QF 3-pounder Hotchkiss

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Hotchkiss 47 mm L/40 M1885
& QF 3-pounder
A Royal Navy 3-pounder on a central pivot mount in 1915.
TypeNaval gun
Anti-aircraft gun
Coastal artillery
Place of originFrance
Service history
In service1886–1950s
Used bySee users section
WarsSee wars section
Production history
ManufacturerHotchkiss et Cie
No. built2,950 (UK)
Variants32 to 50 calibers in length[1]
Mass240 kg (530 lb)
Length2 m (6 ft 7 in)
Barrel length1.8 m (5 ft 11 in) 40 caliber

ShellFixed QF 47 × 376 mm R
Complete: 3 kg (6.6 lb)
Projectile: 1.5 kg (3.3 lb)[2]
Calibre47 mm (1.9 in)
BreechVertical sliding-wedge
ElevationDependent on mount
Rate of fire30 rpm[3]
Muzzle velocity571 m/s (1,870 ft/s)
Maximum firing range5.9 km (3.7 mi) at +20°
4.5 km (2.8 mi) at +80°

The QF 3-pounder Hotchkiss or in French use Canon Hotchkiss à tir rapide de 47 mm were a family of long-lived light 47 mm naval guns introduced in 1886 to defend against new, small and fast vessels such as torpedo boats and later submarines. There were many variants produced, often under license which ranged in length from 32 to 50 calibers but 40 caliber was the most common version. They were widely used by the navies of a number of nations and often used by both sides in a conflict. They were also used ashore as coastal defense guns and later as an anti-aircraft gun, whether on improvised or specialized HA/LA mounts.

Operational history[edit]

French service[edit]

Hotchkiss 47 mm L/50 M1902
TypeNaval gun
Place of originFrance
Service history
Used byFrance
WarsWorld War I
Production history
DesignerHotchkiss et Cie
ManufacturerHotchkiss et Cie
Mass594 kg (1,310 lb)
Length2.85 m (9 ft 4 in)
Barrel length2.35 m (7 ft 9 in) 50 caliber

ShellComplete: 4 kg (8.8 lb)
Projectile: 2 kg (4.4 lb)
Caliber47 mm (1.9 in)
BreechVertical sliding wedge
Rate of fire25 rpm
Muzzle velocity690 m/s (2,300 ft/s)[4]

The French Navy used two versions of the Hotchkiss 3-pounder: the short-barreled 40-caliber M1885 and the long-barreled 50-caliber M1902, which had a larger muzzle velocity than its predecessor.[1]: 228–229  The French L/40 M1885 and the British QF 3-pounder were largely the same gun.[4] Like the British who paired their 3-pounders with the larger QF 6-pounder Hotchkiss the French often paired theirs with the Canon de 65 mm Modèle 1891 sometimes called a 9-pounder in English publications. The 3-pounder was primarily used as anti-torpedo boat defense aboard armored cruisers, destroyers, ironclads, pre-dreadnought battleships, protected cruisers and submarines. During World War I, the role of the guns changed from anti-torpedo boat defense to anti-aircraft defense and new high angle mounts were developed but were found to be ineffective.

The Liberté-class and Danton-class battleships mounted the gun, in addition to the cruisers Jules Michelet, Ernest Renan, and those of the Edgar Quinet-class. It was used as the standard French shipboard anti-aircraft gun during World War I, being replaced by the Canon de 75 mm modèle 1908.[1]

After World War I the majority of 3-pounders in the anti-aircraft role were replaced with either the anti-aircraft version of the Canon de 75 modèle 1897 or the Canon de 75 mm modèle 1924.[5] French ships armed with the L/40 M1885 and L/50 M1902 include:

Australian service[edit]

A 3-pounder Hotchkiss was used on an improvised mounting in a battle that resulted in Australia's first prisoners of World War 2 being captured near Berbera in 1940.[6] The guns are now used in a Three Pound Saluting Gun Battery at the Garden Island Naval Base.[7]

Austro-Hungarian service[edit]

