5 inch/38 Mk.12 (127 mm)

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The 5"/38 Mk.12 is a dual-purpose 127 mm cannon, developed and used prolifically on American vessels.

Vehicles equipped with this weapon

Vehicles equipped with this weapon
Destroyers  USS Aylwin · USS Fletcher · USS Bennion · USS Cowell
  USS Porter · USS Moffett · USS Phelps · USS Somers · USS Davis · USS Sumner · USS Gearing · USS Frank Knox
  JDS Harukaze (DD-101) · JDS Yūgure (DD-184)
  Geniere · Impetuoso
Light cruisers  USS Atlanta · USS Cleveland · USS Helena · USS Fargo
Heavy cruisers  USS Baltimore · USS Pittsburgh · USS Des Moines · USS Newport News
Battlecruisers  USS Alaska
Battleships  USS Nevada

General info

The 5"/38 is notable for having the highest fire rate of any WWII-era 127 mm gun out of any nation in the game. This stellar rate of fire results in a very high damage output, placing ships equipped with the 5"/38 very high with regards to gun firepower. The destructive capabilities of the shells are also quite high, with competitive penetration and explosive filler. The only limitations on the use of the 5"/38 are the relatively poor ballistics and accuracy at range, which are partially compensated for by the high fire rate of the cannon.

Available ammunition

Msg-info.png Not all ammunition listed is available on all vehicles equipped with this weapon.

Penetration statistics
Ammunition Type of
Penetration @ 0° Angle of Attack (mm)
1,000 m 2,500 m 5,000 m 7,500 m 10,000 m 15,000 m
AAC Mk.34 HE 36 36 36 36 36 36
Common Mk.32 Common 124 103 77 58 46 37
SP Common Mk.46 SP Common 150 125 93 71 56 45
AAVT Mk.31 HE-VT 36 36 36 36 36 36
Shell details
Ammunition Type of
mass (kg)
Fuse delay
Fuse sensitivity
Explosive mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
0% 50% 100%
AAC Mk.34 HE 792 25 0 0.1 3,220 79° 80° 81°
Common Mk.32 Common 792 24.49 0.01 6 1,150 47° 60° 65°
SP Common Mk.46 SP Common 792 25 0.01 6 906.5 48° 63° 71°
Proximity-fused shell details
Ammunition Type of
mass (kg)
Fuse delay
Fuse sensitivity
distance (m)
radius (m)
Explosive mass
(TNT equivalent) (g)
0% 50% 100%
AAVT Mk.31 HE-VT 792 25 0 0.1 457 23 3,220 79° 80° 81°

Comparison with analogues

Give a comparative description of cannons/machine guns that have firepower equal to this weapon.

Usage in battles

Playing with US destroyers, the 5 inch/38 Mk.12 will be your main cannon up until you reach cruisers. Playing as Cruisers, this cannon will make up your secondary armament, fending off planes or other naval vessels that are weaker than you. Your main shell to use against other naval targets is Common Mk.32, or SP Common Mk.46, as they are SAPCBC (Semi-Armour Piercing), and offer the the best between both penetration and damage. HE-VT can be taken as well, and will be effective against air targets, or other naval vessels as the shell is proximity-fused. With the reload rate varying from 4.0 seconds to 2.0, the gun can easily make work of knocking out opponents within minutes.

Against Destroyers: SAPCBC can disable/sink other destroyers within a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on the range and lead of your target. While lacking in explosive mass than some other similar cannons your reload rate makes up for it. At closer range, it is best to target turret components such as ammo elevators, or ammunition stowage to disable/reduce the enemy's firepower against you, and eventually aiming for the hull of the ship, such as the engine deck and transmission area while taking advantage of taking your fire rate.

Against Cruisers: The 5 inch Mk.38 starts to fall here once you start facing Light and Heavy Cruisers. The SAPCBC shells lack in explosive power, with damage output being subpar. Playing as a destroyer, your best option to to aim for the turrets of Light and other possible Heavy Cruisers in hoping of disabling their turrets, although vessels such as the USS Somers or USS Moffett can defeat other cruisers, it's best to stay in a support role. While HE may not be effective, there may be a chance on starting fires on enemy decks as well, throwing them off guard. Take use of your exceptional reload rate, and if possible have and provide support for other friendly vessels that have the firepower to take down cruisers. An possible exception is the USS Atlanta that houses eight 5 Inch/Mk.38 in dual turret mounts, as the Atlanta can fire up to 14 guns broadside, shelling enemy vessels before they can properly counter you. Despite the fall in damage and firepower against cruisers, the 5 Inch/Mk.38 is one of the best 127mm cannon out there that can go against cruisers.

Against Air Targets: HE-VT can make great work against other enemy aviation aircraft. With US Destroyers, it's best to find cover first if you can before you engage enemy air targets as you will be distracted and focused on the enemy aircraft. Leading may be difficult, but HE-VT will compensate for that if it flies into the path of the enemy air target. Have your AI Crew controlling your autocannons to assist you if aren't able to kill an aircraft that gets too close. With Cruisers, it's best to have AI take care of AA fire, as they can be deadly with their crew skills ranked up. Be aware the fuse won't activate within 500 m or so.

