Difference between naval powder and rifle powder

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by ithaca_deerslayer, Jul 1, 2020.

  1. Batesmotel

    Batesmotel

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    Do you know why in the days of wooden ships and powder monkeys, sailors wore an eye patch?

    Because the black powder was stored in a powder magazine deep in the ship. The magazine was illuminated by a special lamp with triple pains of glass to prevent sparks but it was extremely dim.

    If a Powder Monkey went below deck to the magazine after being in extremely bright sun he would be blind. Think being hit with light directly from the sun, reflecting from the sails and water. Then walking into a room lit with less than birthday candle.

    They wore one eyepatch to shield one eye from the sun. Once below deck they flipped the patch up to see in the dark.
     
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  2. Haldor

    Haldor Formerly retired EE.

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    The cause of the explosion has never been definitely determined. Over-ramming of the powder charge is what the Sandia Laboratory thinks happened, but the USN has not accepted this explanation.

    The powder charges involved were very old (WWII vintage) so it is possible they had degraded. Plus the turret was not in the best state of repair and the crew involved were not in a high level of readiness. Seems like an accident was pretty likely to happen.

    I am not even vaguely an expert and am not able to judge the quality of the linked article, but it does discuss a number of issues. Do any of the sailor members of GT have an opinion about this.

    https://www.wearethemighty.com/arti...s-iowa-turret-explosion-was-seriously-bungled
     
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  3. Grumpy_old_man

    Grumpy_old_man

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    Correct.

    Individual granules of D839 propellant for the big guys were about 2" long about half that in diameter, and were perfed to control burn rate. About 2kg of black powder was also used to help initiate the charge in a "primer patch".

    Here's everything you ever wanted to know about the 16"/50 Mk7 Naval gun and its "load data". http://www.navweaps.com/Weapons/WNUS_16-50_mk7.php and a taste of life inside the turret:
    View: https://youtu.be/0OmOQs0ziSU
    and here is a pic of the later D846 propellant: https://www.facebook.com/1259281917...used-for-full-charges-was-2/1870892506360227/

    Grumpy
     
  4. HAMMERHEAD

    HAMMERHEAD

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    It was a crime what the Navy did to Clayton Hartwig. Bastards.
    Sorry, but for a lot of us it's a sore spot.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2020
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  5. hannstv

    hannstv

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    Damn....there are some smart guys on this forum. Who knew?
     
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  6. mhambi

    mhambi κολασμένος

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    Don't even get me started on Naval Jelly...



    :rofl:


    Cool thread!
     
  7. Bren

    Bren NRA Life Member

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    I don't know about Naval guns, but I have been a crewman on land-based 8" guns. The powder for them was in pellets about like hamster food pellets, so they wouldn't work very well for filling firearm cases, whether rifle or pistol.
     
  8. AK_Stick

    AK_Stick AAAMAD

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    I think when Sandia blew the test apparatus apart simulating an over-ram the whole thing got settled as an over-ram.

    @DonD He is very knowledgeable about naval weaponry.
     
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  9. DonD

    DonD

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    Thanks for the compliment AK_Stick.

    I was initially involved in the Iowa in bore explosion.

    I had just retired from the Navy and had been hired by Sandia and was in what was called the "Leper Colony" awaiting a DOE "Q" clearance. Didn't matter that I'd just been through the DOD reinvestigation and had an SCI clearance, they didn't care.

    The Leper Colony division manager walked in and asked if anyone had any expertise in the 16"/50. I said I did but wasn't an expert. So, I was involved until they had milked me of what I knew but they needed more. So I asked if they'd like to have THE expert on that gun? They said yes. That was a mustang (ex enlisted in Navy parlance) LCDR named Leroy Short. Short was once the gunnery officer on an Iowa class BB and was responsible for bringing them out of mothballs. They said yes. I got lucky and found Leroy on the second phone call and he came on as a consultant.

    Dr Carl Schuler was the scientific modeler who broke the case assisted by several other PhDs.

    What turned out to be the case is that the gun uses 6,110# silk powder bags. The grains are literally stacked into the bag by a machine and there is a "trim" layer where individual grains are added to get the bag to the desired weight. Sailors in the turret were using pocket knives and slitting the trim layers and giving individual grains of powder to buddies and a number of lockers were found with the souvenier grains.