Skoda 47mm SFK L/33 H
TypeNaval gun
Place of originFrance
Service history
Used by Austria-Hungary
WarsWorld War I
Production history
DesignerHotchkiss et Cie
MassGun: 133 kg (293 lb)
Gun & Mount: 530 kg (1,170 lb)
Length1.55 m (5 ft 1 in) 33 caliber

ShellProjectile: 1.1 kg (2.4 lb)
Caliber47 mm (1.9 in)
BreechVertical sliding wedge
Elevation-15° to +20°
Rate of fire25 rpm
Muzzle velocity560 m/s (1,800 ft/s)
Maximum firing range3 km (1.9 mi)[8]
Skoda 47mm SFK L/44 S
TypeNaval gun
Place of originFrance
Service history
Used by Austria-Hungary
WarsWorld War I
Production history
DesignerHotchkiss et Cie
MassGun: 256 kg (564 lb)
Gun & Mount: 790 kg (1,740 lb)
Length2.048 m (6 ft 8.6 in) 44 caliber

ShellProjectile: 1.53 kg (3.4 lb)
Caliber47 mm (1.9 in)
BreechVertical sliding wedge
Elevation-10° to +20°
Rate of fire25 rpm
Muzzle velocity710 m/s (2,300 ft/s)
Maximum firing range4 km (2.5 mi)[8]

The Austro-Hungarian Navy used two versions of the Hotchkiss 3-pounder. The first was the short 47 mm SFK L/33 H of 1890 produced under license by Skoda. The second was the long 47 mm SFK L/44 S of 1897 produced under license by Skoda. These two guns were the primary rapid fire anti-torpedo boat guns of many ships built or refitted between 1890 and 1918.[8] On 16 August 1914 at the Battle of Antivari, the Austro-Hungarian protected cruiser SMS Zenta was sunk by a combined Anglo-French force. Both sides in the battle were armed with Hotchkiss guns.

Austro-Hungarian ships armed with the L/33 and L/44 include:

Chinese service[edit]

China adopted the Hotchkiss 3-pounder in the 1880s, to arm its cruisers and smaller auxiliaries; the Hai Yung-class cruisers of the Imperial Chinese Navy built by AG Vulcan Stettin were armed with Nordenfelt 3-pounder guns firing the same ammunition. During the First Sino-Japanese war, ships of both sides were armed with Hotchkiss 3-pounder guns.

Chinese ships armed with 3-pounder guns include:

Italian service[edit]

Italy adopted the Hotchkiss 3-pounder in the 1880s to arm its armored cruisers, battleships, protected cruisers, torpedo boats and torpedo cruisers. Ships on both sides of the Italo-Turkish war were armed with 3-pounder guns. The Italians carried Hotchkiss and Vickers guns, while the Ottoman Navy carried Nordenfelt guns.[9]

Italian ships armed with 3-pounder guns include:

Japanese service[edit]

Hotchkiss 2½ Pounder
Yamanouchi Mk I
TypeNaval gun
Place of originFrance
Service history
Used by Empire of Japan
WarsRusso-Japanese War
Production history
DesignerHotchkiss et Cie
ManufacturerElswick Ordnance Company
No. built253
VariantsElswick: Mk I, Mk II, Mk III
Yamanouchi: Mk I
Mass127 kg (280 lb)
Length1.55 m (5 ft 1 in)
Barrel length1.4 m (4 ft 7 in) 30 caliber

ShellFixed QF 47 × 131R
Projectile: 1.12 kg (2.5 lb)
Caliber47 mm (1.9 in)
BreechVertical sliding wedge
Muzzle velocity432 m/s (1,420 ft/s)[10]

Japan adopted the Hotchkiss 3-pounder 5-barrel revolver cannon in the 1880s and later adopted the simpler single-barrel quick-firing weapon. The Japanese versions of the 3-pounder were known as Yamanouchi guns and were largely identical to their British equivalents.[4] The Japanese also had a related 30 caliber 2½-pounder gun from Elswick, the Yamanouchi Mk I. During the Russo-Japanese War, ships of both sides were armed with Hotchkiss 3-pounder guns. The Japanese found them to be ineffective and removed them after the war.

