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Ordnance BL 12 pounder 7 cwt

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Title: Ordnance BL 12 pounder 7 cwt  
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Subject: Ordnance BL 15 pounder, RML 2.5 inch Mountain Gun, Second Boer War
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Ordnance BL 12 pounder 7 cwt

Ordnance BL 12 pounder 7 cwt
With Royal Horse Artillery crew
Type Field gun
Place of origin  United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1885–1895
Used by British Empire
Production history
Designed 1883
Weight 784 pounds (356 kg) barrel & breech
Barrel length 84 inches (2,134 mm) bore (28 calibres)

Shell separate loading BL, 12.5 lb (5.7 kg) Shrapnel
Calibre 3-inch (76.2 mm)
Traverse nil
Muzzle velocity 1,710 feet per second (520 m/s)[1]
Maximum firing range 5,000 yards (4,600 m)[2]

The Ordnance BL 12 pounder 7cwt[3] was the British Army's field gun, which succeed the RML 13 pounder 8 cwt in 1885.


The gun was initially adopted by both the Royal Field Artillery and Royal Horse Artillery, and was in full service by 1885. It marked a return to breech-loading guns, after the British Army had reverted to muzzle-loaders in the late 1860s following the failure of the Armstrong screw breech guns.

Problems arose when it was used by the Horse Artillery in the great Indian cavalry manoeuvres of 1891. The carriage was found to be too complicated and dust caused the metal surfaces of the axle traversing device to seize.[4] It also proved too heavy to manoeuvre for horse artillery, which was intended to support cavalry in battle.

The 12 pounder 6 cwt gun was thus developed in 1892, when the new more powerful cordite replaced gunpowder, as a lighter alternative. It had a barrel 18 inches (460 mm) shorter, on a lighter and simpler carriage, and it entered service with the Royal Horse Artillery in 1894.

The introduction of Cordite also led to the decision 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 became a "15 pounder" from 1895.[5] At that point the 12 pounder 7 cwt became redundant.

Combat use

The gun was normally towed by 6 horses, in 3 pairs.

See also

Surviving examples

  • Hobbs Artillery Park, Irwin Barracks, Karrakatta, Western Australia


  1. ^ 1,710 ft/s firing 12.5 lb (5.7 kg) projectile, with 4 lb (1.8 kg) gunpowder or 15¾ oz cordite size 5 as propellant. Text Book of Gunnery, 1902.
  2. ^ Text Book of Gunnery, 1902. Table XII, Page 336.
  3. ^ British military traditionally denoted smaller ordnance by the weight of its standard projectile, in this case approximately 12 pounds (5.4 kg). "7 cwt" referred to the weight of the gun and barrel to differentiate it from other "12 pounder" guns. 1 long hundredweight (cwt) = 112 pounds (51 kg).
  4. ^ Clarke 2004, page 17-18
  5. ^ Clarke 2004, page 17-18


  • Dale Clarke, British Artillery 1914-1919. Field Army Artillery. Osprey Publishing, Oxford UK, 2004
  • Major Darrell D. Hall, "Field Artillery of the British Army 1860-1960. Part I, 1860 - 1900" in The South African Military History Society. Military History Journal - Vol 2 No 4, December 1972

External links

  • Diagram of 12pr B.L.7cwt Field Gun Mark I from Victorian Forts and Artillery website
  • Diagram of 12pr B.L.7cwt Field Gun Mark II from Victorian Forts and Artillery website
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