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Military History/Naval Bombardment - sustainability


Hello Paul,

I am working on a WWII Naval game and have been looking all over the net for reliable information about the ammunition stocks of various WWII capital ships.

I am specifically interested in how long BBs, CAs, and CLs could sustain a naval bombardment on average or where I can find information about the storage capacity of the magazines?

You can find all kinds of information about armaments, cruising speeds, fuel consumption etc., but I find it very difficult to find any sources that say how long a particular ship could sustain a bombardment or how many rounds of each calibre their magazines were able to hold. I have heard that no ship would be able to bombard for more than 6 consecutive hours.

My focus is capital ships in the Pacific theatre during WWII.

Thanks for reading my question.



The Iowa had 200 rounds in turret 1 and 3 and 240 rounds in turret 2.  With a firing rate of 2 rounds per minute per gun a ship could full fire would be around 100 minutes or 1 hour 40 minutes.  For more accurate fire one turret would fire then the next turret once a target was selected.  So the ammunition would only last a few hours if you staggered the firing.  After 6 hours a ship would be out of ammunition in the turrets and thus venerable to attack and need to be reloaded.  More shells were cared in storage but time would be needed to move and prepare for future firing.  Also some gun barrels would wear out after 200 rounds and need to be replaced before future firing to ensure accuracy.  Barrels would warp and droop after long firing operations.

For US Heavy cruisers most had 150 rounds ready to fire with a rate of 3 to 4 rounds per minute.  So with max firing within 1 hour you were out of ammunition and the barrel was designed for around 700 firings before needing to be replaced

For light cruiser with 6 inch guns your fire rate would be 8 to 10 rounds per minute with 200 rounds on hand per gun and a barrel life of 1000 firings.  So within a half hour a CL would be running low without reloading the turrets.

The USS Massachusetts carried 3000 16 inch rounds which is about the same for most US battleships

As for the Japanese they had similar numbers.

Please check out the below links as they will have more detail.  
Thank you and sorry for the delay
The best website on naval guns.  

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Paul Sutton


I can answer questions on World War Two weapons, tactics, and strategy. I can answer questions on Weapons systems and their development. I can answer guestions on Space exploration history. I am a World War 2 expert. I study Military Weapons Systems and the usage of those systems.


I work for Saint Petersburg College as a TRS or Technology resources specialist. I read 10 to 15 books a year on World War 2 and weapon systems. I also have a BA in History from USF.

I have a BA in history from USF.

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