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Ordnance BL 6 inch gun Mk XIX
BL 6 inch gun Mk XIX, France 1918
Type Heavy field gun
Place of origin  United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Service history
In service 1916 - 1940
Used by  United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
 United States
 Union of South Africa
Wars World War I, World War II
Production history
Manufacturer Vickers
Number built 310
Weight 10,248 lb (4,684 kg) (gun & breech)
10 tons 3½ cwt (10,340 kg) (total)
Barrel length 35 calibres

Shell HE 100 lb (45 kg)
Calibre 6 in (152 mm)
Breech Welin interrupted screw with Asbury mechanism[1]
Recoil Hydro pneumatic, variable
Carriage Wheeled, box trail
Elevation 0° to 38°[1]
Traverse 4° L & R[1]
Muzzle velocity 2,350 ft/s (720 m/s)[1]
Maximum range 16,500 yd (15,100 m) (2 crh shell);
17,800 yd (16,300 m) (4 crh shell);
18,750 yd (17,140 m) (6 crh shell)[1]

The BL 6 inch Gun Mk XIX[2] was introduced in 1916 as a lighter and longer-range field gun replacement for the obsolescent BL 6 inch Gun Mk VII.

History, description

The gun was designed and built by Vickers specifically as a field gun, unlike its predecessors which originated as naval guns. Its length was reduced from the 45 calibres of its naval gun predecessors, to 35 calibres, to reduce weight and improve mobility. It utilized the modern carriage and recoil mechanism of the BL 8 inch Howitzer Mk 6.

The gun barrel was of wire-wound construction: "The gun body is of steel and consists of tubes, a series of layers of steel wire, jacket, breech bush and breech ring".[3]

"The breech mechanism is operated by means of a lever on the right side of the breech. On pulling the lever to the rear the breech screw is automatically unlocked and swung into the loading position. After loading, one thrust of the lever inserts the breech screw and turns it into the locked position. The breech mechanism is similar to that used on the 8 inch howitzers both in design and operation".[3]

Operational history

British service

310 were built during World War I[4] and the gun served in all theatres, with 108 being in service on the Western front at the end of World War I,[1] but it did not completely replace the Mk VII gun until the end of the war.

3 batteries served with the BEF in France early in World War II, and others were deployed in the home defence of Britain. The gun was superseded by the 155-mm Gun M1, and the carriages used for 7.2-inch (183 mm) howitzers.[5]

US Service

"Handbook of artillery" of May 1920 stated that :

"The original British ammunition so closely resembled the American that it was decided to use the [US] regular Mark II high-explosive shell... the propellant charge will consist of a base section and increment section having a total weight of approximately 25 pounds".[6]

Brazil service

Gun built in 1918 and bought for coast defence by the Brazilian Army in 1940, now on display at the Museum of the History of the Brazilian Army at Fort Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil purchased these guns from USA in 1940 for coastal defense.

South African service

Prior to the outbreak of World War II there were plans to use these guns in the fortification of Durban, Cape Town and Saldanha Bay.[7]

For a short period, two guns were deployed for the protection of Port Elizabeth harbour at the outbreak of World War II.[8]

Surviving examples

Gun at Signal Hill, Cape Town

On display at the South African National Museum of Military History

Image gallery

See also

Weapons of comparable role, performance and era

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Hogg & Thurston 1972, page 146
  2. I.e. Mark 19 : Britain at the time designated Marks (models) of ordnance using Roman numerals. This was a field gun and field ordnance normally used a different Mark series to naval ordnance, but unusually the next available Mark number in the 6-inch naval gun series was used, rather than Mark I as the first 6-inch BL field gun.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Handbook of artillery, United States. Army. Ordnance Dept, May 1920, page 245
  4. Clarke 2005, page 40
  6. Handbook of artillery, May 1920, page 277
  7. Lt Col Ian van der Waag. "A brief military history of the Saldanha Bay area". University of Stellenbosch - Saldanha Campus (Military History Department). Retrieved 2008-07-12. [dead link]
  8. Richard Tomlinson. "Artillery Buildings in Algoa Bay". The South African Military History Society. Retrieved 2008-07-12. 
  9. "Military History Group". Hout Bay & Llandudno Heritage Trust. Retrieved 2008-07-12. 


External links

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