Stop 21: 20mm Oerlikon Anti-aircraft Guns


The Victory ships were protected by 8 Oerlikon 20 millimeter cannons during World War 2. These cannons were placed in 4 circular tubs on each side of the ship. Today, the cannons are gone and only 2 of the tubs remain and they are located on the flying bridge. These cannons, capable of firing approximately 300 rounds per minute, were used to defend against low flying aircraft at short-range, typically 1,000 yards. Each cannon could be operated by a crew of 3 men, a target spotter, gunner, and a “feeder” who replace the ammunition drum. During the Korean and Vietnam wars, when the threat of enemy aircraft decreased, the guns were removed in favor of more cargo carrying capability.