Bronze Minion 1695
Manufactured by Phillip Wightman
Calibre (approximate): 3 inches
Bronze barrel cast with cypher of King William III and Queen Mary.
The minion (from the French word for ‘cute’) was a type of small cannon used during the Tudor period and into the late 17th century. It was of a small bore, typically 3-inch (76.2mm) and fired a 5-pound cannonball.
Gun is mounted on replica garrison carriage copied from original 17th Century example located at Windsor Castle.
With acknowledgements to Firepower Royal Artillery
Falconet Field Gun – 17th Century
Calibre (approximate): 2 inches
Principal campaigns: English Civil War
This falconet was typical of the light field gun used during the English Civil War.
The example illustrated is mounted on its original carriage which was refurbished in the Royal Carriage Department in 1826.
The falconet was one of the lightest field pieces of the 17th Century and was a loose classification for guns with a calibre of approximately 2 inches. It was probably used to snipe at individuals in enemy ranks.
Ordnance 6 Pounder Bronze - English
The light 6-pounder was chiefly used by the Royal Horse Artillery, its battlefield mobility and rapid deployment enabling its primary role in giving supporting firepower to the cavalry.
The block-trail system of gun-carriage, with its complementary limber and ammunition wagon, all with wheels of a common large size, was introduced by General Thomas Desaguliers. His concept was based on an existing French gun-carriage and gave significant advantages over the then current British bracket carriage system, both in terms of ease of movement and deployment, across a broad range of the British field ordnance.
The Desagulier gun carriage was subsequently strengthened by William Congreve, Superintendent of Military Machines at Woolwich, and its great length of service was testament to its success.
A further consequential improvement was the reduction in the number of men required to serve the guns: for a 6-pounder, this was reduced from 15 to 5 and an NCO. The Desagulier system could also transport upwards of 60 rounds of ammunition.
With acknowledgements to Peter Finer (peterfiner.com), Firepower Royal Artillery Museum
Ordnance 5.5 inch howitzer - English
5.5 inch howitzer dated 1782
Manufactured by Verbruggen family of gun-founders in the Royal Brass Foundry at Woolwich.
5.5 inch howitzer was the companion gun to the 9 pounder; they were used together in Royal Artillery batteries.
It was originally gifted to the Emperor of China by King George III. During the British campaign in China in 1860 the piece was found in the Yuen-min-Yuen palace and returned to Britain.
Burmese Dragon Gun
Burmese gun from Mandalay, Burma – captured by British forces on 28th November 1885.
Tipu Tiger canon
Captured during Battle of Seringapatam in 1799
British forces captured this ornate bronze canon following the defeat of Tipu Sultan in the 4th Anglo-Mysore War in 1799.
Tipu is known to have used the tiger motif on his throne, weapons, jewellery, clothing and palace walls to create an image of himself as a courageous and ferocious warrior.
With acknowledgements to ‘Explore Bangalore’
8.33 pounder gun bronze (India)
Manufactured in Panjab, probably Lahore
This is one of several cannon produced between 1760 and 1825 based on ‘Zamzamah‘ or ‘Kim‘s gun‘, which was cast in Lahore in 1761.
It is a fine example of the Mughal casting tradition already in the Panjab before the Sikhs took over. Similar pieces have been dated to as late as 1825.
The barrel is decorated in the Mughal style with palmette borders and a vase and flowers motif.
By the mid 1820s ornate cannon of this type were being replaced by simpler, more streamlined types which were both lighter and easier to produce. The closest contemporary British equivalent, a brass 9 pounder, introduced in 1719, weighed almost 531 lbs less and was a foot shorter.
At some point in its service life, probably in the 1820s, the barrel was remounted by Sikh engineers on a Napoleonic-style split trail carriage and aiming was improved by attaching a strap around the button connected to a capstan elevating screw.
With acknowledgements to Anglo Sikh Heritage Trail (ASHT)
Ordnance RML 2.5 inch Mountain Gun
Designer: Colonel le Mesurier RA
Principal campaigns: India, Afghanistan, Second Boer War (1899-1902), German East Africa campaign (1916).
