Identifying Emplacements : Emplacement Photographs : Drawings : Barrels : List of guns : Nomenclature


List of British Service Artillery in Use During the Victorian Period

N.B. this list does not include non-service issue artillery i.e that manufactured and sold privately by Armstrong. Some are post-Victorian and have been included for interest.


(C) = Common to Naval and Land Services

(L) = Land Service

(N) = Naval Service

The following information has been taken from 'A Handbook of Military Terms' by David Moore. A PFS Publication

Converted Guns
R.M.L. converted guns were converted from smooth boreguns using the Palliser method.
They were
the 64 pr. R.M.L. of 58 cwt. converted from the 32 pr. S.B. of 58 cwt.
the 64 pr. R.M.L. of 71 cwt. converted from the 8-inch Shell gun of 71 cwt.
the 80 pr. R.M.L. 5 tons converted from the 68 pr. of 112 cwt


Rifled Muzzle Loading

A gun which is loaded through its muzzle and has a rifled bore. The first R.M.L.s followed the same lines of construction as for R.B.L.s. Improvements were made giving extra strength and simplicity to the construction. The four main classes of construction were :-
Original system (i.e. 9-inch 12 ton Mk I);
Modified system (i.e. 9-inch 12 ton Mk II);
Fraser system (i.e. 10-inch 18 ton Mk I);
R.G.F. system (i.e. 10-inch 18 ton Mk II).
The natures of R.M.L.s introduced were Mountain; Field; Siege & Heavy Field; Garrison and Naval.


Rifled Breech Loading

Guns successively designated as the 'Armstrong' the 'vent -piece' and 'B.L. screw guns' using Armstrong's system of construction, in which coils of wrought iron were built up by shrinking one layer over the other, adopted in 1859 before the advent of the interrupted screw 'B.L.' guns of later date.They were rifled on the polygroove system. Natures introduced were:-
Ordnance R.B.L.
7-inch 72 cwt,
7-inch 82 cwt,
40pr. 32 cwt & 35cwt,
20pr. of 16, 15 & 13 cwt.,
12pr. of 8 cwt.
9pr. of 6 cwt.
6pr. of 3 cwt.
A variety of R.B.L. known as a wedge gun saw very brief service. Two natures produced were
the 64 pr. R.B.L. of 61 cwt.
and the 40 pr. R.B.L. of 32 cwt.


Smooth Bore Breech Loading

A special adaptation of a smooth bore gun where the breech has been removed and an interupted screw thread breech mechanism insterted. These guns were designed to be used as flank defence guns in the caponiers of forts. Only the 32pdr. of 42cwt was converted in this way.



A piece of ordnance which is shorter, lighter and has less metal in it than its smooth bore equivalent of the same calibre. The term Howitzer is said to be derived from the German 'haubitze' which means an explosive shell as distinguished from a solid shot. A howitzer has its trunnions mounted in the axis of the piece rather than under it. Howitzers have a chamber for the reception of the charge, either cylindrical or Gomer shaped. The Dutch were reputed to have introduced the howitzer and the French subsequently cast them in 1749. In appearance a howitzer is similar to a gun having the same rings and mouldings but it is specially adapted for firing shells. Howitzers were originally introduced for firing shells at low angles and in the smooth bore era for curved or indirect fire but their use was superseded by the shell gun. Later howitzers were capable of firing at a high angle of elevation (30 to 45 degrees ) and low velocity. The ammunition used with howitzers consists of common and shrapnel shell, case shot and carcass. Howitzers were to be used for curved or indirect fire with reduced charges up to 15 degrees of elevation, against earthworks and concealed masonry and with shrapnel against troops behind parapets.

Rifled howitzers entered service from 1880 onwards and superseded the mortar in the Palmerston forts. The 8-inch R.M.L. howitzer could fire at an elevation of 45 degrees.

After the abolition of common shell for field guns there was a need for artillery that could give greater shell power in the field. The field howitzer and siege howitzer were produced from 1896. Siege Howitzers were allocated to the siege train and became practically their sole armament. Siege howitzers are denominated according to the size of their bores in inches, field howitzers according to the weight of their shell. The B.L. Howitzers in the Land Service in 1904 were the 5-inch, 5.4-inch and 6-inch of 25 & 30 cwt.


Rifled Howitzer.

A gun capable of firing at high angles of elevation and therefore being used to provide indirect fire against bomb-proofs, originally designed to be allocated to the siege train. The 8-inch howitzer of 46cwt. was recommended for use in 1872. This was followed by the 6.3-inch of 18 cwt in 1878. It was the first piece, polygrooved, in which studless projectiles were used with a rotating gas check attached to the base. Others produced were the :-
6.6-inch 36 cwt. Mk I & II ,
8-inch 46 cwt. R. Mk I
8-inch 70 cwt. Mk I & II.
Some B.L. howitzers were proposed and trials were made with the 6-inch, 7-inch and 8-inch B.L. rifled howitzers.



A large calibre gun (named after the mortar of the chemist because of its shape) for firing a heavy shell at high angles of elevation (15 to 50 degrees). Mortars are the shortest of all ordnance. In the 1860s, those used in the British Service were the 8, 10 and 13-inch of iron and the Coehorn and Royal of brass.
The land service mortar of 13-inches had a range of 2900 yards with a full service charge of 9 pounds ( the quantity the chamber would hold when full). Mortars were chiefly used as weapons of bombardment. Some rifled mortars (on the Palliser system) were tested in 1879 but the idea was abandoned. By 1898 there were some rifled mortars in use on the continent.


