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Ordnance QF 13 pounder
Battery and crews of Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) near Belah, Palestine, March 1918
Type Light field gun
Place of origin United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1904 - 1940 (UK)
Used by British Empire
Wars World War I, Easter Rising, World War II
Production history
Number built 416[1]
Variants Mk I, Mk II
Weight Barrel & breech
685 lb (311 kg);
Total 2,236 lb (1,014 kg)[2]
Barrel length Bore 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m);
Total 6 ft (1.8 m)[2]
Crew 9[2]

Shell QF fixed round 12.5 lb (5.7 kg) Shrapnel, later HE
Calibre 3-inch (76.2 mm)
Recoil Hydro-spring, constant, 41 in (1.0 m)[2]
Carriage Wheeled, pole trail
Elevation -5°to +16°[2]
Traverse 4° L & R[2]
Muzzle velocity 1,675 ft/s (511 m/s)[2]
Maximum range 5,900 yd (5,400 m)[1]

The Ordnance QF 13-pounder quick-firing field gun was the standard equipment of the British Royal Horse Artillery at the outbreak of World War I.


Photo showing gun team galloping into action

It was developed as a response to combat experience gained in the Boer War and entered service in 1904, replacing the Ehrhard QF 15 pounder and BL 12 pounder 6 cwt. It was intended as a rapid-firing and highly-mobile yet reasonably powerful field gun for Royal Horse Artillery batteries attached to Cavalry divisions, which were expected to be engaged in mobile open warfare.

The original Mk I barrel was wire wound.[2] Later Mk II barrels had a tapered inner A tube [1] which was pressed into the outer tube.

The first British artillery round on the Western Front in World War I was fired by No. 4 gun of E Battery Royal Horse Artillery on 22 August 1914, northeast of Harmignies in Belgium.[3]

It saw action most famously at the Battle of Le Cateau in August 1914 as the British Expeditionary Force retreated from Mons.

It was used to great effect by "L" Bty, Royal Horse Artillery in its famous defensive action on September 1, 1914 at Néry, France, for which 3 Victoria Crosses were awarded. The medals,[4] and No. 6 gun and limber involved in this action,[5][6] are held in the collection of the Imperial War Museum.

From late 1914, when the Western Front settled into trench warfare, the 13-pounder was found to be too light to be truly effective against prepared defensive positions. As a result, it was increasingly supplanted by the 18-pounder.

As the war progressed, however, the increasing air activity created a requirement for a medium anti-aircraft gun. Redundant 13-pounders were slightly modified to become "Ordnance QF 13 pdr Mk III" and mounted on high-angle mounts to produce what became known as the 13 pounder 6 cwt anti-aircraft gun.

In 1940, some 13-pounders were brought out of store for use as emergency anti-tank guns, mounted in pill boxes,[7] for the home defence of Britain against possible German invasion.

13 pdr state saluting guns of the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery in the 2009 Trooping the Colour

For combat purposes the gun is long obsolete, yet it remains in service with the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery for ceremonial purposes and as state saluting guns.[1]

13 pounder 6 cwt QF Mark V naval gun

This was a pedestal mounted adaptation by Vickers Limited of the Mark I horse artillery gun, intended to arm the Royal Navy's new Motor Launches. 650 examples were constructed, including 250 made in the United States.[8] Because of the German U-boat campaign, many of the guns were used to equip Defensively Armed Merchant Ships, some being removed from motor launches for that purpose.[9]


Mk II Shrapnel round
No. 80 T. & P. (Time and Percussion) Fuze
Shrapnel shell on display at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra
234 balls, 41/lb (90/kg)[2]
Sectioned high explosive round, which contained 9oz 4dr (262 gm) Amatol explosive (white area). Cartridge held 1 lb 3.9 oz (536 gm) Cordite propellant (simulated with bundle of cut string).[2] Shell from the Imperial War Museum collection.[10]

Surviving examples

The Néry Gun and limber, used during the action at Néry, 1 September 1914.[5][6]
No.4 Gun, E Battery Royal Horse Artillery; fired the first British artillery round on the Western Front, August 1914.[11]

The Néry Gun, on display at IWM London, April 2008

No 4 Gun E Battery RHA, on display at IWM North, February 2010.

13-pounder at the Canadian War Museum

See also

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Clarke 2004
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 Hogg & Thurston 1972, page 58
  3. Farndale 1986, page 10
  4. Imperial War Museum. "Search results for "Néry" [in category 'medals and decorations'"]. IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Imperial War Museum (2013). "QF 13 pdr Mk 1 (Nery Gun) (ORD 102)". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Imperial War Museum (2013). "Limber for QF 13 pdr Mk 1 (Nery Gun) (ORD 102.2)". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  7. Cruickshank 2001
  8. Norman Friedman, Naval Weapons of World War One, Seaforth Publishing 2011, ISBN 13: 9-781-848321-00-7 (p.112)
  9. Royal Navy Motor Launches: Armament
  10. Imperial War Museum (2013). "Round 13 Pdr HE (Sectioned) (MUN 504)". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  11. Imperial War Museum (2013). "QF 13 pdr Mk 1 (ORD 101)". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 


External links

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