Skip to main content
<p>NMUSN:&nbsp; WWI:&nbsp; Naval Railway Gun:&nbsp; Assembly</p>

U.S. Naval Railway Guns: Assembly

U.S. Naval Railway Guns:  Assembly

On November 2, 1917, the Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance, Rear Admiral Ralph Earle, USN, ordered unused 14-Inch .50 caliber guns be turned into Naval Railway Guns.  Mounted on railway cars, they could be moved where needed and with a range of almost 24 miles.  Since the guns were in the reserves, they were converted with utmost speed.   Baldwin Locomotive works delivered the first railway gun mount in 72 days following the contract and 120 days after the commencement of the first preliminary design.   The first shipment to France departed on June 29, 1918 aboard the cargo ship USS Newport News and arrived at St. Nazaire, France, on July 8.   The blue prints to the guns for assembly in France were mailed a few weeks prior, but they never arrived, either the ship carrying the plans lost them or the ships were sunk by German U-boats.   As a result, the guns were built without blue prints.  An extra set of plans were sent but arrived after the guns were already constructed.    St. Nazaire was an ideal location as the docks had a 150-ton crane and locomotive shops a quarter of a mile away.  

Image:   NH 63236:   14" Naval Railway Gun being placed into its slide at St. Nazaire, France, 1918.  U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.