BL 12-pounder 6 cwt gun

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Ordnance BL 12-pounder 6 cwt
On the parade ground circa. 1897
TypeLight field gun
Place of originUnited Kingdom
Service history
In service1894–1916
Used byBritish Empire
WarsSecond Boer War
World War I
MassMk IV : 656 pounds (298 kg) (barrel & breech),
2,008 pounds (911 kg) (total)[1]
Barrel lengthMk I : Bore 59 inches (1,499 mm);[2]
Mk IV : Bore 66 inches (1,676 mm), total 71.05 inches (1,805 mm)[1]

ShellSeparate loading BL, 12.5 pounds (5.67 kg) Shrapnel
Calibre3-inch (76.2 mm)
Elevation-8° - 16°[1]
Rate of fire7-8 rounds/minute[3]
Muzzle velocity1,585 feet per second (483 m/s)[1]
Maximum firing range3700 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[note 1] 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.[5] 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.[6]

Combat use[edit]

Second Boer War[edit]

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.[7] A total of 78 guns fired 36,161 shells.[8]

World War I[edit]

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.[9]

See also[edit]

Surviving examples[edit]


  1. ^ 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)


  1. ^ a b c d Hogg & Thurston 1972, page 52
  2. ^ Text Book of Gunnery 1902, Table XII, Page 336
  3. ^ Hall, June 1971
  4. ^ Hall, June 1971.
  5. ^ Hall, December 1972
  6. ^ Hogg & Thurston 1972
  7. ^ Canada & The South African War, 1899–1902. Units. Brigade Division, Royal Canadian Field Artillery Archived 2008-05-05 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Appendices 28 and 29 of the Royal Commission on the War in South Africa
  9. ^ Farndale 1988, page 316


External links[edit]