Pros and cons


  • Very good rate of fire
  • Access to HE-VT shells
  • Good firepower
  • Good post-penetration damage


  • Bad accuracy at long range
  • Subpar muzzle velocity


Examine the history of the creation and combat usage of the weapon in more detail than in the introduction. If the historical reference turns out to be too long, take it to a separate article, taking a link to the article about the weapon and adding a block "/History" (example: https://wiki.warthunder.com/(Weapon-name)/History) and add a link to it here using the main template. Be sure to reference text and sources by using <ref></ref>, as well as adding them at the end of the article with <references />.


Excellent additions to the article would be video guides, screenshots from the game, and photos.

See also

Links to the articles on the War Thunder Wiki that you think will be useful for the reader, for example:

  • reference to the article about the variant of the cannon/machine gun;
  • references to approximate analogues by other nations and research trees.

External links

USA naval cannons
20 mm  20 mm/70 Oerlikon Mk.II · 20 mm/70 Oerlikon Mark V · 20 mm/70 Oerlikon Mark 24
25 mm  25 mm/87 Mk.38
28 mm  1.1 inch/75 Mk.1
37 mm  AN-M4
40 mm  Bofors L/60 Mark 1 · Bofors L/60 Mark 2 · Bofors L/60 Mark 3
76 mm  3 inch/23 Mk.4 · 3-inch/50 Mk.10 · 3-inch/70 Mk.37 · 3-inch Mark 10 · 3 inch Mk.33 · 3-inch Mk.34
102 mm  4 inch/50 Mk.9
127 mm  5 inch/25 Mk.11 · 5 inch/25 Mk.13 AA · 5 inch/38 Mk.12 · 5-inch/50 Mk.5 · 5 inch/51 Mk.7 · 127 mm/54 Mark 18
152 mm  6 inch/47 Mk.16 · 6 inch/53 Mk.12
203 mm  8 inch/55 Mark 9 · 8 inch/55 Mark 12 · 8 inch/55 Mark 14 · 8 inch/55 Mark 16
305 mm  12-inch/45 Mk.5 · 12 inch/50 Mk.7 · 12 inch/50 Mk.8
356 mm  14 inch/45 Mk.8 · 14 inch/45 Mk.12

Japan naval cannons
20 mm  JM61 · Type 98
25 mm  25 mm/60 Type 96
37 mm  Type 4 · Type 11 pattern 1922
40 mm  40 mm/62 Vickers
57 mm  Type 97
75 mm  Type 88 AA
76 mm  3-inch/40 Type 41 · 8 cm/40 3rd Year Type · 8 cm/60 Type 98
100 mm  100/65 mm Type 98 mod A
120 mm  120 mm/45 3rd Year Type · 120 mm/45 10th year type
127 mm  5 inch/40 Type 89 · 127 mm/50 3rd Year Type
140 mm  140 mm/50 3rd Year Type
152 mm  6-inch/45 Type 41 · 15 cm/50 Type 41
155 mm  155 mm/60 3rd Year Type
200 mm  20 cm 3rd year type No.1
203 mm  20 cm/50 3rd year type No.2
356 mm  36 cm/45 Type 41
40 mm  Bofors L/60 Mark 1 (USA) · Bofors L/60 Mark 2 (USA) · Bofors L/60 Mark 3 (USA)
76 mm  3 inch Mk.33 (USA) · 3-inch Mk.34 (USA)
120 mm  4,7-inch/40 Armstrong (Britain)
127 mm  5 inch/38 Mk.12 (USA)
305 mm  12-inch/45 Vickers (Britain) · 12-inch/50 Vickers (Britain)

Italy naval cannons
20 mm  20 mm/65 Breda · 20 mm/70 Oerlikon 3S · 20 mm/70 Scotti-Isotta Fraschini mod.1939
37 mm  37 mm/54 Breda Mod.32 · 37 mm/54 Breda Mod.38 · 37 mm/54 Breda Mod.39
40 mm  40 mm/39 Vickers-Terni mod.1915/1917 · 40 mm/39 Vickers-Terni mod.1915/1917, Modif.1930 · 40 mm/70 Breda-Bofors type 107
65 mm  65 mm/64 Ansaldo-Terni Mod.1939
76 mm  76 mm/40 Armstrong mod.1897/1910 · 76 mm/40 Armstrong mod.1897/1912 · 76 mm/40 Ansaldo mod.1917 · 76 mm/45 Schneider mod.1911 · 76/50 Mk.33 · 76 mm/62 OTO-Melara Compact · 76-mm/62 SMP 3
90 mm  90 mm/50 Ansaldo model 1939
100 mm  100 mm/47 O.T.O. Mod. 1928 · 100 mm/47 O.T.O. Mod. 1937
120 mm  120 mm/45 Canet-Schneider-Armstrong mod.1918-19 · 120 mm/50 Armstrong model 1909 · 120 mm/45 O.T.O. Mod. 1926 · 120 mm/50 Ansaldo mod.1926 · 120 mm/50 O.T.O. Mod.1936
127 mm  127/38 Mk.12
135 mm  135 mm/45 O.T.O. Mod. 1938
152 mm  152 mm/45 Schneider mod.1911 · 152/53 mm Ansaldo mod.1926 · 152/53 mm O.T.O. Mod.1929
203 mm  203 mm/50 Ansaldo mod.1924 · 203 mm/53 Ansaldo mod.1927
305 mm  305 mm/46 Armstrong model 1909 · 305 mm/46 Vickers model 1909
320 mm  320 mm/44 Ansaldo model 1936
20 mm  2 cm/65 Flakvierling 38 (Germany)
40 mm  Bofors L/60 Mark 1 (USA) · Bofors L/60 Mark 3 (USA)