Japanese ships armed with 3-pounder guns include:

Polish service[edit]

Polish 47 mm Hotchkiss guns named the wz.1885 gun, were used on first ships of the Polish Navy, received after World War I, like ex-German torpedo boats and minesweepers. By the time of World War II most had been replaced on naval ships but several stored guns were used in combat on improvised stationary mounts by Land Coastal Defence units in the Battle of Kępa Oksywska in September 1939.[11][page needed]

Romanian service[edit]

The Romanian Navy used the Škoda-produced version of the gun. The gun was used as secondary and later tertiary armament on the Romanian monitors of the Mihail Kogălniceanu class. It also served as the main armament of the Căpitan Nicolae Lascăr Bogdan class of armored multi-purpose boats, each of the 8 boats carrying one gun.[12][13]

Russian service[edit]

47 mm L/43 Hotchkiss
TypeNaval gun
Place of originFrance
Service history
Used by Russian Empire
WarsRusso-Japanese War
World War I
Russian Civil War
Production history
DesignerHotchkiss et Cie
ManufacturerObukhov State Plant
MassGun: 235 kg (518 lb)
Length2 m (6 ft 7 in)
Barrel length1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) 43 caliber

ShellProjectile: 1.53 kg (3.4 lb)
Caliber47 mm (1.9 in)
BreechVertical sliding wedge
Elevation-23° to +25°
Rate of fire25 rpm
Muzzle velocity701 m/s (2,300 ft/s)
Maximum firing range4.5 km (2.8 mi) at 10°[14]

Russia adopted the Hotchkiss 3-pounder 5-barrel revolver cannon in the 1880s, and later adopted the less complicated single-barrel 43 caliber quick-firing weapon. The 5-barrel guns were equipped on the Ekaterina II-class battleships commissioned in 1889 but by 1892 the battleship Dvenadsat Apostolov and her successors had single-barrel weapons. In 1888 licensed production of a Russian variant started at the Obukhov State Plant.[15] During the Russo-Japanese War, ships of both sides were armed with Hotchkiss 3-pounders, which were found to be ineffective against Japanese torpedo boats and were removed from first-line warships after the war. The Evstafi class, commissioned in 1910 ceased carrying the weapon but they were later fitted to patrol vessels and river craft during World War I and at least 62 weapons were converted to anti-aircraft guns by 1917.[14]

Russian ships armed with 3-pounder guns include:

United Kingdom service[edit]

In 1886 this gun was the first of the modern Quick-firing (QF) artillery to be adopted by the Royal Navy as the Ordnance QF 3 pounder Hotchkiss, built under licence by the Elswick Ordnance Company.[16]

By the middle of World War I the Hotchkiss gun was obsolescent and was gradually replaced by the more powerful Ordnance QF 3 pounder Vickers gun. Of the 2,950 produced it is estimated that 1,948 were still available in 1939 for RN use.[17] The availability, simplicity and light weight of the gun kept it in use in small vessels and many were later brought back into service on merchant vessels used for auxiliary duties in World War II or as saluting guns and sub-calibre guns for gunnery practice until the 1950s. Early in WWII, it was also pressed into service in ports around the British Empire, to defend against possible incursions by motor torpedo boats, until the modern QF 6 pounder 10 cwt gun became available. Two, brought from Gibraltar in the late 1990s, are still in use on Victory Green in the Falkland Islands for saluting purposes.

Royal Navy ships armed with QF 3-pounder Hotchkiss guns included:

United States service[edit]

Manufacturer Manufacturers Designation US Designation Caliber
Hotchkiss Mk I Mk I 40
Driggs-Schroeder Mk I Mk II 45
Driggs-Schroeder Mk II (trunnionless) Mk III 45
Hotchkiss Mk IV semi-automatic Mk IV 45
Maxim-Nordenfelt Mk I semi-automatic Mk V 50
Maxim-Nordenfelt Mk II semi-automatic Mk VI 50
Vickers-Maxim Mk III semi-automatic Mk VII 45
Hotchkiss-Armstrong ? Mk VIII 40
Nordenfelt Mk I Mk IX 42
Hotchkiss ? Mk X 50
US Rapid Fire Gun and Power Company ? Mk XI 50
Nordenfelt Mk I semi-automatic Mk XII 50
Vickers-Maxim Mk M Mk XIII 50
Driggs-Seaburry ? Mk XIV 50[18][1][19]

