   12.6"/38 (32 cm) 41st Year Type (Model 1908)
   32 cm/38 (12.6") 41st Year Type (Model 1908)

Ship Class Used On Spain - Pelayo
Japan - Itsukushima class
Date Of Design 1884
Date In Service Spain - 1888

Japan - 1890

Gun Weight Spain - 47.4 tons (48.2 mt)
Japan - 65.7 tons (67 mt)
Gun Length oa 503 in (12.780 m)
Bore Length
(see Note 1)
about 472 in (12.000 m)
Rifling Length 478.75 in (12.160 m)
Grooves (90) 0.063 in deep (1.6 mm)
Lands N/A
Twist N/A
Chamber Volume N/A
Rate Of Fire
(see Note 2)
about 0.2 rounds per minute
  1. The Japanese guns were originally planned to have been 42 calibers long. However, calculations showed that this length would have caused the ships to heel over alarmingly, greatly reducing their effective elevation. See "Mount / Turret" Notes for additional information.
  2. Although this figure was the "official" rate of fire, the reality was far different. During the Battle of the Yellow Sea (or Battle of the Yalu) during the Sino-Japanese War of 1895, all three Japanese cruisers took almost an hour between rounds. The Captain of Itsukushima reported firing five shells and having four mechanical breakdowns. In their later roles as training ships, the cadets used to say "by the time one shot is fired, the day is over."

Ammunition

Type Bag
Projectile Types and Weights
(see Note 1)
Spain
   AP (cast iron bomb) - 879.6 lbs. (400 kg)

Japan
   Common - 771.6 lbs. (350 kg)
   AP - 990 lbs. (449 kg)

Bursting Charge Japan - AP - 22.4 lbs. (10.17 kg)
Others: N/A
Projectile Length Japan - AP - 44 in (112 cm)
Others: N/A
Propellant Charge Spain
  485 lbs. (220 kg) of prismatic powder

Japan
  AP 617.3 lbs. (280 kg) Brown Powder
  Common 485 lbs. (220 kg) Brown Powder

Muzzle Velocity
(see Note 2)
Spain
   2,034 fps (620 mps)

Japan
   AP - 2,306 fps (703 mps)
   Common - 2,001 fps (610 mps)

Working Pressure N/A
Approximate Barrel Life N/A
Ammunition stowage per gun N/A
  1. The Spanish "cast iron bomb" had a better ballistic shape than did the Japanese HE shell. The Spanish shell had a Siacci's coefficient of 1.0 while the Japanese shell was closer to 1.5.
  2. The quality of the Hontoria-built guns was poorer than those produced by Schneider & Co, hence the difference in muzzle velocities between the Japanese and Spanish weapons.

Range

Range of Spanish Guns
Elevation Range Striking Velocity Angle of Fall
2.5 degrees 3,230 yards (2,950 m) 1,640 fps (500 mps) 2.88
5.0 degrees 5,690 yards (5,200 m) 1,394 fps (425 mps) 6.42
7.5 degrees 7,660 yards (7,000 m) 1,247 fps (380 mps) 10.37
10.0 degrees 9,350 yards (8,550 m) 1,148 fps (350 mps) 14.53
15.0 degrees 12,030 yards (11,000 m) 1,066 fps (325 mps) 22.75

This table is a result of calculations, not actual firing trials.

Range of Japanese Guns
Elevation Range
Effective Range 8,750 yards (8,000 m)
Maximum Range 13,120 yards (12,000 m)

Armor Penetration

Armor Penetration of Spanish Guns
Range Krupp Vertical Armor Deck Armor
3,230 yards (2,950 m) 13.9 in (353 mm) 0.2 in (6 mm)
5,690 yards (5,200 m) 11.0 in (279 mm) 0.5 in (12 mm)
7,660 yards (7,000 m) 9.2 in (233 mm) 0.8 in (21 mm)
9,350 yards (8,550 m) 8.0 in (204 mm) 1.2 in (30 mm)
12,030 yards (11,000 m) 6.7 in (170 mm) 1.9 in (49 mm)

These values are from calculations using Jacob-de-Marr's armor penetration formula.

Armor Penetration of Japanese Guns
Range Wrought Iron Vertical Armor
0 yards (0 m) 43.74 in (1,111 mm)
8,750 yards (8,000 m) 13.14 in (334 mm)

Mount/Turret Data

Designation Single Barbette mounts

Spain
   Pelayo (2) - one bow, one stern

Japan
   Itsukushima (1) and Hisidate (1) - on bow
   Matsusuma (1) - on stern

Weight N/A
Elevation Spain: -5 / +15 degrees

Japan: -4 / +10.5 degrees

Elevation Rate N/A
Train Pelayo: -125 / +125 degrees (bow gun), -110 / + 110 (stern gun)

Itsukushima and Hisidate (bow gun): -140 / +140 degrees
Matsusuma (stern gun): -140 / +140 degrees

Train Rate N/A
Gun recoil N/A
Loading Angle N/A
  1. This gun and mounting was too big for the Japanese cruisers. Training the gun abeam would cause the ships to heel over, making it difficult to achieve the correct bearing and elevation. This was because the position of the trunnion was far forward of the center of the training axis and because these ships had a low GM in order to make them steady gun platforms.
  2. The Japanese mountings used water hydraulic pumps powered by a three-cylinder steam pump. In an emergency, the steam pump could be replaced by a hand pump needing twenty men to operate.

Additional Pictures

Sources

"Warship 1990" article by Jiro Itani, Hans Lengerer and Tomoko Rehm-Takahara
"Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War" by Eric Lacroix and Linton Wells III
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"Ships of the Russian-Japanese War: Part 2, Japanese Navy" by Suliga S.
"Navies and Naval Guidebook" (VKAM-99) published under authority of Great Prince Alexander Mikhailovich
Special help from Nicholas W. Mitiuckov

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