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longest ever known. Imagine what Nelson, who sometimes fought with his ship lashed to the enemy's, would have thought of such ranges! While the firing is in progress, certain officers, called “spotters,” act as the eyes of the ship. They are in the “spotters' top” of the “wastebasket” cage mast, about 120 feet above the water. This is purposely placed as high as possible (the height being limited to that which will pass under the Brooklyn Bridge), so that the splash of the projectile, as it hits the water, may be observed to best advantage, and the gunners, if necessary, directed by telephone or speaking-tube to point more accurately for the next shot. The writer was in one of these tops on the Michigan (which, later, won the pennant) during the September practice, and had a wonderful bird's-eye view of all the guns of the division, which, in a few minutes' time, fired Ioo,ooo pounds of steel at a speed of thirty times that of an express-train making sixty miles an hour. To do this, 50,000 pounds of powder is required. While we are speaking of weights, it is interesting to know (and few people, even those accustomed to dealing with ammunition, have knowledge of the rule) that the actual weight in pounds of a projectile is very close to one half the cube of its diameter. Thus, the actual weight of a twelve-inch shell is 870 pounds. Applying the rule, 12 x 12 x 12 —- 2 = 864 pounds. The rule holds approximately true for all sizes, even down
to a o.32 caliber pistol ball weighing but a fifth of an ounce. After the first vessels finish firing, the target screens must be removed and brought on board the individual ships for the umpires (always visiting officers) to count the hits and send their reports, through the flag-ship, to Washington. The shot-up masts of the targets must be replaced by the “repair-party” from the vessel that did the shooting; and, this done, the first vessels to fire become observers of those that follow. You are then close enough to see that the tiny speck at which you have been shooting really has some size. Yet it is only about one fifth the length of a battle-ship. From an observing ship a sublime sight commences when the other ships open fire. A vivid flash is seen through the heavy atmosphere, though the firing ship itself is scarcely discernible at this range of six or seven miles. Eleven seconds can be timed between the flash and the arrival of the shell at the target. Bursts of snow-white mist and sea (“geysers,” they are called) are dashed to the towering height of 200 to 3oo feet as the shells hit the water. The belated sound arrives a few seconds later. A second, and sometimes a third, smaller burst of mist can be seen two or three miles beyond, as the shell ricochets, or rebounds, along the water's surface in the final stages of its seven-mile journey before going to its last resting-place.
THE ‘‘MICHIGAN," AT FULL SPEED, FIRING EIGHT TWELVE-INCH G UNS, AT A TARGET 12,OOO YARDS DISTANT.
In the ricochet the shell sometimes leaves its line of flight many degrees, usually to the right, being thus influenced by the rapid rotation given it by the rifling of the gun-barrel. For this reason, it is usual for observing vessels to remain some distance away, unless they are to the left of the firing vessel. It seems scarcely credible that the flight of a twelve-inch shell moving 28oo feet a second can be followed with the eye, yet it can be so traced if a position is chosen well in the line of fire. A position to the rear is doubtless more popular, but the observers of the test of the dynamite guns of the old Vesuvius had such faith in the limit of its reach, that many of them faced the shell as it was fired. A twelve-inch shell in flight can also be seen at times from one side, when a “geyser” from another shot happens to form a background at the appropriate instant. Many things are happening during the eleven seconds that the shell is in flight. So perfectly have the ammunition parties and the gun crews been drilled that the heavy twelve-inch gun is almost ready to fire again before its former shell has landed; and some of the crack crews of the seven-inch guns, which can be loaded more rapidly, actually had two shells in flight at the same
time. The handling and loading of the charge for a twelve-inch gun is as pretty a piece of clockwork as could be done by human hands. It takes more than a score of men to supply and feed its shell and its four bags of powder. Each of these men has a particular part of the job to do, and, like a foot-ball player, has learned to do it just at the right moment and in the shortest possible time. Strength is required as well as skill, for one load weighs over half a ton, and must be raised from the handling room to the turret, a height of forty or fifty feet. During the same period that the ammunition and gun crews are handling and loading the powder and shell, the pointers and trainers are “getting on” the target. This seems almost a superhuman task; for the ship, by rolling and pitching, and steaming ahead at the same time, is given a peculiar zigzag or “corkscrew” motion, and the target has also had time, while the shell is in flight, to move Ioo feet and change its position vertically ten feet with one wave, and start in the opposite direction on the next. Reference to the skill of these men means “skill” in its broadest sense. Target-practice, like everything else in this era of progress, has been a development. Many