Of all the mountain guns used by British and Indian armies, this piece is probably the most famous. It was known as a ‘screw gun’ because the barrel could be dismantled into two parts by unscrewing the, thereby reducing the individual weight of the pieces to be carried. The gun would typically be dismantled into six loads and carried on the backs of mules.
A six gun battery would have 76 mules to carry its guns and stores. It was idea for operations in the mountainous areas of northern India but was widely used in campaigns elsewhere, notably Sudan between 1883-84.
The gun’s black powder charge and, upon firing, large volumes of smoke prove to be a significant drawback during the Boer War.
The RML 2.5 inch mountain gun was replaced by the BL 10 pounder mountain gun from 1901.
With acknowledgements to Wikipedia, South African Military History Society and Royal Armouries Collections.
6-Pounder Light Sikh Horse Artillery
Muzzle-loading smooth-bore light gun of early 19th Century.
Maximum range: 3,000m
Throughout Maharajah Ranjit Singh‘s reign, Sikh engineers had access to East India Company patterns and workshops, as well as periodic diplomatic gifts of cannon. These accelerated artillery development to the extent that by the late 1830‘s, Sikh artillery rivalled that of the Company in both quantity and quality.
This cannon is one of the finest surviving examples and shows the exceptional technical and artistic expertise in the Sikh foundries and workshops. The plain bronze barrel is based on the British Light 6 pounder.
The hardwood carriage is of the block-trail type based on General Sir Williams Congreve’s 1792 design for British service. It was heavily decorated with brass, copper, steel and mother of pearl inlay. The trail lifting handles are formed as double headed creatures.
12-Pounder Armstrong RBL
The Armstrong 12-pounder was the British army's first rifled breechloading field gun, superseding the SBML 9 pounder 13 cwt in 1859. The gun as originally adopted had a barrel 84 inches long. The Royal Navy adopted a version with a 72-inch barrel; from 1863 the shorter length was incorporated into a common version for both land and sea use.
The gun incorporated some advanced features for its day. It was one of the first breech-loaders, enabling a higher rate of fire than was the case with muzzle-loaders. The shells were coated with lead, which engaged spiral grooves cut inside the barrel (rifling) and caused the shell to spin rapidly in flight and hence imparted far greater accuracy and range than previous guns. The lead coating effectively sealed the gap between shell and barrel and eliminated the wastage of propellant gases, previously known as windage, reducing the amount of gunpowder propellant required whilst maximising muzzle energy.
The barrel was of wrought iron, ‘built up’ tube with additional layers heated and then shrunk over it as they cooled. The result was a "pre-stressed" barrel: the interior of the barrel was under compression from the layers shrunk over it, so that the heat and pressure of firing did not stretch it. Hence the barrel was smaller and lighter than previous guns. (This process subsequently became known as autofrettage).
Ordnance 9-Pounder RML Field Gun
In-service dates: 1871-1895
Principal campaigns: Zulu Wars (1879), First Boer War (1881), Anglo-Egyptian War (1882)
The 9 pounder 8 cwt Rifled Muzzle Loader was the field gun selected by the Royal Artillery in 1871 to replace the more sophisticated RBL 12 pounder 8 cwt Armstrong gun which had acquired a reputation for unreliability.
The gun was rifled using the system developed by William Palliser, in which studs protruding from the side of the shell engaged with three spiral grooves in the barrel. In 1874, a 6 cwt version was introduced for horse artillery and was later adopted for field artillery use, replacing the 8 cwt version. All variants used the same ammunition, which took the form of shrapnel; shell, case shot and common shell.
The 9 pounder remained in front-line service with the Royal Artillery until 1878 when the RML 13 pounder 8 cwt gun was introduced, however it remained in use with colonial forces until 1895 and saw action in the Zulu War of 1879, the First Boer War of 1881 and the Anglo-Egyptian War in 1882. A number were issued to British Artillery Volunteer units, with the 1st Ayreshire and Galloway Artillery Volunteers being issued with some guns as late as 1901.
With acknowledgements to Royal Armouries Collections, Firepower Royal Artillery Museum and Wikipedia.
