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Ordnance BL 12 pounder 6 cwt
On the parade ground circa. 1897
Type Light field gun
Place of origin United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1894–1916
Used by British Empire
Wars Second Boer War
World War I
Weight Mk IV : 656 pounds (298 kg) (barrel & breech),
2,008 pounds (911 kg) (total)[1]
Barrel length Mk I : Bore 59 inches (1,499 mm);[2]
Mk IV : Bore 66 inches (1,676 mm), total 71.05 inches (1,805 mm)[1]

Shell Separate loading BL, 12.5 pounds (5.67 kg) Shrapnel
Calibre 3-inch (76.2 mm)
Elevation -8° - 16°[1]
Traverse nil
Rate of fire 7-8 rounds/minute[3]
Muzzle velocity 1,585 feet per second (483 m/s)[1]
Maximum range 3700 yds (No. 56 Fuze, Time setting)
5800 yds (No. 57 Fuze, Time setting)
5400 yds (No. 56 Fuze, Percussion setting)[4]

The Ordnance BL 12 pounder 6 cwt[5] was a lighter version of the British 12 pounder 7 cwt gun, used by the Royal Horse Artillery in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


Problems arose when the standard BL 12 pounder 7 cwt gun was used in the great Indian cavalry manoeuvres of 1891. The carriage was found to be too complicated, and dust caused the metal surfaces of the axle traversing device to seize.[6] It also proved too heavy for horse artillery, which was intended to support cavalry in battle, to manoeuvre.

The 12 pounder 6 cwt gun was therefore developed in 1892, when the new more powerful cordite replaced gunpowder, as a lighter version of the BL 12 pounder 7 cwt gun. It had a barrel 18 inches (460 mm) shorter, on a lighter and simpler carriage, and it entered service in 1894. In 1899 a primitive recoil-absorbing system was added. The weapon was made obsolete in British service by the acquisition of the modern quick-firing Ehrhardt QF 15 pounder in 1901, and was replaced by that and later by the QF 13 pounder from 1905.

No. 56 Fuze

The early No. 56 Fuze burned too fast, a maximum of only 13 seconds, and hence could only be time set for a maximum range of 3700 yards. The No. 57 "Blue" Fuze was introduced during the Boer war. It had a slower burning powder train and hence could be time set for ranges up to 5800 yards. A maximum range of 6000 yards was quoted in use in the First World War.[7]

Combat use

Second Boer War

The gun was used by the Royal Horse Artillery, and together with the BL 15 pounder, it provided the main British firepower. Eighteen guns were also used by the Royal Canadian Artillery in this war.[8] A total of 78 guns fired 36,161 shells.[9]

World War I

A battery of 6 guns served in the East African Campaign as the 8th Field Battery. It arrived with the Calcutta Artillery Volunteers in October 1914, and the guns were towed by teams of oxen.[10]

See also

Surviving examples

One piece made in 1901 and marked "RCD 1907" on gun-metal sight mount, with King Edward VII cypher and crown inletted in top of barrel, parked in front of Stethem Hall, the HQ building of CFB Kingston.

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Hogg & Thurston 1972, page 52
  2. Text Book of Gunnery 1902, Table XII, Page 336
  3. Hall, June 1971
  4. Hall, June 1971.
  5. British military traditionally denoted smaller ordnance by the weight of its standard projectile, in this case approximately 12 pounds (5.4 kg). "6 cwt" referred to the weight of the gun and barrel to differentiate it from other "12 pounder" guns. One hundredweight (cwt) is 112 pounds (51 kg), so the total weight was 672 pounds (305 kg)
  6. Hall, December 1972
  7. Hogg & Thurston 1972
  8. Canada & The South African War, 1899-1902. Units. Brigade Division, Royal Canadian Field Artillery
  9. Appendices 28 and 29 of the Royal Commission on the War in South Africa
  10. Farndale 1988, page 316


External links

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