Breech Loading

Breech-Loading (B.L.) Gun. Any gun which could be loaded by opening part of the breech (or rear) of the barrel. The term B.L. was applied to those guns in which the charge is applied in bags and the sealing of gases at the breech is effected by a pad fixed to the face of the breech screw, in contrast to a Q.F. or R.B.L. The term was generally applied to the later Rifled Breech Loading gun (R.B.L) after the rifling was taken for granted. Natures found in the land service for coast defence up to 1900 are : 4-inch of 25 cwt.
5-inch of 40 cwt.
6-inch of 5 tons.
9.2-inch of 23 tons.
10-inch. of 29 tons.
12-inch of 46 tons.
13.5-inch of 69 tons.
16.25-inch of 111 tons.


Quick Fire

A gun that has a quick action breech mechanism and fires a type of projectile that has the charge fixed to the shell or contained in a separate brass cartridge case.
Those in use in the Army in the 1880s were the 3 and 6 pounder. Both Nordenfelt and Hotchkiss guns were used firing the same ammunition. The 6 pounder could be mounted on an elastic mounting or an embrasure mounting. In 1887 the 4.7-inch Q.F. was introduced into the navy. Its mounting was a combined pivot and clip racer, called a pivot plate. Some were mounted on land protected with a 3 inch plate and bullet proof hood. it was proposed to provide the 6-inch 100 pounder Q.F. with the same mounting. the 12 pounder Q.F. had a pillar mounting.


Field Gun (piece).

A movable gun on wheels that can be taken out of a fort 'into the field' to meet an enemy. Those in use with the British service in the 1860s were the
3, 6, 9 and 12 pdr guns and the
12, 24 and 32 pdr. howitzers.

R.M.L.s in service by the 1890s were the
9 pr. of 6 & 8 cwt.;
13 pr. of 8 cwt.
16 pr. of 12 cwt;


Siege guns

Siege and heavy field R.M.L.s introduced into the service were the 25pr. 18 cwt; 40pr. 34 & 35 cwts; 6.6-inch 70 cwt; 6.3-inch, 6.6-inch, 8-inch howitzers.


Siege Train.

A collection of movable armament for taking out of a fortress to place in field works as the need arises. They were for direct use against artillery, against exposed masonry and iron protection and with shrapnel against troops.They consisted of Light Rifled R.M.L. and R.B.L. guns and howitzers on travelling carriages and later some on Hydropneumatic Siege Disappearing Carriages. In 1876 the guns which formed the siege train of 105 pieces were 55 rifled 64 prs. & 20 rifled 40 prs on travelling carriages with siege limbers together with 30 rifled 8-inch howitzers on travelling carriages. This was supplemented by mortars. Men required were 30 per gun, 15 per large mortar and 9 per small mortar.

Lists of Artillery employed in the British Service during the Victorian period


Rifled Muzzle Loading Guns (R.M.L.s)

Those R.M.L. guns having a calibre of 6.6 inches and upwards are known by their calibres in inches. Smaller natures ( except the 2.5 inch gun) are named by the weight of their shell.
R.M.L. guns are classified according to the service for which they are destined :-

1) Mountain or Boat guns
2.5-inch and 7 prs.

2) Field or Boat
9, 13 and 16 prs.

3) Siege or Position
25 and 40 prs. and the 6.6.-inch gun
all howitzers.

4) Medium
64 pr. guns of 64 cwt; the 7 inch of 90 cwt;
and all the converted R.M.L. guns.

5) Heavy
7-inch of 6½ tons to 17.72 inch of 100 tons.

Abbreviations in brackets following the gun designation are as follows
N.S. naval service L.S. land service
C. Common (Land and Naval) L. Long range