The US Navy used several types of 3-pounder guns from multiple manufacturers and it is difficult to determine from references which type a particular ship carried. Hotchkiss 3-pounder 5-barrel revolving cannons were used, along with single-barrel quick-firing single-shot Hotchkiss 3-pounders. Both are called rapid-firing (RF) in references. Ships on both sides in the Spanish–American War were armed with Hotchkiss 3-pounders. By 1910 the US was building the dreadnought-type South Carolina class, with a secondary armament composed entirely of 3-inch (76 mm) guns. Although removed from first-line warships by World War I, some 3-pounders were fitted on patrol vessels, with a few weapons serving on those ships through World War II.[1][17]


The most common types of ammunition available for 3-pounder guns were low yield Steel shells and common lyddite shells. In World War II higher yield high explosive rounds were produced.

QF 3 pounder Round with Steel Shell.jpg
QF 3 pounder cartridge with common shell Mark II diagram.jpg
A steel shell round circa. 1898
Mk V N.T. projectile, 1914
Mk II common shell

Photo gallery[edit]

Surviving examples[edit]

Weapons of comparable role, performance and era[edit]

Licensed production[edit]




  1. ^ a b c d e DiGiulian, Tony. "USA 3-pdr (1.4 kg) [1.85" (47 mm)] Marks 1 through 12 – NavWeaps". www.navweaps.com. Retrieved 2017-07-05.
  2. ^ "38–37 MM CALIBRE CARTRIDGES". www.quarryhs.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-07-04.
  3. ^ 30 rounds per minute is the figure given by Elswick Ordnance for their 40-calibres model. Quoted in Brassey's Naval Annual 1901
  4. ^ a b c Friedman 2011, p. 118.
  5. ^ Friedman 2011, p. 229.
  6. ^ Navy, Royal Australian. "3-Pounder saluting guns". navy.gov.au. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  7. ^ Media, Defence News and (7 July 2017). "Defence News and Media". defence.gov.au. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  8. ^ a b c Friedman 2011, p. 295.
  9. ^ Langensiepen & Güleryüz 1995.
  10. ^ Friedman 2011, p. 119.
  11. ^ Tym & Rzepniewski 1985.
  12. ^ Robert Gardiner, Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1906-1921, Naval Institute Press, 1985, p. 422
  13. ^ Е. Е. Шведе, Военные флоты 1939—1940 гг., Рипол Классик, 2013, pp. 120-121 (in Russian)
  14. ^ a b DiGiulian, Tony. "Russia / USSR 47 mm (1.85") [3-pdr] – NavWeaps". www.navweaps.com. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  15. ^ Friedman 2011, p. 265.
  16. ^ British forces traditionally denoted smaller ordnance by the weight of its standard projectile, in this case approximately 3 pounds (1.4 kg).
  17. ^ a b Campbell 1985, p. 66.
  18. ^ Friedman 2011, p. 197.
  19. ^ DiGiulian and Friedman differ on the details of Mk 10-12.
  20. ^ "AMMS Brisbane". www.ammsbrisbane.com. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  21. ^ Weyant, Hervé. "Mémorial Maginot de Haute-Alsace". www.maginot68.com. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  22. ^ Jane's Fighting Ships 2005–2006


  • Campbell, John (1985). Naval Weapons of World War Two. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-87021-459-2.
  • Friedman, Norman (2011). Naval Weapons of World War One. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Seaforth. ISBN 978-1-84832-100-7.
  • Langensiepen, Bernd & Güleryüz, Ahmet (1995). The Ottoman Steam Navy 1828–1923. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 978-0-85177-610-1.
  • Tym, Wacław; Rzepniewski, Andrzej (1985). Kępa Oksywska 1939: relacja uczestników walk lądowych [Oksywska Fort 1939: Relations of Combatants on Land] (in Polish). Gdańsk: Wydawnictwo Morskie. ISBN 978-83-215-7210-9.

External links[edit]