Military Wiki
BL 6 inch 26 cwt Howitzer
6 inch 26 cwt howitzer.jpg
A 6 inch 26 cwt on World War II pneumatic tyres at Firepower - The Royal Artillery Museum.
Type Medium howitzer
Place of origin  United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Service history
In service 1915 to 1945
Used by  United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
 Union of South Africa
 New Zealand
 Kingdom of Italy
 Kingdom of Greece
 Russian Empire
Wars World War I
World War II
Production history
Designer Vickers
Designed 1915
Manufacturer Vickers, Beardmore, Coventry Ordnance Works, Woolwich Ordnance Factory, Midvale Steel Company
Number built 3,633
Weight Barrel: 2,856 lb (1,295 kg)
Total: 8,142 lb (3,693 kg)[1]
Length 21 ft 7 in (6.58 m)
Barrel length Bore: 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
Total: 7 ft 3 in (2.21 m) L/13.3
Width 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)
Crew 10

Shell Gas
High explosive
Shell weight WWI: 100 lb (45 kg)
WWII: 86 lb (39 kg)
Calibre 6 in (152.4 mm)
Breech Welin screw
Recoil Hydro-pneumatic, variable
Carriage Box trail
Elevation 0° to +45°
Traverse 4° L & R
Rate of fire Max: 2 rpm
Muzzle velocity Max: 1,400 ft/s (430 m/s)
Maximum range WWI: 9,500 yd
(8,700 m)
WWII: 11,400 yd (10,400 m)[2]
Sights Calibrating (1930s) & reciprocating

The Ordnance BL 6 inch 26cwt howitzer was a British howitzer used during World War I and World War II. The qualifier "26cwt" refers to the weight of the barrel and breech together which weighed 26 long hundredweight (1.3 t).


World War I

Battery firing, World War I

Use of girdles around wheels, Somme September 1916.Photo by Ernest Brooks.

Near Boesinghe, Battle of Langemarck, August 1917. Photo by Ernest Brooks.

It was developed to replace the obsolescent 6 inch 25 cwt and 6 inch 30 cwt howitzers which were outclassed by German artillery such as the 15 cm schwere Feldhaubitze 13. Design began in January 1915, the first proof-firing occurred on 30 July 1915 and it entered service in late 1915.[1] Its combination of firepower, range and mobility (for its day) made it one of the British Empire's most important weapons in World War I.

It was originally towed by horses but from 1916 onwards was commonly towed by the "FWD" 4 wheel drive 3 ton lorry as heavy field artillery. The wooden spoked wheels could be fitted with "girdles" for work in mud or sand to prevent them sinking. Towards the end of the war solid rubber tyres were fitted over the iron tyres on the wheel rims, giving the rims a heavier appearance. It fired 22.4 million rounds on the Western Front.[3]

World War II

British battery in action at Tobruk, 23 January 1941

During the interwar period the carriage had its wooden spoked wheels replaced with modern steel wheels and pneumatic tyres. During World War II, its use was restricted after 1942 when the replacement BL 5.5 inch Medium Gun came into use. It was however reintroduced in Burma due to a number of premature detonations in 5.5-inch (140 mm) guns. It was declared obsolete with the end of the war in 1945.

Captured examples received the designation FH-412(e) in German use.

Surviving examples

Restored gun, the Memorial to 71st (Transvaal) Siege Battery at Johannesburg Zoo.

These guns are being restored by the Gunner's Association of South Africa

See also

Weapons of comparable role, performance and era

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 Hogg & Thurston 1972, Page 126-127
  2. Clarke page 37 quotes 9,500 and 11,400 yd (10,400 m); General Farndale page 129-130 quotes a range of 9,800 yd (9,000 m) for the WWI 2 c.r.h. shell, with a range of 12,500 yd (11,400 m) for the later 5/10 c.r.h. shell. The longer ranges were obtained with the 86 lb (39 kg) Mk 2D 5/10 c.r.h. shell with an augmenting ("Super") charge.
  3. Clarke 2005, page 37


External links

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