2.5 inch guns (jointed) - calibre 2.5 inches
2.5-inch R.M.L. Mk I 400 lbs ( 7 pr. screw gun)
Adopted 1879.This consisted of two parts, the breech and the chase. Each weighed about 200 lbs, a suitable weight for carrying by mule. A junction nut joined the two.
2.5-inch R.M.L. Mk II (L.S.)
Only thirteen of these guns were made by Armstrong for supply to India. They differ slightly from the Mk I.
7 - pr. R.M.L. guns - calibre 3 inches
7 pr. bronze Mark I 190 lbs.
Introduced 1865. Sent to Bhutan.
7 pr. bronze Mark II 200 lbs (N.S.)
Named the 'Abyssinian gun'.
7 pr. steel Mark III 150 lbs. (L.S.)
Modified from the Mark II. Adopted 1870. There was a special carriage for Gold Coast.
7 pr. steel Mark IV 200 lbs. (N.S.)
1873. A more powerful gun, half as long again in the bore.
9 - pr. R.M.L. guns - calibre 3 inches
There were six patterns in the service.
9 pr. 8 cwt. Mark I (L.S.)
Adopted 1871 to supersede the Armstrong R.B.L. guns for field service in Heavy field batteries. It was withdrawn and modified for sea service.
9 pr. 8 cwt. Mark II (N.S.)
Introduced 1873 for the navy.
9 pr. 6 cwt. Mark I (N.S.)
A shorter lighter gun. A few were made for experimental trials but they proved to be too short. Some were issued to the Indian naval service.
In 1873 some were completed for boat guns. Only 45 were issued.
9 pr. 6 cwt Mark II (L.S.)
A new design in 1874 for the Horse Artillery. It is longer than the 8 cwt. but fits the same carriage.
9 pr. 6 cwt. Mark III (N.S.)
1879 altered Mark II for naval service. They have a reduced dispart patch. Numbers commence at 1001 to avoid confusion.
9 pr. 6 cwt. Mark IV (N.S.)
Similar to MK III with a steel instead of wrought iron jacket and strengthened cascable.
13 pr. R.M.L. gun (L.S.)
13 pr. 8 cwt. Mark I. Calibre 3 inches.
1879. The first were completed as breech loaders. It was subsequently ordered that they be completed as Muzzle Loaders.
13 pr. 8 cwt. Mark II
Made entirely of steel.
16 pr. R.M.L. gun ( L.S.)
16 pr. 12 cwt. Mark I . Calibre 3.6 inches.
Proposed in 1871 as 3.6 inch of 12 cwt.
Introduced 1870. For use with the heavy field batteries.
From this nature upwards R.M.L. guns are generally side sighted.
25 pr. R.M.L. gun (L.S.) 18 cwt. - calibre 4 inches
One nature only issued to the land service.
25 pr. 18 cwt. Mark I. Calibre 4 inches.
Proposed in 1871 as a gun of position and light siege piece. Adopted 1874.
40 pr. R.M.L. guns (L.S.) 34 & 35 cwt.
1871. Two marks proposed to take the place of the R.B.L. guns of same calibre.
40 pr. 34 cwt. Mark I. Calibre 4.75 inches.
Both fit the same carriage and use the same ammunition.
40 pr. 35 cwt. Mark II. Calibre 4.75 inches.
1874. Longer. Thinner breach. Higher velocity.
64 pr. R.M.L. guns.
The first M.L.R. introduced into the service. the heavy gun of its day it replaced the B.L. wedge gun of about the same weight. The first guns of this nature were built for breech loaders and intended as wedge guns. Those issued to the navy were withdrawn as were all wedge guns.
There were three natures.
64 pr. 64 cwt. Mark I (L.S.) Calibre 6.3 inches.
64 pr. 64 cwt. Mark II (L.S.) Calibre 6.3 inches.
64 pr. 64 cwt. Mark III (C.) with steel barrel.
1867. Four different patterns with altered chambers were produced marked A, B, C and D on the face of the muzzle.
6.6-inch R.M.L. gun (L.S.)
A modification of the 64 pr. gun of 64 cwt. originally intended to be a conversion only. Apart from experimental pieces they were made from new.
6.6-inch 70 cwt. Mark I
Intended to be associated with the 6.6 inch R.M.L. howitzer. Used for the siege train and for movable armament of works. Attempts were made to fit some to Hydropneumatic siege disappearing carriages in 1877. They were allocated to the siege train.
7-inch R.M.L. guns.
Three distinct natures with varieties of pattern in two of them. Internally they are the same except in length of bore.
7-inch of 7 tons - Four marks
7-inch 7 ton Mark I (L.S.) Armstrong or original system. Approved 1865 to replace the 7-inch R.B.L. for land service as a battering gun for coast defence.
7-inch 7 ton Mark II (L.S.) Modified system
7-inch 7 ton Mark III (L.S.) Fraser system 1868. A Tube of steel.
7-inch 7 ton Mark. IV (L.S.) R.G.F. system 1878.
7 inch R.M.L. of 6½ tons
7-inch 6½ ton Mark I (C.)
First approved in 1865 for N.S. Many were transferred to land service
7-inch 6½ ton Mark III (C.)
1868 change of construction as with 7 ton Mk III
7 inch 90 cwt. gun
7-inch 90 cwt. Mark I (N.S.)
1874. Requested by the Admiralty to make broadside guns for unarmoured vessels. Altered from the 6½ ton gun. These guns do not fire a full charge and differ in muzzle velocity, sighting and drift from other 7 inch guns.
8-inch R.M.L. guns (C.)
There is only one nature but it varies in pattern, one of which (Mark II) became obsolete.The patterns are the same as for the 7 ton and 6½ ton guns. The navy used these for vessels that could not carry the 9-inch.
8-inch 9 tons Mark I (C.)
8-inch 9 tons Mark III (C.)
The first 8 inch guns were introduced for naval service in 1866 but a few were subsequently issued to land service. The 8 inch R.M.L. and upwards with the Woolwich system of rifling have an increasing twist.
9-inch R.M.L. of 12 tons
There are six marks of this gun, the first three following the patterns as for the 7-inch & 8-inch R.M.L.s but a greater number of this calibre were made and changes introduced in the method of building them up. The navy used them as broadside guns, the army as harbour defence.
9-inch 12 tons Mark I (C.)
The Original system. Designed 1865 as a broadside gun for armoured vessels and for the defence of harbours and sea fronts. 190 were made.
9-inch 12 tons Mark II (C.)
The Modified system.
9-inch 12 tons Mark III (C.)
The Fraser system.
9-inch 12 ton Mark IV (C.)
The R.G.F. system. Adopted in 1869 but the preponderance proved to be too great and so the Mark V was designed.
9-inch 12 ton Mark V (C.)
Differs from the IV in the position of the trunnions being placed .375 inch further back.
9-inch 12 ton Mark VI (L.)
1889. A few of the earlier marks of this calibre were converted as Long Range guns (for firing at angles of up to 35 degrees). The term Long Range was subsequently discontinued and the guns mounted on their original carriage with an increased angle of elevation available (10 degrees to 15 degrees)
9-inch 12 ton Mark VIa, VIb, VIc .IV or V
The added letters refer to their mountings.
These were the old 9 inch re-rifled, mounted on their old slides, slightly modified or used as howitzers firing at angles from 30 to 70 degrees on special mountings. They were fitted with new A & B tubes, the cascables were removed and the trunnions converted to take guide bars. They were re-vented in the rear position. A bronze bracket having a clinometer plane cut on it is attached by fixing screws to the top right side of the breech. Only one each of the VIb and VIc guns were converted and they differ from the VIa in the nature of guides and brackets to suit their mountings and in having the clinometer plane cut on top of the breech.

