Military History/1927 5" 51 Cal


Sir,  Yesterday I acquired a brass Cartridge. It weighs 23lbs and 3oz.  The markings on the bottom read as follow:     

" U.S.N.G.F.   5 - 1927   5IN 51 CAL B.F.H. (an anchor)H.L.M."

I believe this came from a battleship? The USNGF is United States Navy Gun Factory? The date is May 1927?  5" projectile from a 51 Cal gun?

Any other info you can add?

Do you know what the "B.F.H. (an anchor)H.L.M" is?

Someone has hammered out the open end.  Flared it out. Maybe for an umbrella stand?
I would like to cut off the end to make it look more like a cartridge.  Do you advise against this or do you think it would be ok to do?

Thanks for your time.

Robert Wollenweber


A little clarification.  Everything you your reported is accurate.  The 5 inch is the bore diameter of the gun.  The Navy reports barrel length in calibers, which is the length in is the bore diameters or 51 X 5" or 255 inches or  21 feet .25 inches.  This would have been standard secondary armament for most ships of the day except destroyers on which it would have been the main gun.

This link provides a list of the ships on which the 5"/51 gun was used.  They were open mounts  and were found on a lot of WWI battle ships, submarines and a few cruisers and CG cutters.

They were later replaced by the 5"/38 dual purpose gun seen on just about every american naval ship capable of carrying it, in single and dual mounts as primary and secondary weapons.  In the latter role it was primarily used for air defense and was in closed turret mounts.

The Initials were those of the Supervisor of Inspectors and the second set are the Inspectors.

You may just want to keep it the way it is, as it might have more value as a piece of war "art" but if you want to cut it off and don't worry about resale value, have a metal shot do it as it will be very difficult to cut true and without damaging the thin brass.  It will pucker and distort if a coarse blade is used.  The best way is to have it turned on a lathe with a cutting edge that will cut a nice, true and smooth edge.

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Keith H. Patton


I can answer questions pertaining to weapons and tactics, personalities, battles, and strategies in european and U.S. history.


I was a history major, and had done extensive research in the subject area. I have designed and tested numerous computer games for various
historical periods.

B.A History M.S. Science
I have had the opportunity to live abroad and walk numerous battlefields both in the United States, Europe, and the Pacific.

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