BL 15-inch howitzer

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BL 15-inch howitzer Mk I
In action at Englebelmer Wood, Somme, 7 August 1916
Type Heavy siege howitzer
Place of origin United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1915 - 1918
Used by British Empire
Wars World War I
Production history
Designer Coventry Ordnance Works[1]
Designed 1914
Manufacturer Coventry Ordnance Works
No. built 12
Variants Mk I
Weight 94 tons

Shell HE 1,450 lb (657.7 kg)[2]
Calibre 15 inches (381.0 mm)
Breech Welin interrupted screw
Recoil Hydro-spring 31 inches (790 mm) constant[3]
Carriage siege carriage
Muzzle velocity 1,117 ft/s (340 m/s)[3]
Maximum firing range 10,795 yd (9,871 m)[3]

The Ordnance BL 15-inch howitzer was developed by the Coventry Ordnance Works late in 1914 in response to the success of its design of the 9.2-inch siege howitzer.

Winston Churchill describes the events that led to the production of this weapon and its role in the subsequent development of the tank in Chapter IV of The World Crisis, 1915. Churchill concluded the howitzer was difficult to employ since it was transported in eight sections on giant caterpillar tractors. When he saw the tractors, he asked if one could be modified to cross a trench while carrying a mounted gun and troops. According to Churchill, The development of test vehicles using this concept contributed to the development of the tank.

Service History[edit]

The weapon was operated by Royal Marine Artillery detachments of the Naval Brigade, with 1 gun per battery. One gun was sent to Gallipoli but not used there. They were later transferred to the British Army. It was used at the Battle of the Somme in September 1916 and at the Battle of Passchendaele, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres, in October 1917.

It operated successfully where it was needed to destroy deep fortifications on the Western Front, but was limited by its relatively short range compared to other modern siege howitzers. The size and weight made it difficult to move and emplace. No further development occurred after the first batch of 12, and instead Britain continued to develop and produce the 12-inch howitzer and 12-inch railway howitzer.

Image gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

Weapons of comparable role, performance and era[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Hogg & Thurston 1972, page 198
  2. ^ Clarke quotes 1,450 pound shell, Hogg & Thurston quote 1,400 pound shell
  3. ^ a b c Hogg & Thurston 1972, page 199


External links[edit]