10-inch R.M.L. of 18 tons (C.)
First produced in 1868 as an improvement on the 9-inch It was used by the navy (H.M.S. Hercules). The army added it to their coast defences. There are four marks.
10-inch 18 tons Mark I (C.)
The Fraser system. 18 guns were made. they correspond to the mark III of the previous heavy natures.
10-inch 18 tons Mark II (C.)
The R.G.F. system. This was the first nature to fully embody the R.G.F. system.
10-inch converted to H.A.
10-inch 12 tons Mark III or IV (L.)
These consisted of 9 inch Mks I, II & III bored up to 10-inches and re-rifled. They are identical to the 9 inch Mark VI guns except they are not furnished with new A & B tubes. The marks III and IV differ only in the rifling twists.
10.4-inch R.M.L. of 28 tons Mark I (L.)
Only two of these guns were made.
To counterbalance muzzle preponderance a bronze counterweight was attached to the breech by fixing screws. This was subsequently increased with a second one. The gun is axially vented and has a removable cascable for slinging.

10.4-inch R.M.L.
Only two of these were made as prototypes for the 100-ton guns. They were both intended for Gibraltar but were emplaced in Puckpool Mortar battery, Isle of Wight, on Armstrong Protected barbette mountings.
11-inch R.M.L. of 25 tons (C.)
The 11-inch was sent for trial against the 12-inch in 1870 and found to be superior. There are two marks corresponding with the two marks of 10 inch.
11-inch 25 tons Mark I (C.)
ntroduced in 1867. Fraser system. Only seven were made.
11-inch 25 tons Mark II (C.)
Proposed 1871. A considerable number were made. R.G.F. system. Gun no. 68 differs in having a forged breech piece. It was a 12-inch re-tubed.
12-inch R.M.L. of 25 tons (C.)
First produced in 1870. There are two marks of this nature. They differ from the 11-inch guns only in the size of their bore. There is no difference in external appearance or rifling and they are easily confused. They were originally employed as naval service turret guns but some were subsequently mounted as coast defence.
12-inch 25 tons Mark I (C.)
Only four were made.
12-inch 25 tons Mark II (C.)
Many were made. An additional eight were purchased from the Elswick Ordnance Company in 1878. These are known only by their Elswick numbers.
12-inch R.M.L. of 35 tons (L.)
First produced in 1871 as the 700 pr. of 11.6 inches calibre subsequently bored out to 12 inches. There is one mark of this gun.
12-inch 35 tons Mark I (L.)
R.G.F. system with a longer bore than the 12-inch 25 ton. The cascable was reduced to a plain button.
12.5-inch R.M.L. of 38 tons (C.)
First produced in 1874.
12.5-inch 38 tons Mark I
Resembles the 35 ton gun.
12.5-inch 38 tons Mark II
Enlarged powder chamber.
At least two 12.5-inch RML guns survive on their original carriages at Fort Delimara, Malta.
A few 12.5-inch guns Mark II were made for naval service with different trunnions. Certain N.S. guns have two elevating bands shrunk on for holding a bracket underneath the breech for use with a hydraulic carriage.

16-inch R.M.L. 80 tons.
The largest muzzle loading guns produced for the navy. Four were fitted to H.M.S. Inflexible in 1881. Two were fitted to the Dover Turret.
17.72-inch R.M.L. 100 tons
Four of these were bought from Elswick by the Government in 1878. Two were mounted at Malta and two at Gibraltar.

Rifled Breech Loading Guns (R.B.L.s)

These have successively been designated the 'Armstrong', the 'Vent-Piece' and the B'.L. screw' guns. They were originally designed by William Armstrong hence their first being known as 'Armstrong' guns. After the adoption of muzzle loaders these guns became 'Breech Loaders' as there were no other B.L. guns in service. When other B.L.s were introduced the name was changed to 'vent-piece' guns but this term was dropped after the introduction of side closing guns of this category which had a solid block instead of a vent piece. Finally they were referred to as Rifled Breech Loading guns to distinguish them from Breech Loading guns.
All R.B.L. guns were constructed on William Armstrong's system, rifled on his polygroove system with a uniform twist, the number of grooves depending on the size of the bore.
The method employed for closing the breech is the vent piece or breech block. which is held in position by the breech screw.

