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Battleship's 16-inch shells

Battleship’s 16-inch shells

July 2, 1987: Gunner’s mate Bill Allen performs maintenance on 16-inch shells stored deep within the U.S. battleship Missouri. The shells weigh 1 ton each and when fired have a range up to 23 miles, flying at three times the speed of sound.

This photo by retired Times staff photographer Joe Kennedy was published on  July 6, 1987 on the paper’s Life Style section front accompanying an article on the Missouri, sister ship to the Iowa – which will become a museum in San Pedro this year.

For more on the Iowa, check out this recent gallery: The battleship Iowa, 1942-2012.

April 14, 2012: Visitors to the Iowa in Richmond, Calif., stand next to a 16-inch shell and powder bags. The 16-inch, 50-caliber projectile high-capacity shell is 64 inches long. Such shells were used for shore bombardment, and they created  craters 50 feet wide and 20 feet deep. The Iowa and Missouri also fired an armored piercing shell. Credit: Scott Harrison / Los Angeles Times


  1. May 16, 2012, 11:12 am

    That shell has Hizballah name written all over it.

  2. May 16, 2012, 11:53 pm

    With modern miniature electronics Gps guidance and maneuver fins the accuracy of the shells can

    be easily and economically improved.

    The time of Battleships has not passed away.

  3. May 20, 2012, 4:26 pm

    This is an outstanding piece of history, I am so glad to see this happen. I have driven by Richmond and seen it anchored out in the bay, and was always saddened by it, what a waste! But now, all who desire can have a chance to see this magnificent ship and honor her service and crews… Ken

  4. February 19, 2015, 8:33 pm

    That's a little bigger than a .50 caliber projectile. The caliber is a measure of the internal diameter of the barrel of a weapon. That is technically a 16 caliber gun, but no one would every refer to it as such. A .50 cal is a common heavy machine gun round fired by the M2 .50 cal. Certain sniper rifles also fired a .50 caliber projectile. The proper was to refer to this would just be "16-inch shell"

  5. February 19, 2015, 8:38 pm

    The 50 caliber you are referring to only applies to the gun. The gun is 50 calibers long. 66.6 feet= 50*16 inches. The projectile is still just 16-inches


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