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BL 7.2 inch howitzer Mk.I
7.2 inch howitzer of 51st Heavy Regiment.jpg
7.2-inch howitzer of 51st Heavy Regiment, Royal Artillery, France, 2 September 1944. Cannon crew em-placing recoil ramps in rear and setting wheel brakes. Front ramps prevent howitzer from rolling past position fired from.
Type Howitzer
Place of origin  United Kingdom
Weight 22,000 lb (10,000 kg)
Length 12 ft 4 in (3.76 m)
Width 9 ft (2.7 m)
Height 4 ft 2 in (1.27 m)
Crew 10

Shell HE
Shell weight 202 pounds (92 kg)
Calibre 7.2 inches (182.9 mm)
Breech Welin screw & Asbury mech
Carriage Box trail
Rate of fire 1/3 rpm
Muzzle velocity 1,697 ft/s (517 m/s) Maximum
Maximum range 16,900 yd (15,500 m)

The BL 7.2-inch howitzer Mk.I and subsequent marks were a series of heavy artillery pieces designed by the United Kingdom at the start of World War II.


The 7.2-inch (183 mm) was not a new design, but instead a re-lined version of the 8-inch (203 mm) howitzers dating from World War I. The carriage was a modernized version of that used on both the 8-inch howitzer and World War I, 6-inch gun.[1] The weapons were a stop-gap measure to meet the urgent need for heavy artillery faced by the Allies early in World War II.


They managed to perform relatively well and were kept in service by the British until the end of the war, in their AGRA Units as parts of "Heavy" regiments to provide heavy fire support for British and Commonwealth troops. In action, each gun would be served by a crew of 10 men except for the Mark 6 versions, which required 12.[1]

The BL 7.2 howitzer was unique, in that it was one of the few artillery pieces used by any side throughout World War II that relied on a triple mechanism of conventional hydraulic recoil tubes; brakes on the wheels; and wheel recoil ramps, to dampen the enormous recoil pressures when fired. Other artillery pieces still using this recoil mechanism were outdated leftovers from World War I.[2]


Mk 1
Mk 1*
Mk 2
Mk 3
Mk 4
Mk 5
Mounted on a modified US 155 mm Long Tom carriage. Not introduced into service
Mk 6
Used a US 155 mm Long Tom carriage and a lengthened barrel; introduced into service in 1945. Retained until the early 1960s.[1]

Mounted on a 155-mm "Long Tom" gun carriage, at Imperial War Museum Duxford


See: "7.2-Inch Howitzer". British Artillery in World War 2.[1]

 United Kingdom
  • Royal Artillery
    • 1 Heavy Regiment
    • 32 Heavy Regiment
    • 51 (Lowland) Heavy Regiment
    • 52 (Bedfordshire Yeomanry) Heavy Regiment
    • 53 Heavy Regiment
    • 54 Heavy Regiment
    • 55 Heavy Regiment
    • 56 Heavy Regiment
  • 57 (later 166) (Newfoundland) Field Artillery Regiment
    • 58 Heavy Regiment
  • 59 (Newfoundland) Heavy Regiment
    • 60 Heavy Regiment
    • 61 Heavy Regiment
    • 75 Heavy Regiment
    • 171 Heavy Regiment

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "7.2-Inch Howitzer". British Artillery in World War 2. 17 Nov 2007. Retrieved 20 February 2011. 
  2. "Ten Ton Howitzer Climbs Up Ramp To absorb Recoil." Popular Mechanics, December 1944, p. 12. article bottom page.

External links

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