7 - inch guns ( L.S. only)
There are two natures of 7 inch.
Ordnance wrought iron R.B.L. gun,
7-inch of 82 cwt. Mark I
The heavier one weighing 82 cwt was the first introduced into service a number having been issued in 1861.
7-inch of 72 cwt. Mark I
The lighter one was of earlier construction but was not completed until 1863. It was subsequently decided to add a strengthening coil over the powder chamber. By this time however about 76 guns of the lighter nature had been completed. These were afterwards used as 72 cwt guns for land service. Number 56B of 1862 has been fully restored and is now mounted and fired by the Portsdown Artillery Volunteers at Fort Nelson, Fareham, Hants.
40 pr. guns (L.S. only) (O.P. 40 pr.)
There are two nature of this ordnance. They correspond in construction to the two natures of 7 inch.
40 pr. 32 cwt. Mark I (O.P. 40 pr.)
40 pr. 35 cwt. Mark II (G. Pattern )
Larger and stronger breech piece.
A few of these guns have a trunnion ring made of cast iron.
40 pr. 35 cwt. Side-closing gun.
In 1880 it was proposed to covert the 7-inch of 82 cwt and the 40 pr. of 35 cwt to 'side-closing guns'. They were a success but approval for only a limited number of the 40 pr. guns was given. The alteration consisted of bringing the vent piece slot to the right side by turning the trunnion ring to the left. The vent was re-positioned on the right side instead of through the block.
20 pr. guns
There are three natures of this gun. The calibre is 3.75 inches in all. Introduced 1859.
20 pr. 16 cwt. Mark I (L.S.)
Light gun of position. It was at first a 25 pr. but the projectile was lightened.
20 pr. 15 cwt. Mark I (S.S.)
Broadside gun for sloops.
20 pr. 13 cwt. Mark I (S.S.)
Pinnace gun for boat and field marine use.
12 pr. gun.
There is one nature of this gun for both land and naval service. Introduced 1858, modified 1863
Calibre 3 inches.
12 pr. 8 cwt. Mark I
9 pr. gun.
There is one nature of this gun. The calibre is the same as for the 12 pr. gun.
9 pr. 6 cwt. Mark I
This was introduced in 1862 for the horse artillery. The navy also adopted it for a boat and field marine gun.
6 pr. 3 cwt.
Introduced 1858. Intended for mountain service but was too heavy. It was used in the colonies and by the navy.

Breech Screw 40 pr. R.B.L.

Wedge Guns
A variety of Rifled Breech Loading gun saw service briefly from 1864. They employed a wedge action breech instead of a breech screw. They were the :
64 pr. R.B.L. of 61 cwt. Wedge gun
40 pr. R.B.L. of 32 cwt. Wedge gun
Another nature tested was the 70 pr.

Smooth Bore Breech Loading Gun (S.B.B.L.)

A number of 32 pr. S.B. of 42 cwt. guns were converted to breech loading by having their breech ends cut off and a breech mechanism inserted. The bore was then continued through to the breech. They were then designated as
32 pr. Smooth Bore Breech Loading gun Mk. I
They were intended for the approaches and flanks of permanent works. All were mounted on the traversing platform no.6 and carriage no. 6 of iron.
The breech mechanism is of the interrupted screw thread variety with Elswick cup obturation and an open or projecting carrier of R.G.F. pattern. They were vented radially. They fired case shot only and were effective to 500 yards maximum. Seven such guns are mounted at Fort Nelson and are fired by the Portsdown Artillery Volunteers.


In 1872 the 8-inch howitzer was recommended for service. A number of these were made in 1873-4, weighing 46 cwt. They were built of wrought iron and steel and rifled like the 8 inch R.M.L. guns on the "Woolwich" system with four grooves but with a uniform twist. They were recommended for use in the siege train in place of the 13-inch mortars.
In 1874 a lighter nature of gun was proposed, a 6.3- inch howitzer corresponding with the 64 pounder guns. It was to be suitable for the 40 pdr. gun carriage. After trial a gun of 18 cwt was adopted in 1878 with a polygroove system. It was the first piece in which studless projectiles were used with a rotating gas-check attached to the base. The 6.3-inch and 8-inch howitzers eventually replaced all the old smooth bore mortars.

8-inch 46 cwt. Mark I

This was the first rifled howitzer to be introduced into service from 1872. They were to replace all mortars in the siege train. Its success lead to the introduction of the :-

6.3-inch Howitzer 18cwt. Mark I

Manufacture commenced in 1874 but none were completed until 1878 when the question of rifling was settled. In 1876 it was recognised that length was essential to power and as the 8 inch and the 6.3-inch were exceedingly short two new designs for longer, heavier pieces were proposed. At the same time the 6.3-inch was exchanged for 6.6-inch to increase the capacity of the shell. A large number of both these types were ordered but manufacture was suspended for two years whilst the decision on rifling was awaited. Experimental pieces were tested at Shoeburyness but the order for service was not sanctioned until 1880.