16-Pounder 12cwt RML gun
In-service dates: 1871 - 1908
The 16 pounder 12 cwt Rifled Muzzle Loader was, together with the 9 pounder 8 cwt, selected to replace the more sophisticated RBL 12 pounder 8 cwt Armstrong gun, which suffered from reliability issues.
The barrel consisted of an 'A' tube of toughened steel, over which was shrunk a 'B' tube of wrought iron. The barrel was rifled. Studs protruding from the side of the shell engaged with three spiral grooves in the barrel.
The gun was fitted with a set of side sights on each side of the barrel, enabling sighting for indirect or direct fire from either side of the gun. A flat surface machined on top of the barrel for a clinometer, enabling the gun to be levelled, or to provide an alternate method of indirect sighting.
With acknowledgements to Royal Australian Artillery Historical Company and Wikipedia.
The 16 pounder was normally deployed in batteries of six or four guns. Each gun was pulled by a team of six horses. It had a crew of nine men – five crew who could be mounted on seats on the limber and gun, three drivers and a gun commander (number one) mounted separately. Each gun had a limbered ammunition trailer which was also horse drawn.
The 16 pounder remained in front-line service with the Royal Artillery until the late 1880s when it was replaced by the 15 pounder Breech-loading gun.
Maxim-Nordenfelt QF RBL 75mm gun
Principal campaigns: Second Boer War
This gun was one of two captured from the Transvaal army at the Battle of Elandslaagte, South Africa on 21 October 1899. It was subsequently used by the British against the Boers during the Siege of Ladysmith.
The barrel consisted of a 75mm calibre steel barrel with an interrupted screw-type breech. The gun was provided with two pairs of rudimentary hydraulic recoil buffers.
The gun was mounted low on the carriage to enhance stability, which necessitated the sides of the trail being splayed outwards to clear the breech when the gun was elevated. A spring spade was fitted on the under-side of the trail.
The gun’s ammunition consisted of common, shrapnel and case shells with copper driving bands. The projectiles were fitted to brass cartridges, ie. single piece or fixed ammunition, whilst the cartridges were loaded with smokeless powder.
After the Boer War the gun was repaired and refurbished by Maxim-Nordenfelt, which by now had been taken over by, what became, Vickers, Sons and Maxim. It was renumbered and the cypher of Edward VII was added to the barrel.
With acknowledgements to Royal Armouries Collections, Firepower Royal Artillery Museum, Victorian Wars Forum and Wikipedia.
QF 3.7 inch Mark 1 Mountain Gun
Service History: First World War, Second World War, North West Frontier of India during inter-war years.
The Ordnance quick-firing 3.7 inch Mark 1 howitzer was designed for mountain warfare. The gun was designed to be broken into eight mule loads, for transport over difficult terrain. The heaviest single section was the interrupted screw breech, which weighed 215 pounds (97 kg).
Given an open gun position, a well-practised crew could have the guns unloaded from the mules, reassembled and deployed ready for action in two minutes.
The 3.7-inch howitzer's adjustable suspension system allowed it to be deployed on uneven ground or with too steep a gradient to allow field artillery to be sited.
The howitzer was equipped with a split trail, the first British weapon to be fitted with this system, which allowed firing at very high angles (a useful feature in mountainous terrain). It also has a large rectangular shield to protect the crew from small-arms fire, but this was often omitted to save weight.
When first introduced, the howitzer had two wooden wheels and was light enough be towed by two horses. Later marks had pneumatic tyres and could be towed by any light vehicle, such as a Bren carrier or Jeep.
The 3.7-inch howitzer was first introduced in 1917 and was used in action in that year in the Mesopotamia Campaign.
QF 4.5 inch Howitzer
Calibre: 4.5 inches (114mm)
Service History: First World War, Second World War
The Ordnance quick-firing 4.5-inch howitzer was the standard British Empire field (or ‘light’) howitzer of the First World War era. It replaced the BL 5 inch howitzer and equipped some 25% of the field artillery. It entered service in 1908 and remained in service through the interwar period and was last used in the field by British forces in early 1942. This howitzer was the largest calibre of British QF field artillery ordnance during the First World War.
