Who Wants a 40mm Quad Anti-Aircraft Machine Gun for Christmas?
Pearl Harbor, HI –-(Ammoland.com)- What do you get the battleship that has everything? Something with firepower, of course.
If battleships could smile, the “Mighty Mo” would have been beaming on Dec. 8 when a 40mm quad gun was delivered from Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum, “home of the USS Yorktown,” in South Carolina.
The 40mm quad is an old friend of sorts. It was one of two quads traced back to the USS Missouri that, until last month, guarded the Patriot’s Point entrance. Former USS Missouri crewmembers had arranged to have the guns placed at Patriot’s Point well before the decommissioned Missouri opened in 1999 as a memorial in Pearl Harbor. Recently, the two historic attractions teamed up to secure permission from the Naval Heritage and History Command, who owns the guns, to have one of the WWII-era quads returned to the Missouri on extended loan.
“During World War II and the Korean War, the USS Missouri had 20 40mm quad mounts and 49 20mm guns, all of which were removed during modernization in the 1980s, replaced with four Vulcan/Phalanx 20mm Gatling guns,” said Mike Weidenbach, the Missouri’s curator. “It is important that we remember the entire five-decade active-service history of USS Missouri, which ran from World War II to the Korean War to Operation Desert Storm. Through the Missouri, we are uniquely able to portray the evolution of defense technology. For example, the 40mm quad mount will be installed on the main pier, within view of the modern CIWS gun mount that made the 40mm and 20mm anti-aircraft guns obsolete prior to action in Operation Desert Storm.”
The 40mm anti-aircraft gun has a unique history of it own, as it was one of a very few types of weapon systems used by both sides in World War II. Manufactured by neutral Switzerland, it was used on almost every major U.S. warship. Known for its efficiency, the 40mm proved itself in close-in air defense until outflanked by the Kamikaze attacks in the final months of WWII. Each twin 40mm fired 160 rounds per minute, per barrel effectively up to 4,000 yards. The quad’s seven-man crew included a gun captain, pointer, trainer, two first-loaders and two second-loaders.
Other historical items with ties to the Missouri, such as the “Surrender Plaque” (marking the site of Japan’s World War II surrender) and ship’s bell are similarly on extended loan to the memorial. Just last month, the Missouri’s “defenses” received a boost in the form of eight .50-caliber machine guns from the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Indiana. They were restored to their original mount locations around the perimeter of the Missouri’s main deck as a tribute to a time when formal Marine Detachments (MARDETs) served on Navy ships as dedicated units.
The Battleship Missouri Memorial, located a mere ship’s length from the USS Arizona Memorial, completes a historical visitor experience that begins with the day of infamy that saw the sinking of USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor and ends with Imperial Japan’s unconditional surrender aboard USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Following an astounding career that spans five decades and three wars, from World War II to the Korean conflict to the Liberation of Kuwait, the “Mighty Mo” was decommissioned and donated to the USS Missouri Memorial Association, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which operates the battleship as a historic attraction and memorial. The association oversees her care and preservation with the support of visitors, memberships, grants and the generosity of donors. For more information, visit ussmissouri.org.