A casemate, sometimes rendered casement, is a fortified gun emplacement or armored structure from which guns are fired [Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary] , originally a vaulted chamber in a fortress. The word comes from the Italian "casamatta" [Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary] , meaning "armed house", with the origins being in the words for "casa" (house) and "matta" (dull, dark or dim). In civilian use a casemate may be a tunnel cut into a rock face with armoured doors, used for storing volatile goods. In civilian architecture the term is also used to describe a hollow molding, used mostly in a cornice.

In naval gunnery a casemate is a vertical armour plate with openings for guns. It is less protected than a gun turret and allows for a smaller field of fire. It is however much cheaper in terms of money and far lighter in weight for a given level of armor protection.

The American Civil War saw the use of casemate ironclads: steel-built or armored steamboats with a very low freeboard and their guns on the main deck ('Casemate deck') protected by a sloped armored casemate. Although both sides of the civil war used casemate ironclads, the ship is mostly associated with the southern confederacy, the north more relying on turretted monitors. The most famous naval battle of the war was the duel at Hampton Roads between the Union turretted ironclad USS "Monitor" and the Confederate casemate ironclad CSS "Virginia" (built from the scuttled remains of the "Merrimack")

In 20th century battleships, casemates were used to mount secondary guns for defending the ship against torpedo boats. In practice, these guns were generally quite useless; usually mounted close to the water, casemate guns were often awash in spray, and sometimes swamped completely by the ship's rolling. More modern designs did away with casemate weapons entirely, favoring extra topside turret mounts for their secondary batteries.

During World War II, most purpose-built Nazi German Wehrmacht and Soviet Red Army tank destroyers and self-propelled guns essentially had turretless, armored steel casemates mounted onto (or built integrally into) conventional main battle tank chassis to carry heavier, forward firing guns- the German vehicles were dubbed Jagdpanzer and Panzerjäger respectively, while their Soviet counterparts all bore an "SU-" prefix in their designations.


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • casemate — [ kazmat ] n. f. • 1539; it. casamatta, d o. i., p. ê. de casa « maison », et matta « folle », ou du gr. kasma, atos « gouffre » ♦ Abri enterré, protégé contre les obus, les bombes. ⇒ fortin, blockhaus. Casemate de béton. Casemate servant d abri… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Casemate — Case mate, n. [F. casemate, fr. It. casamatta, prob. from casa house + matto, f. matta, mad, weak, feeble, dim. from the same source as E. mate in checkmate.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Fort.) A bombproof chamber, usually of masonry, in which cannon may… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • casematé — casematé, ée (ka ze ma té, tée) part. passé. Rempart casematé …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • casematé — CASEMATÉ. adject. Il n est guère d usage qu en cette phrase, Bastion casematé, pour dire, Un bastion où il y a des casemates …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • casemate — CASEMATE. s. f. Terme de Fortification. Cave, ou lieu voûté sous terre, pour défendre la courtine et les fossés. Faire des casemates. Des casemates à éventer la mine …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • casemate — CASEMATE. s. f. Une cave ou un lieu vouté sous terre en matiere de fortifications, pour defendre la courtine & les fossez. Faire des casemates. des casemates. des casemates à éventer la mine …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • casemate — [kās′māt΄] n. [Fr < It casamatta < Gr chasmata, pl. of chasma, opening, CHASM; altered by assoc. with It casa, house + matto, dim, dark] a shellproof or armored enclosure with openings for guns, as in a fortress wall or on a warship… …   English World dictionary

  • Casemate — La plage de la Conche des Baleines, nord de l Île de Ré Charente Maritime (a servi au tournage du film Le jour le plus long) …   Wikipédia en Français

  • casemate — (kâ ze ma t ) s. f. 1°   Terme de fortification. Souterrain voûté à l épreuve de la bombe.    Autrefois, plate forme à loger du canon, qui était pratiquée dans la partie du flanc proche de la courtine, et qui faisait une retraite ou un… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • CASEMATÉ — ÉE. adj. Il n est guère usité que dans cette locution, Bastion casematé, Bastion où il y a des casemates …   Dictionnaire de l'Academie Francaise, 7eme edition (1835)

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