The gun carriage was designed to be towed behind a limber and six horses; the lower carriage comprised a box trail. The QF 4.5 fired a separate round (i.e. shell and cartridge were loaded separately).
The barrel was of built-up type, with a horizontal sliding block breech. A limited traverse saddle supported the elevating mass and a shield. It was designed for one-man laying with both traverse and elevation controls and sights on the left. The recoil system was below the barrel and used a hydraulic buffer with a hydro-pneumatic recuperator to return the barrel to its firing position
The QF 4.5-inch howitzer was used by British and Commonwealth forces in most theatres, by Russia and by British troops in Russia in 1919. Its calibre (114 mm) and hence shell weight were greater than those of the equivalent German field howitzer (105 mm); France did not have an equivalent.
6 inch – Wolf of Mafeking
Designed by: Mr Coughlan (Mafeking Railway Works) & Major Panzera (British South African Police)
Campaign: Relief of Mafeking (1899-1900)
The siege of the British garrison at Mafeking by Boers took place between Oct 1899 – May 1990. In initially the garrison was devoid of artillery. At the instigation of the garrison commander, Colonel (later Lord) Robert Baden-Powell, engineers manufactured a gun, known as the ‘Wolf’.
The core of this gun was a length of steel steam-pipe, which was bounded by bars of iron which were hammered and turned into the required shape. The trunnions and breech were castings of brass. For the castings a blast furnace was improvised out of an iron water-tank lined with fire bricks, the draught being forced through the pipe of a vacuum brake from a railway carriage. The gun was mounted on the wheels of a threshing machine.
The shells for the gun were similarly cast and were loaded with powder. In addition, dud shells fired from enemy guns were reworked and discharged at the Boer lines from the ‘Wolf’.
The gun was named after Colonel Baden-Powell, who was nicknamed ‘The Wolf’.
With acknowledgements to South African Military History Society, National Army Museum, Firepower Royal Artillery Museum and Wikipedia.
BL 10 pounder Mountain Gun
In-service dates: 1901 - 1918
Service History: First World War
The Ordnance BL 10 pounder Mountain Gun was developed as a BL successor to the RML 2½ inch screw gun which had been outclassed in the Second Boer War.
This breech loading gun was an improvement on the 2½ inches (63.5 mm) muzzle-loading screw gun but still lacked any recoil absorber or recuperator mechanism. It could be dismantled into 4 loads of approximately 200 pounds (90.7 kg) for transport, typically by mule.
It was originally manufactured without a gun shield, but these were made and fitted locally during World War 1 e.g. at Nairobi in 1914 for the East Africa campaign, also at Suez in 1915 for the Gallipoli campaign.
It was eventually replaced by the BL 2¾ inch Mountain Gun, commencing in 1914, but was still the main mountain gun in service when World War 1 began.
Reference: General Sir Martin Farndale, ‘History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery. The Forgotten Fronts and the Home Base, 1914-18’
Acknowledgements: National Army Museum, Firepower Royal Artillery Museum and Wikipedia.
15 Pounder BL Victoria Gun
Produced: 1892 - 1918
Service History: 2nd Boar War, First World War
The Ordnance BL 15 pounder, otherwise known as the 15 pounder 7 cwt, was the British Army’s principal field gun during the Second Boer War; it remained in limited use during the World War I in some minor theatres.
The gun was a modified version of the previous BL 12-pounder 7 cwt gun of 1883. When the modern smokeless propellant cordite replaced gunpowder in 1892 it was decided that the 12 pounder was capable of firing a heavier shell up to 15 lb (6.8 kg). A 14-pound shell was adopted and the gun was renamed a 15 pounder.
The BL 15 pounder gun was superseded by the BLC 15 pounder gun (BLC stood for BL Converted) which, unlike the BL model, incorporated a recoil and recuperator mechanism above the barrel and a modified quicker-opening breech.
The piece illustrated was used as a funeral gun to carry the body of Queen Victoria from Osborne House, Isle of Wight to the British mainland upon her death in 1901 – the first gun ever used for this purpose in Great Britain.
