BL 5 inch gun Mk I – V
|Ordnance BL 5 inch gun Mks I - V|
Mk I coast defence gun outside entrance to the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence
Coast defence gun
|In service||1880 - 1918|
|Used by||United Kingdom|
|Wars||Second Boer War|
|Variants||Mks I - V|
|Weight||Mk I - II : 38 long hundredweight (1,930 kg)
Mk III - V : 40 long hundredweight (2,030 kg)
|Barrel length||125 inches (3,175 mm) bore (25 calibres)|
|Shell||50 pounds (22.68 kg)|
|Calibre||5-inch (127.0 mm)|
|Muzzle velocity||1,750 feet per second (533 m/s)|
|Maximum firing range||8,700 yards (8,000 m)|
The BL 5 inch guns Mk I - Mk V were early British 5-inch rifled breechloading naval guns after it switched from rifled muzzle-loaders in the late 1870s. They were originally designed to use the old gunpowder propellants. The 5-inch calibre was soon discontinued in favour of QF 4.7-inch.
Guns equipped the following British warships :
- Mariner-class gunvessels of 1883
- Satellite-class sloops of 1883
- Comus-class corvettes as re-gunned in the 1880s
- Nymphe-class sloops laid down in 1885
- Calypso-class third class cruiser/corvettes of 1883–84
- Iris-class cruisers as re-gunned in 1888
- Beagle-class sloops of 1889
- Bacchante-class corvettes as re-gunned in the 1880s
These guns also equipped several small gunboats of Colonial navies of Australia in the 1880s in response to the perceived threat of Russian expansionism in the Pacific (The "Russian scares").
Second Boer War (1899 - 1902) field gun
A number of guns mounted on carriages from obsolete RML 40 pounder guns accompanied the British siege train (heavy artillery) to South Africa. They were not required for the expected siege of Pretoria, which did not eventuate. Its usefulness in the field was limited by lack of a recoil control system, and the QF 4.7 inch gun was the most commonly used British heavy gun in the war.
Coast defence gun
The gun was installed as a conventional coast defence gun in South Africa and Australia, and several in the United Kingdom. Its more common use ashore in the UK was as "moveable armaments" in forts : on 2-wheeled carriages similar to field carriages but intended only for moving short distances to position guns for defence of the fort. These used either obsolete 40-pounder RML carriages or special high-mounting carriages for firing over parapets with recoil controlled by a hydraulic buffer built into the platform to which the carriage was fastened. See diagram at Palmerston Forts Society.
Mk III and IV shrapnel shells
- A gun on the deck of HMS Gannet, Chatham, UK.
- 2 guns on 40-pounder RML field carriages, outside the Union Buildings, Pretoria, South Africa
- Outside the entrance to the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence
- No. 479 on Vavasseur mount at Queens Park, Maryborough, Queensland, Australia
- A gun on Vavasseur mount at The Esplanade, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Notes and references
- Text Book of Gunnery 1902, Table XII page 336
- Firing a 50-pound projectile with 15½ lb S.P. (gunpowder) or 4 lb 7¼ oz cordite Mk I propellant. Text Book of Gunnery 1902.
- Mk I - Mk V = Marks 1 through to 5. Britain used Roman numerals to denote Marks (models) of ordnance until after World War II. Hence this article covers the five models of BL 5-inch guns.
- Winfield (2004). p.293
- Preston (2007) p.182
- Hall, June 1972
- Hogg & Thurston 1972, pages 114-115
- Text Book of Gunnery, 1887. LONDON : PRINTED FOR HIS MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE, BY HARRISON AND SONS, ST. MARTIN'S LANE
- Text Book of Gunnery, 1902. LONDON : PRINTED FOR HIS MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE, BY HARRISON AND SONS, ST. MARTIN'S LANE
- Major D Hall, The South African Military History Society. Military History Journal - Vol 2 No 3 June 1972. Guns in South Africa 1899-1902 Part V and VI
- I.V.Hogg & L.F. Thurston, British Artillery Weapons & Ammunition 1914-1918. London: Ian Allan, 1972.
- Winfield, Rif; Lyon, David (2004). The Sail and Steam Navy List: All the Ships of the Royal Navy 1815–1889. London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-032-6. OCLC 52620555.
- Preston, Anthony; Major, John (2007). Send a Gunboat: The Victorian Navy and Supremacy at Sea, 1854–1904 (2nd ed.). London: Conway. ISBN 978-0-85177-923-2.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to BL 5 inch gun Mk I - V.|
- Instructions for 5 inch Rifled Breech Loading Armstrong Gun and Elswick Hydro-Pneumatic Disappearing Carriage at Australian National Archives
- Diagram showing gun on siege carriage at Victorian Forts and Artillery website
- Tony DiGiulian, British 5"/25 (12.7 cm) BL Marks I, II, III, IV and V