The 5-inch guns are referred to as "dual-purpose" weapons, able to engage enemy aircraft and surface-based targets on land or sea. The Battleship has twenty 5-inch/38 caliber guns in ten twin mounts on the main deck and 01 level.
The 5-inch guns used semi-fixed ammunition, with separate projectiles weighing 55 pounds and brass power cartridges weighing 15 pounds. Projectiles could be fired more than 10 miles and were capable or reaching 37,000 feet in altitude. Early in the war the projectiles had mechanically timed fuses. Later they were equipped with proximity fuses that used radio signals to explode when near an enemy aircraft. The 5-inch guns were designed to fire between 15 and 18 rounds per minute, but some gun crews on the North Carolina and other navy ships consistently achieved rates of up to 25 rounds per minute.