The USS Texas faces dawn at her permanent berth at San Jacinto State Park near Houston. The ship lies in a little basin communicating with the Houston Ship Channel, used in 1988 to evacuate her for her $7M refit at Todd Shipyards in Galveston, and return her afterwards.  Photo by Louis Vest
The USS Texas aglow with sunset in her permanent berth at San Jacinto State Park near Houston.
Photo by Tom Scott. Our thanks for his gracious permission to republish in our site, and to link to his diagram of the Texas' turret workings. Many more photos and diagrams of the ship may be viewed at www.ctomscott.com.
The bow 14" turrets seen from the Texas's navigation bridge. The ship's prow points toward the San Jacinto Monument, on the horizon. In an ill-advised attempt at preservation, the volunteer foundation responsible for the ship's upkeep paved the weather deck in concrete. Now they are chiseling it off again, since the corrosive ingredients in the concrete are eating away the metal substrate. What a thankless task!
Ross "Radar" Radetzky (a member of the Texas "Ex-es") snaps to attention before #1 turret. You're out of uniform, sailor! Capstans and anchor chains in foreground; also multitudes of cylindrical "mushroom" vents.
Now let's descend the companionway into the ship's interior. So you don't get lost, we suggest you download our large cutaway view so you can follow where you are in the ship as you progress through the pictures.
Full disclosure: this great diagram is not of the USS Texas. Instead it is an animation of a similar installation on a British dreadnought of the same period: a 15"/40 Armstrong twin turret; model was introduced 1915 and worked similarly to the U.S. model, with the exception that the American system brought shells and charges up to the working chamber in separate hoists, while the British used a single hoist for both. Consequently the U.S. also used a more complex transfer procedure to get the projectiles and charge bags into the upper hoist that brought them to the loading position (see Texas diagram). Note flash-proof doors sliding open and closed in the turret trunk, ammo transfer point in the working chamber under the gunhouse, clever ramrod system to load charges in chamber, hinged breech block opening to load and closign to fire. This weapons system was engineered to operate smoothly and continuously, shooting a round approximately every 40 seconds. In practice it worked well as designed most of the time. Wikipedia.com
Actual diagram and animation of the Texas' turret - courtesy of Tom Scott, from ctomscott.com.
Inside No. 1 turret. From left, ammo lift; loading tray; 14-inch gun breech with breech block rotated outward at right.
Texas'sister-ship New York showing the formidable AA armament fitted to these ships for the Pacific War. As the Japanese High Command turned to desperate kamikaze tactics in 1944, American task forces depended a protective wall of flak laid down by hundreds of these guns for protection against suicide pilots. Even so, quite a few kamikazes found their targets. Naval planners of the 1920s had thought a dozen or so AA guns per ship would suffice; hard experience dictated otherwise.
The 40mm Bofors gun was the chief AA weapon of the U.S. Navy in World War II. Here is a quad mount Forty abreast the bridge on the USS Texas war memorial. Texas finished WWII with a total of 40 such mounts, plus 44 20mm Oerlikons (2 down). Below is a view of a similar quad mount in action, on the carrier USS Hornet. Shell casings spit out the tubes at bottom; you can see them piled up around the front of the mount in the action view below, while loaders feed fresh ammo into the guns' rear. USNHC
Instructional material calls out the main features of the Bofors 40 mm quad mount. All these weapons had redundant systems; could be operated manually in event of power failure. Enlarge
Side view of the Texas war memorial. The 5" gunhouse sponsoned out abaft the bridge was a common feature of Wyoming and New York class U.S. Navy battleships. Abaft the gunhouse (at left and one deck down) are cutouts which originally held additional 5"/50 cal guns in casemate mounts. Since these lower positions were frequently "washed out" by spray and seas, they were plated over after WWI, reducing the ship's 5" armament from 21 to 6 by 1941. The appearance of the armored gunhouse is remarkably similar to the mounts used for beam 10.6" guns on French navy battleships of the 1890s, and imitated in the Italian and Austrian navies.
Interior of the 5-inch gunhouse with the breech ends of two of the three secondary weapons housed in this structure. Three more lived in the symmetrical structure on the other side.
This 1930s photo inside the Arizona's 5-inch gunhouse suggests how the Texas might have looked in the heat of action. USS Arizona Memorial
The forward control tower of the Texas appears much as it did at the end of WWII. The bridgeworks and fire-control station still project an air of massive solidity: though no Japanese pagoda, it is an imposing pile nonetheless. This rarely-seen angle shows the open air under the entire, cantilevered bridge structure. Behind the navigation bridge is the wheelhouse; above it, the admiral's bridge; topping all, the signal bridge with its huge spreaders for hoists of signal flags, and the main battery fire-control station -- the boxy, multi-windowed structure atop the mast. The armored battle conn is visible at right under the apex of the wheelhouse. Hard to believe this was one of the highest points on the ship when she was built!
In a protected position deep below the bridge, the Combat Information Center, dominated by the radar scope at right. There was a secondary CIC aft, below the after fire director tower. In all, the ship deployed seven advanced radar systems by the end of hostilities in WWII: two SG surface search radars, one SK air-search system, and two each Mk 3 and Mk 10 fire-control radar systems.
One of the ship's six Bureau Express boilers, installed in 1926 with her conversion to oil fuel. The fuel sprayers have been removed from the top two rows to show the furnace interiors. The black units plugged into the other spots on the front of the boiler are the sprayer units; the red handles are the controls for adjusting the oil jets. Being a fireman had evolved into a technician's job -- hot to be sure, but far removed from the filthy, backbreaking life of the stokers in a coal-fired ship. And refueling by hose at sea was a far cry from the prolonged ordeal of coaling ship.
Control station for one of the ship's engines. A twin-screw vessel, Texas had two four-cylinder triple expansion piston steam engines that together developed 28,000 shp (20,880 kW), for a reliable 21-knot speed. Unlike many of her turbine-engined contemporaries, the Texas served her entire 34-year career with her original issue engines, manufactured in 1912 at the Newport News Shipbuilding Co. where she was built. C.Tom Scott
Farewell, old wagon! Recommended for a pilgrimage by all battleship buffs. Along with the Orange Show art car parade, this historic ship provides good reason for a visit to Houston, even if you are not a Rick Perry booster or petroleum-futures speculator.
- USS Texas Cutaway Profile
- Schematic of the Texas' Director Fire Control System
- Cutaway of the Texas' Main Turret - Courtesy Tom Scott
- Elevation of one of the Texas' Main Engines