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BL 13.5 inch Mk V gun
The after 13.5-inch (343 mm) Mark V guns of the battleship HMS Emperor of India
Type Naval gun
Place of origin  United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1912 - 1940s (as railway gun)
Used by  United Kingdom
Wars World War I
World War II
Production history
Designer Vickers
Designed 1909
Variants Mk V(L)
Mk V(H)
Barrel length Bore 50 ft 6 in (15.392 m) (45 cal)

Shell H: 1,400 lb (635.03 kg)
L: 1,250 lb (566.99 kg) HE, AP[1]
Calibre 13.5-inch (342.9 mm)
Elevation Naval: 0° - 20°
Railway: 0° - 40°
Muzzle velocity H: 2,491 ft/s (759 m/s)
L: 2,582 ft/s (787 m/s)
Maximum range H: 23,740 yards (21,710 m) at 20°
L: 23,820 yards (21,780 m) at 20°
H: 40,600 yards (37,120 m) at 40° (World War II railway gun, with Super Charge)

The BL 13.5 inch Mk V gun[2] was a British heavy naval gun, introduced in 1912 as the main armament for the new super-dreadnought battleships of the Orion class. The calibre was 13.5 inches (343 mm) and the barrels were 45 calibres long i.e. 607.5 inches (15.43 m). The guns were greatly superior to the earlier 13.5-inch (30-calibre) Mk I to Mk IV guns used on the Admiral, Trafalgar and Royal Sovereign classes completed between 1888 and 1896.


Q turret of the battlecruiser HMS Lion in June 1916 after damage at the Battle of Jutland. The turret mounted two 13.5-inch (343 mm) Mark V guns.

The gun weighed approximately 168,000 lb (76 tonnes) (excluding the breech), and in its original form fired a 1,250 lb (567 kg) armour-piercing capped (APC) or high-explosive (HE) round a distance of 23,800 yards (21,800 m) at a 20-degree elevation.[3]


Due to the excellent characteristics of the gun, it was decided to increase the weight of shell to 1,400 lb (635 kg), with an increased firing charge to achieve about the same range. The gun firing the lighter shell was designated Mark V(L) (for "light") by the Royal Navy, and the 1,400 lb version Mark V(H) (for "heavy").[3] A very similar 1,400 lb gun, designed for the Ottoman battleship Reşadiye, received the designation Mark VI when the ship was requisitioned by the British government after the outbreak of the First World War, eventually being commissioned as HMS Erin.[4]

Railway guns

Three BL 13.5 inch /45 Mark V guns, named Gladiator, Piece Maker [sic] and Scene Shifter, were mounted on railway chassis during World War II for use as railway guns.[5] Scene Shifter re-used a railway truck which had carried a BL 14 inch Railway Gun in the First World War. In 1940 these guns were issued to the Royal Marine Siege Regiment at Dover in Kent to bombard German batteries and shipping in the Calais area.[6] They could be stored in railway tunnels when not in use to protect them from attack.


British warships with the BL 13.5 inch /45 gun;

See also

Weapons of comparable role, performance and era


  1. The gun had a Heavy (H) shell of 1,400 lb (640 kg) and a Light (L) shell of 1,250 lb (570 kg). Some guns were designated H or L to designated they were intended for the heavy or light shell.
  2. Mk V = Mark 5. Britain used Roman numerals to identify Marks (models) of ordnance until after World War II. This was the fifth model of British 13.5 inch gun
  3. 3.0 3.1 - 13.5-in/45 Mark V
  4. - 13.5-in/45 Mark VI
  5. Dale Clarke. "British Artillery 1914-19. Heavy Artillery". Osprey Publishing, London, 2005. Pages 41-42
  6. The Big Guns At Dover WW2 World War Two


External links

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