    Ramming bags that were tampered with was the only way they ever got an initiation.

    Temperatures and pressures were something like 2000 degrees and 3000 psi inside the turret and not all the powder burned but the remainder fired back into the turret. All the crew was literally melted and went down the drain. Only bones remained.

    As an aside, they brought some ancient old guy from Walter Reed hospital. They showed him what positions were manned in the turret and from skeletal damage from the powder grains fired like a shotgun he Id'd all the manned positons. Don
     
  10. Haldor

    Haldor Formerly retired EE.

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    Thanks for the inside information.

    I recall hearing speculation at the time about static discharge due to the silk bags. I take it, this potential cause was ruled out?

    Any idea why the Navy didn't accept the Sandia Labs explanation?
     
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  11. glock collector

    glock collector

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    Awesome thread, and thank you gentlemen for your service.
     
  12. DonD

    DonD

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    Static was ruled out as a possible cause.

    I'm not challenging you here, I simply don't remember what the Navy finally said about Sandia's conclusion.

    I don't remember all the details but the entire thing was very political. The FBI really gooned the investigation, their vaunted lab botched some chemical analyses. They suggested at one time that there was a gay relationship between one of the turrets E6s, bogus.

    Finally, NMs senior senator got tired of it and asked Sandia to get involved. Sandia's president politely declined to do so. But the senator was the chair of the appropriation committee who controlled Sandia's budget. Senator made it clear it wasn't in Sandia's interest to fail to do as he asked. Don
     
  13. mc1911

    mc1911

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    Is it like a faster powder for lighter projectiles and slower powder for heavier ones , like in a rifle?
     
  14. mc1911

    mc1911

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    Didn't the Navy try to come up with BS story to explain away the accident? Bureaucracies suck.
     
  15. mc1911

    mc1911

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    That is horrific.
     
  16. DonD

    DonD

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    The powder charges were Korean War vintage, stored in climate controlled barges.

    Powder charges from one of those barges were tested during the investigation and found to meet all new production specifications. Don
     
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  17. Haldor

    Haldor Formerly retired EE.

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    Thanks. The first article I linked smelled to be heavy with conspiracy theory. But that is what happens when the initial official finding is found to be bogus. It makes more extreme interpretations plausible. To my knowledge the USN continues to maintain the cause of the explosion to be unknown although they did clear the maligned sailor.

     
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  18. Grumpy_old_man

    Grumpy_old_man

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    Burn rate is partially controlled by the surface area of the propellant granule. Larger granules have less surface area per volume** so for any given volume of powder there will be a slower combustion rate achieved via the larger granules.

    16"/50 was 50 calibers long, 800 inches - almost 70 feet of barrel in which the powder's combustion had to occur at a controlled rate.

    Grumpy
    **Area of a cylinder is 2*pi*r*L + 2*pi*r^2 whereas the volume of a cylinder is L*pi*r^2. Effectively this means that taking the ratio of area to volume leaves you with a distance squared over a distance cubed in terms of units. Thus making the cylinder bigger makes the area/volume ratio smaller and results in a slower combustion rate.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2020
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  19. Geeorge

    Geeorge Sarcasm Inc.

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  20. ithaca_deerslayer

    ithaca_deerslayer

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    Can you say more about this trim layer, what sailors were doing with it, and how that may have contributed to the explosion?

    Where are the bags machine filled, and where is the trim layer added? For example, is a bag machine filled at an arsenal, and then sent out to a ship. Then on the ship they decide to open some bags up to add more powder (the trim layer) to create a specific charge weight for some mission purpose. But maybe while those sailors are cutting grains in half to complete the assignment, they pocket some of those not needed grains as toys? Do other sailors later come by and willie nillie decide to open up a bag and steal some grains (thus sabotaging the charge weight)?

    And how does the layer of black powder play into all this?

    When we reload rifle rounds, it is not uncommon for some to compress the powder for a max charge while seating the bullet. Rifle reloads don't seem explosive or dangerous, without the primer. Why was the naval powder dangerous? I know the magnitude is larger, but shouldn't the powder be stable? Ram it, compress it, no boom?

    But there was a boom, so maybe naval powder is not safe? Is rifle powder also not safe? Has any reloader ever blown himself up pouring powder or ramming a bullet into the powder? (Absent a primer causing the issue).

    Thanks for any info you can give :)