BL 5-inch howitzer

The Ordnance BL 5-inch howitzer was initially introduced to provide the Royal Field Artillery with continuing explosive shell capability following the decision to concentrate on shrapnel for field guns in the 1890s.

Country Name Origin Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1895
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Ireland 1895 1919 View
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1895 1919 View

Sudan Campaign

The weapon was used by the Royal Field Artillery and served successfully at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898. During that campaign they gained the distinction of being the first British guns to fire the new Lyddite shells in action.

Second Boer War

Major D Hall states that in the Second Boer War the Lyddite shells often failed to detonate; the gun was too heavy to be used as a field howitzer, and for siege use its range was too short and shell too light. However, it achieved some success in Natal when able to get close enough to bombard Boers in trenches.

World War I

By 1908 it was obsolete and replaced in British Regular Army brigades by the modern QF 4.5-inch howitzer.

Territorial Force brigades, however, continued to use the howitzer in World War I into 1916, including notably in the East African campaign.

A lighter 40-pound (18.14 kg) shell with Amatol filling replaced the original 50-pound (22.68 kg) Lyddite shell early in World War I Together with an increase in cordite propellant from 11 oz 7 drams to 14 oz 5 drams, this increased the maximum range from 4,800 to 6,500 yards (5,900 m). Administrative error led to the new 40-pound shells being sent to Gallipoli without range tables or fuze keys for the new pattern fuzes, rendering them useless.

Type Field howitzer
Place of origin United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Service history
In service 1895 - 1919
Used by British Empire
Wars Mahdist War
Second Boer War
First World War
Weight 2672lb (1212kg)
Barrel length 42 inches (1.07 m) bore (8.4 calibres)
Shell 50 pounds (22.7 kg) Common shell; 50 pounds (22.7 kg)Lyddite shell; later 40 pounds (18.1 kg) Amatol shell
Calibre 5-inch (127.0 mm)
Breech 3-motion, interrupted screw
Recoil 5.5 inches (140 mm), hydro-spring constant
Carriage Wheeled, box trail
Elevation -5° - 45°
Muzzle velocity 788 ft/s (240 m/s)
Effective firing range 4,800 yards (4,400 m) (50 lb shell);
6,500 yards (5,900 m) (40 lb shell)
Filling weight 9 pounds 15 ounces (4.51 kg) (Lyddite)
5 pounds (2.27 kg) (Amatol)

End notes