|This weapon was part of a 1939 - 1940
study on possible replacements for the
(12.7 cm) Mark 12. During this study, a variety of guns were
investigated for arming a new generation of destroyers, cruisers and battleships.
Requirements for the new weapon included the ability to achieve a slant
range of 14,000 yards (12,800 m) and a maximum surface range of at least
18,000 yards (16,500 m). Projectile weight was to be no more than
75 lbs. (34 kg), muzzle velocity not less than 2,700 fps (823 mps) and
a rate of fire of not less than 15 rounds per minute at any elevation.
Besides the 5.4"/48 (13.7 cm), an up-rated 5"/38 (12.7 cm), a new 5"/54
(12.7 cm) and an improved 6"/47 (15.2 cm) were also considered.
Although the existing 5"/38 (12.7 cm) did
not meet any of the above requirements, it did have a significantly lower
mounting weight than any of the larger guns. This meant that more
of them could be accommodated on the same size ship. For example,
BuOrd calculated that a ship capable of carrying eight 5"/38 (12.7 cm)
guns could only carry six 5"/54 (12.7 cm) guns and even fewer of the larger
calibers. When the increased weight was taken into account, BuOrd
could see no advantage to larger calibers and recommended that the planned
new ships continue to use the existing 5"/38 (12.7 cm). BuOrd did
recommend in January 1940 that development of the 5"/54 (12.7 cm) be pursued
as its heavier shell would mean an improved anti-surface capability over
the 5"/38 (12.7 cm). This resulted in the 5"/54
(12.7 cm) Mark 16 which was chosen to arm the Montana class (BB-67)
battleships and the Midway class (CVB-41) carriers.
As for the 5.4"/48 (13.7 cm), it was temporarily
revived as a possible armament for the proposed 8,000 ton cruisers when
the new 6"/47 (15.2 cm) failed its preliminary
tests, but this fell through when BuOrd reported that it would take at
least 30 months just to get the design to the proofing stage. The
5"/54 (12.7 cm) could be produced three to four months quicker, as it could
use some of the existing tooling used for the 5"/38 (12.7 cm).