6.6-inch 36 cwt. Mark I
A supply of this nature was manufactured in 1877 but they were not completed and rifled until 1880. They differ from the 6.3 inch mainly in length.
6.6-inch 36 cwt. Mark II steel
This differs from the Mark I in material as it was made entirely of steel. The cascable was a continuation of the A tube unlike the Mark I in which it was a separate part.
8-inch 46 cwt. R. Mark I
This had a preponderance of 2cwt and was 64 inches in length. The length of the bore was 48 inches. It was built with an A tube of steel, a b tube of iron and a breech coil with a separate cascable screw. It was rifled with 4 grooves of a uniform twist of 1 turn in 16 calibres.
8-inch 70 cwt. Mark I and Mark II
The weight and external dimensions of these were the same but the construction of the Mark II differed in that it was made entirely of steel and the muzzle was strengthened by the addition of a steel B tube. The cascable was a continuation of the A tube, not a separate part as with the Mark I.
The Royal Monogram will be found on the 6.3- inch and 8-inch 46 cwt on the chase instead of the breech. This was necessary due to the fitting of a clinometer. Gas escapes were provided in all howitzers in the same manner as M.L. guns, except the 8-inch Mark II and 6.6-inch Mark II; the channel is visible on the the right-hand top side of the breech. The hind sights are set vertically in the howitzers because of the varying drift.


Mortars are smooth bore ordnance allocated to the land forts as an intermediate range weapon. Experiments were carried out in 1853 to rifle mortars, without much success. They were only capable of being fired at fixed angles of elevation with a variation of charge with each range. In 1870 it was considered that it might be possible to rifle 13-inch S.S. mortars on the Palliser system. They proved unsatisfactory and the idea was abandoned. A mortar battery for thirty 13-inch mortars was constructed at Puckpool on the Isle of Wight. The forts of the Portsdown Hill line, Portsmouth has purpose built mortar batteries for the 13 inch mortar. They were never fitted and some evidence points to the intention of placing 8 inch howitzers in these positions. A battery of three mortars can be seen in action at Fort Nelson, manned by the Portsdown Artillery Volunteers.

13-inch Mortar iron
There were four natures of 13-inch S.S and three natures of L.S. mortars, of Millar and Blomefield pattern introduced into the service. Some were obsolete by1840.
10-inch mortar iron
There were two natures 10-inch of S.S. mortars and three of L.S. mortars introduced into the service.
8-inch mortar iron
There were five natures of these in land service.

Breech Loading

The term Breech Loading applies to all guns in which the cartridge is contained in a cloth bag and the sealing of the breech is achieved by a device in the breech mechanism.
Many natures of B.L. guns were introduced after the end of Victoria's reign but there were also some in service in the 1880s and 1890s as siege pieces and pieces of position. The following is a list of B.L guns up to 1900 for land use. Those marks introduced purely for naval use may not be listed.


Horse and Field Artillery

10 pr. B.L. of 418 lbs. calibre 2.75 inches.
Mk. I adopted for mountain artillery in 1896. Mounted on the same field carriage as the 2.5-inch R.M.L. Finally introduced in 1901.
12 pr. B.L. 7 cwt. calibre 3-inch.
Mk. I Adopted 1881. For Horse and Field Artillery. It proved to be too heavy and was replaced by :-
12 pr. B.L. 6 cwt. calibre 3-inch
1894. Lighter carriage. Used in 1899 by the Horse Artillery, Boer War. Marks I II II* III IV & IVA.
15 pr. B.L. 7 cwt. calibre 3-inch.
Converted from the 12 pr. of 7 cwt. Mk.2 1900. Used by the Field Artillery, Boer War. Used shrapnel shell only. Mk. I to IV.
30 pr. B.L. 20 cwt. calibre 4-inch.
Mk. I 1892 Heavy Field Gun - 'Special for India'. No equivalent in this country.
4-inch B.L. Jointed Gun
1895. Supplied to the Indian Army. Mk IIP & III of 23 cwt, IIIA IV V & VI of 26 cwt.


Heavy Field & Siege Artillery

5-inch B.L. Field Howitzer. 25 cwt. & 30 cwt. Mk. I & II
Issued 1895. The first medium B.L. howitzer to be issued as a field weapon on Mk. I carriages. The 30cwt. for the siege train.
5-inch B.L. on Siege Disappearing Carriage Mk.I
For 8 ft. Parapet. Intended for India only.
5.4-inch B.L. Field Howitzer.
A Royal Gun Factory design Introduced 1895 intended for India for the siege train & heavy batteries.
6-inch B.L. Siege Howitzer 25 cwt.
Introduced 1895 'Special for India'. A 'Siege Top' carriage was also used.
6-inch B.L. Siege Howitzer 30 cwt.
Introduced 1896 as British Service version for the siege train. A 'Siege Top' carriage was also used.
8-inch B.L. Howitzer Mk 1 to 8
Introduced 1915. many varieties were produced on various mountings.
9.2-inch B.L. Siege Howitzer Mk 1 & 2
Introduced 1914.
In 1900 the B.L. 9.45-inch Siege Howitzer of Austrian origin (Skoda) was introduced for South Africa.