With acknowledgements to Royal Armouries Collections, Firepower Royal Artillery Museum and Wikipedia.
18 Pounder QF Mk II
Produced: 1904 – 1940
Service History (British Army): 1st World War, 3rd Afghan War, 2nd World War
The 18 pounder is one of the most famous British artillery weapons of World War I.
After the Boer War the British decided to equip the Army with a true quick-firing gun since it had fallen behind other European countries in the arms race.
No existing quick-firing gun was considered suitable. The new gun combined the designs of the major arms firm Vickers Sons & Maxim and the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich. It was introduced in 1904. The gun was produced in five different versions during the war. The first changes were to adapt the gun from its original open warfare role to enable it to fire the heavy barrages required.
Elevation was limited until the Mark V which had some modern-looking improvements such as a split trail.
This gun continued in service after WWII and eventually became the basis of the 25 pounder. A lighter version, the 13 pounder was built for the Royal Horse Artillery and is still used by King's Troop RHA for saluting.
With acknowledgements to Royal Armouries Collections and Wikipedia.
75mm Field Gun M1897 - French
Manufactured at French government arsenals at Puteaux, Bourges, Tarbes & St Etienne
Service History: First World War, Second World War.
The French 75mm field gun was a genuine ‘quick-firing’ field artillery piece. Adopted in March 1898, its official French designation was: Matériel de 75mm Mle 1897. It was commonly known as the French 75 (or just the ‘75’).
The French 75 was designed as an anti-personnel weapon system for delivering large volumes of time-fused shrapnel shells onto enemy troops advancing in the open. After 1915 and the onset of trench warfare, other types of battlefield missions demanding impact-detonated high-explosive shells prevailed.
By 1918 the 75s became the main agents of delivery for toxic gas shells. The 75s also became widely used as truck mounted anti-aircraft artillery. They were also the main armament of the Saint-Chamont tank in 1918.
The French 75 is widely regarded as the first modern artillery piece. It was the first field gun to include a hydro-pneumatic recoil mechanism which kept the gun's trail and wheels still during the firing sequence. Since it did not need to be re-aimed after each shot, the crew could reload and fire as soon as the barrel returned to its resting position.
In typical use, the French 75 could fire fifteen rounds per minute at targets 11,500m away.
German Army – 7.7 cm Feld Kanone FK96 n.A.
Manufacturer: Krupp in 1904
Service History: First World War
The FK96 n.A. was the standard artillery piece for the German Army at the beginning of World War I. (n.A. being the abbreviation for neuer Art, translation being ‘new Model’).
The gun combined the barrel of the earlier 7.7 cm FK 96 with a recoil system, a new breech and a new carriage. Existing FK 96s were upgraded over time.
The FK 96 n.A. was shorter-ranged but lighter than the French Canon 75 1897 or the British Ordnance QF 18 pounder gun. The German Army placed a premium on mobility, which served them well during the early stages of World War I. However, once the front had become static, the greater rate of fire of the French gun and the heavier shells fired by the British gun placed the German Army at a disadvantage. The Germans remedied this by developing the longer-ranged, but heavier 7.7 cm FK 16.
As with most guns of its era, the FK 96 n.A. had seats for two crewmen mounted on its splinter shield.
The gun illustrated was one of six captured by British infantry in April 1917 in an attack led by Major Frederick William Lumsden DSO RMA for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
With acknowledgements to militaryfactory.com, ‘Firepower’ and Wikipedia.
75mm Airborne Howitzer – American
(designated M116 wef. 1962)
Produced: 1927 - 1944
Service History: Second World War
The 75mm pack howitzer was designed in the United States in the 1920s to meet a need for an artillery piece that could be moved across difficult terrain.
In August 1927, the weapon was standardized as ‘Howitzer, Pack, 75mm M1’ (on Carriage M1). Due to funding constraints, production rates were low; by 1940, only 91 pieces had been manufactured. It was not until September 1940 that the howitzer was put into mass production. By then, the M1 had been succeeded by the slightly modified M1A1. Production continued until December 1944.
