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BL 16.25 inch Mk I naval gun

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Title: BL 16.25 inch Mk I naval gun  
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Subject: Elswick Ordnance Company, 1-inch Nordenfelt gun, RML 10 inch 18 ton gun, QF 3-pounder Hotchkiss, Whitehead torpedo
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BL 16.25 inch Mk I naval gun

Ordnance BL 16.25 inch gun Mk I
Type Naval gun
Place of origin United Kingdom
Service history
In service 1888 - 190?
Used by Royal Navy
Production history
Manufacturer Elswick Ordnance Company
Number built 12
Variants no two guns were identical
Weight 111 tons
Barrel length 487.5 inches (12.38 m) bore (30 calibres)

Shell 1,800 pounds (820 kg) Armour-piercing, Common, Shrapnel
Calibre 16.25-inch (412.8 mm)
Elevation -5° - 13°
Muzzle velocity 2,087 feet per second (636 m/s)[1]
Maximum firing range 12,000 yards (11,000 m)[2]

The Elswick BL 16.25 inch naval gun was an early British superheavy breech-loading naval gun, commonly known as the 110-ton gun or 111-ton gun.


Forward barbette on Benbow
Turret on Sans Pareil

Elswick had already supplied similar guns to Italy's Regia Marina and fitted in the Andrea Doria of 1885 and the Royal Navy required parity for its Mediterranean Fleet. The adoption of this gun was influenced by the slow rate of production of the preferred new 13.5 inch guns : the Royal Navy had the option of delaying the completion of the new Admiral-class battleships until sufficient 13.5 inch guns were available to equip them with four guns in two twin barbettes as planned; to use 12-inch guns, or to equip them with the new 16.25 inch guns.

The decision made was to install 16.25 inch guns in HMS Benbow in 1887 in single barbettes fore and aft, each gun substituting for two 13.5 inch guns. For the following HMS Victoria and HMS Sans Pareil the 16.25 inch guns were mounted in pairs in a single turret placed forward.

Weaknesses such as droop and cracking were discovered in the early design, and the many subsequent changes meant that none of the 12 guns built were identical, so the Mk I denomination was discontinued and the individual guns were referred to by their serial numbers. The great weight, low rate of fire and short life of less than 75 rounds meant that the guns were less than successful and were in fact never fired in action.

See also


Diagrams of common, shrapnel and armour-piercing projectiles and their fuzes for the gun


  1. ^ 1800lb shell, with 960lb S.B.C. (slow burning Brown "cocoa" powder - a form of gunpowder) charge. Text Book of Gunnery, 1902. Table XII, Page 336
  2. ^ Text Book of Gunnery, 1902. Table XII, Page 336


  • Text Book of Gunnery, 1902. London: Printed for His Majesty's Stationery Office, by Harrison and Sons, St. Martin's Lane

External links

  • "Firing Trial of the 110½ ton B.L. Elswick Gun" in Scientific American supplement, No. 586, March 26, 1887. Transcribed by Project Gutenberg
  • N J M Campbell, British Super-Heavy Guns
  • Tony DiGiulian, British 16.25"/30 (41.2 cm) Mark I
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