Coast Defence

4-inch B.L. Coast Defence Gun.
1887 Mk. V & 1889 Mk. VI Close defence gun fitted on Carriage, Garrison B.L. Vavasseur Mk.I. A small number were mounted on a special travelling carriage with wooden ground platform (for 6ft. Parapet) for use as 'Movable Armament of Forts' .
It was proposed to mount one experimentally in the Trow Rock Floating (disappearing) Platform in 1885. At that time there was not a suitable land service carriage for it.

5-inch B.L. of 38 cwt. Mk.II
Non-chasehooped (N) and chasehooped (C) versions.
5-inch B.L. 40 cwt. Mk. III to V & B.L.C.
On 40 pr. R.M.L. carriage.
First used as coast defence, but rarely in this country, on sliding Vavasseur Mk.I, II or III mountings. Many were mounted in the colonies, Australia and South Africa. Some appear in the Armament returns for the Plymouth Forts 1898 probably on 6 feet parapet travelling carriages.
Some 5-inch B.L.s were mounted on travelling Hydropneumatic siege disappearing carriages, 8 feet parapet, for India only.

5.5 inch B.L. of 6 tons
Pedestal mounting.
6-inch B.L. of 5 tons
Barbette sliding Mk. I, I* or II, Vavasseur central pivot or H.P. disappearing mounting. Backbone of coast defence from 1880s to 1956.
Mk. IV 1885.
Mk. VI 1889. Vavasseur Central Pivot Mk.1 or Barbette Carriage Mk.1
Mk. VI 1894. Barbette Carriage Mk.2. Mk 6 and all carriages were declared obsolete in 1913. Later marks were introduced.
6-inch B.L. of 7 tons
Mk. VII 1898. Central Pivot Mk.2 with Pure Couple single motion breech mechanism and Welin breech screw.
Mk. IX on B.L. Central Pivot Mk. IIIA
Mk X on B.L. Central Pivot Mk. IIIB
6-inch B.L.C.
on B.L. Central Pivot Mk. IV
One experimental 6-inch B.L. Mark IV on Vavasseur mounting was fitted to the Trow Rock Floating (disappearing) Platform in 1887.
Some Mk. 4, 5 & 6 coast defence guns were mounted on Disappearing Hydropneumatic Carriages.

6-inch B.L. E.O.C. Mk V
only 7 in the service.
6-inch B.L.C. 5 tons
Introduced 1902. Some were converted to siege mountings in 1914.
7.5-inch B.L. 14 tons Mk. I & II
Introduced early 1900s on barbette sliding Mk. I mounting for India. It is said that two were mounted on H.P. carriages at Bombay.
8-inch B.L. E.O.C. Mk VII of 12 tons & VIIA of 13 tons
Only 4 in land service, no others.

9.2-inch B.L. guns
These guns are issued to the service with or without the fittings which form the "gear controlling breech screw" and are designated C. controlled or U.C. uncontrolled.
9.2-inch B.L. of 22 tons Mk. I C & U.C. Land service (Eight Mk I guns were transferred from Naval to Land service.)
Developed from 1879. Standard coast defence guns up to 1951
9.2-inch B.L. of 23 tons Mk. IV, IVA C. & IVA U.C. - For defence of coaling stations
9.2-inch B.L. of 22 tons Mk. VI, VIA & VIC
9.2-inch B.L. of 22 tons Mk. VIB
9.2-inch B.L. of 27 tons Mk. IX

1899-1900 first mounted in H.M.S. Drake. Brought up to Mk. 10 standards in 1910.
9. 2-inch B.L. of 28 tons Mk X & XV
Barbette sliding Mk I, IA,IB, II, III, IV or V high angle or H.P. disappearing mountings Mk. I & II .
Mk.X 1899 Land version on Mk. 5 mounting for 6.6 inch parapet.
10-inch B.L. of 32 tons Mk. I (L)
10-inch B.L. of 29 tons Mk II, IIA, III, (C) IIIA (N) & IV (C)
Coast defence gun on Barbette sliding Mk I, II or III or H.P. disappearing mountings, Mk.1, 1A, II & III.

10-inch B.L. of 26 tons IV and IV* (C) A number were modified for the Mk IV land service mounting designated with the *.

Only four were made to Mk II pattern.
A drawing was sealed for the 10-inch BL Mk V but the gun was never issued to the service .
All 10-inch B.L. declared obsolete 1925.
10.4-inch B.L. of 26 tons.
This experimental gun was used to test the cupola mounting. Ordered 1879. It was intended to fit them to the Spithead forts. Entered service as 10-inch of 28 tons.
12-inch B.L Coast Defence gun (Spithead)
This gun was fitted to the forts of Spithead, No Mans Land and Horse Sand using a Yoke mounting. Tested in1881.
Mk. 1, 1A - 47 tons, Mk. 6, 7 - 46 tons
12-inch B.L. of 46 tons Mk. VI, VII & VIII
Tynemouth (Turret) Approved 1918.
Mk. 8 V (Vickers)
Mk. 8 E (Elswick)
13.5-inch B.L. of 69 tons. Mk IIIf (L) with removable steel trunnion band.

Although it was approved for mounting in some of the larger fortresses, this was rather heavy for the requirements. It was proposed to mount this gun on a hydraulic disappearing mounting. One only was mounted at Plymouth.
15 inch of 100 tons
Barbette mounting.

