|Ordnance BL 5-inch howitzer|
Territorial Force gunners with howitzer in camp pre-WWI
|Place of origin||United Kingdom|
|In service||1895 - 1919|
|Used by||British Empire|
Second Boer War
First World War
|Barrel length||42 inches (1.07 m) bore (8.4 calibres)|
|Shell||50 pounds (22.7 kg) Common shell; 50 pounds (22.7 kg) Lyddite shell; later 40 pounds (18.1 kg) Amatol shell|
|Calibre||5-inch (127.0 mm)|
|Breech||3-motion, interrupted screw|
|Recoil||5.5 inches (140 mm), hydro-spring constant|
|Carriage||Wheeled, box trail|
|Elevation||-5° - 45°|
|Muzzle velocity||788 ft/s (240 m/s)|
|Effective range||4,800 yards (4,400 m) (50 lb shell);|
6,500 yards (5,900 m) (40 lb shell)
|Filling weight||9 pounds 15 ounces (4.51 kg) (Lyddite)|
5 pounds (2.27 kg) (Amatol)
The Ordnance BL 5-inch howitzer was initially introduced to provide the Royal Field Artillery with continuing explosive shell capability following the decision to concentrate on shrapnel for field guns in the 1890s.
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The weapon was used by the Royal Field Artillery and served successfully at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898. During that campaign they gained the distinction of being the first British guns to fire the new Lyddite shells in action.
Second Boer War
Major D Hall states that in the Second Boer War the Lyddite shells often failed to detonate; the gun was too heavy to be used as a field howitzer, and for siege use its range was too short and shell too light. However, it achieved some success in Natal when able to get close enough to bombard Boers in trenches.
World War I
By 1908 it was obsolete and replaced in British Regular Army brigades by the modern QF 4.5-inch howitzer.
A lighter 40-pound (18.14 kg) shell with Amatol filling replaced the original 50-pound (22.68 kg) Lyddite shell early in World War I Together with an increase in cordite propellant from 11 oz 7 drams to 14 oz 5 drams, this increased the maximum range from 4,800 to 6,500 yards (5,900 m). Administrative error led to the new 40-pound shells being sent to Gallipoli without range tables or fuze keys for the new pattern fuzes, rendering them useless.
- Text Book of Gunnery 1902, Table XII page 336
- Treatise on Ammunition 1915, accurate as at 1st August 1914, mentions that there are both "Heavy" 50 lb (23 kg) and "Light" 40 pounds (18.1 kg) shells and mentions a 14 oz 13 dram cartridge for a 40 pounds (18.1 kg) shell (page 142). But only 50 pounds (22.7 kg) shells are listed in tables. It is possible the 40 pounds (18.1 kg) shell was in process of being introduced in 1914.
- Hogg & Thurston 1972 page113. Text Book of Gunnery 1902 gives 782 ft/s (238 m/s), firing a 50 pounds (22.7 kg) projectile, with 11oz 7dram Cordite size 3¾ propellant.
- Hogg & Thurston 1972, page 113
- Hall June 1971
- Simpson-Baikie 1920
- Text Book of Gunnery, 1902. LONDON : PRINTED FOR HIS MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE, BY HARRISON AND SONS, ST. MARTIN'S LANE
- Dale Clarke, British Artillery 1914-1919. Field Army Artillery. Osprey Publishing, Oxford UK, 2004 ISBN 1-84176-688-7
- Major Darrell D. Hall, "Guns in South Africa 1899-1902" in The South African Military History Society. Military History Journal - Vol 2 No 1, June 1971
- I.V. Hogg & L.F. Thurston, British Artillery Weapons & Ammunition 1914-1918. London: Ian Allan, 1972
- Brigadier-General Sir Hugh Simpson-Baikie, Ex-Commander of the British artillery at Cape Helles. Appendix I STATEMENT ON ARTILLERY in General Sir Ian Hamilton, G.C.B. Gallipoli Diary Vol. II. New York: George H. Doran Company, 1920
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to BL 5 inch Howitzer.|
- Great War Diary - German East Africa 1916 - of Sergeant Joseph Daniel Fewster, 1st. (Hull) Heavy Battery R.G.A.
- Bennet Burleigh, Khartoum Campaign, 1898 Describes 5-inch howitzer use in the campaign
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