The original carriage M1 was of box trail type with wooden wheels. The requirement for a lightweight howitzer for airborne troops led to the introduction of the M8 carriage, similar except for new wheels with pneumatic tires.
The 75mm Airborne howitzer was used by 1st Airlanding Light Artillery Regiment Royal Artillery in support of Allied campaign in Italy (1944) and in defence of Arnhem (September 1944).
With acknowledgements to pegasusarchive.org, Firepower Royal Artillery Museum and Wikipedia.
Ordnance BL 6 inch 30 Cwt Medium Howitzer
BL 6 inch howitzer was based on an Indian Army 6 inch howitzer 25 cwt. It was designed originally as a siege howitzer, to be fired from a static siege platform for accurate long-range shooting. When fired mounted on its normal travelling carriage, which had become standard practice for modern medium artillery, its range and accuracy diminished due to limited elevation and lack of a modern recoil mechanism.
Its original shell was 122lb (55.6 kg) Lyddite explosive. In 1901 a lighter 100lb (45 kg) shell was introduced which increased maximum range to 6,400 metres. These were then referred to as ‘heavy’ and ‘light’ shells respectively.
In 1915 the BL 6 inch howitzer received a barrel, breech-lock, recoil system and ammunition upgrade increasing its maximum range to 10,400m.
At the outset of the First World War, the British Army had 80 of these guns available, which constituted the Royal Artillery’s only heavy artillery. They were heavily engaged in the early battles in France and Flanders despite being difficult to move behind horse transport, due to the gun’s weight.
The BL 6 inch howitzer served in all theatres with the British Army until replaced by the 6 inch 26 cwt howitzer from late 1915. At Gallipoli, the 6 inch 30 cwt was used at Helles by 14th Siege Battery RGA attached to 29th Division and at Anzac by the Australian 1st Heavy Artillery Battery.
Ordnance QF 6 pounder Anti-Tank Gun
The Ordnance Quick-Firing 6-pounder 7 cwt, or just 6 pounder, was a British 57 mm gun; it served as the British Army’s principal anti-tank gun during World War II, as well as the main armament for a number of armoured fighting vehicles.
Although planned before the start of the war, it did not enter service until the North African Campaign in April 1942, where it replaced the 25 pounder in the anti-tank role, allowing the latter to revert to its intended indirect-fire artillery role. The United States Army also adopted the 6 pounder as their primary anti-tank gun under the designation 57 mm Gun M1.
The 6-pounders (and the US-built M1 of which 4,242 guns were received) were initially issued to Royal Artillery anti-tank regiments and later in the war to anti-tank platoons of infantry battalions. The gun was also employed by Commonwealth forces in formations similar to the British.
Initially, the anti-tank ammunition was a basic Armour-Piercing (AP) shot, but by January 1943 an Armour-Piercing, Capped (APC) shot and an Armour-Piercing, Capped, Ballistic Capped (APCBC) shot was supplied. A high-explosive shell was produced so that the gun could also be used against un-armoured targets.
The 6-pounder first saw action in May 1942 at Gazala. It made an immediate impact as it was able to penetrate any enemy tank then in service. However, over the next year, the Germans introduced much heavier tanks, notably the Tiger 1 and Panther. The standard 6-pounder shot was ineffective against their frontal armour but remained effective against the less armoured side and rear armour.
25 pounder self-propelled gun - Sexton
Manufacturer: Montreal Locomotive Works
In service dates: 1943-1956
Effective range: 12,250 m
25 pounder Sexton was the marriage of QF 25 pounder gun with the Canadian ‘Ram’ personnel carrier chassis.
Subsequent Sextons were based on Grizzly tank chassis (Canadian-built M4A1 Sherman tanks) instead of the Ram chassis.
The Ram-based Sexton was designated Sexton Mk I and the Grizzly-based version was designated Sexton Mk II. British orders for the Sexton II eventually totalled 2,026 vehicles.
The Sexton saw service with the British and Canadian Armies during the Second World War notably during Operation Overlord (D-Day Landings and Battle of Normandy).
With acknowledgements to Wikipedia