203 mm /53 Italian naval gun

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Cannone da 203/53 Ansaldo
This stern view of Italian heavy cruisers illustrates the close common-cradle twin turret mounting of 203 cm/53 caliber guns.
Type Naval gun
Place of origin Italy
Service history
In service 1931 - 1943[1]
Used by 22x20px Regia Marina
Wars Second World War
Production history
Manufacturer Gio. Ansaldo & C.
Weight 19.5 tonnes[2]
Barrel length 424 inches (10.8 meters)[2]

Shell 125 kilograms (276 lb)[2]
Caliber 8-inch (203 mm)[2]
Muzzle velocity 960 meters per second (3150 ft/sec)[2]
Maximum range 34 kilometres (21 mi)[2]

The 203 mm/53 Ansaldo was the main battery gun of Italy's most modern Washington Naval Treaty heavy cruisers. This treaty allowed ships of not more than 10,000 tons standard displacement and with guns no larger than 8 inches.


These built-up guns consisted of a liner, A tube, and full-length jacket with a hydraulically operated Welin breech block. Each heavy cruiser carried 8 guns mounted in 4 twin turrets with maximum elevation of 45° . The 181 tonne turrets mounted both guns in a common cradle with centerlines only one meter apart.[2] This mounting practice conserved weight, but mutual interference increased dispersion during salvo fire.[1] Each gun could fire approximately four rounds per minute. The M1929 guns aboard Bolzano were slightly lighter than the M1927 guns aboard earlier cruisers.[2]


The smokeless powder charge was contained in two cloth bags. Infobox velocity and range is for the armor piercing (AP) shell with a 51 kg (112 pound) powder charge. High explosive (HE) shells weighing 111 kilograms (245 lb) used a 42 kg (92 lb) powder charge for a velocity of 940 m/s (3100 ft/sec). The AP powder charge was reduced to improve performance. AP shell velocity was 900 m/s (2950 ft/sec) for a maximum range of 31 kilometres (19 mi) with the HE powder charge.[2]

Naval service

Fiume, Gorizia, Pola, and Zara mounted M1927 guns.

Bolzano mounted M1929 guns.

Trento and Trieste mounted earlier 203 mm/50 Ansaldo M1924 guns. These guns initially used the same AP projectile with a 47 kg (104 lb) powder charge to duplicate the ballistics of the HE powder charge in later 203 mm/53 guns, but the powder charge was similarly reduced with experience.

See also


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  • Campbell, John (1985). Naval Weapons of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-459-4. 
  • Whitley, M.J. (1995). Cruisers of World War Two. Brockhampton Press. ISBN 1-86019-8740. 

External links

  1. 1.0 1.1 Whitley 1995 pp.149-156
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Campbell 1985 pp.326-327