6"/53 caliber gun

The 6"/53 caliber gun (spoken "six-inch-fifty-three-caliber") formed the main battery of some United States Navy light cruisers and three US submarines built during the 1920s.

6"/53 caliber naval gun
Forward Mark 16 turret aboard USS Cincinnati (CL-6).
TypeNaval gun
Service history
In service1920 - 1945
Used byUnited States
WarsWorld War II
Production history
  • Guns Mk 12, Mk 14, Mk 15, Mk 18
  • Mountings Mk 13, Mk 16, Mk 17
Barrel length26.5 feet (8 m) bore (53 calibers)

Shell105 pounds (48 kg)[1]
Caliber152 millimeters (6 in)
Muzzle velocity900 meters per second (2,950 ft/s)[1]
Maximum firing range23,130 meters (25,295 yd)[1]


United States naval gun terminology indicates the gun fired a projectile 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter, and the barrel was 53 calibers long (barrel length is 6 inch x 53 = 318 inches or 8 meters.)[2] The gun with side swing Welin breech block and Smith-Asbury mechanism weighed about 10 tonnes and used a silk bag containing 44-pounds (20 kg) of smokeless powder to give a 105-pound (47.6 kg) projectile a velocity of 3000 feet per second (900 m/s). Early Marks were built-up guns with a liner, tube, full-length jacket, and 2 hoops; but the Mark 14 gun was of monobloc construction. Useful life expectancy was 700 effective full charges (EFC) per liner.[1]

Mark 13 casemate mounting

These guns were installed as the primary battery on the Omaha-class cruisers, and were intended for the secondary battery of the never-completed Lexington-class battlecruisers and South Dakota-class battleships. Maximum range was 21,000 yd (19,200 m) at the maximum elevation of 20 degrees.[1][3]

Mark 16 turret mounting

This two-gun turret was a design modification to improve the range and broadside of the Omaha-class cruisers. Maximum range was 25,300 yd (23,130 m) at the maximum elevation of 30 degrees.[1][3]

Mark 17 wet mounting

These single open mounts were installed fore and aft of the conning tower on USS Argonaut (SM-1), USS Narwhal (SS-167), and USS Nautilus (SS-168). Maximum range was 23,300 yd (21,310 m) at the maximum elevation of 25 degrees.[1][3]

Surviving examples

Two guns from USS Narwhal (SS-167) are preserved at the Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut. The ship was present at the attack on Pearl Harbor and the guns were most likely on board at the time.

See also

Weapons of comparable role, performance and era


  1. Campbell 1985 pp.132-3
  2. Fairfield 1921 p.156
  3. DiGiulian, Tony (8 February 2008). "United States of America 6"/53 (15.2 cm) Marks 12, 14, 15 and 18". Navweaps.com. Archived from the original on 30 June 2011. Retrieved 21 July 2011.


  • Campbell, John (1985). Naval Weapons of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-459-4.
  • Fairfield, A.P. (1921). Naval Ordnance. The Lord Baltimore Press.
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