Quick Fire (Q.F.)

The term 'Quick Fire' is applied to a nature of gun which are really breech loaders, but constitute a different class because they use a brass cartridge case to seal the breech. They have rapid action breech mechanisms and a form of Therecoil control that enables the operator to remain at the gun for rapid fire. A Q.F. gun could also be a howitzer.
The first Q.F. guns were introduced into the Navy to combat torpedo boats and were employed in coast defences for the same purpose.
The first Q.F. guns to be adopted into the service were the 3 pr. Q.F.s. for coast defence. The first mountings were pedestal non-recoil mountings followed by elastic mountings.
The light Q.F. guns were the 3, 6 and 12 prs. for defence against torpedo-boat attack. These replaced the 1-inch Nordenfelt guns.
The heavy Q.F. guns were the 4-inch to 6-inch.

Ordnance Q.F. 3 pounder Nordenfelt - 4 cwt
1889 - Mk. 1 on carriage, garrison, Q.F. recoil, 3 pr. Mk. 1.
Ordnance Q.F. 3 pounder Hotchkiss gun - 5 cwt
1885 - Mk. 1 on carriage, garrison, Q.F. recoil, 3 pr. Mk. 1.
Mk. 1+ on naval mounting
Mk. 2 on travelling carriage.
A small number of both the above guns were fitted to travelling carriages for use by coast artillery as movable armament for landwards defence. The 6 pounders came into service at the same time as the 3 pounders, also for coast defence.
Ordnance Q.F. Hotchkiss 6 pounder gun - 8 cwt.
1885 -Mk. I on on carriage, garrison, 6 pr. Hotchkiss, non-recoil Mark I
Mk. 2 on carriage, garrison Q.F. recoil, cone Mk.1 & II or Recoil, saddle Mk. I & II
Ordnance Q.F. 6 pounder Nordenfelt gun - 6 cwt.
1885 - Mk. 1 & 2 on carriage, garrison, 6 pr non-recoil Mk. I
Mk. III on carriage, garrison, Q.F. recoil, cone Mk.1 or recoil, saddle Mk. I

12 pounder Q.F. 8 cwt.
A naval gun for boat, ship or field. Mk I.
12 pounder Q.F. 12 cwt. Calibre 3-inch.
Common to both services. 1894 on pedestal mounting Q.F. Mk. I, II & III for coast defence. Anti-torpedo boat use. Some were mounted on travelling carriages as 'Movable Armament for Forts' but the army turned them down. An anti-aircraft version was produced later.
2.95-inch Q.F. Mountain Gun
Its use was limited to some Colonial native batteries. (Note: the biggest user of that gun was the United States Army, with a few transferred to the U.S. Marine Corps in 1904-07, initially for the defense of our Pekin. The American army purchased either 20 or 30 directly from Vickers-Maxim, and built the remainder under license at Watervliet Arsenal near Albany, New York, to a total of 120 guns. They were used in various places, but finally concentrated in the Philippine Islands in 1941. They continued in use throughout the 1941-42 campaign until the surrender there in April and May 1942
12.5 pounder Q.F. Information provided by Nelson)
Obtained for service in South Africa and then appropriated for movable armament.
15 pounder Q.F. Field Gun. (Erhardt) 3-inch calibre.
Of German origin for South Africa. Introduced 1901.
4-inch Q.F. 42 cwt.
Coast Defence on pedestal mounting with heavy pivot and yoke from which the gun was suspended. First appeared as a naval gun in 1895. Land version (Mk.3 Naval) introduced in 1906 as Mk.3 Coast Defence Gun on Carriage Garrison Q.F. Mk1.
4.7-inch Q.F. 41 cwt (Mk IV 42 cwt; Mk V 53 cwt)
Originally the Elswick Ordnance Company 40 pounder. Adopted 1887. Mk. 1 to 4. Central pivot pedestal mounting Mk. I , I*, II, III, IV with cradle and hydro-spring recoil. First used by the navy and adopted for coast defence. Mk.3. had a special carriage for high parapets. Mk. V was on a Mk. V C.P. carriage.
Many attempts were made to fit 4.7-inch Q.F. guns on field carriages as :
4.7 inch Q.F. Field Gun.
Introduced 1900 on R.C.D. carriage. Another version appeared on Carriage Travelling Q.F. Converted Mk.1 (converted from old 40pr. R.M.L. carriages)
5.25-inch Q.F. 86 cwt.
Turret mounting
5.5-inch Q.F.
Armstrong construction. Trials in 1887
6-inch Q.F. of 7 tons. Coast Defence Gun
E.O.C. gun on Central pivot pedestal mounting
Trials in 1890 of the Elswick 100 pr.gun. The heaviest Q.F. gun in the service.
Mk.1 First gun adopted in British Service using Armstrong's wire wound construction.
Mk.2 Introduced 1891.
Mk.3 Coast Defence 'B' gun Quick Fire Converted

In 1895 another class of Q.F. guns, the Q.F. Converted, (Q.F.C.) were introduced. They were converted from B.L.guns and consisted of the
6-inch Q.F.C. of 5 tons converted from the 6-inch B.L. Mk III IV & VI; the 4-inch Q.F.C. of 26 cwt. converted from the 4-inch B.L. Mk IIIA IV V & VI.