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Ordnance BL 18 inch Howitzer Mk I on truck, railway
Boche Buster at Catterick, 12 December 1940
Type Railway howitzer
Place of origin  United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1920 - 1945
Used by  United Kingdom
Wars World War II
Production history
Manufacturer Elswick Ordnance Company
Number built 5
Weight 85.7 tons (barrel & breech)
Barrel length Bore: 52 ft (16 m) (34.7 calibres)[1]

Shell HE; 2,500 lb (1,134 kg)[1]
Calibre 18-inch (457.2 mm)
Elevation 0° - 40°
Traverse 2° L & R
Muzzle velocity 1,880 ft/s (570 m/s)[1]
Effective range 22,300 yd (20,400 m)[1]

The British Ordnance BL 18 inch howitzer on truck, railway was developed during World War I as part of the progression of ever-larger howitzers on the Western Front, but did not enter service until 1920.


Boche Buster's crew posing with the gun

Five guns and two complete equipments on railway wagons were produced. After World War I there was no use for such large but relatively short-ranged weapons and they were placed in storage. In World War II the two wagons were used to mount 13.5 inch guns, which were capable of engaging targets on the German-occupied Channel coast of France. In late 1940 one 18-inch howitzer was mounted on the railway mounting Boche Buster which had been used in World War I to carry a 14-inch gun. It was deployed at Bishopsbourne in Kent on the Elham to Canterbury Line as a coast defence gun as a precaution against possible German invasion.[2][3] The gun's range was insufficient for cross-Channel firing and hence it was never fired in action.


A single gun barrel, number one, survives. In 2008 the weapon was put on display at the Royal Artillery headquarters at Larkhill. In March 2013 it was loaned to the Spoorwegmuseum, the Dutch national rail museum.[4] In September 2013 it was moved to the Royal Armouries artillery museum at Fort Nelson, Hampshire.[5] It is mounted on a proofing carriage, a gun carriage with very limited elevation and traverse intended for test firing.

See also



External links

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