BL 6-inch 26 cwt howitzer

The Ordnance BL 6 inch 26cwt howitzer was a British howitzer used during World War I and World War II. The qualifier "26cwt" refers to the weight of the barrel and breech together which weighed 26 long hundredweight (1.3 t).

BL 6-inch 26 cwt howitzer
Class Vehicle
Type Towed Artillery
Manufacturer Vickers Limited
Origin United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain)
Country Name Origin Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1915
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Australia View
Belgium View
Canada View
Greece View
Italy View
Netherlands View
Portugal View
Russia (USSR) View
South Africa View
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1915 1945 View
New Zealand View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
William Beardmore and Company View
Coventry Ordnance Works View
Royal Arsenal View
Midvale Steel View
Vickers Limited 3633 View

World War I

It was developed to replace the obsolescent 6 inch 25 cwt and 6 inch 30 cwt howitzers which were outclassed by German artillery such as the 15 cm schwere Feldhaubitze 13. Design began in January 1915, the first proof-firing occurred on 30 July 1915 and it entered service in late 1915. Its combination of firepower, range and mobility (for its day) made it one of the British Empire's most important weapons in World War I.

It was originally towed by horses but from 1916 onwards was commonly towed by the "FWD" 4 wheel drive 3 ton lorry as heavy field artillery. The wooden spoked wheels could be fitted with "girdles" for work in mud or sand to prevent them sinking. Towards the end of the war solid rubber tyres were fitted over the iron tyres on the wheel rims, giving the rims a heavier appearance. It fired 22.4 million rounds on the Western Front.

World War II

During the interwar period the carriage had its wooden spoked wheels replaced with modern steel wheels and pneumatic tyres. During World War II, its use was restricted after 1942 when the replacement BL 5.5 inch Medium Gun came into use. It was however reintroduced in Burma due to a number of premature detonations in 5.5-inch (140 mm) guns. It was declared obsolete with the end of the war in 1945.

Captured examples received the designation FH-412(e) in German use.

Type Medium howitzer
Place of origin United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1915 to 1945
Used by United Kingdom
Union of South Africa
New Zealand
Kingdom of Italy
Kingdom of Greece
Russian Empire
Wars World War I
World War II
Production history
Designer Vickers
Designed 1915
Manufacturer Vickers, Beardmore, Coventry Ordnance Works, Woolwich Ordnance Factory, Midvale Steel Company
Number built 3633
Weight Barrel: 2,856 lb (1,295 kg)
Total: 8,142 lb (3,693 kg)
Length 21 ft 7 in (6.58 m)
Barrel length Bore: 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
Total: 7 ft 3 in (2.21 m) L/13.3
Width 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)
Crew 10
Shell Gas
High explosive
Shell weight WWI: 100 pounds (45.4 kg)
WWII: 86 pounds (39.0 kg)
Calibre 6 in (152.4 mm)
Breech Welin screw
Recoil Hydro-pneumatic, variable
Carriage Box trail
Elevation 0° to +45°
Traverse 4° L & R
Rate of fire Max: 2 rpm
Muzzle velocity Max: 1,400 ft/s (430 m/s)
Maximum firing range WWI 100 pounds (45.4 kg) shell : 9,500 yards (8,700 m)
WWII 86 pounds (39.0 kg) shell : 11,400 yards (10,400 m)
Sights Calibrating (1930s) & reciprocating

End notes