Friday, May 2, 2014

USS Indiana (BB-58) Tompion

This photograph of the cat mascot from USS Wyoming (BB-32) shows the cat sitting above a tompion.
Tompions (pronounced “tom-kin”) are muzzle plugs for keeping dirt and debris out of artillery guns. Throughout history they have been made from a variety of materials, but in the last century, the most common materials used were solid metal or wood covered with metal. 

USS Indiana (BB-58) tompion in HRNM's gallery.
This particular tompion (above) is comprised of a wood plug, sheathed in copper with a star decoration in the center. It is from the USS Indiana (BB-58), a South Dakota-class battleship and the last battleship built by Newport News Shipbuilding. Commissioned in 1942, the ship spent most of the next few years of war in the Pacific Theater, supporting aircraft carriers and amphibious landings.

In European Navies, especially the Royal Navy, tompions have often been highly ornate. Compared to the Royal Navy, the United States Navy’s tompions are covered in fairly simple decorations. Usually composed of brass, there is some sort of star placed in the center, occasionally in a different metal or color for contrast. But with the tompions being polished daily, they stand out when compared to the haze gray color of the rest of the ship.

(Editor's Note: This blog post was compiled and written by HRNM Educator Elijah Palmer.)

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