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Re: Liberty Ship Armament Question
I never served in a gun crew but as an Armed Guard radioman I spent months on a Liberty and observed many others at sea and in port. No one should think they were all armed identically. I have seen references to 3/50's, 4/50's 5/38's, 5/51's, 20-mm Oerlikons and .50- and .30-caliber MGs, even a .37 mm gun (which I don't think I ever saw). Much depended on the time period: the first merchant ships to be armed were given whatever could be scraped up, mostly old four- and five-inch guns dating to the first war and .50- and .30-caliber MGs. It later became fairly standard to have a 3/50 on the bow and a 5/38 on the stern (both dual-purpose; i.e., could be elevated to fire on aircraft), along with eight 20's (two forward, two aft and four on the flying bridge). There were obviously exceptions.