on the island, the gulls would fly up. If they were seen to rise, the shot was counted a “hit.” Since that time our gunners have made marvelous strides. As fast as they advanced in skill, new conditions were prescribed and the distances increased. The best thought throughout the service has been put on the subject. Training has been incessant, and the most advanced methods have been introduced to attain accurate aim and rapidity of fire. Actual conditions are imitated, as far as practicable, to prevent false training even in the drill practice. The “dummy” ammunition is made just the proper shape and weight. One end of the powder bag is even painted red to accustom the teams to keep the ignition powder, or fast-burning end of the bag, next to the primer, though both kinds of powder used at drill practice are actually represented by a harmless bag of beans. The pointers and trainers are drilled even in port with actual firing. The miniature target is ingeniously rigged on a spar a few feet away, to move with the gun, and presents itself whichever way the gun is trained. The firing is done with a rifle which shoots a ball the size of a pea. This rifle is rigged sometimes inside and sometimes
key is pressed, a gun is always actually fired. The crack of a rifle is heard, however, instead of
From photograph by Brown.
A TARGET UNDER A STRANGE LIGHT.
the roar of its big brother. Effective preliminary training is thus secured and a great saving effected, for the ammunition to fire a twelve-inch gun costs $360, and the gun generally requires
- - From photograph by Brown. Fi RING A BROA losi I) E.
outside the bore of the large gun, yet always arranged to move and point with it. Thus when the pointers and trainers are “on” and the firing
reboring after about 1oo shots. The ammunition of the new fourteen-inch guns for the New York and Teras, now building, will cost $750 per shot. The victory at Santiago was complete, and a grateful country will never minimize the work
changed as to its fundamentals since men began to fight on land or sea. The purpose is, with a stronger force, to overwhelm the weaker opposing
fleet; to strike first, hardest, and quickest. It was Goliath's idea to pick off the Israelites one by one, and a modern pugilist could defeat a hundred men if they charged him singly, and he could down the first before a second came up. . A battle-ship steaming as fast as any rivals, bringing more guns into action than any rival, hitting an enemy at seven miles, could destroy the whole of an opposing fleet one by one, even as the pugilist would take the lighter weights one by one. But the horsetrotting, fire-fighting, American stop-watch practice is also in the Navy, and it was realized that if these big guns could be fired four times as fast, it would be very nearly the same as having four times as many guns, or four times as many dreadnoughts; and also that if the skill of aim could be increased fourfold, if four shots would reach the target as compared with one in the older
From photograph by H. R. Jackson.
AFTER TURRET OF THE “N EBRASKA," which HOLDS THE RECORD OF Twl-NTY shots, TWENTY Hits i N TWO MINUTES, FIFTY-Fou R SECONDS.
of the men who fought and won that famous and effective sea-fight. At that battle, however, the efficiency of our gunners was only from two to four per cent. of the shots fired. We cannot but feel gratified, therefore, to know that the efficiency of our marksmen has increased over a thousand per cent. since that time.
Percentages for battle practice are not made public. In elementary practice the men are allowed prize-money. This will average about $10 per man, but has run up as high as $125 in an individual case. Prize-money is not allowed for battle practice. The trophy which the successful individual can win is a small pennant, intrinsically worth about five cents. Yet the honor of possessing this bit of cloth is such that an enormous interest is manifested by the men. They have been quick to appreciate the difference between winning a game—a contest—and winning out in actual test under battle conditions.
Mr. Harrington Emerson, writing in “The Engineering Magazine” on another subject, recently paid a great compliment to the American Navy in the following words:
Probably the most marvelous and valuable example of standardized operations anywhere in the world is on our American fleets in battle practice. The art of war has not
From photograph, copyright, by Enrique Muller. A TUBE TARGET G.U.N.
practice, one modern Arkansas or 1/3 oming, with twelve twelve-inch guns firing four times as fast and hitting four