« PreviousContinue »
rated according to his individual show- broken. This portion of his new duties ing. The "task” portion of the curri- mastered, the young gunner is transculum consists of the assignment to the ferred to the governmental school at embryo gunners, of work to be per- Newport, Rhode Island, where three formed each week in one or another of months are devoted to the study of electhe shops where the manufacture of tricity and high explosives, particularly naval ordnance is carried on. For in- with reference to torpedoes and submastance, a pupil may be assigned to con- rine mines. struct a miniature gun, even to procuring The young man who has successfully the metal from the foundry and casting passed the examinations at the concluthe gun mount, himself. In this manner sion of the gunnery course, and is ready he familiarizes himself with the machines to take up his duties as a gunner on a in the shops, including lathes, shapers, cruising warship, comes to the scene of and milling machines, and not only comes his future activities qualified to do alto know their uses but is able to use them most anything with a piece of naval ordhimself.
nance except to shoot accurately with it. In this very practical instruction work. This ability comes only from target pracguns are taken apart and reassembled, tice under conditions not to be found at and the name of each part learned. Blue any land station. Thus it comes about, prints are also introduced, and the sea- that, with his appearance on shipboard, man taught the rudiments of technical the newly qualified gunner enters upon a draftsmanship. The young man who as- postgraduate course which is possibly the pires to be a gunner works hard from most valuable feature of the whole in8 A. M. until 4:15 P. M., six days a week; tensely practical system of instruction. but at the end of a four months' course T he guns of the United States Navy he is able to go into a shop and reproduce are divided into three classes—“heavy' any portion of a gun that has been guns, embracing 8-inch and larger rifles,
including, of course, the big 12-inch and target placed at reduced range. Of 13-inch guns of our battleships; "inter- course the accuracy of eye and steadiness mediary” guns, ranging from the 4-inch of nerve requisite in naval gunnery can to the 7-inch size inclusive; and “second- be demonstrated in sub-caliber practice ary” guns, embracing all the weapons of quite as conclusively as in the handling calibers below the 4-inch. Some versa- of the 12-inch or 13-inch rifles; and if tile gunners may have a certain degree a gunner has demonstrated his ability to of proficiency in handling guns of all hit a six-foot target at 100 yards with a the different classes ; but the tendency, as missile from a one-pounder gun, it is in every other present-day field of en- fair to assume that he may be trusted to deavor, is toward specialization, and the hit a full-sized ship a mile distant if he average expert gunner manifests his employs a breech-loading rifle of the first maximum skill in the manipulation of class. guns of a single caliber, or at least of one general class.
The Dotter Inasmuch as ammunition for the largest naval guns represents an expenditure Another plan for training men in gunof approximately $500 per round, it goes pointing is by means of what is known without saying that gunners, in much of as the “dotter," a mechanical device of their training, cannot be permitted to use British invention, which causes a small the charges that would be employed target to move across the face of a gun under actual war conditions. As a sub- with combined vertical and horizontal stitute, the Navy has what is known as motion. The trick consists in making the "sub-caliber” practice. By this method, gun follow the target, and, when the a small gun-ordinarily the Morris tube, sights of the gun are on the bull's-eye, which consists of a small gallery rifle- pressing the button, which causes a penis fitted on or inside the heavy weapon; cil to dot the target and thus register a and practice starts with firing at a small hit. Hence the name of the "dotter."
In connection with the "dotter" or the tinual performance will be better appretube, the men are drilled in the use of the ciated when it is stated that as late as loading machine, for, in these days, rap- five years ago the official time allowance idity of fire in the case of even the largest in our Navy for firing a 13-inch gun was guns is in importance second only to ac- six minutes; whereas now, in actual curacy of aim.
target practice with full charges, our In this connection it may be explained bluejackets load and fire a 13-inch gun in that even the big 12-inch and 13-inch thirty-eight seconds. turret guns of our battleships have through recent advances been trans
Target Practice formed into rapid-firers. In the old days To cultivate accuracy of aim under of sails and smooth-bore guns, the one quick-firing conditions, two kinds of tarinvariable rule in naval gun play was to get practice are now employed. In one fire at the top of the downward roll, or, the target is stationary, the ship moving in other words, to discharge the weapon past it while firing; and in the other just as the ship began to roll toward the both ship and target are moving, usually target; and likewise it was the universal in opposite directions. Under the firstcustom to aim at the water line of the mentioned plan, the target is towed to a enemy's ship. Under the now prevailing distance of perhaps 2,000 yards from what conditions, however, the naval gunner might be called the "firing line," and is is trained wholly in "continuous-aim there so anchored that it will remain firing,” as it is called—which means that practically immovable. This target forms he must be capable of keeping his great the apex of a triangle, the other two rifle continually trained on the target angles of which are marked by buoys. regardless of the oscillations of the ves. The war vessel steams at a speed of sel during the roll or any part of it. The twelve or fifteen miles per hour along the necessity for this preparedness for con- base of this triangle; and projectiles are
to employ a target twenty feet long by sixteen feet high, which is trailed 500 yards behind the ship that is towing it.
Targets, by the way, have differed widely in size during the history of our naval target practice. For half a century, or until a few years ago, the standard navy great gun target was a triangular sail 10 feet high and 10 feet wide at the base, mounted on a floating platform and bearing in the center a painted bull'seye. Of late there has been a more extensive use of targets formed from rectangular sheets of white canvas 17 by 21 feet in size mounted upon floats, which serve their purpose most admir
MARINES WITH GUN ABOARD WARSHIP.
hurled at the target as rapidly as the guns can be worked, during all the time the ship is between the two buoys that constitute, as it were, the boundaries of the range.
Under the other plan, the target is slowly towed in one direction, while the ship which is to indulge in target practice steams at a speed of about ten miles an hour along a parallel line in the opposite direction, and at a distance of about a mile from the line on which the target is moving. For this work it is customary
LOADING AMMUNITION ON BATTLESHIP "INDIANA."
ably for practice at distances ranging from 1,600 to 2,000 yards and with ships moving at a speed of 12 to 15 miles an hour. Occasionally American naval gunners have an opportunity to try their skill at pummeling an actual ship—as, for instance, an old condemned vessel; but the United States Government has not as yet gone to the lengths of the British and the French authorities, the latter of whom some time ago used one of their first-class battleships as a target for the other vessels of the fleet.
There are not many features of naval target practice, however, wherein other nations can be said to excel or even equal
COURTESY OF "COLLIER'S WEEKLY." First GUN CREW THAT SUNK SPANISH GUNBOAT OFF
Britain, with her huge navy, appropriates only $26,000 per year for such prizes. In the American Navy there are three prizes for each class of gun on each ship, so that it is possible for almost every man who can shoot at all to win something. In addition there are magnificent trophies which are awarded to the ship in each class having the highest general score.
The reward for this elaborate training in naval gunnery is found in the remarkable scores made of late years by the gun
the United States. The American Gov-
American naval gunners are the best clothed, best fed, and best paid men of their class in the world. A turret captain in charge of heavy guns receives as high as $70 per month—in addition, of course, to board, clothes, and lodging ; and a first-class gun-pointer for one of the larger-sized guns is allowed $10 per month in addition to his regular wages, while the pointers of the smaller guns receive premiums of from $2 to $8 per month each. In addition to these emoluments, there are the splendid cash prizes which are open to every enlisted man in the Navy. For these prizes, Congress appropriates $200,000 a year; and how far in advance of every other nation we are in our incentives to good marksmanship, is evidenced by the fact that Great